The Real Watership Down Header

The Crossing,

in March 1982.


Sorry, but this should be the Crossing of the Enbourne.
Where the rabbits crossed the Enbourne.
High-res
From chapter 7, 'The Lendri and the River':

'Immediately in front of him, Bigwig and Dandelion were staring out from the sheer edge of a high bank, and below the bank ran a stream. It was in fact the little river Enbourne, twelve to fifteen feet wide and at this time of year two or three feet deep with spring rain, but to the rabbits it seemed immense, such a river as they had never imagined.

and from chapter 8, The Crossing:

'The top of the sandy bank was a good six feet above the water. From where they sat, the rabbits could look straight ahead upstream, and downstream to their left.... The bank did not stretch far in either direction. Upstream, it sloped down to a grassy path between the trees and the water.'

The Crossing is the moment when Hazel
becomes the leader of his band of rabbits. It, like much of the book, is based on
Adams's own WWII experiences,
such as at Arnhem, where he probably had
to cross many more fearsome rivers
than this.

Blackberry knows all sorts of interesting facts about Watership Down.
You are now standing on that grassy path and looking towards the sandy bank. You would have seen the rabbits looking perplexed had they been able to penetrate the years of undergrowth that has grown to cover on the bank top. They had to cross over here to avoid the large dog that was 'loose in the wood', a phrase that was to echo in Fiver for a long time. There were no handy bits of wood when I visited. Note the simple wooden bench placed for fellow Watership Down readers to rest on for a few minutes.

Sorry, but this should be me photographing the Crossing.
Taking the photo of the crossing.
High-res
Here I am taking the photograph above. Its not often I get a chance to do this sort of thing. Its been 25 or more years since I saw this photograph taken by my friend Graham. This then is my "Making of The Real Watership Down" shot!

In my pocket you can just about see a Penguin film tie-in cover paperback copy of Watership Down. It was Graham's copy and it was our reference for the day.

I used a low angle view for many of these photographs. Some, like here, were still way over our rabbit's viewpoint, but for others I adopted a really low "rabbit's eye view" for which I used a small table-top tripod and a right-angle viewfinder, both of which you can see in Come and Look, you can see the Whole World!

Sorry, but this should be the view upstream from the crossing.
The view upstream from the crossing
High-res
The view downstream from the bank top looked rather like this:

This spot is the widest and thus the slowest flowing part of the Enbourne for a considerable distance. Graham and I did not cross here; it was too deep to avoid getting wet so we had to follow this bank downstream to the A34 road and cross over the bridge by the Swan pub (unfortunately it was closed). This part of the A34 road was a very serious bottleneck for traffic for many years. The Newbury bypass was later built to relieve this road. It recycled much of the runway of RAF Greenham Common and opened, after great environmental outcry, in 1998. It's route avoids all Watership Down sites and crosses the Enbourne a long way to the West of here.

The border between the counties of Hampshire and Berkshire runs along the Enbourne hereabouts. In these photos everything on the left bank is in Berkshire, everything on the right, Hampshire.


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