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Liberty Adventures: Discovering 'Harry Potter and Loch Ness'

HIGHLANDS, Scotland – A train crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct on May 30, 2011. Participants on the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip rode round trip on the Jacobite Railway from Fort Williams to Mallaig, Scotland. This location was featured in the Harry Potter movies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

HIGHLANDS, Scotland – A train crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct on May 30, 2011. Participants on the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip rode round trip on the Jacobite Railway from Fort Williams to Mallaig, Scotland. This location was featured in the Harry Potter movies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

ALNWICK, England – Alnwick Castle is one of the attractions Airmen can visit while stationed in England. Participants on the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip visited the Castle on May 31, 2011. The castle is featured in the Harry Potter movies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

ALNWICK, England – Alnwick Castle is one of the attractions Airmen can visit while stationed in England. Participants on the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip visited the Castle on May 31, 2011. The castle is featured in the Harry Potter movies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

KNARESBOROUGH, England – Water runs over teddy bears and other objects at the petrifying well at Old Mother Shipton’s Cave on May 28, 2011. Over a period of time, the water’s high mineral content will turn the objects to stone. Participants on the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip visited the cave on May 28, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

KNARESBOROUGH, England – Water runs over teddy bears and other objects at the petrifying well at Old Mother Shipton’s Cave on May 28, 2011. Over a period of time, the water’s high mineral content will turn the objects to stone. Participants on the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip visited the cave on May 28, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

NORTHUMBERLAND, England – Hadrian’s Wall is one of the attractions Airmen can visit while stationed in England. Participants on the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip visited the wall on May 28, 2011. The Romans started building the wall in 122 A.D. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

NORTHUMBERLAND, England – Hadrian’s Wall is one of the attractions Airmen can visit while stationed in England. Participants on the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip visited the wall on May 28, 2011. The Romans started building the wall in 122 A.D. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

KNARESBOROUGH, England – This mosaic gives a brief history of Knaresborough Castle. Participants on the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip visited the castle on May 28, 2011. For more information about travel opportunities call the RAF Lakenheath ODR office at commercial 01638 522 146 or DSN 226-2146. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

KNARESBOROUGH, England – This mosaic gives a brief history of Knaresborough Castle. Participants on the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip visited the castle on May 28, 2011. For more information about travel opportunities call the RAF Lakenheath ODR office at commercial 01638 522 146 or DSN 226-2146. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

LOCH NESS, Scotland – People tour Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness, May 29, 2011. Participants on the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip toured Urquhart Castle and took a cruise on Loch Ness on May 29, 2011. The RAF Lakenheath ODR offers a variety of trips to destinations throughout the U.K. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

LOCH NESS, Scotland – People tour Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness, May 29, 2011. Participants on the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip toured Urquhart Castle and took a cruise on Loch Ness on May 29, 2011. The RAF Lakenheath ODR offers a variety of trips to destinations throughout the U.K. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

ALNWICK, England –Participants on the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip visited Alnwick Castle on May 31, 2011. The castle is the second largest inhabited castle in England, and has been the home of the Percys, Earls and Dukes of Northumberland since 1309. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

ALNWICK, England –Participants on the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip visited Alnwick Castle on May 31, 2011. The castle is the second largest inhabited castle in England, and has been the home of the Percys, Earls and Dukes of Northumberland since 1309. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

MALLAIG, Scotland – A ferry leaves out from Mallaig, Scotland, on May 30, 2011. Participants on the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip rode round trip on the Jacobite Railway from Fort Williams to Mallaig, Scotland. For more information about travel opportunities, call the RAF Lakenheath ODR  office at 01638 522 146 or DSN 226-2146. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

MALLAIG, Scotland – A ferry leaves out from Mallaig, Scotland, on May 30, 2011. Participants on the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip rode round trip on the Jacobite Railway from Fort Williams to Mallaig, Scotland. For more information about travel opportunities, call the RAF Lakenheath ODR office at 01638 522 146 or DSN 226-2146. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

FORT AUGUSTUS, Scotland – A participant in the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip feeds a young highland cow at the Rare Breeds Croft in Fort Augustus, Scotland, on May 29, 2011. Participants in a RAF Lakenheath ODR “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip visited several destinations in the U.K. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

FORT AUGUSTUS, Scotland – A participant in the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip feeds a young highland cow at the Rare Breeds Croft in Fort Augustus, Scotland, on May 29, 2011. Participants in a RAF Lakenheath ODR “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip visited several destinations in the U.K. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

LOCH NESS, Scotland – People tour Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness, Scotland, May 29, 2011. Participants on the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip toured Urquhart Castle and took a cruise on Loch Ness on May 29, 2011. The next “Harry Potter and Lochness” trip with Outdoor Recreation is set for Oct. 8 – 11, 2011. The deadline to sign up is Sept. 27, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)
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LOCH NESS, Scotland – People tour Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness, Scotland, May 29, 2011. Participants on the RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Recreation “Harry Potter and Loch Ness” trip toured Urquhart Castle and took a cruise on Loch Ness on May 29, 2011. The next “Harry Potter and Lochness” trip with Outdoor Recreation is set for Oct. 8 – 11, 2011. The deadline to sign up is Sept. 27, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

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.