Harry Potter Fans: You Can Actually Visit Dobby's Grave in Wales
"Here lies Dobby, a free elf." No seriously, right here.
“Here lies Dobby, a free elf.” The words are our final memorial to a miraculous life story: the story of a lowly housekeeper and cook, destined for a life of servitude to cruel masters, but set free by the kindness of a friend. They’re the lasting memory of an elf who risked it all for his friends, saving them from the clutches of death in the bowels of an evil dungeon, paying the ultimate price in return.
“Here lies Dobby, a free elf.” They’re the words millions of Harry Potter fans remember Dobby by, but they’re missing a key line—“Right here, just off of the B4319 in Pembrokeshire, Wales.”
Freshwater West is a windswept, grassy beach on the Irish Sea, about two hours west of Cardiff by car. One look, and it’s easy to see why the crew of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows picked this stretch of sand as the resting place for one of the wizarding world’s most beloved characters. It’s remote, hardly a traveler in site. And it’s beautiful, a blank of emerald water laps onto a field of tall sand dunes, layered in sage-colored seagrass and smooth stones, bound to the surf by the tides.
It’s this beach that served as the filming location for Shell Cottage, a refuge for the Order of the Phoenix, and the last place Dobby was seen alive. Here, Dobby was laid to rest under a stone bearing the famous inscription, under the watchful care of Harry Potter himself. Even in the iconic natural beauty of Potter films, Dobby’s grave stands out as one of the most beautiful. Surprisingly, it’s also one of the easiest filming locations to access.
Getting to Dobby’s Grave
Unlike Glenfinnan Viaduct, the famous train bridge to Hogwarts tucked deep in the Scottish Highlands, Dobby’s grave is accessible with ease from London. An £18 train ride will snag you a seat from London Paddington to Cardiff Central. You’ll get to Cardiff in about two hours, and a two-day car rental will get you to the grave. (You could drive it in one, but Pembrokeshire offers so much more to see that at least two days is recommended.) Alternately, a local guide can pave your way.
From the Freshwater West parking lot, follow the series of walking trails west-southwest towards a tall set of dunes. Dobby’s grave lies on the first series of dunes, overlooking the beach. You should be able to use several deep cuts in the dune fields as a guide; your target is beside the first deep cut nearest the parking lot. You’ll be able to line up screenshots from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with the dunes for a helping hand.
Until recently, a gravestone marked the filming location; however, the tombstone was removed by park officials sometime during the summer of 2018. Now, the site of the burial is marked by a circle of smaller stones set by travelers. It’s within eyesight of a stone-covered area of beach that served as the location of Shell Cottage—another worthy Potter destination.
What To Do in Pembrokeshire
Since you’ve already traveled to the remote reaches of southwestern Wales, you might as well make a day of it. A 20-minute drive south will take you to Stack Rocks (pictured), where cliffside hikes rivaling the best in the world await behind the gates of Castleman Army Tank Firing Range. (Just make sure to call ahead at +01646 662367 to make sure the road is open and not closed for drills.) This area was also the site of a famous Welsh UFO encounter in the late 1970s.
If you’re looking for lodging, the scenic town of Tenby sits nearby, home to a seaside assortment of colorful homes and businesses reminiscent of Italy’s Cinque Terre.
For adventurers, the smallest city in the U.K.—St. David’s—hosts a medieval cathedral once raided by Vikings, in addition to one of the world’s most unusual extreme sports, coasteering. TYF adventures can set you up with a guide, helmet, wetsuit and lifejacket for a chance to safely jump off of Pembrokeshire’s famous cliffs and into the rolling white water below.
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