Liberty Adventures: Discovering 'Harry Potter and Loch Ness'
By Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 16, 2011
ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- (Editor's note: No federal endorsement is intended or implied concerning places of interest covered by the 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs.)
As the sun started to rise, the group loaded up, ready to chart a course to find a mythical creature in the waters of Loch Ness, discover the birth place of the prophecies of old and ride the Hogwarts Express.
The journey started at the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation, where Liberty Warriors participating in the "Harry Potter and Loch Ness" trip traveled to several destinations in the U.K., from May 28 to 31, 2011.
The first stop of the adventure brought them to Knaresborough, England, where the group learned about the English prophetess and fortune teller Mother Shipton. The visit included a tour of her cave and petrifying well in addition to the Knareborough Castle.
"It was the perfect place to start a magical journey," said Cindy Workman, RAF Lakenheath ODR director.
After visiting Knaresborough, they continued their quest to the ruins of an ancient Roman fort at Hadrian's Wall, a defensive fortification built by the Romans in 122 A.D., which spans 73 miles across northern England.
Once they finished touring the fort, the group continued north to the Scottish Highlands, where they spent the night.
The next morning, they continued to Loch Ness where the group toured Urquhart Castle which, while currently in ruins, was one of the largest strongholds of medieval Scotland.
After touring the castle, the trip participants went on a cruise of Loch Ness before heading to Drumnadrochit, Scotland, to visit the Loch Ness Monster Visitor Center, Loch Ness Center and Exhibition Experience and local shopping venues.
Once the group was finished there, they headed to Fort Augustus, Scotland, to meet animals such as the Highland Cow at the Rare Breeds Croft and have dinner at a local pub.
The next day, the group rode first class, round trip on the Jacobite Railway, a railway made famous by being used by the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter movies, from Fort William to Mallaig, Scotland.
"It was really fun getting to see some of the places that they used to film parts of the Harry Potter movies and going over the (Glenfinnan) Viaduct," Christy Stanford, wife of Capt. Lee Stanford, 492nd Fighter Squadron chief of plans, said of the train ride. "The scenery was absolutely gorgeous."
After finishing the train ride the group left for Stirling, Scotland, where they would spend the night.
The next morning, the trip participants headed to Alnwick Castle in Alnwick, England. The castle has been featured in the Harry Potter films and is the second largest inhabited castle in England.
"I always enjoy Alnwick Castle, because it is one of the most complete and visitor-friendly sites I have been too," said Staff Sgt. Alex Andrejkovics, 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron unit deployment manager and RAF Lakenheath ODR volunteer.
After a tour around the castle showcasing the different shooting locations of movies such as Harry Potter and Robin Hood, visiting the state rooms and checking out other areas of the castles, the group finished their journey and headed back to Lakenheath.
According to Sergeant Andrejkovics, trips such as the RAF Lakenheath ODR "Harry Potter and Loch Ness" trip are a great way to visit different locations in the U.K.
"I meet many people who complain about being here and (say) that there is 'nothing to do,'" Sergeant Andrejkovics said. "I always recommend that they check out the ODR programs and trips or even think of volunteering if the help is needed.
"Get out and explore. It's what I like to do, and I try to share that passion," he added.