thanks for the responses. I'm trying photorec now, the program is telling me 4 hours to completion so it's wait and see. It's not easy to use, I went round in circles till I realised I was doing it wrong. If photorec doesn't work I'll try ddrescue on the systemrescuecd.
update: photorec didn't work, it kept giving the error that there was insufficient space on the target drive when in fact there was 300Gb of empty space on it. I couldn't be bothered getting bogged down with that however ddrescue did work (off the systemrescucd), it cloned the broken drive to another good drive and I was able to get all my data back.
Last edited by tonj; 02-08-2013 at 05:07 PM.