Days Out: Visit the Whomping Willow of Harry Potter fame

"Harry Potter's Whomping Willow"

Daddy had an unexpected day off this week, and so we decided to go to the cinema as a family. But to make a whole day of it he planned an extra element, indulging our new-found love of geocaching. He didn’t tell us what we were looking for, simply plugged in our coordinates, popped the top of the Mini, and drove us to Frithsden Beeches. Handing me the iPhone, pre-programmed with the coordinates, he fell into line behind me and the Bug. Knowing my way around the geocaching appย I quickly figured out that we were en route to the actual Whomping Willow used in the Harry Potter films.

The real Whomping Willow!

"Harry Potter's Whomping Willow"

Geocaching is a brilliant way of making kids go for a walk. I’m not sure what it is about adults that they enjoy just putting one foot in front of the other, but I’ve always found that a steady supply of Wine Gums is necessary to keep me moving forwards for no good reason. Either that, or a dog, and Mummy says that is NEVER happening! She actually shouted it, so I’m pretty sure I’m never getting a dog. However geocaching – especially when it leads to something really cool like the Whomping Willow – halves the requirement for Wine Gums, meaning that every walk is about 99p cheaper than it used to be.

You will find many trees claiming to be the Whomping Willow, but this is the one used in the Harry Potter films. It is in fact a Beech tree, not a Willow, and it has been used for several films and TV programmes, including The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and UK TV series Jonathan Creek. The Geocaching website has this to say about how the tree has formed it’s distinctive look:

This particular tree has evolved due to pollarding, a form of woodland management where the branches were regularly cut from the trees to use as firewood. Branches would be cut from the trunk to around a metre or so off the ground and this would then allow new branches to grow unchecked by browsing animals such as deer, before the process was repeated.

The really fabulous thing about this tree is that it is not fenced off like a museum exhibit. You can actually climb it. ‘Someone’ may even have taken an emergency wee on it’s roots. Ahem.

If you’d like to visit the Whomping Willow the geocache reference is: GC3H4NY. It’s a lovely stroll in the woods, easy to navigate – there is a boggy area at the start, which didn’t do anything for my sequinned boots, but it’s easy to find a way around that if you look hard enough. The woods are also home to deer, so watch your step ๐Ÿ˜‰

To make a full day of it, we then visited the Alford Arms – Hertfordshire’s dining Pub of the Year. You will need to book if you want to eat there, and it’s easy to see why. Amazing food, and they’re happy to do smaller portions of the main menu for children, which scores a big tick with us – if you’ve seen our posts about kids menus in restaurants you’ll understand why. Although the accolade is well-deserved for the food, you might want to avoid it in the summer though – lazy flies settled on our meals throughout lunch, and the manager was very defensive about that when we mentioned how annoying it was. Apparently it’s the location. Until they figure out a better way of controlling their fly population we’ll be steering clear until the Autumn months – but we will be back.

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30 thoughts on “Days Out: Visit the Whomping Willow of Harry Potter fame”

  1. I so want to find the Harry Potter Whomping Willow! Not sure who would be more excited though, me or the kids

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  2. This looks like great fun! I just signed up to the Geocaching website, we are definitely going to give this a go ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. Wow what an awesome tree! Sounds like a fantastic day out and I am intrigued by geocaching so am going to look into this, my 4 year old is obsessed with maps at the moment ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. Oh my goodness, such a fabulous tree, and not fenced off! I love the picture of the fungi too. I am always on the look out for strange looking fungi.

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  5. wow, wow, wow! am very jealous – how cool is that?
    can’t wait til my boys are old enough for Harry Potter…

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  6. Geocaching is something we are meaning to try so that you for this great post. That is really great that you found the actual tree – what a fantastic daddy!

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  7. Admit it, it was you that wee-ed on the tree…

    How cool though – I love Harry Potter and geocaching sounds like great fun!

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  8. Oh what a day out. I really want to try geocaching, I’ve read a few posts about it and it sounds fun. I do love the whomping willow, Harry Potters real tree – what a find ๐Ÿ™‚

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  9. We haven’t done any geo caching this year. I feel a walk coming on. Love the idea of going to the whomping willow. Ah, to climb that tree!

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  10. Well I haven’t seen Harry Potter (or read the books – I think I’m the only person in England to claim that), and I have Geocached, but now I want to do both! What an incredible tree – so interesting how they have chopped it to create that look. Great post – and I’m sure that the wee would only serve as a very good fertiliser ๐Ÿ™‚ x Popping over from CountryKids

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  11. That is just brilliant, what an incredible tree. Such fabulous surprise too, GG and Bug must have been super excited! Geocaching sounds excellent, we must check it out. Funny you were at the Alford Arms, I grew up in Little Gaddesden and Berkhamsted, it’s one of my old haunts ๐Ÿ™‚

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  12. Everything I read about geocaching sounds good, right down to halving the number of sweeties needed! Thanks for joining me on Country Kids.

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  13. What a brilliant day! I’ve friends who are into geocaching, but have yet to try it. I’ve a feeling once the kids are a little older, we’ll try it & be hooked. And wow, the actual Whomping Willow!

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  14. we are het to try geo caching but i know a lot of people who have done it and really enjoyed themsleves.
    i love that you found an actual whomoing willow tree and so close to youyr recent trip to theHarry Potter studio tour too!
    what a super day out for you all x

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  15. Wow what a lovely post, I’ve learned something new, how had I never heard of Geocaching?! and pollarding too, glad I popped in!

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  16. Oh that’s so cool! My oldest recognised it straight away.We live near Lacock Abbey where they filmed Hogwart’s for the first two Harry Potter films.

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  17. Geocaching looks and sounds fab. I keep reading about it and I really need to get organised and give it a try. My eldest would absolutely love it. She would also be incredibly envious to know that you’ve visited the actual whomping willow! I may not tell her about this bit just yet!!

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    • We’re so into it that my annual day out with GG to London this week doesn’t even feature Hamley’s – we’re geocaching!

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  18. That looks like great fun ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve been tempted to try geocashing before but have always wussed out, will have to give it a go!

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