Gliding is a method of magical locomotion where the beast, being or spirit moves at a walking rate slightly above the ground, but without using feet. It is similar to Levitation or Flying, but distance above the ground is limited.
Several magical beings are seen to glide across a solid surface. This seems to be something other than a graceful walk to reduce or eliminate the normal jerky motions associated with walking. However, as witches and wizards often wear floor-length robes that cover their feet, grace in walking cannot be ruled out.
Not much is known about this magic; for instance whether one can glide where one could not normally walk, such as across a gap in the ground, or over water. If the latter is the case, then this would be another possible means for Hagrid to have reached the Hut-on-the-Rock, which was in the sea. (He said he flew.)
Ghosts mainly move about through gliding. However, as they are insubstantial and can move through solid walls, they may be able to fly through floors and ceilings instead of having to use the stairs. They may be able to move long distances very quickly. For instance, some ghosts were able to journey long distances to visit Hogwarts for Nearly-Headless Nick's 500th Death-day party, and Myrtle Warren, as a ghost, was able to follow Olive Hornby to her brother's wedding.
Dementors at Hogwarts in 1994, glided around the lake.
Fleur Delacour (whose grandmother is a Veela) turned and seemed to float out of Harry's room at The Burrow. When walking up the aisle at her wedding, Fleur glided while her father bounced alongside her. She did not exhibit this gliding ability in front of Harry during her stay at Hogwarts for the Triwizard Tournament.
Behind the scenes
- The Dementors in the film series seem to possess the ability to fly, whereas in the book they only seem to glide.