How did Hagrid meet up with Harry Potter to hand deliver his letter?

In Chapter 5 of the Sorcerer's Stone:

"How did you get here?" Harry asked, looking around for another boat.
"Flew" said Hagrid.
"Yeah -- but we'll go back in this. Not s'pposed ter use magic now I've got yeh.

We know that Hagrid prefers Sirius's motorcycle for flying, but that isn't on the little island. His broken wand and his limited education wouldn't enable him to apparate.

So how did he get there?

  • 30
    He used has umbrella like Mary Poppins, of course.
    – Kevin
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 2:04
  • 4
    Not really the silliest answer; given that it's strongly hinted that his broken wand (in some state of repair) is contained within the umbrella, AND given that he was given temporary license to use magic... it's a bizarre image... but could well be.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 5:12
  • 2
    I'd also assumed that Hagrid had flown with the umbrella-wand, Mary Poppins style. It's really early in the creation of the environment at that point, and I didn't have any expectations of what his mode of travel would have been.
    – Katey HW
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 22:23
  • 2
    And how did the Dursleys get back to shore?
    – user35971
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 23:40
  • 1
    @SS well, he never passed his third year, and appartion is taught in the sixth year. Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 16:21

8 Answers 8


From Quidditch Through the Ages:

No spell yet devised enables wizards to fly unaided in human form. Those few Animagi who transform into winged creatures may enjoy flight, but they are a rarity. The witch or wizard who finds him- or herself transfigured into a bat may take to the air, but, having a bat’s brain, they are sure to forget where they want to go the moment they take flight. Levitation is commonplace, but our ancestors were not content with hovering five feet from the ground. They wanted more. They wanted to fly like birds, but without the inconvenience of growing feathers.

We are so accustomed these days to the fact that every wizarding household in Britain owns at least one flying broomstick that we rarely stop to ask ourselves why.

Quidditch Through the Ages - Page 1 - Scholastic Edition

I'm going to throw out a guess that Hagrid flew to the island on a broom, based on the above information, stashed the broom in his magical moleskin coat, and took Harry back to London via the small rowboat the Dursleys and Harry had used to get to the island.

Yes, Voldemort can fly; aside from Dumbledore, Voldemort is the most powerful wizard alive and, as Hagrid points out, doesn't have much human left in him. Perhaps this is what enables him to fly. Snape flies in Deathly Hallows, but was also a very powerful wizard.

As for using the pink umbrella ala Mary Poppins, I think it's a cute idea, but is it realistic? Hagrid's wand was snapped in half during his third year, when he was expelled. We all know from Ron in Chamber of Secrets how well (not) a Spell-o-taped wand works, and the wandlore in Deathly Hallows indicates that broken wands cannot be fixed (so says Ollivander). Harry is only able to fix his holly/Phoenix wand using the Elder Wand, which he is master of. We all know that the remnants of Hagrid's wand are in his pink umbrella; his wand seems to work for him for simple spells, but I don't conclude that it's a very powerful wand in general, and I don't think it would be strong or stable enough to enable Hagrid to fly. Especially since there are no known spells enabling witches or wizards to fly unaided.

I err on the side of a broom. It's a flying object that can be transported back from the island in Hagrid's magical coat of awesomeness! Hagrid would never abandon an animal -- a Thestral -- alone on a rocky island in a storm; creatures mean too much to him. And I don't think he would have left Sirius's motorbike on the island unattended and open to the elements. So, for me, it's a broom.

ETA: 05.02.12 I found something interesting at Pottermore in the section about Vernon and Petunia Dursley. JKR talks about witches and wizards being able to "go across water," almost as if she's implying they can somehow walk across water.

Even though Petunia was raised alongside a witch, she is remarkably ignorant about magic. She and Vernon share a confused idea that they will somehow be able to squash the magic out of Harry, and in an attempt to throw off the letters that arrive from Hogwarts on Harry's eleventh birthday, she and Vernon fall back on the old superstition that witches cannot cross water. As she had frequently seen Lily jump streams and run across stepping stones in their childhood, she ought not to have been surprised when Hagrid had no difficulty making his way over the stormy sea to the hut on the rock.


This is still unclear as to how Hagrid actually crossed the water, but I think it definitely rules out a broom. So I was totally wrong on that. However, it does confirm that Hagrid had enough magical ability to cross the stormy sea, either by leaping the full distance (I don't think we know how far out to sea the Dursleys and Harry are when Hagrid arrives) or going from rock to rock across the sea. Anyhow, it seems as if Hagrid was able to cross the water using only magic; I know it's still ambiguous, but it doesn't seem, in the context of JKR's words, that Hagrid used any devices (broom; Mary Poppins umbrella; boat) or transportation magic (portkey; Apparition; Floo), and as he was at that point trained in magic only to the third year level, I can't help but wonder if the magic he needed and used to cross the sea was just basic inherent magical skills. It's still not totally clear, but I think we're able to rule things out with this information.

