Perfect Pub Walks with Bill Bailey strolls through Monsal Dale

Perfect Pub Walks with Bill Bailey - February 2024 - the Monsal Viaduct seen from the air

THE FIRST EPISODE of the new Channel 4 series Perfect Pub Walks with Bill Bailey visits several of the key Monsal Dale locations seen in the third series Survivors episode Mad Dog.

On this set of three walks across the Derbyshire Peak District, Bill Bailey is joined by fellow comedian, actor and panelist Alan Davies, for a spot of exercise and the chance to share in what could be some therapeutic personal conversation.

In the Peak District National Park, Bill and Alan Davies take the Monsal Trail to Derbyshire’s highest pub, Abney Moor and Mam Tor, and chat about the perils of ageing and the stresses of modern life

Channel 4

The episode was first broadcast on 20 February 2024, and is currently available to stream from Channel 4’s on-demand service.

Perfect Pub Walks with Bill Bailey - February 2024 - the head of the Monsal Valley

Perfect Pub Walks with Bill Bailey - February 2024 - walking through Cressbrook Tunnel

Perfect Pub Walks with Bill Bailey - February 2024 - walking through the Headstock tunnel

Perfect Pub Walks with Bill Bailey - February 2024 - The Monsal Viaduct

Perfect Pub Walks with Bill Bailey - February 2024 - on the Monsal viaduct

‘Perfect Pub Walks with Bill Bailey’. Channel 4. 20 February 2024.

Gone Fishing returns to Monsal Dale for series six finale

Gone Fishing - Series 6 - Episode 6 - Monsal Dale - the pair enjoy an ice-cream at the top of the Monsal valley

THE CLOSING EPISODE of series six of Gone Fishing, with Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse, returned its two stars to the Monsal Valley (the key filming location for the third series Survivors episode Mad Dog), revisiting the same stretch of the River Wye where the pair filmed the show’s first ever episode.

The episode, first shown on the BBC earlier this month, included shots of the Monsal Viaduct, and the footbridge close to Netherdale Farm, as well as many evocative aerial shots across the valley.

Paul and Bob return to the Peak District, this time with Ted, where they filmed their first episode of Gone Fishing back in 2017. Will the memories of that first trip come flooding back? 

They start by fishing the Wye at Haddon Hall, hoping to catch chub, rainbow trout and wild brown trout, before moving on to the Derwent. As they cast, they recall memories of that first trip and look at how they’ve changed over the last six years.


The episode is available to stream or download for offline viewing (for UK viewers) from the BBC’s iPlayer service for 11 months (until October 2024).

Gone Fishing. 2023. Series 6, Episode, 6. BBC. First broadcast 8 October.

Gone Fishing - Series 6 - Episode 6 - Monsal Dale - The Monsal Viaduct seen from above

Gone Fishing - Series 6 - Episode 6 - Monsal Dale - the footbridge in the heart of the Monsal valley

Gone Fishing - Series 6 - Episode 6 - Monsal Dale - the vista of the Monsal valley

Gone Fishing - Series 6 - Episode 6 - Monsal Dale - Bob views the valley

Severn Valley Railway launches £1.5m ‘survival fund’ appeal

Severn Valley Railway - Survival Appeal - April 2023

THE SEVERN VALLEY heritage railway service has launched a one-and-a-half-million pound ‘survival fund’ to secure the immediate future of the line which runs between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth.

For fans of Survivors, the Severn Valley Railway (SVR) is significant as one of the iconic filming locations used on the third series. In 1977, BBC Outside Broadcast cameras filmed sequences for the episodes Law of the Jungle, Mad Dog, Bridgehead and Power at the Highley and Hampton Loade stations and in the surrounding areas on and close to the line.

The most recent organised Survivors fan visit to the SVR took place in May 2019, during the Mad Dog 2019 event.

Falling visitor numbers – rising costs

The SVR has been hit hard financially by the impact of the Covid pandemic, by the soaring costs of coal and electricity, and by the experience common to many leisure and tourist attractions in the UK: that visitor numbers have not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, with a resulting loss of revenue.

“Last year, passenger numbers were almost one third lower than pre-Covid,” the SVR confirms. “In 2022 alone, we saw a drop in expected income of £1.5 million. Other heritage railways and local attractions had exactly the same experience. It became obvious that the cost-of-living crisis was really starting to bite.”

In response to the depletion in funding, the SVR announced in February that as many as 18 members of staff would be made redundant, that the early-season timetable would be restricted to fewer operational days, and that other cost savings would be found.

