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Film and television locations in Wales

A photo showing the TARDIS prop used for filming Doctor Who on set at Rhosili. The TARDIS is perched on top of the cliff, overlooking Rhosili Bay beneath it in the background.
The TARDIS on set at Rhosili, Swansea | © BBC Photo Library

Wales offers some of the finest houses, dramatic coastlines and stunning countryside that have transformed into backdrops for Hollywood blockbusters and television shows. The National Trust looks after many locations that have appeared in Harry Potter, Robin Hood, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, The Last Kingdom, and Snow White and the Huntsman. Discover the stories behind each of these special places and how to visit them.

Wales as an important filming location

Whether through its gardens, beaches, country houses or mountain ranges, it seems Wales has it all when it comes to the best cinematic and television backdrops. Find out more about the National Trust places used by major productions to make their story locations come alive.

Doctor Who across Wales

Over the years, we’ve been playing our part in Doctor Who’s time-travelling adventures, from the filming of The Abominable Snowmen in Nant Ffrancon, Eryri (Snowdonia) in 1967, to the TARDIS landing at Rhosili, on the Gower, in more recent years.

Dyffryn Gardens near Cardiff and Tredegar House in Newport will be familiar to Doctor Who fans as frequent backdrops for the Doctor’s adventures.

With its beauty and grandeur, Dyffryn Gardens’ Pompeiian Garden has featured repeatedly as a version of Heaven, and the gardens also stand in for the grounds of the Palace of Versailles in The Girl in the Fireplace. Tredegar House is the most used Doctor Who filming location in our care, visited by every Doctor since David Tennant.

Carry on Up the Khyber, Watkin Path

When in 1968 the Watkin Path in Eryri (Snowdonia) doubled as the Khyber Pass, it was deemed to look like the real location in Afghanistan. Up to 40 local Welshmen played their part in the film, while cast and crew lodged at accommodation in the area for 10 days.

The film stars Carry On regulars Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, and Peter Butterworth. Visitors can retrace the actors’ footsteps and follow the Watkin Path all the way to the summit of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon).

Die Another Day, Penbryn Beach

Penbryn Beach, in Ceredigion, served as a stand-in for North Korea in the 20th Bond film, directed by Lee Tamahori and starring Pierce Brosnan. A team of eight people took three days to build a shack on the hill for the exteriors of the final love scene between Halle Berry and Pierce Brosnan.

To celebrate 007’s 50th anniversary, the National Trust was given a commemorative gold disc honouring Penbryn’s role in Bond history.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Freshwater West

Freshwater West, in Pembrokeshire, became the backdrop for 2011 film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, starring Daniel Radcliffe and based on the J. K. Rowling book.

Shell Cottage served as a safe house for the Weasley family and allies of the Order of the Phoenix. It was built on the sand dunes with the smallest detail considered such as seaweed, and the house was also filled with heavy water containers to prevent it from moving during filming.

Actor Stephen Graham on set at Tredegar House in Newport, Wales, for the film Journey’s End.
Stephen Graham filming Journey's End at Tredegar House | © Nick Wall

Journey’s End, Tredegar House

Tredegar House was the location for the British Army’s World War One base in northern France, for the filming of Journey's End starring Sam Claflin, Paul Bettany, and Stephen Graham in 2016.

For two days in November, the parkland and stables became the bustling location for tents, marquees, military vehicles, horses and around 100 supporting actors. With 90 acres of parkland surrounding the grand 17th-century house, the expanse of green was the ideal choice for the garrison scenes.

Those with a keen eye might have spotted the Stable Hall at Tredegar House transformed into a general’s office. To capture the essence of what life was like for soldiers the extras, many of whom were local re-enactors, camped out overnight.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Eryri (Snowdonia)

Blockbuster movie King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was mostly filmed on Trust land in Nant Gwynant near Beddgelert and Capel Curig, in Conwy, in 2015. Directed by Guy Ritchie, the 2017 film stars Charlie Hunnam, Eric Bana, and Jude Law, and follows the legend of Arthur as he grows up and fights for his kingdom.

Eryri (Snowdonia) taking centre stage

Some of the Trust’s rangers in Carneddau and Glyderau were enlisted to help set things up and local people were drafted in as extras.

Eryri (Snowdonia) takes centre stage as the medieval town of Camelot was superimposed on the dramatic mountain peak of Tryfan. Arthur’s encounter with the Lady of the Lake is set in one of the most photographed locations of Llynnau Mymbyr.

