The Real Watership Down Header

Near Newtown,

in March 1982.


Sorry, but this should be near Newtown.
Newtown Common? Ah, well no, not actually...
High-res
From chapter 10, 'The Road and the Common':

'Newtown common - a country of peat, gorse and silver birch. After the meadows they had left, this was a strange, forbidding land. Trees, herbage, even the soil - all were unfamiliar. They hesitated among the thick heather, unable to see more than a few feet ahead. Their fur became soaked with the dew....'

Doesn't sound like this landscape does it? Where's the heather?

There's a story to this...
It can be quite difficult to accurately locate some sites in just a single visit. This photograph was taken in the region marked as 'The Heather' (region 3 on the Penguin/Puffin editions) in the book, i.e. Newtown common. The problem is that it doesn't tie up with the description given in the book. In fact Newtown Common lies to the west of the region marked in the book - the map is wrong! So, while this was taken where the book's map says is the right place, in fact it isn't. Newtown Common is very different, and I hope is rather more like the description in the book! This problem is almost certainly not Adams' fault, and I should have checked the maps more carefully, but at the time I assumed the map in the book was right... Ah well, maybe I'll get back one day and get some photos of the real locations.

Newtown Common is not publicly owned.
Its not even‘owned in common’.Its actually privately owned by the lord of the manor of Newtown. Local landowners can exercise certain
‘commoners rights’ on it, such as grazing
animals there. However those rights didn't
include hrududu access over it.

You can read all about it,
but of course I can't....

Blackberry knows all sorts of interesting facts about Watership Down.
I have offer my thanks to Simon Read, the Chair of Newtown Common Parish Council, for pointing out my mistake. Incidentally the actual common has been at the centre of a legal battle as to precisely what rights people have to access it. In 2004 the common was, all 169 acres of it, up for sale, for around 500,000.

Until I go back I'll have to leave you with these photos. They look much more like the terrain described in 'Hard Going', but in fact ae not. This photo above is the way we had just come, from Newtown church. If you turn to the left, then in the distance you will see this:

Sorry, but this should be the rabbits' first glimpse of the distant Watership Down..
The rabbits' first glimpse of the distant Watership Down.
High-res

'Fiver was looking far out beyond the edge of the common. Four miles away, along the southern skyline, rose the seven hundred and fifty foot ridge of the downs. On the highest point, the beech trees of Cottington's Clump were moving in a stronger wind than that which blew across the heather.
'Look!' said Fiver suddenly. 'That's the place for us, Hazel. High, lonely hills, where the wind and the sound carry and the ground's as dry as straw in a barn....'

Yes, that is Watership Down on the skyline. By the way, that '750 foot' refers to the height above sea level, the scarp slope of the downs rises no more than about 300 feet from the ground on the northern side.

These two photographs are part of a panoramic set. Thanks to computers, I can now let you see that panorama:

Sorry, but this should be the rabbits' first glimpse of the distant Watership Down..
The way the rabbits were going is to the left, they had come from the right. Watership is to the left of centre. My friend, Graham, loads a new film into his camera.

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