Did Dinas Island rabbits give birth to ‘Watership Down’? It seems likely that Ron M Lockley’s fascination with rabbits begin when he was farming on Dinas Island during the years of the second world war. His subsequent study on Skokholm and at Orielton near Pembroke was published as ‘The Private Life of the Rabbit’ and is the wonderful account that informed Richard Adams’ children’s book.
As an introduction to this 1974 edition of the book, Richard Adams wrote:
My hope is that Watership Down may play some part in leading a wider public to read Ron Lockley’s book and perhaps help a little to obtain for this exceptional work of observation and natural history the wide recognition it surely deserves. For me it is the ideal popular work of natural history – scholarly, concise, fascinating and readable.
If you walk along the easy path from Cwm-yr-Eglwys to Pwllgwaelod with the Island Farm on your right, you should look into the field as you approach the Old Sailor’s pub. Towards the end of the afternoon and during the early evening the grass is alive with rabbits, scampering in and out of the brambles.
If this should inspire you to look for Lockley’s book you’ll have to hunt for a second hand copy. Sadly, ‘The Private Life of the Rabbit’ is out of print.