Why pay through the nose to visit the sets of your favourite films when you can stroll right through them for free? Here’s our pick of the UK’s top mountainous movie locations.
New Zealand doesn’t have the monopoly on mountain movie tourism. Countless blockbusters and cult classics have been filmed in the British hills - so why not follow in the footsteps of your on-screen heroes and enjoy a cracking hill walk at the same time?
Malham Cove: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1)
The ethereal limestone pavement above Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales played a star role in the penultimate Harry Potter film. Harry and Hermione set up camp on the pavement (who needs tent pegs or a comfortable spot to lay your roll mat when you’re magic, right?) during their search for Voldemort’s horcruxes. See their slightly odd choice of a secluded wild camping spot on a round walk from Malham, going via the equally spectacular Gordale Scar, circling around Malham Tarn and returning past Malham Cove itself for a pint at the cosy Lister Arms. Add in an ascent of Fountains Fell if you want to make a long day of it.
The Old Man of Storr: Prometheus
The geology of Skye is as otherworldly as it gets, so it’s no surprise that Ridley Scott decided to use the island as a key set for his Alien prequel. The Old Man of Storr is the backdrop for an archaeological discovery that establishes the premise of the movie. This legendary rocky outcrop is often hemmed around by admiring tourists, but it’s the perfect place to begin a circular day walk on the Trotternish Ridge. Alternatively, pack your wild camping kit and walk the ridge the traditional way - end to end over two days - dropping down partway for bird’s eye views of the Old Man. If you fancy taking in a few more movie sets during your sojourn on Skye, the island has also hosted the cast of Snow White and the Huntsman, Stardust and a soon-to-be-released version of Macbeth.
Glen Etive: Skyfall
You might not have the DB-5 or the seriously sharp suit, but you can still channel James Bond as you hairpin up the A82 towards Glencoe. Remember that shot where M and Bond step out of the car to survey the bleak scenery en-route to Bond’s ancestral pad? That’s filmed on the small, single-track lane that winds down Glen Etive, and can easily be linked up with an ascent of Buchaille Etive Mor or Buchaille Etive Beag. This glorious glen has also been used as a location for Braveheart, The 39 Steps and the Harry Potter films.
Snowdon: Carry on up the Khyber
Gloomy Snowdonia stands in for exotic India in the most famous of the Carry On films. Much of the flick was filmed on the Watkin Path, just before it enters Cwm Llan, and re-enactments still take place from time to time. The Watkin Path is one of the quieter ways up Snowdon and it links up nicely with the South Ridge to gain the summit, though watch out for the rather treacherous section of scree at the top. Thanks to the services of the Snowdon Sherpa bus, it’s possible take almost any path back down and return easily to your starting point.
Shap: Withnail and I
This cult classic starring Richard E Grant and Paul McGann was filmed around Penrith and Shap, just outside the eastern borders of the Lake District National Park. Hill walkers rarely venture further west than High Street - but Shap, as well as being a pilgrimage destination for film buffs, is also the start of one of the region’s most atmospheric walks. The Old Corpse Road was once used to ferry bodies from the historic village of Mardale, which was submerged in the 1930s beneath Haweswater, to the church at Shap for burial. On parts of the route, you can still see the flat stones where the coffin-bearers used to rest their burden - it was considered unlucky to lay it on the ground before the journey was complete. It’s a gentle but beautiful route, with fine views over to High Street and Harter Fell.
Aysgarth Falls: Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves
A series of broad limestone steps on the River Ure near Aysgarth stood in for Sherwood Forest in Kevin Reynolds’ 1991 take on Robin Hood. It’s here, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, that Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood brangled with Little John and was ultimately accepted into the Merry Men. Explore Aysgarth Falls on a circular walk around this scenic area, taking in views of Castle Bolton and ending at the Falls café for a homecooked lunch.
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