Cotswold Ways: A walk around JK Rowling’s childhood haunts
Walk in the childhood neck of the woods of Harry Potter author JK Rowling and enjoy forbidden forests, romantic ruins and stunning cliff-top scenery along the Wye
JK Rowling’s Gloucestershire roots are evident from the very first sentence of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: ‘Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.’ Born in Yate General Hospital in 1965, Joanne Kathleen Rowling (as she was back then) lived in a couple of locations around the county as a child. At one point her family dwelled in Winterbourne, now in South Gloucestershire, where she had friends next door whose last name was Potter. Her parents moved to Tutshill when she was aged nine, and she attended the Primary School there and Wydean Comprehensive School at Sedbury, overlooking the Severn (the start or end of the Offa’s Dyke Long Distance Footpath) from the age of eleven – the same year Harry Potter started at Hogwarts. Professor Snape was based upon the head of science there at Wyedean, the late John Nettleship (her mother, Anne, was a science technician in the Chemistry department). Several scenes from the blockbuster film adaptations were filmed in Gloucestershire, including at Gloucester Cathedral and Symonds Yat. And, to clinch the JK credentials for the area, the author revealed on her Pottermore website that ‘the wizarding family of Potters descends from the twelfth-century wizard Linfred of Stinchcombe’, a small civil parish between Dursley and Nibley. Walking around Tutshill and Tidenham one gets a real sense of Rowling’s childhood mythscape – the dramatic landscape of the Wye Valley that must her stirred her youthful imagination and manifested decades later in the world of Harry Potter. As we celebrate 20 years of ‘the boy who lived’ what better time to see where it all started? Excelsior!