Experience a Swallows and Amazons weekend in Coniston

With the new Swallows and Amazons film due to hit the big screen from this Friday 19th August, The National Trust shares some things to see and do to enjoy a family adventure in the area this summer

Published: August 18th, 2016 at 3:06 pm


Take a trip onboard one of the original inspirations for Captain Flint’s houseboat

The historic Gondola runs daily sailings across Ransome’s ‘imaginary’ lake and has been credited with being one of the author’s original inspirations for Captain Flint’s houseboat thanks to the discovery of a postcard drawing. Hop onboard to get close up views of Wild Cat Island and try to spot the ‘Secret Harbour’, Holly Howe and the great Kanchenjunga.

Take a ride on the gondola! Credit: National Trust, Peter Harris

A special Swallows & Amazons Cruise & guided walk takes place on Sunday 21st August from 11am and on Sunday 4th September from 11am. Visit https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/steam-yacht-gondola for more information

Did you know?

Shortly after the end of the Second World War and until the late 1960s, Gondola herself spent time as a private houseboat after local Barrow-in-Furness man Fred McCaddum bought and anchored her at Water Park on Coniston Water.


Go trekking up Kanchenjunga

No, not the real one in the Himalayas, but Ransome’s fictional Kanchenjunga was none other than Coniston Old Man. At 2,634 feet high, the ‘Old Man’ is one of the Lake District’s highest and most popular fells yet it doesn’t have to be too testing. Take the ascent from Coniston village itself and enjoy a more leisurely climb to the top taking in far-reaching views over Coniston water, the Isle of Man and down to the Coppermines Valley. The crew of the Swallow reached the summit in August 1931.

A view of the Old Man of Coniston Credit: Getty

Did you know?

The Copper mines and slate quarries around Coniston provided the inspiration for Pigeon Post – the sixth in the series of the 12 Swallows & Amazons books –, which see the characters on the hunt for precious metals on the Lakes fells.

We are sailing

One of the most picturesque parts of Coniston is the quieter eastern shore of the lake so it’s no surprise that this area features in a number of scenes in the film. It’s also the perfect spot from which wannabe explorers and sailors can set out on the lake. Follow in the Walkers and Blacketts footsteps to the Secret Harbour and Octopus Lagoon by hiring a dinghy, canoe or kayak or book a guided tour with one of the outdoor adventure companies. If disembarking at Wild Cat (Peel) Island to relive some of their adventures, please do consider that it’s a small island with a fragile habitat. The National Trust welcomes keen explorers but encourages them to take any litter home, not to light fires and to camp overnight at the nearby Hoathwaite campsite.

Did you know?

The Secret Harbour already exists as a cove hidden by rocks but extra fake rocks were put in place during filming to fully recreate the magic of Ransome’s iconic world on the east shore of the lake.

Pitch up a tent

The closest you can get to camping ‘Swallows & Amazons’ style is at Hoathwaite campsite, which runs directly down to the Coniston lakeshore. This is camping as camping should be – wild and free – and if you bring your own boat, you can launch it straight from the campsite. Prices start from just £6 per night for a small tent. See: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/hoathwaite-campsite to book your pitch

Image: Getty

Did you know?

Camping isn’t for everyone, so from this summer, its now possible to hire a Nordic tipi complete with woodburning stove and sheepskins at Hoathwaite for a new glamping experience on the shores of the lake.

See Holly Howe farm from Tarn Hows

The National Trust’s tenant farm Boon Crag doubled as Holly Howe in the new film and one of the best ways to get up close to the Jackson’s home is on foot combined with a picturesque walk around Tarn Hows. Start your day sailing on Gondola from Coniston Pier and disembark at Monk Coniston with its impressive walled gardens before joining the flat circular loop around Tarn Hows.

Toward the end of the walk, on the way back down to Coniston Water, you’ll go right past the farm, (which is a working farm), with its beautiful views of the lake. See: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/tarn-hows-and-coniston/trails/monk-coniston-and-tarn-hows-walk

Did you know?

This isn’t the first time one of the National Trust’s tenant farms in Coniston has appeared on the big screen. In 2006, Yew Tree Farm (close to Tarn Hows) was transformed into Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top for the film ‘Miss Potter.’

Stay in a castle

Well almost…every adventurer knows that you only need a little bit of imagination to conjure up anything from pirates to kings. Like Holly Howe, the views on the track up to the 19th century Rose ‘Castle’ Cottage are breathtaking and there’ll be no trespassers or spies to worry about here – its so peaceful and quiet, the only neighbours are the grazing sheep! Rose Castle Cottage is situated high above Tarn Hows and sleeps up to four people starting at £241 for short breaks. Visit: www.nationaltrustholidays.org.uk/holiday-cottage/rose-castle-cottage-coniston-lake-district-cumbria

Did you know?

The National Trust has a wide range of different accommodation options in the Lake District – many in stunning locations; from remote period properties and lakeside cottages, to camping and glamping in pods and tipis. *To coincide with the release of Swallows & Amazons, The National Trust has teamed up with VisitEngland to offer the chance to win a stay at one of their holiday cottages. Visit https://www.visitengland.com/win-swallows-and-amazons-inspired-stay-national-trust-holiday-cottage to enter before midnight on Monday 22nd August.

See the inspiration for the boat ‘Amazon'

Arthur Ransome owned a number of boats over the years, many of which are now either in private ownership or sadly their fate is unknown. However, ‘Mavis’, which he bought in 1928 off the coast of Barrow-in-Furness at Walney Island is one of the few boats that can still be seen by the public. ‘Mavis’, with her centre-board, is believed to have partly inspired the fictional ‘Amazon’ dinghy and is on display at Coniston’s Ruskin Museum. http://www.ruskinmuseum.com

© Secret Harbour Films Limited/ British Broadcasting Corporation/ The British Film Institute 2016

Did you know?

Arthur Ransome lived in a house on the east shore of the lake with his wife, Evgenia and both are buried at St Paul’s Church in Rusland in between both Coniston Water and Windermere.

Outside of Coniston

If you’ve time to venture a little further into the Lakes in search of another filming location, head north from Coniston through Ambleside and Grasmere. In under an hour, you’ll reach Derwent Water in Keswick where filming took place at the unspoilt setting of the boat landings on the lake. Families looking for their own Swallows and Amazons adventure can land boats on Rampsholme Island in the middle of Derwent Water.

Did you know?

Rampsholme Island was given to the National Trust in 1929 (the year Swallows and Amazons is set) so that families could picnic out there, build dens, and experience the magic of playing on an island for themselves.

© Secret Harbour Films Limited/ British Broadcasting Corporation/ The British Film Institute 2016

Swallows and Amazons will be in cinemas from Friday, 19th August. For more information on the film, visit www.swallowsandamazonsforever.co.uk


Image: © Secret Harbour Films Limited/ British Broadcasting Corporation/ The British Film Institute 2016



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