Harry Potter fans have been asked to stop leaving tributes on the beach where house-elf Dobby’s death was filmed. The grave, which pays homage to the beloved Harry Potter character, is on Freshwater Beach West in Pembrokeshire, a legally protected conservation area.
Jonathan Hughes, Deputy Director of Operations for the National Trust in South Wales, said: “We need to balance the popularity of the site with the impacts on the sensitive nature of the beach and the wider environment, and the pressure on surrounding facilities and roads.”
In May the conservation charity released a survey of the beach, which included a question about whether the memorial site, where fans tend to leave socks and pebbles, should be left there where it was or moved to an “appropriate publicly accessible off-place location”.
“Over time the much-loved Freshwater West has become increasingly popular,” the National Trust said in the survey. The beach now welcomes more than 75,000 visitors a year.
“Access to nature and the outdoors for all is vitally important, but increased visitor numbers have added additional pressure on the environment and facilities…we hope the elements of this menu of options will help move closer to a viable, sustainable and environmentally friendly future solution for the management of this special place,” he added.
Twitter users at the time were split over the decision. ‘Honor it with a holiday, but a memorial is a bit too much,’ one wrote of the grave, while another commented, ‘Let it be, it’s beautiful and it doesn’t hurt There’s no point in taking it off, people will still come there, let Dobby [to] rest in peace!”
After the consultation, the National Trust concluded that the makeshift grave would remain “for the immediate future for people to enjoy”, adding that “the trust asks visitors to take photos only…Items such as socks, trinkets and paint Painted pebble chips could enter the marine environment and the food chain and endanger wildlife.
In its summary, the National Trust said: “The management of ‘Dobby’s Grave’ requires further liaison between relevant stakeholders to achieve ‘common ground’ which allows access but provides a more sensitive solution for the local environment The involvement of one or more local charities or groups is suggested in terms of adopting a role in overseeing the site in the future.
Freshwater Beach West is home to both wildlife and flora, including rare ground-nesting birds and lizards, which have been disturbed by increased traffic. In 2018, the National Trust set up a steering group to try to find more sustainable solutions.
Dobby, who first appeared in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was enslaved to the Malfoy family before being freed by Harry at the end of the first book and film. He then repaid the favor in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by getting Harry and his friends to safety, but was struck by a flying knife and died shortly afterwards. In the book, Harry digs a grave for Dobby on the beach, marking it with a stone that reads, “Here lies Dobby, a free elf.”
The National Trust Cymru is hosting a walk-in session on the issue at the Stackpole Centre, Stackpole, Pembroke, between 2pm and 7pm on November 10.