From the magnificent mountains of the Scottish Highlands to the charming chocolate box villages of the Cotswolds, the UK has a lot to offer as a setting for films of all genres. Whether it’s a British classic, a Hollywood blockbuster or even an animation, these films have highlighted the varied landscapes of Britain for all the world to see.
The Headland Hotel in Newquay
Based on the beloved novel by Roald Dahl, The Witches (1990) was mostly set at Pride of Britain Hotels’ very own The Headland Hotel and Spa in Newquay. The property, which is renamed Hotel Exelsior for the film, is the location for a convention of witches, who masquerade as ordinary women and turn the film’s protagonist into a mouse. During production, Rowan Atkinson, who plays the hotel manager, caused a flood when he left the bath taps running, damaging much of the crew’s equipment on the floor below.
Across the county on the south coast, the stunning beaches and landscapes of the Roseland Peninsula were the setting for About Time (2013), directed by Richard Curtis. The feel-good romantic comedy-drama follows Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), who has a special ability to time travel, as he continuously tries to change his past in order to improve his future. Just a short distance from The Nare Hotel, the small fishing village of Portloe acted as the backdrop for Tim and Mary’s (Rachel McAdams) wedding.
Dormy House on the Farncombe Estate
The charming chocolate box villages of the Cotswolds are a quintessentially English location, so it’s not surprising that they have been utilised time and time again to depict a sense of Britishness in cinema. The village of Snowshill, a short drive away from the Farncombe Estate, was covered in artificial snow for a scene in Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001), in which Bridget (Renée Zellweger) visits her parents for Christmas. For the scene, which was filmed in July, film makers cut flowers off plants and put up decorations in the village to give the illusion of winter.
Other depictions of the Cotswolds on screen come from the hit adventure-fantasy Stardust (2007), in which Amanda (Sienna Miller) lives on a picturesque line of 17th century weavers’ cottages, which is actually Arlington Row in Bibury, near Barnsley House, and the multi award-winning Atonement (2007), which used Whittington Lodge Farm, near Ellenborough Park, for its poppy field scenes.
The Yorkshire Dales
Yorebridge House offers stunning views over the Yorkshire Dales
Based on the true story of a group of Yorkshire women who produced a nude calendar to raise money for charity, Calendar Girls (2003) heavily features the beautiful hills, rivers and valleys of the Yorkshire Dales. Scenes were filmed in the market towns of Kettlewell, Skipton and Burnsall amongst others, all within easy reach of Yorebridge House.
Featuring a plethora of British locations throughout eight films, the Harry Potter series made it to the Yorkshire Dales in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010), the seventh film in the series. While hatching a plan to defeat the evil Lord Voldemort, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Hermione (Emma Watson) pitch a tent on the limestone pavement atop Malham Cove, a 230ft high gently curving cliff near the village of Malham.
Spectacular views of the Scottish Highlands from The Torridon
One of the most iconic locations used in the Harry Potter series is the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Inverness-shire, which the Hogwarts Express travels over on its route to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Elsewhere in Scotland, film crews appeared across the country for the filming of Mary Queen of Scots (2019), particularly in and around the historic capital of Edinburgh, the location of Dunstane House. The 15th Century Blackness Castle was used as the exterior of Holyrood, Scotland’s seat of government, while Seacliff Beach and North Berwick Beach also appear in various scenes.
Finally, the mountainous landscapes of the Scottish Highlands which surround The Torridon were the inspiration for Brave (2012), the Disney Pixar animation about a young Medieval princess who must undo a curse placed upon her kingdom. Animators visited sights including the impressive mountains, moorlands and heather-strewn hills of Glen Affric, as well as the Calanais Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis, which inspired the Ring of Stones where Princess Merida encounters Will O’ the Wisps, ethereal beings representing past lives.