  • 2
    If he traveled by broom, why did he need special permission to use magic? Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 20:27
  • 14
    In Deathly Hallows, chapter 4, Hagrid says, "We'll be on the bike, brooms an' thestrals can't take me weight, see." So canon pretty clearly says there are no broomsticks big enough for Hagrid.
    – Joe White
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 0:33
  • 2
    While @JoeWhite makes a valid point about canon, I see nothing in JKR's words to imply Hagrid did not use a broomstick. Brooms fly, so he would indeed be "making his way over the sea" if he were flying a broom. Why not?
    – terdon
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 3:58
  • 4
    When he said "Flew" could he have meant "Floo"? Since Harry was in no wise privy to the nomenclature of the wizarding world, he could easily have mistaken what Hagrid said... Having said that, why did Hagrid appear outside the hut?
    – Möoz
    Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 23:03
  • 6
    "having a bat’s brain, they are sure to forget where they want to go": so how could McGonagall patrol the house, Sirius escape from Azkaban, Wormtail hide and so on?
    – algiogia
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 14:26

One thing is certain: It wasn't by broom or thestral. From "Deathly Hallows," Ch. 4, p.50 (First edition [the real, British one]):

Spoiler for context:

[Discussing which of the Seven Potters is with which protector; Hagrid talking:]
An' you're with me, Harry. That all righ'? ... We'll be on the bike, [continued in non-spoiler.]

brooms an' Thestrals can't take me weight, see?

And we know he couldn't just fly like Voldemort and Snape. So that leaves:

  • Sirius's Bike. We know he's used it before. But I don't think so:

    • Why couldn't he have used it once he got Harry? We know it doesn't count as magic because

      it doesn't register on Harry's trace.

    • Harry didn't hear it. We know the bike is quite loud.

    • I don't think he was be good enough at magic to just send it somewhere else once he was done with it, so where would it have gone?

  • Animagism or self-transfiguration. He's not well enough trained to perform that level of transfiguration, and how would he get out of it? And we can be reasonably certain he's not an animagus, since it's not so much as hinted at anywhere.

  • Walking on water. If it's good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for Hagrid, right? I'm sure they have a spell for this. Maybe, but he said he flew. Also, if that's something he knows, it'd probably be simple enough that Dumbledore and even Harry would likely know it and use it when they get wet in the sixth book.

  • Mary Poppins style. As hilarious as this image is, I'm not so sure of it. Maybe.

  • Apparition. Like Jack says in the question, Hagrid probably can't apparate. But maybe he got Dumbledore or someone else to bring him, it does make quite a bit of sense. It may not be "flying" per se (in the books at least), but as far as a one-word explantion ("flew") to someone who doesn't know magic, it seems a reasonable choice.

  • Fawkes. I just thought of this, but I'm starting to think it is the most reasonable possibility. We know Fawkes can lift a great deal of weight, at least Harry, Ron, Ginny, and Prof. Lockhart. They probably don't quite add up to Hagrid, but I think Fawkes could handle him nonetheless. I'm sure Dumbledore would have instructed Fawkes to do that sort of thing, and that Hagrid was quite loyal enough to Dumbledore to do it. And he could have apparated back to Hogwarts as soon as Hagrid was on the island (As a matter of fact, Fawkes could have apparated him there directly from Hogwarts, but I doubt that because he'd probably have had to be in London for the rest of that chapter.). As for why not to use him to get back, I'm not sure. Maybe they didn't want Harry to encounter something so magical yet. Let him ease into the idea of being a wizard.

For now, I'm going to go with Fawkes.

  • 4
    Or some other creature that was bigger and could take his weight. It seems as though a Hippogriff is about the same size as a Thestral but perhaps stronger. The magic he refers to might be in relation to concealment charms he had help with getting to the rock but can't get help with leaving the rock. Leaving the animal to find its way back on its own is not the same as "abandonment" as some one else suggests if it is a creature that can track itself back home as some are able. Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 16:19
  • Harry would not have had the Trace on him then. He turned eleven just as Hagrid reached the house! Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 18:09
  • 2
    Are we sure Harry didn’t hear the bike? “Was that the sea, slapping hard on the rock like that? And […] what was that funny crunching noise?” Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 19:00
  • 1
    Also: we don’t really know that the bike is that loud, do we? The only time we really hear a description of its sound level (as far as I can recall) is at the start of Philosopher’s Stone when Hagrid delivers Harry in Little Whinging, and while it’s described as making a deafening roar there, it’s doesn’t appear to be loud enough to make anyone on the road—which is otherwise completely deserted and quiet—wake up and react to the noise. Given how everyone looks out of their windows when Mundungus Apparates there in OotP, That seems unlikely for an actual deafening roar. Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 18:12

I can't find any conclusive info; about the only real hint I've found is this quote:

“Be grateful if yeh didn’t mention that ter anyone at Hogwarts,” he said. “I’m — er — not supposed ter do magic, strictly speakin’. I was allowed ter do a bit ter follow yeh an’ get yer letters to yeh an’ stuff — one o’ the reasons I was so keen ter take on the job —”

That suggests he was using magic to follow Harry, which opens the door up to any number of possibilities that Harry, even in his years in Hogwarts, wouldn't know about -- anything from a transformation into a flying creature to something to allow him to travel in an immaterial form to his destination.