As bank reserves were depleted, overheads have still had to be met. “Our forecast for the coming year and into 2024 shows that we will not have any reserve in the bank,” the company says. “This means we won’t be able to lift ourselves out of the financial difficulties that we currently face.” Hence the need for the ‘survival fund’ appeal.

An Urgent need

“We urgently need to raise £1.5 million to enable the SVR to overcome the current financial crisis and implement longer-term plans for its future,” Managing Director Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster explains.

Dunster emphasises that the financial situation that the SVR is wrestling with is acute, and that the success of the ‘survival fund’ is essential. “Without this help, the SVR may not survive into next year,” he warns.

To find out more about the SVR’s plans to address the financial crisis, and stabilise the heritage railway for the future – and to donate to the SVR ‘Survival Fund’, visit the dedicated section of the SVR web site.

Another obvious way to help put cash in the SVR coffers is to arrange a visit to either end of the line and to purchase a ticket to travel to Highley or Hampton Loade stations or to the Country Park Halt.

Plans to reinstate the Monsal railway run out of steam

Countryfile - White Peak - May 2021 - The Monsal Dale viaduct viewed from the valley floor

A BID TO draw up plans to reinstate the rail connection between Bakewell and Buxton – which could have led to trains running across the Monsal Dale viaduct once again – has failed to attract government backing.

The Monsal Dale viaduct, and sites across the Monsal Valley, provided evocative locations for the third series Survivors episode Mad Dog – which was recorded entirely on location by the BBC’s Outside Broadcast (OB) camera in 1977 in Monsal Dale, above the Dovedale Valley near Ilam and on the Severn Valley Railway.

A proposal submitted by MEMRAP (the Manchester and East Midlands Rail Action Partnership) had hoped to win financial support from the Department of Transport’s Restoring Your Railway Fund to pay for a full feasibility study of reinstating what it is calling the ‘Peaks and Dales’ line.

Rail tracks and impacts

MEMRAP had argued that replacing the line, which had been removed during the 1960s as a result of the baleful ‘Beeching Cuts’ which decimated sections of the country’s rail network, would deliver economic and social benefits, and boost ‘greener’ public transport links in the Peak District.

While the Peak District National Park Authority, which is responsible for the area of the national park through which any rail line would run, remains fully committed to a “low-carbon and sustainable future for travel and access for all to the national park”, it does not support MEMRAP’s analysis or its proposal.

Because of the importance of the Monsal Trail as a tourist, leisure and recreational attraction, it insists that MEMRAP has not considered the negative impacts – and the loss of facility – that the return of rail to the Monsal Valley would impose.

The Park Authority also argues that MEMRAP has not met the threshold of proven need and that therefore it does “not accept that the reinstatement of the railway on the route of the Monsal Trail” would deliver the benefits that MEMRAP claims.

Unsuccessful bids

More than 80 proposals had been submitted for the most recent round of awards from the Restoring Your Railway Fund. In late June 2022, Rail minister Wendy Morton announced £15m in funding split between nine potential railway schemes.

MEMRAP’s proposal was unsuccessful and attracted no government support.

The nine approved bids were ones able to demonstrate they would “bring significant socio-economic benefits” and presented “a clear narrative around the proposed services and infrastructure requirements.”

Particularly disheartening for MEMRAP’s supporters was that the ‘Peaks and Dales’ proposal was relegated to the largest group of ‘Unsuccessful bids to the Ideas Fund’ – which is effectively the ‘reject pile’. Backers of a far shorter list of schemes were invited to develop a fuller Business Case for future government consideration.

Alternative funds

A MEMRAP spokesperson appeared on East Midlands Today on 26 June to confirm that the campaign would continue to explore alternative sources of funding. There’s still no disguising that, for supporters of the ‘Peaks and Dales’ rail plan, this news is an enormous blow.

Any hopes of trains running across the Monsal Viaduct at any point in the foreseeable future have suffered a serious setback.

See also: Bid to reinstate rail line through Monsal Dale meets opposition (20 November 2020)

Hitching a ride on the Mad Dog steam engine

Engine 48773 on the Severn Valley Railway, arriving at Hampton Loade station on August 30 2001

TWENTY YEARS AGO today (30 August), Survivors fans began a four-day location trip – in the midst of a Foot and Mouth epidemic – with a visit to the Severn Valley Railway.

But it’s only in the last couple of months that it’s become clear that – even though those present were not aware if it – the attendees on this Reunion enjoyed an additional Survivors‘ location experience.

The steam locomotive pulling the train that the Survivors aficionados boarded at Kidderminster station, and which took them to Hampton Loade station, was the original engine used for the filming of Mad Dog back in 1977. It’s the train on which Charles Vaughan escapes his pursuers in the Peak District before arriving, exhausted and unconscious, at this same station.

