The Real Watership Down Header

Watership in Winter,

in October 1983.

Sorry, this should be trying to look north from a foggy Watership Down.
A rabbit's eye view trying to look north from a foggy Watership Down.
Watership Down is a summer book. For many readers it is the very epitome of an English country summer, all hay and wild flowers. Tales from Watership Down tries to be a winter book, perhaps rather less successfully. I put together the first version of this website before Tales from Watership Down was published and so almost all the photos I presented then were of summer scenes.

Sorry, this should be a snow covered Watership Down looking east towards Hare Warren Down.
A snow covered Watership Down looking east towards Hare Warren Down.
I have visited Watership in all weathers, even in snow. This is the snow-covered Watership Down taken in the last light of a January afternoon in 1985. This, and the next photo were taken from about the same point, though years apart, close to where Dr Adams would have released Hazel. This was the last shot left on a film, and as you can see the light was nearly gone, so I took this photo close to the road while I had the chance, more to prove that it really did snow on Watership Down than anything else! I thought I had taken it, but for many years I couldn't find it. Well while scanning all my old slides, I finally found it, and here it is.

Sorry, this should be the triangulation point on Watership Down.
The triangulation ('trig') point on Watership Down.

Watership Down has inspired a lot of
music over the years, most in the 1970's. Much has not survived. Who remembers Robin's 'Back on Watership Down'? No one, thankfully.
Bo Hannson gave us his impressions of the
down and America released their song
'Watership Down': written for the film
apparently! There's a jazz suite by Dave
Hancock. A Watership musical has
even been performed in Hyde Park.

Blackberry knows all sorts of interesting facts about Watership Down.
I do have a few other wintry scenes, taken in October 1983. The first is from the top of Watership Down, close to the escarpment, looking East. On a clear day you can see Sydmonton and many miles beyond. On a day like this, a cold, chilly, foggy day, Watership, robbed of the world around it, becomes smaller, more enclosed, and perhaps more remote. What would Dandelion have shouted had he seen the scene at the top of this page? "Come and look! You can't see a thing..."

This is the triangulation ('trig') point on Watership Down. It's a point of reference used in mapping and stands at the highest point, 778ft (237m) above sea level, of the down. As you can see it's in the middle of a field, over 400m East of the beech hanger and the Honeycomb. Just beyond, out of view in this photo, are two small 'tumuli' or Bronze age burial mounds, showing that Watership Down, like most other high places in southern England, has had special significance for thousands of years.

Sorry, this should be the north side of Efrafa in the mist.
The north side of Efrafa in the mist.
The mounds certainly don't get a mention in the book, and I think the trig point doesn't, at least I couldn't find one. These 'man-things' certainly doesn't fit into the image Adams created for Watership Down, as do a number of other things. The nearest I could get to a quote is this from chapter 49, 'Hazel comes home':

'At last Pipkin, in great anxiety and distress, insisted on setting out for Nuthanger. Fiver at once said that he would go with him and together they left the wood and set off northwards over the down. They had gone only a short distance when Fiver, sitting up on an ant-hill to look about, saw a rabbit approaching over the high ground to the west. They both ran nearer and recognized Hazel.'

Above you can see that 'high ground'. Oh yes, and another thing, there are no ants that make big enough hills for a rabbit to sit on on Watership Down. The only species that does make big enough hills are wood ants, that live, not unsurprisingly, in woodland, not open downland.

It was not just Watership that was misty, Efrafa was too. This was the morning I took the photo you can see on The Discovery. This is the view from the same spot, but looking west to the north side of the Crixa (which is Adams' name for the junction of the tracks around which Efrafa was dug). Ahead you can see the hedge alongside the path to New Barn farm. A solitary straw bale sits, waiting out the autumn.

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