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A New Dimension

The Vice-chair of Montgomery Walkers are Welcome says

“It was a chance sighting of a signpost to Watership Down that started a chain of 20+ emails that culminated in a very special walk. As Vice-Chair of Montgomery Mid-Wales WaW, I spotted in the newsletter an item by WaW Whitchurch, Hampshire, leader, Jackie Browne about a special walk she’d led exploring the story locations in Watership Down, the eponymous setting for the book by Richard Adams detailing the exploits and adventures of a group of rabbits and a seagull. The film was one of Sue’s and my first ‘dates’ and July 2020 our Ruby Wedding Anniversary.

My tentative email to Jackie received an immediate enthusiastic response; so started my plan to surprise Sue with a stay at The Watership Down Inn and a guided walk led by Jackie to places referenced in the book. Then came Covid! Jackie was not to be thwarted and so it was that lockdown eased only just in time for us, together with our daughter to travel to Whitchurch.

Four from Whitchurch joined the three of us for our socially distanced foray. The walking was gentle and lovely (as was the conversation) along tree-shaded byways, selected not just for ‘rabbity’ references but for the stunning views too. Rolling countryside with mostly gentle inclines on very well-maintained paths. Jackie had researched the sites of the rabbits’ journey complete with folk-lore background and botanical names of characters (even finding a sprig of Woundwort for those who know the story). We visited Watership Down, of course, with the recently planted commemorative tree, Efrafa too, and took in the River Test. Some on private land for which Jackie had negotiated special access. The time spent at the bridge over the crystal-clear Test where she read an extract from Adams’ writing was especially memorable.

The new dimension was what is now a firm link between not just our two WaW groups but individuals too. We look forward to their return visit here to explore the castles and rolling hills of The Marches where a mix of home hosting, B&Bs and Inns awaits. This October’s very well supported Montgomery walking festival may be too soon but undoubtedly before long.

Whitchurch is a little ahead of Montgomery in their journey of walking improvement and development, so we look forward to an ongoing relationship where we can discuss common problems and develop some ties, almost an informal twinning arrangement – something beyond the well-established mentoring.”

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