This is supported by the rest of your quote:

“How did you get here?” Harry asked, looking around for another boat.
“Flew,” said Hagrid.
“Yeah — but we’ll go back in this. Not s’pposed ter use magic now I’ve got yeh.”

I still think a Thestral is the simplest answer (depending on it's size/weight limit), but we see hints all through the stories that magic is not limited to just what Harry has experience with, so Hagrid indicating a temporary license to perform it, has opened up a huge area for speculation. The next question, of course, being what actual skill/experience did Hagrid have, or was he somehow being bolstered by Dumbledore. But that's another question :)

  • 1
    Hm, that last part makes a good point. He could have had help from a magical object, similar to the Time Turner, but just for flight...
    – Izkata
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 0:38
  • When I first read the book, and had no clue how magic would be handled, I assumed he had a 'parent' invitation, that spawned the invitations Harry got and sent them flying to their destination. When they kept failing I assumed he held onto the parent one and had it go, to 'troubleshoot'; ok, so that's not terribly consistent with HP magic.. But I still like the idea :)
    – K-H-W
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 18:12
  • Actually, it could be. Accio is used to summon stuff to yourself, so there could be a reverse to send something to a person, then combine it with a Geminio-like spell to duplicate objects..
    – Izkata
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 19:18
  • 1
    Magic carpets are mentioned somewhere in the books even if they are not "in fashion" perhaps a REALLY LARGE carpet and a little help with a charm from Dumbledore. Misuse of Muggle Artifacts not-withstanding - brooms are Muggle artifacts too after-all. Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 22:39

I think Dumbledore set him up with a port key. He could go there and all that would be left behind is an old shoe, or maybe just a rock since a port key can be anything.

  • 2
    I like this answer. Using a portkey isn't a million miles away from "flying" and sums it up in a muggle word. He's got enough pockets. Who knows, it might of been one of the items he fishes out of his coat in Gringotts.
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 19:28

This answer is quite late, but i think the major issue with the other answers, is the reverence they hold toward JKR.

The quote is simple and straight forward.

How did you get here?


He used magic and flew to the Island. How do we know he used magic?


“Yeah — but we’ll go back in this. Not s’pposed ter use magic now I’ve got yeh.”

This is book one we the reader know nothing about magic, JKR has not set into stone all of the limitations of magic yet.

The fact that later in the series only Voldemort (Snape) can fly, has no bearing on the fact that in book 1, JRK states that Hagrid used magic to fly. Any other explanation is a Retcon of the work, trying to argue about Threstles, Fawkes, Brooms, the fact that you cant fly, doesn't mater when the book as written has none of these restrictions.

Its simply a plot inconsistency.

  • I think your on to something, if you combine this with the 'levitation is commonplace' and JK Rowlings quote, then its highly likely that a wizard could 'levitate' across water. This could be classed as a form of flying (albeit only a few feet of the ground). Basic levitation is taught in year 1 so some kind of levitation spell would be within his skill level and would be using magic. Just my feeling but it works as retcon quite well
    – Matt
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 16:58
  • 1
    This is the obvious and only TRUE answer. But of course no one on this site likes simple straightforward and TRUE answers that don't reflect on devious consistent world-building skills, do they? (It's an example of the unfortunate side effects of over-representation of programmers and mathematicians on all Stack Exchange sites. But that's a topic for another time. Ping me in chat if you want to discuss.) :)
    – Wildcard
    Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 17:54

I had this as a comment at first, but I actually think I have a different answer, inspired by Izkata.

In the Wizarding Universe, there are a lot of magical objects (Mrs. Weasley's clock, Dumbledore's Light Put-Outer) that function kind of like electronic devices in the Muggle world but we don't see them much in the course of the stories (which makes sense since we're following the life of a Muggle-raised kid in a rarefied, weird school environment) so we wouldn't know about them. I think Hagrid probably used an otherwise unmentioned magical object to aid flight (perhaps with the help of his umbrella wand). It would have to be something smaller than Sirius' motorcycle, of course. Not going to get into the whole 'wait I thought it was not allowed to bewitch Muggle objects thing, Rowling', though.