According to Arthurian experts, Eryri (Snowdonia) is where Arthur battled the Saxons, and legend says Llyn Ogwen is Excalibur’s last resting place - pick up a map from Ogwen Cottage ranger base and explore the lakeside in search of the lost sword.

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Llyn Gwynant

Hollywood icon Angelina Jolie took on the title role for a second time in 2003 film Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Although the action-adventure movie was based in China, filming was denied so a Chinese village was created on the shores of lake Llyn Gwynant, in Eryri (Snowdonia).

The production included 30 members of the Chinese community in Caernarfon who were drafted in as extras, and a local farmer who was asked to supply chickens, a gaggle of geese and a mule.

Robin Hood, Freshwater West

In June 2009, a film crew set up on Freshwater West to capture an epic battle sequence for Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, in which horsemen with pennants gallop along the water’s edge.

Over 600 extras and 150 horses were used during filming on the beach. Russell Crowe loved it so much that instead of being helicoptered back to his London hotel after filming, he opted to camp on the sand for several nights.

Actors on horses riding across Marloes Sands, in Pembrokeshire, for film Snow White and the Huntsman.
Filming on Marloes Sands for Snow White and the Huntsman | © Universal Pictures

Snow White and the Huntsman, Marloes Sands

Hollywood’s elite Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth gathered to film dramatic scenes on Marloes Sands, in Pembrokeshire, in 2012 for epic fantasy Snow White and the Huntsman.

In the film, we see Kristen and her armoured entourage galloping towards the wicked queen’s castle, but the castle was digitally superimposed on Gateholm Island. Due to the vast amount of crew, equipment and 150 horses, a local contractor had to build an access ramp down to the beach.

The Last Kingdom, Porthor

British television series, The Last Kingdom, was mostly recreated in the countryside in Budapest, Hungary, but some of the coastal scenes for the first season were shot on Whistling Sands, in Llŷn Peninsula, North Wales.

Based on Bernard Cornwell’s historical novels, The Saxon Stories, the series began in 2015 and follows the tale of an orphaned son of a Saxon nobleman. Cast, crew, horses, and equipment made their way down to the beach in Porthor, giving Easter holidaymakers front row seats for the filming.

The Dark Knight Rises, Henrhyd Falls

Wales is home to many rare bat habitats but none rarer or more famous than the home of Batman himself. When Hollywood blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises hit cinema screens in 2012, the Caped Crusader’s legendary lair would have looked very familiar to many in Wales. That’s because Henrhyd Falls in the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons), South Wales’s tallest waterfall at 88ft, doubled as the Bat Cave in the big-budget film starring Christian Bale.

The Secret Garden, Bodnant Garden

Bodnant Garden was one of five gardens used for the classic children’s book adaptation of The Secret Garden. During a fortnight in July 2018, it was transformed into a film set with cameras, drones, wind turbines, and trailers.

Released on Sky Cinema in 2020, Bodnant Garden became a star itself by providing the perfect backdrop for the magical garden.

Third Star, Barafundle Bay

Named as one of the best beaches in the world, it is no wonder Barafundle Bay, in Stackpole, Pembrokeshire, was chosen as the stomping ground for 2010 British drama Third Star.

The film tells the story of friends in their late twenties who return to the bay for a last visit, before Benedict Cumberbatch's character James succumbs to terminal cancer.

Previous films in Pembrokeshire have superimposed castles and cast, but this film really shows how beautiful and unspoilt Barafundle really is. National Trust Wales was a partner in the production and provided accommodation, transport, and advice on local weather and conditions throughout the shoot.

Treasures of Wales: Houses, Land and Secrets on S4C

A six-part television series in 2022 on S4C helped viewers discover the stories hidden within the walls of six of Wales’s most historic houses and castles, asking important questions about their past – both the good and the bad.

Treasures of Wales: Land, Houses and Secrets gave comedian, presenter, and self-professed history geek, Tudur Owen, and architectural conservator in Caernarfon, Elinor Gray Williams, the chance to learn about extraordinary National Trust places and meet the people who care for them.

Filming locations included Penrhyn Castle, Powis Castle, Tredegar House, Chirk Castle, Plas Newydd, and Erddig

Supporting special places

As well as showing off beautiful locations, filming directly benefits the places in our care that star in the production. The income from location fees goes straight back into conservation work to care for historic houses and landscapes, so that we’ll all be able to see them both on screen and in real life for years to come.

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