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"Silence pressed upon his ears as he soared over a strange, dark, foggy landscape. He could only see ten feet around him, so that as he sped through the water new scenes seemed to loom suddenly out of the oncoming darkness: forests of rippling, tangled black weed, wide plains of mud littered with dull, glimmering stones."
Harry Potter's first experience in swimming in the Great Lake[src]

The Great Lake,[3][4] alternatively known as the Black Lake,[5][6][7][8] was a large body of water. It was a landlocked freshwater lake located to the south of Hogwarts Castle. The castle stands on a cliff overlooking the water. It was about half a mile in diameter and the castle's plumbing network drained into it.[9] The lake had a number of very unusual inhabitants, including a Giant Squid, a village of Merpeople, and many Grindylows.[9]



Harry Potter: "Underwater... Myrtle ... what lives in the lake, apart from the giant squid?"
Myrtle Warren: "Oh all sorts. I sometimes go down there ... sometimes don’t have any choice, if someone flushes my toilet when I'm not expecting it...."
Harry Potter and Myrtle Warren discussing of the inhabitants of the Great Lake[src]

The Merpeople village in the Great Lake

The grounds of Hogwarts functioned partly as a nature reserve for magical creatures which had difficulty existing in Muggle-inhabited areas. There were Grindylows (vicious little water demons), Selkies (of a hardy Scottish strain) and a giant squid, which was semi-domesticated and permitted students to tickle its tentacles on sunny days, when it basked in the shallows.[2] The lake also had an island of Bowtruckles located somewhere within it.[10]


Harry Potter: "He's mad! It must be freezing, it's January!"
Hermione Granger: "It's a lot colder where he comes from. I suppose it feels quite warm to him."
Ron Weasley: "Yeah, but there's still the giant squid."
— The trio observing Viktor Krum swimming in the cold lake[src]

The lake was often said to be very cold, but Viktor Krum was known to have swam in it, wearing nothing but swimming trunks, apparently not affected by the low temperature (although this was probably due to the fact that his school, Durmstrang, was located in a place that was even colder).[11] Harry Potter while under the effects of Gillyweed stated "the water didn't feel icy anymore either... on the contrary, he felt pleasantly cool and very light".[9]

Hogwarts students like Tulip Karasu[12] and Barnaby Lee[13] were known to swim in the lake.

Lily Evans and her school friends were also said to dangle their legs over the water, which could mean that there were no rules whilst they were in school against swimming in the lake.[14]


Hagrid and first-years sailing on boats

Every school year at Hogwarts, after the Hogwarts Express arrived at Hogsmeade station, Rubeus Hagrid (or a substitute) called the first-year students to follow him to the lake shore and the Hogwarts boats. Whereupon Hagrid occupied one boat and each other boat carried up to four students. The boats then self-propelled across the lake to a dock under Hogwarts Castle as per tradition.[1] At the start of the 1994–1995 school year, first-year Dennis Creevey said he fell into the lake and the Giant Squid pushed him back into a boat.[15]

Upon reaching the castle, Hagrid and the first-years disembarked and climbed the stairs to the lawn, entering the castle through the front doors.[1] First-years then waited until summoned into the Great Hall to get Sorted into their houses.[16] At the end of their first year, students took the boats back to Hogsmeade Station,[17] while most older students rode down the lane in carriages.[18]

At the end of every school year, graduating seventh-years left the school by sailing back across the lake.[19]

At some point during the 1987–1988 school year, the Black Lake incident involved a student flying a broom over the lake and diving repeatedly into the water, which resulted in Professor Dumbledore forbidding all students from using school brooms outside of Flying class.[6]

Saving the innocent

Harry conjuring a Patronus

On 6 June 1994, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Sirius Black were attacked by Dementors on the shore of the lake. Harry tried to protect them by using Patronus Charm, but he did not succeed. Before he fainted he suddenly saw a person conjuring a corporeal Patronus on the opposite side of the lake.[20]

Later that night, after using Hermione's Time-Turner in Hospital Wing, they went back in time to save Black. Harry circled the lake and waited for the Dementors. Watching the events, he realised that he earlier saw himself and conjured a corporeal Patronus in deer form to flush the Dementors.[21]

