From chapter 27, 'You Can't Imagine it Unless You've Been There':
that was after us could actually follow us in the dark and rain faster than
we could run away and before long they were close behind. I was just going
to tell the others that there was nothing for it but to turn and fight when
we came to a great, steep bank that seemed to slope almost straight up to
into the air. It was steeper that this hillside below us here, and the slope
seemed to be regular, as if men had made it.
'Well, there was no time to think about it, so up we went. It was covered with rough grass and bushes. I don't know how far it was to the top exactly, but I should guess it was as high a well grown rowan tree - perhaps a little higher....'
Holly, well Adams actaully of course, was describing a different railway to the one that's there today. He was describing a steam railway and not an diesel railway.
The Efrafans were wary of going beyond
the Iron Road, and assumed that no other rabbits would either, thus the wide patrols missed
Hazel’s rabbits. In the film the situation
is more confused, probably to make
Bigwig’s entry into Efrafa more dramatic:
the area just beyond the Iron Road is the
scene of Blackavar and
Hyzenthlay’s breakout attempt.
So, how do we know it was a steam railway in Watership Down? Well, as you look from the bridge carrying this track over the Iron road itself, consider the following words as Holly continues:
'When we got to the top we found ourselves on small,
light stones that shifted as we ran on them. That gave us away completely.
Then we came upon broad, flat pieces of wood and two great, fixed bars of
metal that made a noise - a kind of low, humming noise in the dark. I was
just saying to myself, 'This is men's work all right when I fell over the
I hadn't realized that the whole top of the bank was only a very short distance across and the other side was just as steep. I went head over heels down the bank in the dark and fetched up against an elder bush: and there I lay.'
Holly stopped and fell silent, as though pondering on what he remembered. At last he said, 'It's going to be hard to describe to you what happened next... And then - then an enormous thing - I can't give you any idea of it - as big as a thousand hrududil - bigger - came rushing out of the night. It was full of smoke and light and it roared and beat on the metal lines until the ground shook beneath it....
Here are Graham's photos of some of the same scenes. The negative film he used is perhaps kinder to this sort of scene. Its certainly far easier to scan!