Near Cowslip's Warren,
in Summer 1987.
This is somewhere near Frith Copse, site of Cowslip's warren.
As I neared Frith Copse, site of Cowslip's warren, I disturbed some deer.
I had to leave my car some way from the site, and trek around a series of fields to get anywhere close
to the copse. I took this photo, just a moment too late, halfway on that trek. Of all the warrens in
the book, this one, twenty years ago at least, is the most remote, certainly the least accessible. The book suggests Cowslip's Warren
was near to a farm, near enough for the farmer to be able to deliver flayrah every day. However, there are
no farmsteads close by, and its difficult to tell which farm, if any, Adams had in mind.
The country near Cowslip's warren.
The reality on the ground is that Cowslip's Warren should have been rich in easily available food, and would have been
the safest of all Watership Down's warrens. However, Watership Down is not reality, it's fiction, and
in Adams' fictional world this was a dangerous place for rabbits.
Mr. Adams is not very precise about locations.
We, Hazel's band of rabbits, would have passed
very close to here. The bean field may have been
about here. Crops change from year to year, this
looks like barley, but who knows, next year it
might be beans again! Though Mr. Adams is
not too clear about which beans!
in July 1985.
Watership Down is most easily approached by car from the
A34. When coming from the south, as I usually did, you leave the A34 at the very start of
the Newbury bypass and join the old A34 route for a little way before turning off east.
That road then takes you past Sydmonton, along the bottom of the north slope of the downs.
A mile or two later you come to Watership itself. I originally rejected this slide because
it's a little under-exposed, which caused problems when I eventually scanned it.
Watership as seen from near Sydmonton Court.
This is the view just past Watership on the same road.
Nuthanger farm is to the right. A road runs north-south from Ecchinswell, up and over
the gap between Watership and Hare Warren Downs, and on right through Ashley Warren farm,
eventually going on to Efrafan country. That road and this one forms a crossroads right
at the foot of Watership Down. The human significance of this 'Watership crossroads' is
totally unknown to Adams' rabbits, so the crossroads doesn't feature in the book.
Watership as seen from a little past the lane to Nuthanger farm.
Now, you're a rabbit, right? Ok, you're trying to get a dog
to follow you to Watership Down. Which way do you go? Simple, you run straight down the man-track
to the man-road. Does that sound right for a rabbit? No, of course it doesn't - you'd much more
likely, even with a dog on your tail, slip into the field and run along the field side of the
hedge alongside the road. That's what you see here. Nuthanger is just behind you, and the track
runs on the other side of this hedge.
Watership, from the hedge by the lane
to Nuthanger farm.
This site does get a mention, in chapter 25, 'The Raid',
just after the raid has been prematurely disturbed by the farm workers:
'Dandelion immediately turned for the hedgerow. It was only when he crossed it
and reached the ditch beyond that he realized that he was on the opposite side of the lane from that on
which they had first approached. He was in a strange ditch. However, there seemed to be nothing
to worry about - the ditch led down the slope and that was the way home. He moved slowly along
it, waiting for Hazel to join them.'
The ditch has long since been filled in, as have moreorless all field ditches. Indeed it probably had been
filled in long before Watership Down was written. Ditches point to a much early dating for Watership Down than
1966/7 when it was written, maybe instead to the 1930's when Adams was growing up and roaming the area.
Bigwig here to return to select another location. It might be best to avoid his ears,
his fleas live there!