As Harry Potter fans know, Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, is home to JK Rowling and the birthplace of her books. Several of the city’s sites contributed to the series that changed our world, providing inspiration for settings and names of several important characters – and a comfy place for the writer to sit and stay as she wrote the books. We have no need to apparate to see these nine wizarding wonders, as we cycle right by them on Women V Cancer Ride the Night Edinburgh.
1. The Elephant House
The Elephant House (near Greyfriars Kirkyard) is a cute little coffee shop, where JK Rowling would often work on the novels in her early days of writing and which now boasts a sign in the window, naming it “The Birthplace of Harry Potter”, along with a bathroom full of magical messages and quotes from fans. Funnily enough, we won’t actually see the bathroom from our bikes, but we ride right past the building.
2. George Heriot’s School
We can see the George Heriot's School as we skirt its grounds and it looks suspiciously like Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This historic building is rumoured to be Rowling’s inspiration for Harry’s school (and home, so he says multiple times throughout the series).
3. Greyfriars Kirkyard
Our route for Ride the Night Edinburgh also passes the Greyfriars Kirkyard, said to be one of JK Rowling's frequent haunts during her creation of Harry Potter and the inspiration behind many a name in the books, including Tom Riddle (aka Lord Voldemort) from Thomas Riddell, (Mad-Eye) Alistair Moody from Elizabeth Moodie and Professor Minerva McGonnagal from William McGonnagall! Rumour has it JK Rowling would often wander the courtyard when in need of a name for her incredible characters.
4. The Meadows
No joke - we're Sirius ;) - when we say that Edinburgh actually has its own Quidditch team and they train in The Meadows. It’s doubtful we’ll see them at play in the dead of night, though, so you’ll need to use your imagination (which will be better anyway because in your imagination, they can fly, whereas in reality they have muggle limitations).
5. Victoria Street
We cycle along the very colourful and cobbled Victoria Street between George IV Bridge and the Grassmarket and this is apparently the inspiration behind the one and only Diagon Alley! It’s also home to the Museum Context (aka Diagon House), which sells a huge range of Harry Potter memorabilia – almost all the things you’d expect to find on Harry’s Diagon Alley.
6. City Chambers on the Royal Mile
We don’t blame you if you register for Ride the Night Edinburgh chiefly because of this: we cycle along the Royal Mile, right past JK ROWLING’S ACTUAL HANDPRINTS, engraved on a paving stone in the City Chambers quadrangle. We will get to see the 2008 imprint of the hands that wrote Harry Potter! Merlin’s Beard!
7. The Balmoral
Rumour has it that JK Rowling was staying in Room 552 of The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh when she completed the final book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, in 2007. With an owl door knocker and fort-like architecture, it’s fitting accommodation for the amazing JK Rowling – and there’s proof: the author scrawled her triumphant “‘JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (552) on 11th Jan 2007” in the suite’s decorative marble bust of the Greek god, Hermes. Quite rightly, The Balmoral didn’t punish her for vandalism (only deatheaters would) but placed the bust in a protective glass case and re-named the suite after the author.
How could we not incorporate this wizarding landmark into our Ride the Night Edinburgh route? We pedal right past it on Prince’s Street – and you could even stay in the same room as JK if you wanted – and if you don’t mind paying over a thousand pounds per night.
We literally cycle along Potterrow – the possible inspiration behind Harry’s surname?
9. Cramond (near Barnton)
We cycle right through Cramond, a pretty and affluent coastal area, close to Rowling’s mansion home in Barnton. She often walks along the beach and visits the local shops now and then, though we doubt we’ll see her walking at this time of night!
We of course also pass many muggle landmarks on Women V Cancer Ride the Night Edinburgh, so our route is amazing for everyone, not just Potterheads! Our beautiful route will start and finish at the awesome Queen Margaret's University and take us past Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Yacht Brittania, the Summerhall, Lauriston Castle and Hollyrod Park, home to Holyrood Palace, Arthur's Seat, Hunter's Bog and St Anythony's Chapel - and that's only to name a few! Click here to see the full cycle route and learn more about this incredible charity challenge on the Women V Cancer Ride the Night Edinburgh page.