The Real Watership Down Header

The Plank Bridge,

in June 1983.


Sorry, this should be the plank bridge from upstream.
The plank bridge on the river Test, from upstream.
High-res
From chapter 33, 'The Great River':

'Soon they reached a place where the river curved round in a bend to the east, and here they came upon the broad, shallow fall. It was no more than a foot high - one of those artificial falls, common on the chalk streams, made to attract trout. Several were already rising to the evening hatch of fly. Just above the fall a plank foot bridge crossed the river. Kehaar flew up, circled the pool and perched on the hand-rail.
        'This is more sheltered and lonely than the bridge we crossed last night...'. The five rabbits hopped slowly along the planks, their great, sensitive ears full of the sound of the falling water. Hazel, who was not sure of his footing, had to stop several times. When at length he reached the farther side, he found that Fiver and Blackberry had already gone a little way downstream below the fall, and were looking at some large object sticking out of the bank. At first he thought that it must be a fallen tree trunk, but as he came closer he saw that although it was certainly wooden, it was not round, but flat, or nearly flat, with raised edges - some man-thing....'

Sorry, this should be the plank bridge from the northern bank.
The plank bridge from the northern bank.
High-res

The river Test is, of course, a trout stream, whatever one of those is. But this part, and this bridge, is part of the Laverstoke House estate.
The estate is the headquarters of Portals, a
world player in specialised paper-making: they make all the special paper for your banknotes.

Not that I understand what they are...
rather like "income tax".
Which apparently is no bad thing!

Blackberry knows all sorts of interesting facts about Watership Down.
The punt, which Hazel was just trying to comprehend, would have been lying quietly on the smooth flowing river just to the right of where you are standing. The River Test is one of the premiere Hampshire Trout streams. I was initially surprised to find the plank bridge at all, and certainly not in such perfect condition. However it is provided and maintained for the fishermen who pay good money to fish these unique, crystal clear waters. The "shallow fall" is just off to the right. I should have read my Watership Down more carefully before I ventured forth and taken a photo of it, but alas, I was negligent and so I cannot bring you that sight.

The banks of the Test are well tended and access is fairly simple by a footpath from the north. Following the banks is so easy there has to be a catch, and we're not talking trout here. Well actually we are because, just like the rabbits, we felt ourselves to be exposed and vulnerable on the banks of the river. This was probably as we were not entirely sure whether anyone would mind us being there. We met no one and, spurred on, we walked downstream following the course of the drifting punt to the upper bridge... That proved to be even more exposed and so after photographing it Graham and I called it a day and headed back to the pub for a pint!

See the bridges on Google maps.


ReturnClick Bigwig here to return to select another location. It might be best to avoid his ears, his fleas live there!