Welcome to Durham! Home to mountains of history, incredible landscapes, and some of the most magical filming locations from the big & little screen.

My name’s Tom and I’m from Stepping Through Film where I celebrate the world of the screen in reality. I headed over to Durham to explore the beauty the county has to offer, and to visit where some of my favourite movie moments were born.

All locations are easy to visit, but a car is advisable if you want to reach all of them with ease. Durham Cathedral is the most central point with Durham station just a 10-minute walk way. Follow along below to find out more:

man holding up photos of harry potter film on top of background of Durham Cathedral used as a filming location.

Harry Potter – Durham Cathedral

The magic is all very real here in Durham City! Harry Potter probably stands as the most popular reason, for cinephiles, to visit Durham Cathedral. While the Cathedral itself is stunning to behold, just walking through makes you stare up in wonder, this location was used in the first two instalments of the Harry Potter movie franchise.

man holding up photos from Harry Potter movie on background of Durham Cathedral's Chapter House, which was used as a filming location for the movie.

We see Ron yell ‘EAT SLUGS!’, the quidditch teams heading off for practise, and Harry walking in the snow with Hedwig all right here in the Cathedral courtyard. A few steps away in a separate room we find the Chapter House; a medieval monastery which has seen its fair share of history. It’s here where Professor McGonagall teaches her transfiguration classes.

Honourable mention: I was lucky enough to be given an exclusive look behind the scenes high up inside the cathedral's Triforium. This area isn't open to the public, but it was amazing to be granted permission to view this hidden away location. It was here that Harry, Ron and Hermione encounter Fluffy the three-headed dog as they search for the Philosopher’s Stone.

man holds up images of Harry Potter movie scene on the background of Durham Cathedral Triforium, which was used as a filming location.

Avengers: Endgame – Durham Cathedral

Stay put in Durham Cathedral because do you know what else was filmed here? That’s right, Avengers: Endgame?! Still reigning as the 2nd highest grossing film of all time, this movie really is a triumph and the fact that Durham Cathedral was used for such a pivotal scene is still quite remarkable to me!

Man holds of images of Avengers Endgame movie scenes on background of Durham Cathedral, which was used as a filming location.

The interior of the Cathedral was kitted out with green screens and (very carefully) placed camera crews. Chris Hemsworth, the Russo Brothers, and a talented production team then transformed the interior into that of Thor’s home – Asgard. Keep an eye out for what elements were changed at the real location when watching the sequence again!

man holds up photos of scenes from Billy Elliot movie which was filmed in Easington.

Billy Elliot – Easington, Durham Heritage Coast

Billy Elliot certainly still holds the title as one of the most iconic British films in the past 25 years. It’s such a heartwarming story and really delves into what makes families strong and how important it is to keep chasing your dreams no matter what anyone tells you.

Visiting Easington, where the main portion of the film was shot, was a fascinating experience. Easington is about a 25-minute drive from Durham City and is worth visiting if you’re a fan of the film. The most interesting aspect for me was seeing which areas still looked identical, and which areas had been demolished. For example, the entire row of houses (which was where Billy lived in the film) have all been removed since filming.

Portions of the locations are unrecognisable, some still show the exact same doorways and windows which lined up with where Billy dances down the street. It was quite bittersweet to see the changes but very lovely to see how a lot was still standing.

man holds up photos of Downton Abbey movie scenes which were filmed at Beamish Museum.

Downton Abbey: The Movie – Beamish, The Living Museum of the North

This show is just too wonderful! I think I’ve rewatched all the seasons at least four times now. The characters it fleshes out, the storylines it gives us, and the general feel of Downton Abbey is such a wholesome and, more so than not, very cosy. So it will come as no shock that Beamish Museum here in the Vale of Durham was a perfect fit for the first big screen instalment of this saga.

I found this location so cute! It was my first visit, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. When you enter the museum, you’re greeted with many facts and information boards about the history and local area. You then exit into the ‘actual’ museum which is essentially a huge, replicated town set in the past!

You’ll find sections dating back to the 1820s all the way to the 1950s – it was a joy to explore and ‘step back in time’. Downton Abbey used the 1900s Town for some of its scenes as, when there, you really do feel like you’re in the 1900s! A perfect setting a perfect film.

man holds up photos of scenes from The Witcher tv series which was filmed at Low Force Waterfall.

The Witcher & 1917 – Low Force Waterfall, Durham Dales

You’ll want to visit Low Force Waterfall! Next up we have The Witcher, the smash hit on the little screen from Netflix. This series explores the realms of fantasy mixed with reality – its visuals stand out as a mix of wonderful studio-based work and real-life locations. That’s where the Durham Dales works well for this title, as the stunning landscapes of the dales really lends to the world of this show.

Low Force Waterfall was used in Series two and it’s quite easy to spot due to its huge presence in-person and on the screen. You can park right up close to the waterfall and walk around at your leisure.

man holds up photos of scenes from 1917 movie, which was filmed at Low Force Waterfall.

1917 was also partially filmed here – the fantastic sequence where George MacKay’s William Schofield makes a quick escape by jumping into the currents of the waterfall stream and heading on upriver.

man holds up photos of movie scenes from Dansel and Elizabeth movies which were filmed at Raby Castle.

Elizabeth & Damsel – Raby Castle, Durham Dales

Head on over to Raby Castle for another magical escape. It’s here where parts of Elizabeth and Damsel were shot! That means both Cate Blanchett and Mille Bobby Brown have also been here - so what are you waiting for?

This really feels like a fairytale setting with the castle surrounded by lush green fields and a beautiful little lake right in front of it all. It feels other-worldly and even more so knowing that a huge dragon wasn’t too far away in Damsel. You’ll see scenes shot here from that film in the very beginning as Brown enters the fortress first seen on screen. It’s a little harder to pinpoint the EXACT scenes from Elizabeth here as many interiors from the film look a little similar – but it still feels like you’re stepping through the world of the film right here!

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Discover more world-famous movie locations across Durham on our dedicated filming locations page




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