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VisitBritain encourages Harrry Potter fans to explore England's magic

Travel News Asia 17 November 2005

With Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire being enjoyed by millions around the world, VisitBritain, the national tourist office for England, Scotland and Wales is inviting travellers to hop on their broomsticks and visit England, where the wizarding world of Harry Potter comes alive.

For all muggle enthusiasts of the film, VisitBritain has put together a guide or Portkey to retrace the steps of Harry and his friends. From pacing the grounds of Oxford University where the Triwizard Tournament was staged to soaking up the mesmerising scenery at Exmoor where most of the outdoor scenes were filmed, movie fans will be transported to the magical world of Harry Potter. Who knows, one might even bump into Moaning Myrtle at the Gloucester Cathedral!

Visitors to Oxford University can experience many of the locations used in recent Harry Potter films, including the latest Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The exciting and dangerous Triwizard Tournament as well as the Defense Against the Dark Arts scene in which the eccentric Mad-Eye Moody demonstrates the Three Unforgivable Curses were all filmed there.

Christchurch College is the site of the magnificent Hogwarts dining hall, and also provided many of the schools famous moving staircases. Should any travellers have a run-in with an ill-tempered magical creature, the Hogwarts hospital can be found in the universitys Divinity School, which features as the schools infirmary in the newest Potter film.

The universitys circular Bodleian Library contains several antique manuscripts and mysterious works, including an ancient book of spells and witchcraft in Duke Humphreys Library, another location used in the films. The circular library is also the location where the eccentric Mad-Eye Moody demonstrates his competence by turning Malfoy into a ferret. While exploring Oxfords impressive gothic architecture and foreboding spires, visitors can feel the magic that inspired author Lewis Carroll, who wrote his most famous work Alices Adventures in Wonderland on these grounds.

Beacon Hill, lying 768 feet above sea level, is the impressive location for the filming of the "Portkey" scene when Harry, Ron and Hermione travel to the Quidditch World Cup. The hill, a 350 acre grass farm with 40 acres of ancient beech woods and brush, has its own history dating back to the early Iron Age hill fort.

Most of the on-location filming took place at Exmoor in Devon. This location, located in the south-west of England in parts of Devon and Somerset, has been described as a simply picturesque piece of land. A national park, it covers about 693 sq km, boasts a stunning scenery with endless views, England's highest cliffs, sparkling rivers, rolling hills and wooded valleys.

Near Oxford, travellers eager to see something truly magnificent will not want to miss Blenheim Palace, one of Britains largest and grandest private homes. Visitors can tour the homes state apartments, pleasure gardens and fantastic parkland and lake developed by Lancelot Capability Brown. The palaces grounds include an adventure playground, mystical butterfly house, and a challenging maze.

Travellers eager to see more of Hogwarts -- and perhaps greet a few ghosts -- will not want to miss Gloucester Cathedral in Gloucestershire. This cathedral is considered one of Britains most beautiful architectural gems, and was featured extensively in the third Harry Potter film. While one may not meet Nearly Headless Nick or Moaning Myrtle in these halls, an ancient wooden door does lead down to the old crypt, said to be haunted by monks from the old Gloucester monastery.

Budding wizardry students will find many other magical opportunities in Gloucestershire. Those with a flair for potion making will want to visit the Selsley Herb Nursery near Stroud. The nursery grows many of the fantastic herbs used by students in the Harry Potter books, including mandrakes, monkshood, wolfbane, fluxweed and belladonna. Also in Gloucestershire, visitors can learn more about the owls used by Hogwarts students at the National Bird of Prey Center. The Center is home to more than 60 species of owls, eagles and hawks, and offers an Owl Experience Day where owl enthusiasts can learn how to handle and fly these magical creatures.

While in London, Potter fans cannot miss a priceless photo op at the enchanted Platform 9-3/4 at Kings Cross Station. Would-be wizards and witches can try their hand at pushing a trolley through the brick wall between platforms nine and 10, otherwise known as the portal to the wizarding world.

Enthusiasts can hop on a train to Goathland Station in North Yorkshire, which doubles as Hogsmeade Station in the third Harry Potter film. This station is situated in the beautiful North York Moors National Park in northeast England, Great Britains smallest national park. The station has not changed much since the day it opened in 1865, and still offers rides on an original classic steam train on an 18-mile track through the park.

Whatever your magic, Britain houses a whole host of attractions for all Harry Potter fans around the world.

See other recent news regarding: VisitBritain, England

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