AFTER YEARS OF frustration and dead-ends, the search for the site of one of The Fourth Horseman's most evocative locations has ended in success, thanks to the tireless efforts of one dedicated Survivors enthusiast.
"My own search for Tom's hill began in 2014," remembers Survivors location sleuth Steve Clutterbuck. "I started by joining various Facebook groups connected to Ross-on-Wye and Abbergavenny, and many points in-between, in the vain hope that someone would recognise a distinctive hill in the foreground of the scene."
"I had quite a few people responding, suggesting places from Garway Hill in Herefordshire to Clee Hill in Shropshire," he recalls. "I did investigate a few of these, but sadly none of the leads panned out."
"I also sent in a request to the Ross Gazette, who helpfully published my appeal for information in the newspaper. I had a few replies from that, but the only information that was forthcoming was about other locations such as Callow Hill, the location used for Whitecross in series two."
I did investigate a few of these, but sadly none of the leads panned out
Despite everyone's best efforts, the trail for that elusive Survivors hillside went cold - and remained so for several years. In February 2022, Steve decided to renew his efforts.
"I revisited a few of the online forums I'd joined in 2014, and put out an updated appeal for information," he says. "I think I posted that message to more than ten different forums."
"Suggestions did start to come in, and on those forums people were even debating with eachother where that hillside might be," he adds. A breakthrough then came through a site dedicated to the Welsh town of Monmouth.
"I received a Direct Message from a lady who explained she was convinced that the sequence had been filmed on her grandparents' land near the village of Llanvihangel-ystern-Llewern. Although she was unsure of the exact location, this was still the best lead I'd had in eight years."
"I looked up images of Llanvihangel-ystern-Llewern on Google, which led me to check some images on the Geograph site," says Steve. "One of those had an matching view of a hill in the distance. I immediately thought that the exact spot would be really close by, somewhere easily accessible to the Survivors production team on location back in 1975."
There was only so much more research that could be done online. "The Google Street View only went so far. I traced out every roadway that Google covered at street level. About 50 yards from where I suspected the location could be, there was a five-bar gate - which was an obvious entry point to a likely-looking field. What was not visible was any downward slope in that field, or any of the critical landmarks in the distance."
"The most promising Geograph picture must have been taken further down a narrow track, beyond the reach of Google" he says. "I knew that I would have to visit the location in person to investigate things further."
This lady was convinced that the sequence was filmed on her grandparents' land
The following Saturday Steve drove out towards Llanvihangel-y-Llewern, deciding that the mission was too important to be delayed by a slow oil gasket leak. "I parked as close as I could to where that Geograph picture was taken," he explains. "I jumped over a fence and started walking down the track. But it just didn't feel right - although I could see the right hill in the background, nothing else in the landscape was a match."
Retracing his steps, Steve tried again. "As I started walking further along the lane, the track dipped sharply downhill. I was now outside the limits of Google's coverage. I glanced through a hedge on the side of the track, and saw that the land on the right-hand side sloped away."
This vista immediately offered a better match. "I had butterflies in my stomach," Steve admits. "In my haste to visit the location, I'd only brought a single screenshot, and I was worried that that might not be enough to prove things beyond a doubt."
"I opened the gate and walked through - and instantly saw that everything matched the images seen on screen in The Fourth Horseman: the slight incline in the hedge line close to where Tom had built his makeshift shelter; the distinctive summit of the most distant hill; the much closer hill glimpsed over Jenny's right shoulder; and the incline which Jenny walks down as she leaves."
There was no question that this was the place in which director Pennant Roberts had filmed this memorable, evocative sequence. "The fields and the hedges all lined up exactly," Steve continues. "as did the location of a couple of faraway houses just visible on screen."
I spent a couple of hours there just soaking up the feeling of the place
Some small features of the landscape have altered in the forty-plus years since the episode was filmed, but the location has lost none of its evocative atmosphere. It remains a perfect incapsulation of the idea of an isolated human presence deep within the British countryside. "For a moment, I felt like I was back in 1975, imagining how the cast and crew would have organised themselves on site," says Steve.
"I spent a couple of hours there, just soaking up the feeling of the place. I laid out a blanket on the spot where Tom had set up his shelter, and savoured a cup of coffee from a thermos whilst enjoying the view."
It felt like an appropriate way to sign-off on what has been one of the longest Survivors location searches to date. "I must express my gratitude to the lady whose keen eyes directed me to the right village," Steve says. "I'm also indebted to the contributors to the Geograph site, whose countless photographs of the Monmouthshire countryside were so useful in pinpointing the whereabouts of this Holy Grail of Survivors locations."
All photographs and quotations courtesy of Steve Clutterbuck, February 2022.
This Survivors location is on private land, only accessible with prior permission. It's possible to view the general area from public footpaths and tracks close to the village of Llanvihangel-ystern-Llewern.
Cite this web page
Cross, R. (2022). 'The Fourth Horseman: Tom's encampment tracked down at last,' [online] Survivors: A World Away, 28 February. Available at: https://www.survivors-mad-dog.org.uk/a-world-away/the_fourth_horseman_llanvihangel_ystern_lewern.php. Accessed on: 06 December 2023.
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