Experience Swallows and Amazons in the Lake District

The books and more recently the film Swallows and Amazons is set in the Lake District, written by Arthur Ransome who lived and found inspiration from the beautiful Cumbrian countryside he grew up in.  The most recent adaptation of the book which was seen in cinemas across the UK in the Summer of this year and is released on DVD today is a lovely story suitable for the whole family.

You’ll follow the adventures of the Walker children on holiday in the Lake District where they want to camp on an island in the lake, which they use their boat “Swallow” to get there, but they soon realise they are not along and find two other children (known as the “Amazons” ) have already set up camp on the island, the story then develops into a battle to claim the island along with Britain on the verge of war and a secret agent looking for the other childrens uncle.

Here’s the cinema trailer for the film:

On a recent press trip to the Lake District the kids and I and a mother and daughter team representing First News (the weekly newspaper for young people) were to experience sailing in one of the boats which was used in Swallows and Amazons at the Glenridding Sailing Centre, here we were split into two groups where we then paired up to explore the Ullswater on canoes whilst the others went off on their sailing lesson in the Swallows boat.

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Ullswater is home to many islands, some of which you were able to paddle close enough to be able to get out an explore the island as well, this was a big big hit with the boys and they were constantly searching for the next island to explore!  They even found food on one of the islands in the form of blackberries so already they were planning their survival 🙂

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When it came to our time for the sailing lesson, we were able to take it in turns to control the boat and with just enough wind we were soon flying along on Ullswater at a rapid pace, our instructor took the time to explain each section of the boat and what it did, and gave us enough guidance so that when our lesson was over the boys wanted to go back out again and learn some more!

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Glenridding Sailing Centre offers unique Swallows and Amazons adventures, which includes sailing, hunting treasure, battle with Captain Flint including a cannon and walking the plank!

After spending a couple of hours on the lake it was time to move on to the town of Keswick and Derwentwater where some of the filming took place and where you’ll find the island that featured in the film.  Starting in central Keswick we headed towards the Theatre by the Lake, which incidentally hosted the premier for Swallows and Amazons.

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When you reach the theatre with Derwentwater in front of you, take a left and just a short walk you’ll reach Friars Crag where Arthur Ransome regularly visited for inspiration in his writing, you can certainly see why!

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We continued around the water for a little more before veering off to the left to complete a circuit back to Keswick, but not before we decided to head upwards to Castlehead Viewpoint where we were rewarded with the most amazing view of Derwentwater and the mountains surrounding it, I could have stayed here all day!

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On our second day in the Lake District, we headed back to Ullswater to our starting point at Glenridding where we took a ride on the lake with Ullswater Steamers.  Ullswater being another area frequently visited by Arthur Ransome and what better way to relax and find your voice than with a relaxing trip in one of the oldest passenger vessels in the world, Lady of the Lake.

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The trip took us from Glenridding to Pooley Bridge and back again and took around 2 hours in total with an option to quickly stretch your legs at Pooley Bridge.  There’s a small cafe on board and toilet facilities too, if it gets a bit cold on deck you can head into the warm cafe for a hot drink and with windows you can still admire the view.

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If you like you can opt for the hop on and off option, where you can get off at one of the stops on route, take a walk around and then catch the next boat back to your starting point, it’s a great way to get about and see this area without needing your car, plus dogs are allowed on board too 🙂

This perfectly rounded off our weekend break in the Lake District, we stayed at Dale Head Hall Lakeside Hotel on Thirlmere, which is nicely placed to visit these parts of the Lake District.

Swallows and Amazons is out on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms now, courtesy of StudioCanal.

Glenridding Sailing Centre (glenriddingsailingcentre.co.uk) a 1 hour taster session for four people costs £90. (NB. The centre’s season runs from 15th March-15th November and is not open to the public outside of these dates)

Ullswater Steamers (ullswater-steamers.co.uk) Sail all Day, hop-on/off all day pass costs £13.90 for adults and £6.95 for children. From 1st November, receive 10% off with a Love Cumbria Card.  

To plan your own Swallows and Amazons adventure visit www.golakes.co.uk

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One Response to Experience Swallows and Amazons in the Lake District

  1. Mike December 12, 2016 at 11:08 pm #

    Very useful, thanks Carly! We love the Lakes and definitely will have to back to explore Ullswater (on a steamer, of course!)