I don't think it was a Thestral because riding one isn't inherently magic, which Hagrid mentions as something he's not supposed to do now that he has Harry.

  • Perhaps Hagrid borrowed Mr. Weasley's Ford Anglia.
    – hairboat
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 16:28
  • @AbbyT.Miller That is the same problem as the motorcycle, if he did borrow it, why didn't he return with it? - Although it could be that Sirius's motorcycle wasn't available, because Sirius was in prison. Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 16:58
  • @Jack He could have returned it later. Or the Anglia could have found its own way home. Or or or or or or... or the Anglia Solution probably doesn't make much sense, but I like it anyway :)
    – hairboat
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 17:02
  • 2
    @JackBNimble - Sirius gifted the motorcycle to Hagrid before he went to Azkaban. 'Told me ter take his motorbike ter get Harry there. “I won’ need it any more,” he says. ‘I shoulda known there was somethin’ fishy goin’ on then. He loved that motorbike, what was he givin’ it ter me for? Why wouldn’ he need it any more? Fact was, it was too easy ter trace.' [...] PoA - page 154 - British edition. :) (I should clarify that he meant to get Harry to the Dursleys the night the Potters were killed, not to the island in Sorcerer's Stone) Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 19:23

This question amuses me. So here's my WAG: We know owls can find the rock. (One found it to deliver Hagrid's newspaper.) We know with an Undetectable Extension Charm you can put a lot more stuff into a bag than will really fit even if it is too large to even get in the bag's opening, and the weight is hidden too (see Hermione's bag for evidence of both of those things).

So, Hagrid got a small bag extended with an Extension Charm, attached a label to it addressing it to Harry, tied it to an owl's leg, and climbed in.

Mischief managed.

(More wizards would probably travel this way if it didn't cause most of them to suffer horrible airsickness. Surprisingly, Hagrid's ok with it, notwithstanding his experiences in Gringott's cart. That episode had more to do with his ingrained knowledge of the ricketiness of the carts and track, and his un-altered size and weight.)

  • Unless you have an example of someone using an Extension Charm on something and then climbing in... Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 17:14
  • 1
    Anyone's free to vote me down, that's part of the charm of stack exchange, but I gotta say: the scifi community on stack exchange is the most humorless bunch of pedantic scolds I've ever encountered.
    – davidbak
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 22:31
  • I don't know of any example of someone flying under an umbrella like Mary Poppins or "walking on water" (in the Potterverse) either. So what's your point?
    – davidbak
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 22:35
  • +1 for a technically accurate and creative guess.. [Undetectable Extension Charm + Owl + Hidden Passenger = Welcome to "Hogwarts Airways"] :) .. I can totally imagine it fitting in the HP universe..
    – CCCC
    Commented Sep 25, 2020 at 21:57

Everyone seems to be forgetting a key plot point, perhaps one of the most important plot points in Harry Potter.

Dumbledore can fix snapped wands. Even Harry was able to do it using the Elder Wand, imagine what DUMBLEDORE must have been able to do with it. Surely he could have mended even a fully snapped wand in an instant. He probably repaired it and put it into Hagrid's umbrella shortly after it was snapped.

It's clear that the umbrella is at least as powerful as a working wand and Dumbledore could have easily enchanted it like a broomstick so he could fly with it Mary Poppins style. Normal broomsticks can't take Hagrid's weight but when the flying charm is applied by Dumbledore using the Elder Wand... well... very few things are off-limits when the most powerful wizard in the world uses the most powerful wand in the world.

  • 1
    This is a lot of conjecture, unless you can produce a time when it was stated that Dumbledore did all the things you are assuming he did. Commented Nov 8, 2013 at 16:04
  • This whole discussion is fundamentally conjecture by nature. You're not going to get ANY answers that don't contain conjecture because it's ultimately what you've asked for given that the book does not explicitly address your question. What I'm providing is reasonable and likely conjecture. If you're going to exclude all forms of deduction and guesswork, the only answer you're going to get is "plot hole, sorry". Commented Nov 8, 2013 at 19:19
  • @JoshuaPech - Not true; many similar questions have been answered by JKR herself (browse the HP tag for examples), or some of the secondary works. No one has found an answer YET.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 3:03
  • @KHW - While she may have, it's quite irrational to EXPECT that to happen. Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 13:30
  • 1
    While Dumbledore coupled with the Elder Wand could definitely have repaired Hagrid's wand, it is not a thing he would have done shortly after it was snapped, at least not until he was cleared after CoS. Dumbledore is known for his protective nature, but, wisely enough, he is not one to toast his protégés with luxuries, for their own sake, as we see with Harry throughout the series. And the Ministry must have means to detect "wholesome" wands, we must suppose. And Hagrid ever says only that he had salvaged the pieces, and he is not one who can conceal his secrets. Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 18:01

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.