Triwizard Tournament

Main article: Second Task
"Well, all our champions are ready for the second task, which will start on my whistle. They have precisely an hour to recover what has been taken from them."
— Introduction of the Second Task[src]

The Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament, set in the Great Lake

Students from Durmstrang Institute arrived at Hogwarts on their enchanted boat via the Great Lake. The Second Task of the 1994–1995 Triwizard Tournament took place on 24 February 1995. The four champions Harry Potter, Fleur Delacour, Cedric Diggory, and Viktor Krum assembled on the shore of the lake and were told that they had one hour to retrieve what had been stolen from them. They had to retrieve the stolen item from the merpeople's villageand return.[22]

The Champions entered the water; Harry had to eat the gillyweed, which gave him gills to breathe underwater, and webbed hands and feet to allow him to swim faster. Both Fleur and Cedric utilised the Bubble-Head Charm, while Viktor partially transfigured himself into a shark.[22] Spectators had no knowledge of what was happening during the task until at least one champion returned, but were able to monitor time remaining by observing a provided clock.[22]

Albus Dumbledore's funeral

White Tomb, Albus Dumbledore's resting place

In 1997, Albus Dumbledore was laid to rest in a White Tomb on the shores of the lake following his death during the Battle of the Astronomy Tower.[23] The place where the ceremony was held was set up outside of the castle near the Black Lake as well. Hundreds of golden chairs had been set out in straight even rows. An aisle ran down the centre of them: there was a marble table standing at the front, all chairs facing it. An extraordinary assortment of people had settled into half of the chairs: shabby and smart, old and young. The Merpeople who took up residence in the lake attended the funeral.[23]

Trevor's escape

At some point in his life, Trevor managed to escape from Neville and into the lake. Both pet and owner felt a sense of relief at this.[24]

Behind the scenes

Author's comments

"The lake is the setting for the second task that the Triwizard competitors must face in Goblet of Fire, which is also my favourite task. I find it satisfyingly creepy; I like the diversity of the methods employed by the competitors to breathe underwater, and I enjoyed plumbing the depths of a part of the grounds that had never been seen before. In the original draft of Chamber of Secrets, I had Harry and Ron crash into the lake in Mr Weasley's Ford Anglia, and meet the merpeople there for the first time. At that time I had a vague notion that the lake might lead to other places, and that the merpeople might play a larger role in the later books than they did, so I thought that Harry ought to be introduced to both at this stage. However, the Whomping Willow provided a more satisfying, less distracting crash, and served a later purpose in Prisoner of Azkaban, too. The Great Lake (which is really a Scottish loch, apparently freshwater and landlocked) never did develop as a portal to other seas or rivers, although the appearance of the Durmstrang ship from its depths in Goblet of Fire hints at the fact that if you are travelling by an enchanted craft, you might be able to take a magical shortcut to other waterways."[2]


The Harry Potter Wiki has 160 images related to Great Lake.

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 6 (The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Writing by J. K. Rowling: "The Great Lake" at Wizarding World
  3. Pottermore Insider - "It's time to pass the magic on with the new Bloomsbury Harry Potter books"
  4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game) - (see this image)
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 4, Chapter 5 (Time to Fly)
  7. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 37 (Entering the Black Lake!)
  8. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite "Brilliant Event: Back to Hogwarts"
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 26 (The Second Task)
  10. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay, Scene 70
  11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 24 (Rita Skeeter's Scoop)
  12. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 3, "The Frog Choir" Achievement
  13. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Side Quest "Crushed"
  14. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 28 (Snape's Worst Memory)
  15. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 12 (The Triwizard Tournament)
  16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 7 (The Sorting Hat)
  17. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 17 (The Man with Two Faces)
  18. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 10 (Luna Lovegood)
  19. 2007 PotterCast Interview
  20. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 20 (The Dementor's Kiss)
  21. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 21 (Hermione's Secret)
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 26 (The Second Task)
  23. 23.0 23.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 30 (The White Tomb)
  24. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Toads" at Wizarding World (transcript available here)
  25. WP favicon.PNG Loch Shiel on Wikipedia
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