The Search For Hagrid’s Hut or How Seven Muggles Accidentally Stumbled Onto Hogwarts Grounds

 

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I’m not sure at what point last year I decided to research where in Scotland the scenes around Hagrid’s Hut from Prisoner of Azkaban were filmed or how I went about that research, but for about a year now, I’ve had an apple sticky note on my computer desktop saying “I want to visit Clachaig Gully in Glencoe.” My desire to visit this location did not have so much to do with the fact that “ohhhhh a movie happened here!” but more with the fact that given the amount of time I’ve spent watching PoA and the other HP films that use footage from the area, paired with the fact that for over two years, I’ve been using those shots as my computer background, screensaver, and iPhone wallpaper, I have really gotten to know those hills and mountains. Why not go meet them in person? When it came to choosing a hike for a day in the Highlands, the fact that the scenes were shot in Glencoe, one of the most heart-stoppingly beautiful landscapes on earth, it didn’t seem too ridiculous to search for a way to get to the view I’ve been taking in for a decade.
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I was fortunate when a friend offered to drive a gang of us out for a day trip to the Highlands, that not only was the place I wanted to go very easy to get to, (and that people were willing to go along with my suggestion), but the location is an accessible part of a stunning circuit walk with well-marked paths, historical markers, and available parking.

SO, with my limited internet-based research, we headed to Clachaig Gully, via the walking path around An Torr and up to Signal Rock. And if I was in any way concerned that hiking in the Highlands in January was not the greatest idea, those concerns were emphatically countered by the fact that not only were the hills quadrupled in splendor by being topped with snow, but the leafless winter trees meant we had 75% more visibility throughout. And the baked-bread brownness of the winter terrain was still flush with glowing green springy mosses and ferns. It was wonderful to behold.

And at the end of our meandering journey, we were facing the shoot location. Or, rather, about 4 minutes up the road from the shooting location. My explanation for why I couldn’t quite convince myself that we weren’t quite at the right spot is simple. We were muggles and had walked right up to the Hogwarts doorstep so were repelled magically and subconsciously from going further. We didn’t get right to Hagrid’s Hut but instead, unknowingly stood on Hogwart’s doorstep. [Visual proof later in this post]

But we were clearly in the same terrain and same view of the location I’d been aiming for, so I count it as a success. I finally got to meet the mountains that have been keeping me company for so long. Let me introduce them to you: [okay- it was extremely difficult to find the names of these hills and peaks as most climbers only post pictures from the top of what they climbed, not nice profile shots from the valley- so I heartily welcome any corrections – but here’s my best attempt.]

Meall Mor

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Meall Mor gets lots of screen time, as it sits directly behind Hagrid’s Hut, facing opposite Hogwarts. It’s easy to spot the almost right angle jag in its top center, and spotty strips of trees on the lower right. The gentle bumps on the left side of the peak highlight it as well.

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You can see it from the Whomping Willow too…

 

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And Aragog’s burial place overlooks it.

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Next is Aonach a Dubh a Ghlinnie, which sits beyond An t-Srōn.  These two have the honor of being the main view behind the Hogwarts bridge. They’re in the picture at the top of this post as well. You can recognize Aonach a Dubh a Ghlinnie mostly by its Christmas pudding roundness and the dark crescent jag that sits on its front right face. Anytime you can see Aonach a Dubh a Ghlinnie, you can generally see the lower right slope of An t-Srōn, with its marked rivulets where water has run down.

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An t-Srōn gets featured quite a lot. The mountain to its left is Aonach Dubh (not to be confused with Aonach a Dubh Ghlinnie). An t-Srōn is most recognizable by the big pebbly bumps on its lower left slope and the large rivulet that runs down its center.

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And by the Whomping Willow, you can see where they’ve added the Black Lake.

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Majestic Aonach Dubh is often obscured in shots and looks smaller without snow. Its face is much more ragged and rocky then the closer hills. I also think it gets edited and stretched sometimes through CGI, but you can still spot it here and there.

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Here’s a good shot.

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And here Aonach Dubh is silhouetted on the far right

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And what’s that on the left? Yeah. Gigantic Hogwarts Castle. Compare the low hillside on the left. We were looking right at the Castle but couldn’t see it.

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And the part of Clachaig Gully we were standing on and where the sets were placed is Sgorr nam Fiannaidh, the western summit of the Aonach Eagach.

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Again, we were a few minutes from the actual site, so next time I’ll walk down the road a bit. Here’s a Googlemaps image of the actual spot and an image from when it was being filmed.

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Another Googlemap image where you can see the peak of Sgorr nam Fiannaidh (and invisible Hogwarts)

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I hope next time to get some shots from higher up, maybe from where the Standing Stones would have been, so I can see Torren Lochan, which is the body of water you can often see below to the right of Hagrid’s Hut. I will definitely be going back as it was one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve been on-not long, not strenuous at all, but full of surprises and breathtaking views. And it doesn’t hurt that this is the backdrop of one of my top five favorite films of all time, and a film/book that inspired my most recent tattoo and which I’ve published about. So yes, I’m a little attached.

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Posted on Sat, Jan 18th, 2014 at 1:41 pm
Filed under Books, Film, intertextuality, Scotland.

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Comments: 2

  1. 1 | Jonathan

    January 18th, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    This is epic and amazing and just so YOU! I love it! And I love you. And I want to go next time I visit.

  2. 2 | Maryann

    January 19th, 2014 at 8:46 am

    Aahhh too cool!

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