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JK Rowling's Edinburgh & the writing of Harry Potter

    Tour Operator: The Potter Tour     3h 45m     Travel method: Walking     Region: Edinburgh

 JK Rowling is a moderately influential woman who's sold a few books. On this tour we dive deep into her history. Learn to use failure as a springboard, be inspired, stay committed and conquer the world. Discover the sights that inspired her and the cafes which fueled her. Experience how, through her adopted daughter, Edina (Edinburgh) once more left footprints upon the world.

Act I - Rowling's hard journey to Harry Potter

What we'll see: 

1.  The Balmoral Hotel: The tour begins with a sorting

Opposite the Balmoral Hotel, where Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the tour begins.

I acquired a magic hat from a witch and we separate people into houses.  Pottermore sorted me into the Snaky house, so when they win the house contest I'm especially pleased.

2.  The Royal mile, melting pot of old Edinburgh & Rowling citizen of the world

This tour is thorough, so we'll discuss how the original idea hit Rowling.  We'll discuss what Rowling developed about the world living in Manchester.

We'll trace how Rowling's Portuguese romance and the implosion of her first marriage impacted the saga.

3.  McEwan hall Rowling's learning

We'll cover Rowling's studies, how these prepared her to map out a whole new fantastical world.

Rowling is Britain's primary role model, so we'll chat a bit about her charity work, how this impacts the world and Harry's too.

4.  Spoon restaurant - where Rowling wrote 'great chunks' of the Philosopher's Stone

We'll discuss the development of the Philosopher's Stone & the rooms former life as Rowling's beloved Nicholson's cafe.

5.  Potterrow - did it gift the name of Britain's most famous fictional hero?

We'll discuss the mythology behind this street.

Act II - Edinburgh's Harry Potter inspirations

7.  INSIDE: Museum of Scotland for mythological inspirations

Why is Ron Weasley better than Hermoine Granger at wizard chess?  We find out here.

Death is a major theme in the Harry Potter books.  We'll study the Millenium clock, commemorating human suffering in the 21st century, and discuss thematic connections to Harry Potter.

In Rowling's daughter's favourite part of the museum, we'll chat about Scottish mythology and connections to the Philosopher's Stone.

  • Venturing inside places is unique to my tours because I have small groups and donate.

8.  Greyfriars Kirkyard & how it helped create the Wizarding World

Pushing baby Jessica around trying to get her to sleep Rowling wandered into this cemetery dating from Mary Queen of Scots - 1560, she was inspired.

We follow in her footsteps.

9.  'Hogwarts', the finest school of witchcraft and wizardry in the world

We'll have a look at George Heriot's school, chat about its similarities with Hogwarts and what Rowling's first child Jessica got up to as a pupil here.

10.  The grave of Tom Riddle also known as Voldemort

We'll visit the Dark Lord's grave, perhaps we'll attempt a resurrection.

11.  The Elephant House - the most famous 'Harry Potter cafe'

Second novels are often claimed to be the hardest, this is where Harry learned to walk then run. 

The cafe has one of the best views of medieval Edinburgh.

We'll discuss how this helped write the Chamber of Secrets and beyond.

12.  TRY: Scottish Whisky ice cream, at present, they even have Butter-brew flavoured (not always open)

Scottish ice cream is the best ice cream in Scotland.

13.  Victoria Street, Edinburgh's wizarding street, is this Diagon Alley?

  • We chat about how the street was in the 90s
  • If people are interested, this is Potter central, I'll chat about some of our Diagon Alley style Potter shops.

The final act

"There will be books written about Harry, every child in our world will know his name."
- The Philosopher's Stone, Professor Minerva McGonagall. 

Little did Rowling know it would come true.

14.  Riddle's Court, a fabulous restored 16th-century town house

  • This is the most romantic sight in Edinburgh so we chat about Harry Potter and love. 

15.  Writer's Court & the writer's museum

A splendid Scottish baronial style mansion house

The story of how the books became a publishing sensation, tracing it from Britain to America to gripping - and paving - the planet.  Lifting Rowling from poverty and rocking her world.

16.  JK Rowling's Edinburgh Award & the House cup presentation

JK Rowling's handprints, chiselled in Scottish stone, painted gold, Edinburgh's most celebrated citizen.

  • At the end of the saga, having taught a generation of kids to read across the globe, the honours began rolling in.
  • 4 more Fantastic Beasts movies to come.  11 more 'Robert Galbraith' detective novels.  Rowling remains a role model for the world.
  • We'll celebrate her and give thanks to her.
  • The house cup will be awarded and chocolate frogs shall be served (do not tell children in case of Frog failure).
It was an unforgettable tour for me and the boys and they still talk about it!

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No hidden costs
Difficulty: Moderate

What is included

Sam.  Look out for the wizard robes, or if it's rainning heavily Potter-glasses.  He's a total nerd.

We may go inside:

The Museum of Scotland

The writer's Museum.

Important information

Please check the weather the morning before.

It's winter it's cold, bring hats and gloves, maybe a rain jacket. Dress like Dobby, wear a pillowcase.

It's a long up and down walk, 4 miles. Wear comfortable, ideally flat, waterproof shoes.

4 miles right! Eat a big breakfast; eat for Hagrid. If your feet aren't baby Dolphins yet keep shoveling.

Full stomachs mean bouncy cheery spirits, empty stomach complain like Draco after house Quidditch. Eat eat eat!

We will be at the start point for about 10 minutes.  The Google Streetview.

Beyond that please use my latecomers map to chase us down, the best of the tour is still ahead.


Edinburgh's old town has free council wifi: EdiFreeWifi

  Meeting Point Information

Outside General Register House beside the statue of the Duke of Wellington on his reading horse. Opposite the Balmoral Hotel.
2 Princes Street, EH1 3YY Scotland, United Kingdom

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