This year marks the 50th anniversary of Arthur Ransome’s death – the incredible children’s author behind the legendary Swallows and Amazons series.
The first of his collection was famously published in 1930 and set in the summer of 1929 – in the beautiful Lake District.
The collection went on to features scenes from all over the UK – many historic sights and tranquil countryside locations.
This week, we’ve traced his footsteps down many old paths…
1. The Norfolk Broads, from £70
This nest of rivers, lakes and dykes lined with sedge and reeds, where sails slice through the trees and church bells and ice-cream vans chime from the shores, is cabin cruiser nirvana: gentle voyaging with meditative fishing, where you can have bacon and eggs for breakfast, lunch and tea.
Early mornings on the Bure are shared with coots, herons and goslings, afternoons are for negotiating the difficult arch at Potter Heigham, and evenings for finding a quiet anchorage, or a waterside pub.
For those who want to really emulate Ransome’s days, there are traditional sailing boats for hire at Hunter’s Yard.
The deal: Hunters Yard sailing trips with an experienced skipper start at £70 for two hours for up to four people (April to October).
2. Coniston Water, From f11
A place of pilgrimage for Ransome fans. The author lived for some years on its peaceful shores, and the lake’s topography inspired the likes of Wild Cat Island and Octopus Lagoon.
This is a place of the imagination, and for gentle adventure, either in the rowing boats for rent, or climbing up the adjacent mist-wrapped Old Man of Coniston (aka Ransom’s Mount Kanchenjunga).
From up here you’ll be able to follow the progress of the National Trust’s Victorian-era yacht, Gondola, a polished, hissing, living thing which does its rounds of the lake trailing a banner of steam.
The deal: Head of Lake cruises (45 minutes) from £11 adults, £6 children, family £25 (April 1 – October 31).
3. Derwent Water, from £10.50
This is the other Lake District territory with a big Ransome claim. A placid lake dimpled with islands, surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountains, situated just south of Keswick.
Derwent Water was where much of 2016 film Swallows and Amazons was shot, and it is the home of a stylish fleet of wooden cruisers that forge along shores cloaked in oak and sweet chestnut.
The most popular excursion is to take the boat to Hawes End to hike up Cat Bells. stylish fleet of wooden cruisers that forge along shores cloaked in oak and sweet chestnut. The most popular excursion is to take the boat to Hawes End to hike up Cat Bells.
The deal: A 50-minute round trip or day pass from £10.50 adults, £5.25 children, family £25.
4. Caldey Island, Pembrokeshire, from £12
Lying a couple of miles offshore from the busy resort of Tenby is a very different world of monastic peace. Boat trips out to Caldey Island start right from Tenby’s lovely beach.
The island’s main building, Caldey Abbey, is home to Cistercian monks who make perfume and chocolate.
The atmospheric former priory church of St Illtud has touching handwritten notes stuck to the wall, notes that could easily spark a new adventure for wannabe Rogers and Susans.
The deal: From £12 adults, under-15s £6 and family £30 – includes boat fare. Tickets from Caldey Island Kiosk at the top of Tenby Harbour. Daily (except Sundays) until September 30.
5. Knoydart, Scotland, from £90pp
A whole Scottish peninsula, unreachable by road, Knoydart is a brilliant destination for old-fashioned escapism. And Knoydart’s Doune, on its own bay with views across to Skye and boats from the mainland, is a magical place.
The bread, oatcakes and cheeses are homemade; the herbs home-grown, the prawns and fish locally caught, the venison is from the land, and the boats are also built by the Doune team.
The deal: A night on full board in Doune Stone Lodge starts at £90pp and £40 for child (under 13) sharing room (minimum three/four-night stay). Return boat fare from £32pp.
6. Cornwall’s Creeks, from £380
The Fal river on Cornwall’s southern shore is a place of retired admirals with spyglasses, smugglers, carpets of phosphorescence under a waxing moon, and secret picnic spots.
There’s nothing quite like ghosting up the Helford River towards Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek, where the only sound is the twitter of birds – until you let fly the anchor and the chain chatters like a castle full of ghosts.
The deal: Guests at the Nare Hotel can sail on the hotel’s classic motor launch, Alice Rose. Doubles from £380 include early morning tea and Cornish cream tea.
7. The Island of Sark, from £28.65
The smallest of the Channel Islands is a place of retreat, where it always Ransome o’clock. The island can only be reached by boat from Guernsey, and local transport is horse and cart.
It is a tabletop of graceful pasture threaded with footpaths, and tinkling gently with Sarkese on bicycles. The lack of traffic brings out the artist, the writer and the philosopher in everyone.
The deal: Return ferry crossing from £28.65 for adults, £13.30 children.
8. Isles of Scilly, from £1,975 per family
A verdant archipelago of skerries and spangles of low-lying land, right at the mouth of the English Channel, Scilly is a story-telling place, and the epic journey here can be either by ferry or on the Skybus from Lands End airport.
St Mary Island’s Star Castle hotel has a moat, dungeon and canons.
The deal: A five-night Swallow and Amazons Family Escape in August from £1,975 for a family of four staying B&B in a Garden Suite.
9. Tipi Camp, Cornwall, from £290 per family
If you were to write a new Arthur Ransome story, then start the opening chapter in a tipi hidden in a former quarry down narrow lanes by a cottage called Nomansland.
Add in a lake, complete with rowboats and rainbow trout, and you have a perfect setting for whatever happens.
Tregildrans is barely recognisable as a quarry these days; rather it looks like a densely wooded valley, with the occasional grassy path leading to where the tipis stand. Look hard and you might spot a Portaloo in the bushes; brush aside a branch and you could find a tap.
The deal: Until September 30, two nights in a large tipi (family of five) costs from £290 with Cornish Tipi Holidays.
10. Cotswold Otter Camp, from £190
Integral to a Swallows and Amazons experience is idyllic isolation. You’ve got this and more at the Otter Camp, in a clearing not far from where the Thames rises at Lechlade.
The site has two shepherd’s huts for a double bedroom and bathroom, plus a fisherman’s hut for lounge and kitchen. A riverbank to the front and woodland at the back form natural boundaries, and a private wood-fired hot tub sits in a secluded glade nearby.