The Real Reason Harry Potter Fans Have Been Asked to Stop Leaving Socks on the Remote Beach

A beach used as the "final resting place" of a beloved book character is being littered with socks—and authorities are asking people to stop. Dobby, a character in the Harry Potter books, has a shrine in honor of him at a beach in Wales.

Fans of the books and the movies have been visiting the shrine and leaving mementos—specifically old socks—and rocks with messages written on them with colored markers. Here's why the fans are leaving such unusual items and why the local government is telling them to stop.


Dobby's Grave

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows parts I and II were filmed at Freshwater West beach, Wales, a protected conservation area. The character of Dobby, a house elf who becomes free after being accidentally given a pair of old socks, dies at the end of part I and is buried on a dune overlooking the beach. Fans created a shrine for the imaginary character with a tombstone that reads, "HERE LIES DOBBY, A FREE ELF."


Hundreds of Socks

Fans have been flocking to the beach and leaving old socks at the shrine, as well as pebbles with messages written on them. "RIP Dobby" and "we love you Dobby" are some of the messages written on the rocks with permanent markers. According to National Trust Cymru, 75,000 people visit the beach every year, which is a cause for concern—especially with the items tourists are leaving behind.  


Protected Wildlife

Freshwater West beach is home to gray seals, seabirds, and harbor porpoises. It is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a European Designations of Special Protection Area and a Special Area of Conservation. While there was some discussion about the future of the Dobby shrine, authorities have decided it can stay—but people must stop leaving socks behind.


No More Socks

"The memorial to Dobby will remain at Freshwater West in the immediate term for people to enjoy," National Trust Cymru says in a press release. "The trust is asking visitors to only take photos when visiting the memorial to help protect the wider landscape. Items like socks, trinkets, and paint chips from painted pebbles could enter the marine environment and food chain and put wildlife at risk."

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Leave No Trace Policy

The trust is asking people to respect the environment and help protect wildlife. "The management of Dobby's grave requires further liaison between relevant stakeholders to reach a middle ground which allows access but provides a more sensitive solution for the local environment," the Trust says. "The involvement of one or more local charities or groups is suggested in terms of adopting a role in overseeing the site in future."