The following evening, having traveled nearly three miles in a day, the rabbits arrive at the tall, verdant hill that is Watership Down. Their journey has been exhausting—since the previous morning they have splashed through brooks, traversed woodlands, and been attacked by rats while seeking shelter in an abandoned barn. The rabbits fared well against all these obstacles, though; their experiences back at Cowslip’s warren have made them “warier, shrewder, [more] tenacious.” There is no more quarreling amongst them, and they are more grateful for one another’s company than ever before. Even Strawberry, slow and careless at the start of the journey, has proven his worth and his commitment to helping the others.
The rabbits’ search for a place to call home has—they believe—ended. What they have found in the process, though, is much more than just a place to lay their heads. They have learned a lot about themselves and their capabilities, and have been brought closer together through the hardships they have endured. Home is not a place, the rabbits are beginning to learn—it is the individuals who support and surround you.
Now, at the bottom of the hill, Hazel asks Fiver if they are meant to climb to the top, which Fiver says they must. Hazel is daunted by the prospect of the climb and insists on making the journey alone before the others come along. Fiver declares that he’ll go with his brother, and Dandelion and Hawkbit offer to come along, too. The climb is difficult—not because of bodily fatigue, but rather the mental strain of having been exposed, open, and vulnerable to all kinds of violence for the better part of a week straight. All of the rabbits are on edge, and as they climb the down they are unable to see very far ahead, so every sound or smell makes them nervous.
The rabbits’ journey is beginning to wear on them. Now that they are so close to the finish line, they feel even more acutely the exhaustion of having been on high alert for days and days. They are ready to settle in and settle down but have more work to do before they can really rest.
Finally, the four rabbits reach the top of Watership Down. They can see far in every direction—any man or elil which approaches their new home will be spotted in an instant. Dandelion is overjoyed, and thanks Frith for their good fortune, but Hazel reminds him that Fiver was the one who found this place for them.
Fiver has often been an outcast because of his visions—but now, having brought them all to Watership Down, he is celebrated as a hero.
Looking around, the rabbits realize that Hawkbit is not with them, and Dandelion worries something has snatched him on the way up, but Hazel says he must have just gotten tired and gone back down. Hazel and Pipkin walk around the down discussing whether they should bring the others up the hill tonight, when they come upon Hawkbit—and three rabbit holes. He tells them he’s searched the holes and found no tracks or droppings—the burrows are deserted. The others thank Hawkbit for his hard work and go back down to retrieve the rest of the rabbits.
The rabbits expect calamity around every corner after all they have been through, and are relieved to find that for the moment, at least, their worst fears can be put to rest—they have arrived at their new home.