The reason that the connection was not apparent at the time of the trip was that the locomotive (which bore the number 8233 at the time Mad Dog was filmed) was later reassigned its original service number 48773. This fact was confirmed as part of a return visit to the Severn Valley Railway during the Mad Dog 2019 location trip. It was not until a recent rewatch of Adrian Hulme’s video memento of the 2001 trip that the significance of the previously disregarded engine number suddenly became apparent.

This means that, while it was engine 8233 that was Charles’ salvation in Mad Dog, and it was engine 48773 that pulled the train from Kidderminster to Hampton Loade on 30 August 2001 – it’s one and the same engine.

Engine 8233 / 48773 has since been withdrawn from service and is currently on display in the SVR engine house adjacent to Highley Station pending a full overhaul and complete refurbishment.

So while there’s no prospect of fans being able to take another trip courtesy of the pulling power of the ‘Mad Dog express’ any time soon, one lucky group of enthusiasts already enjoyed that experience some twenty years ago today – even if they had no idea of their luck at the time.

Survivors fans on the platform at Hampton Loade station on August 30 2001
The sign for Hampton Loade station, taken on August 30 2001
Survivors fans at Kidderminster station on August 30 2001

Hampton Court interiors reopen for self-guided tours

The libary at Hampton Court in Herefordshire

THE MOST RECENT changes to Coronavirus precautions in effect at Hampton Court in Herefordshire, a key filming location for six episodes of the first series of Suvivors, mean that limited access to the castle interiors is now available once again.

Access to the grounds and gardens at Hampton Court, along with limited access to the Orangery cafe, was reenabled on 1 April 2021. At that time, the castle interiors remained inaccessible.

In the last few days, and in line with the evolving government Covid guidelines, visitor access to the castle been opened up – for self-guided tours.

Because staff will not be accompanying visitor groups inside the castle, some areas (such as the main stone staircase and first floor landing) will remain out of bounds.

Self-guided tours will be available between 11:00 and 16:00, with access to the castle provided through the Orangery cafe.

A statement on the Hampton Court web site explains the updated arrangements:

Following government guidelines, we will be opening up in stages this year.

Our gardens and grounds are now open, with the exception of the Maze and the Gothic Tower which have to remain closed to ensure effective social distancing. Please see the Visit Us page for opening times and prices for the gardens.

Coronavirus precautions will be in place across the estate and please adhere to relevant signage. The Orangery Cafe will be offering a limited menu for both inside and outside seating. The Gift Shop and Ice Cream Parlour will remain closed for the time being, but prepackaged ice creams are available from the Orangery Cafe. The Castle is open for self-guided tours only. These are available between 11am and 4pm and entrance to the castle tour is in the Orangery Cafe.

We will be able to open more facilities throughout the following weeks and months, in line with the government’s step system. Please keep an eye on our website, or follow us on Facebook or Instagram, for more information and details of any upcoming events.

We welcome feedback from visitors and are happy to answer any questions. Please speak to a member of staff during your visit or email us at

Monsal Dale provides base for new episode of Countryfile

BBC1 Countryfile - 16 May 2021 - iPlayer title screen

MONSAL DALE, THE key filming location for the third series Survivors episode Mad Dog, provides the ‘centre of operations’ for the ‘White Peak’ episode of Countryfile, first shown on BBC1 on 16 May 2021.

Presenters Matt Baker and Charlotte Smith introduce all segments of the show from different locations in the Monsal Valley in the heart of the Peak District to “celebrate the 70th anniversary of the UK’s first national park”.

Key sites from across the Dale feature throughout the episode, which ends with the creation of an artwork (made from natural materials) on the valley floor beneath the viaduct (close to the spot where Charles Vaughan tumbles from his horse in the opening moments of Mad Dog).

Matt joins a pioneering scheme to restore ruined farm buildings and meets ‘legend’ of the Peak District Gordon Miller, one of the area’s early rangers and a last link to those who brought about the national park. Charlotte channels her inner artist to help create a giant anniversary art mural and records the special sounds of the park’s waterways. Sean Fletcher meets a ‘tyre runner’ using the Peak District’s hills to help his mental health. Meanwhile, as some of his traditional crops fail, Adam takes a glimpse at what the farming of tomorrow might look like, and Joe Crowley investigates new pollution laws causing controversy in the countryside.

