Travel to pieces of UK film history

Photo credit: Isobel Fraser

During semesters as this one where there is no Reading Week, weekend mini-breaks within the UK might be the ideal way to break up the semester. As a cinephile I have found many of the filming locations around Britain intriguing, and so here are just a few places to visit:

London, home of the Queen and MI6 as well as West End bound actors, it’s easy to see why it’s such an important filming location. From period dramas, to action films, you can go to any area of London and find an interesting filming location. My personal favourite shot of London is in 28 Days Later, when Danny Boyle somehow managed to empty the area around Big Ben and film one of the most epic scenes of British cinematography which gives us the perfect look at a post-apocalyptic city.

Jane Austen lived with her family in Bath for a few years during the early 19th century and subsequently set two of her novels, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, there. Since then many period films and film adaptations of her novels have been shot there including Vanity Fair, the Pride and Prejudice BBC Series, and The Other Boleyn Girl.

Glenfinnan Viaduct
On its way to Hogwarts, the Hogwarts Express was filmed going through here on the West Highland line between Fort William and Mallaig. There is a regular service between these two places, but if you want the genuine Hogwarts experience, the West Coast Railways run the Jacobite Steam Train during the summer season (May to October).

Pembrokeshire, Wales
Pembrokeshire is no stranger to the movies. Freshwater West surfing beach was chosen as the location for Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour’s Shell Cottage in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as well as serving in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. Snow White and the Huntsman was filmed on Marloes Sands and Batman himself, Christian Bale is from the area. With a good coastline and puffins on Skomer Island,  Pembrokeshire is an ideal place to visit.

A quaint intellectual town, Oxford has become quite the centre for fantasy films, with most of the Harry Potter films, The Golden Compass and X-Men First Class being filmed there. Must sees include Christ Church’s Great Hall used for Harry Potter, and Lyra and Will’s bench in the Botanic Gardens (which also served as inspiration for Lewis Carroll).

Trainspotting in Scotland
The energetic opening scene in Trainspotting along Princes Street in Edinburgh sets the tone for this wild tale of drug culture in nineties Scotland. Apart from the opening scene, the film was mostly shot in Glasgow. Sadly the Volcano disco where Renton picks up Diane is gone, but the park in which Renton and Sick Boy discuss Sean Connerie’s career, Rouken Glen Park is south of the city centre on the line from Central Station.

West Sands, St Andrews
You don’t have to go very far to enjoy an iconic British film location, just wander down to West Sands and run with the Chariots of Fire soundtrack in your ears pretending that you are in the film.  This year filming of the Railway Man (2013) took place there, so you can say that St Andrews is still going strong in the British film industry.


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