Wednesday 6 April 2016

E is for Edinburgh

Today the A to Z tour of Harry Potter Film Locations is off to Edinburgh, home to JK Rowling herself.

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, home to many historic buildings, festivals (such as the Fringe Festival and Royal Military Tattoo).  There are a lot of quaint stores selling antiques and gifts.  Basically, it's a city with lots of things to see and do, including the Edinburgh Castle, whiskey tours, tartan factories/shops, churches, museums, food...

There are no film locations in Edinburgh itself, however there are lots of links to JK and to the writing of the series so it's certainly worth a visit as part of this tour.  You can either explore the city on your own, or join one of the many walking tours around the city - Potter-themed, literary-themed, other-themed...  I've done both a walking tour and my own thing and would recommend joining a tour - there's little you won't see as part of a walking tour, and you'll get a lot more information from your guide.

On with our virtual tour:

The Elephant Cafe where the first novel was written, and the Balmoral Hotel when the last novel was finished
Elephant House Café
When she started to write the Potter novels, JK Rowling was so poor she couldn't afford to heat her house during the day.  Instead she would go to the Elephant House café, buy a single cup of coffee, and spend hours writing in the warmth of the café.  Today inside the café, there is a display dedicated to JK, and the walls of the bathroom are covered in graffiti notes to the author and her characters and quotes from the books.  I admit - I added my own inscription when I had lunch there one day! 
Inscriptions on the bathroom walls at The Elephant Cafe
The food at the café is delicious, and reasonably priced.  The café is filled with elephant ornaments of all sizes, paintings and other works of art.  However, my favourite thing is that you are not allowed to sit down at a table until you have ordered and have your food.  None of this "my friend is ordering for me but at the back of the queue so I'm going to save us a table".  As a sole traveller, this makes the world of difference as the tables aren't all filled with people waiting for their friends to order.

The Balmoral Hotel

"JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (552) on 11th Jan 2007" - this is the inscription that JK Rowling left on the marble bust of Hermes within the room at the Balmoral Hotel.  Room 552 has since been renamed the J.K. Rowling Suite, and reportedly costs £1000 per night.  Just a little bit outside my budget!

George Heriot's School
George Heriot's School
George Heriot's School was founded in 1628 as a school for the education of "puire fatherless bairnes".  While it is now a private school for the wealthy, in accordance with George Heriot's legacy, the school still offers some bursaries to children without fathers.  This is believed to have inspired the idea of Harry being an orphan.

Greyfriar's Kirkyard and the tombstones that inspired some of the names in the novel
Greyfriar's Kirk and Graveyard
Located on the walk between the Elephant Café and George Heriot's School, Greyfriar's Kirk (church and graveyard) was a popular picnic location for JK Rowling.  While lunching here with her baby daughter, JK found the names for several of the characters in her books including Tom Riddle and Professor McGonagall.

That's it for Edinburgh.  Back to actual film locations tomorrow.

Happy travels


P.S.  Because I'm crazy, I'm also completing the A-Z Challenge over at Fangirl Stitches where I am cross stitching 2 different alphabets - Pokemon and Supernatural. E is for Eevee and Ellen Harvelle


  1. Nice travel account!
    Beth Lapin
    Activities for a Good Life

  2. I am so enjoying these posts Ros and the pictures.


  3. Hey, did you get to see Victoria Street at all during your visit to Edinburgh? (Alleged inspiration for the Diagon Alley) :) Greetings from Edinburgh! (I'm thinking of writing my Geography dissertation on Harry Potter and Edinburgh landscape, hence the question. I'll consider myself very lucky if you reply since it's been a while since you wrote this blog).