Hampton Court to open ‘luxury holiday cottages’ in castle grounds

Hampton Court on Antiques Roadtrip (S21, E17) - the house and garden from the air - shot two

THE RECENTLY REVAMPED Hampton Court web site reveals the estate’s plans to open ‘luxury holiday cottages’ in a ‘quiet part of the grounds’ as an additional revenue stream that can help to ‘protect the long term future of the estate’.

Few details have been provided as yet, but the development suggests that (rental costs and availability permitting) Survivors fans could have the chance to enjoy a residential break inside the grounds of the show’s most iconic series one location.

The first of the cottages, which appear to be renovations of existing structures on the estate’s grounds, are expected to open in 2022. The announcement on the site explains:

Hampton Court Castle has been an important part of the Herefordshire countryside for over 600 years. Over the centuries the estate has evolved and it is still being added to and updated now.

The latest part of this work is the development of luxury holiday cottages. This new venture will bring life to a quiet part of the grounds, restoring and preserving some of the old buildings, while helping to protect the long term future of the estate.

The first holiday cottages will open in 2022, and will allow visitors a chance to stay on the Castle grounds and explore the beautiful Herefordshire countryside. They will provide an ideal base for walking, cycling or just relaxing and enjoying the sumptuous food and drink that is on offer in Herefordshire.

Each cottage will be sympathetically restored and designed to be a home away from home, maintaining many original features as well as modern comforts.

The redesigned Hampton Court web site also integrates drone and ground-level video footage of the main castle, the formal gardens and the grounds of the estate into its main design.

Hampton Court Castle re-opened the estate to visitors on 1 April 2021, although the castle building is not currently accessible and other Covid safety restrictions remain in effect.

Hampton Court Castle and the Severn Valley Railway prepare to reopen to visitors

The rear of Hampton Court Castle in Herefordshire

TWO OF THE most popular current-day tourist attractions which provided filming locations for Survivors back in the 1970s, and which have remained inaccessible during Covid lockdown restrictions, are now preparing to re-open and welcome visitors once more.

Hampton Court Castle, the location used throughout the latter episodes of series one of Survivors as the site for ‘The Grange’, re-opened its gates on 1 April 2021. With Covid restrictions still placing limits on how far people are allowed to travel, access to Hampton Court Castle is currently intended for “local people” only.

Those local visitors will be able to access the formal gardens, the ‘river walk’, and the main grounds of the estate. At present, the castle itself, together with the Gothic tower and the gift shop, remain closed. There will be some restrictions to movement through the gardens, including a one-way system that can ensure adherence to social distancing. The cafe will be open, providing takeaway services only, offering a limited menu.

Rail services on the Severn Valley Railway, which provided locations for the series three Survivors episodes Law of the Jungle, Mad Dog, and Bridgehead (and footage used in Power), will recommence on Monday 12 April.

Services will run between Bridgnorth and Kidderminster, with seats needing to be pre-booked for “travel in a private compartment or reserved table seats” on “specially tailored return trips”. Stations along the line will only be accessible to those with pre-booked tickets for specific journeys. The Engine House will remained closed until 17 May 2021, and there are social distancing restrictions and additional safety protocols in place whilst travelling.

A programme of events, including ‘steam galas’ and special services, has been announced for the coming months.

A SVR video, produced during last year’s easing of lockdown restrictions, gives a good indication of how services will operate in the coming weeks and months.

Hampton Court features in Antiques Road Trip

Hampton Court on Antiques Roadtrip (S21, E17) - arriving at the front of the estate

HAMPTON COURT IN Herefordshire, a key filming location in the first series of Survivors, features in a new episode of the long-running BBC auction show Antiques Road Trip.

Presenter Christina Trevanion visits the grounds of Hampton Court and its gardens to learn more about Tudor methods of soap production – household items which were manufactured by hand and perfumed with flowers and other naturally grown materials.

“Taking a break from shopping, Christina heads to a very fine garden to discover the fascinating history of how the Tudors kept themselves clean”


In Survivors, the lack of soap is briefly referred to during Abby’s group’s tenure at The Grange in series one. But it is in Survivors second series that the residents of Whitecross get stuck into the laborious business of making their own soap supplies.

Fittingly, Christina arrives at the house by motoring along the long front driveway in a “very robust” Series One Landrover. “Not as nippy” as the Porsche Speedster that her rival collectibles trader Serhat Ahmet is driving “but better over the bumps,” the episode’s description explains.

The short sequence at Hampton Court includes some striking aerial shots of the house and gardens.

The episode (Series 21, Episode 17) was first shown on BBC One on 8 December, and (for viewers in the UK) will be available on the BBC iPlayer until 7 January 2021.

Hampton Court on Antiques Roadtrip (S21, E17) - presenter Christina behind the wheel of the Landrover