Sailing dinghy copyright Michael Turner

Arthur "Swallows and Amazons" Ransome

Arthur Ransome 1884 - 1967

Born in Leeds, Arthur Ransome learned to sail on Coniston and went to school in Windermere. He worked in London as a journalist and writer and reported on the Revolution in Russia. There he met his future wife Eugenia, who had been Trotsky’s secretary.

The Ransomes lived in the Winster valley and Haverthwaite where he wrote many of the Swallows and Amazons series, the majority set in the Lake District. The books follow the adventures of the Walker and Blackett children camping on islands, mining for gold, fighting fell fires and conquering mountains. Both Arthur and Eugenia are buried in Rusland churchyard.


“The sun set a golden cap on the head of Kanchenjunga, and the morning glow, creeping down, found out the creases and wrinkles in his old face almost as well as it does in winter when the sunshine makes every crevice and gully a blue shadow in the gleaming snow.” - from Swallowdale

"There was a new world. Everything was white, and somehow still. Everything was holding its breath. The field stretching down to the lake was like a brilliant white counterpane without a crinkle in it. The yew trees close by the farmhouse were laden with snow [...] The island was a white island, except where the rocks rose straight up out of the still water. The snow seemed to have spread downwards from the tops of the hills until everything was covered. It lay like a slab of icing on a slice of cake along the stone wall of the garden. The grey outhouses had thick white roofs. And there was this magical brightness in the air." – from Winter Holiday

Possible locations

The Jolly Roger flag as flown by the Amazon pirates copyright Dave Willis
  • Wild Cat Island may be Peel Island on Coniston Water – including the secret harbour
  • Rio may be Bowness-on-Windermere
  • Kanchenjunga is probably the Old Man of Coniston
  • Cormorant Island was inspired by Silver Holme island on Windermere
  • The Peak of Darien may be Friar's Crag on Derwentwater

More information


Then why not head to Coniston Boating Centre for your own adventures on the water!