Mad Dog 2002
Top: the Monsal viaduct
Middle: Jim and Sanders' barn
Bottom: The 'bullet' barn
Right: Jim and Sanders' roof
On Saturday 9 March 2002, the fourth group tour by Survivors fans of the Derbyshire filming locations for the season three classic assembled at Monsal Head — in the worst weather conditions yet experienced on a Mad Dog 'reunion'.
Yet the freezing rain and biting winds did little to dampen the enthusiasm of fans determined to enjoy the proceedings despite everything. Indeed, in many respects, the terrible weather conditions added to the atmosphere of the occasion — echoing the wintry cold endured by characters (and the actors and crew) in the episode, and driving most other visitors to the area indoors, allowing us to roam what were empty landscapes.
The weather also made for some memorable sights and experiences. The weir in Monsal valley, visited twice by Charles, was — after several days of heavy rain across the Derbyshire peak — a spectacular raging torrent. Our normal vantage point — the rock shelf from which Charles scoops Fenton's water — stood submerged, as the rain lashed down and the water roared. Gathering on the top of Monsal viaduct, to view the episode's opening vista, the weather proved unrelenting. As cameras clicked and videos rolled, ice cold rain — whipped by fierce winds — lashed the structure in horizontal sheets.
With the Monsal Head Hotel packed to the rafters with those escaping the wind and rain, we found shelter and sustenance in the Monsal café, thawing and drying out as best we could.
After lunch, a slightly smaller group of Survivors stalwarts headed south in car convoy to Ilam. The exposed hillsides around Air Cottage and Ilam Tops Farm offered even less protection from the elements than the locations in the Monsal valley. The increased wind-chill meant that temperatures were lower still.
Despite the hardships, fans re-visited all the known locations around Air Cottage and Ilam Tops Farm, before retreating to the shelter of their vehicles. There had been plans to search out some possible 'missing' location sites in the area, but this was not a day for tramping across little used footpaths or poring over sodden OS maps — so the hunt was postponed, and fans went their separate ways.
Challenging and invigorating — the contrast with earlier spring-sunshine-bathed Mad Dog reunions could scarcely have been more striking. This was not a day for the faint of heart, nor the weak of constitution, but it was a trip which all participants are unlikely to forget in a hurry!
Page last updated: