'The Primroses were over. Towards the edge of the wood where the ground became open and sloped down to an old fence and a brambly ditch beyond, only a few fading patches of pale yellow still showed among the dog's mercury and oak tree roots. On the other side of the fence, the upper part of the field was full of rabbit holes. In places the grass was gone altogether and everywhere there were clusters of dry droppings, through which nothing but the ragwort would grow. A hundred yards away, at the bottom of the slope, ran the brook, no more than three feet wide, half-choked with king-cups, water-cress and blue brook-lime. The cart track crossed by a brick culvert and climbed the opposite slope to a five barred gate in the thorn hedge. The gate led into the lane.'
These are the first of over 190,000
words that are "Watership Down". They took
fifteen months to write by hand with fountain
pen on foolscap paper; six months to edit and
type; ten months to be accepted for
publication, and two years more to
finally get into print.
In all "Watership Down" took five years
to go from an idea to a book.
I've just stepped out away from the trees and can now see round to the culvert which Graham, who accompanied me on some of my visits, can be seen photographing. The end of the hedge is just visible on the extreme right. The once five-barred wooden gate to the lane, now a galvanised steel tubular thing, which we unknowingly had just walked up are off to the left. If we had known that at the time.... The town of Newbury starts just beyond the trees that can be seen in the distance.
Since I took this picture in 1982, man has encroached close to the warren. The field between the patchy hedge and the trees in the distance is now Newbury Rugby Club and a doctor's surgery.
You can also see Sandleford on Google maps.