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Okay Potterheads, did you know that you can visit some of the locations where they filmed the Hogwarts Express journey in Scotland? One of those is the Great Moor of Rannoch.
Rannoch Moor is a vast, boggy landscape that sits elevated in the Highlands of Scotland in the Bridge of Orchy near Glencoe.
You may recognise it from the Harry Potter movies when the Death Eaters stop the Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.
If you wanted to visit this filming location for yourself, then it’s really easy to do on a road trip through Scotland on the way to Glencoe and Fort William.
Here is a complete guide on how to visit the Rannoch Moor Harry Potter filming location from the Deathly Hallows Part 1!
What is Rannoch Moor?
Rannoch Moor, also known as the Great Moor of Rannoch, is often referred to as ‘the last place of wilderness in Britain’.
It’s 50-square miles of exposed moorland and has the largest area of blanket bog in the country as it’s made up of 82% water!
You’ll find desolate rugged landscapes, peat swamps, flowing streams, untouched land, and an unsettling sense of ‘nothingness’.
It’s a wild territory known for its insects, plants, and wildlife and is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Rannoch Moor history
Rannoch moor was formed from the numerous Ice Age’s that happened here over many thousands of years. The land was covered in ice caps and when these melted the water formed lochs in the bedrock.
Not many have tried to inhabit these lands as the boggy territory makes this unliveable. But, this is close to the site of the Glencoe Massacre between Clan MacDonald and Clan Campbell of 1692.
In the 19th-century, the West Highland Line railway was started to provide a link from Glasgow to Fort William. It took several years as they had to build on soft peat and soil.
The solution was to bring earth over the land and lay a bed of branches and brush to stop the railway line from being absorbed by the bog! The railway line still runs to this today but has been extended to Mallaig.
Although it is a wild landscape, there is a Rannoch Moor visitor centre you can visit to learn more about the area and the ‘somewhat dry’ walking routes you can take to explore it!
Fans of the Highlander novel series will recognise this location in ‘The Element of Fire’. This is where Duncan and Connor MacLeod track down Khordas.
As well as featuring in fictional novels, this moorland featured in the TV series Outlander and Kinloch Rannoch was the location for Craigh Na Dun.
It also briefly appeared in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010) when the Death Eaters stop the train looking for Harry Potter!
Was Rannoch Moor in Harry Potter?
YES, avid Harry Potter fans will recognise Rannoch Moor and the surrounding mountains from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.
As the students make their way to Hogwarts on the Hogwarts Express steam train, the Death Eaters appear and make the train stop mid-journey.
They board the train looking for Harry Potter and Neville then gets up and says ‘Hey losers, he isn’t here’.
I’ve always thought that Neville is a highly underrated character in the books and movies and this is definitely one of his best scenes as he starts to get a lot braver!
These Deathly Hallows scenes with the Hogwarts Express were all filmed on Rannoch Moor.
How to visit Rannoch Moor in Scotland
If you wanted to visit the Rannoch Moor Harry Potter filming location, then it’s easy to do on a road trip through Scotland.
The best place to see where they filmed these Deathly Hallows Hogwarts Express scenes would be a place called ‘Rannoch Moor viewpoint’ on the A82 in the Bridge of Orchy near Glencoe.
It’s a popular route to Glencoe, Fort William, and the Highlands. As it’s a quick stop on the roadside, you can incorporate a visit on the tightest of itineraries as you can see it in less than 5 minutes.
Rannoch Moor viewpoint is a 2 hour and 30-minute drive from Edinburgh, a 1-hour 45-minute drive from Glasgow, and a 90-minute drive from Stirling.
Rannoch Moor Viewpoint postcode is A82, Bridge of Orchy, PA36 4AG. Click here for a Google Pin for the viewpoint!
Rannoch Moor parking
The only thing that can be a little complicated about visiting Rannoch Moor viewpoint is the parking situation.
When you arrive at the Google Pin location above, there is only a small lay-by available to park in that can fit two cars max. I say a lay-by, but it’s a tiny bit of gravel just off the road (you can see what I mean on Street View).
It’s on the Bridge of Orchy direction of the A82 road so if you’re on your way to Glencoe, you’ll need to cross over the road to park there!
It’s on a slight corner, so park with consideration. I wouldn’t recommend camper vans park here as the space is incredibly small, someone did this on my visit and almost caused an accident!
The Rannoch Moor viewpoint car park is completely free and is open 24 hours a day.
What to expect on your visit to Rannoch Moor viewpoint
So, once you’ve stopped at the viewpoint, you can pop out of your car and have a little wonder around at the grassland by the roadside.
There’s a well-beaten pathway that allows you to get onto the moor without getting wet, thankfully!
I’m sure there are walking paths from here but most people just get out to take a quick photo. You can just imagine the Hogwarts Express whizzing by with the Death Eaters in tow!
On a clear day, you can see right over the boggy moorland to Loch Ba with the peaks of the Black Mount and surrounding mountains in the background.
It makes an excellent photography location but makes sure you have a zoom lens in order to capture it. From this viewpoint, the mountains are quite far away.
After you’ve seen the Rannoch Moor Harry Potter filming location, you can then carry on for even more magical filming locations in Glencoe and around Fort William!
Why not take the West Highland Line to Fort William?
If you really wanted to experience Rannoch Moor like a Hogwarts Student, you can easily catch a train across the moor just like the Hogwarts Express!
The West Highland Line from Glasgow/Oban to Fort William will take you across the magical Rannoch Moor.
The train service is run by ScotRail that has 3 regular daily services. So, you can easily travel from Glasgow Queen Street to Fort William to start your Harry Potter adventures in around 4 hours.
If you wanted to catch the Hogwarts Express steam train that is featured in the movies, you can then switch to The Jacobite express in Fort William!
This service will take you over the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct and onward to Mallaig. Anything from the trolley dears?
Are you looking for more Harry Potter filming locations in Glencoe?
If you’re a Potterhead, you have to check out some more Harry Potter locations in Glencoe after Rannoch Moor viewpoint.
A little further down the road, you can turn off at Glen Etive which is also known as the ‘James Bond Road’ due to it featuring in Skyfall. Head all the way down the road for 40 minutes or so until you reach Loch Etive and this is where they filmed Harry Potter!
After, you can head to a place called Clachaig Gully which is where they set up and filmed Hagrid’s Hut in the Prisoner of Azkaban!
Even more Harry Potter filming locations in Scotland!
Did you know that there are plenty of Harry Potter filming locations in Scotland that you can visit? Most are located around Fort William, so you’re in the perfect place as it’s just a few miles away.
Next, you can head over to Glenfinnan catch a view of The Jacobite steam train heading over the Glenfinnan Viaduct which stood in for the Hogwarts Express.
Afterward, make sure you head down to the Glenfinnan Monument and to Loch Shiel that stood in for Hogwarts Lake scenery.
Then you can visit Eliean Na Moine on Loch Eilt and see where Dumbledore is buried. The gorgeous Loch Morar is a few miles up the road and also featured as a Hogwarts Lake.
If you’re up for a hike you can head to Steall Waterfall near Glen Nevis which is featured in the Goblet of Fire. Or, take a drive to Loch Arkaig (this one is only for dedicated fans as the drive is a challenge).
Black Rock Gorge is also a location on the NC500 that featured in the Goblet of Fire during the Triwizard Tournament.
Finally, who could forget Edinburgh? Although there were no filming locations here – it’s the city that started it all! Click here to read my complete list of Harry Potter locations in Edinburgh