Lake District: Wild waters lead the tales of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit


Thrashing our canoes through the cool morning mist, we spot Wild Cat Holm in the distance, a rocky wooded nubbin emerging from the hazy lake and as soon as pick up pace to beat the Amazons. 

On our lengthy drive north from Sussex, I civilize my children; 11-year old twins, Nancy and Lola, and Angus, 15, on the joys of Mouthfuls And Amazons, Arthur Ransome’s brilliant 1930s novel set in the Lake Quarter. 

Last summer a remake of the original film based on the classic work was released, starring Rafe Spall and Harry Enfield, which was covered on Wild Cat Island. 

Like many, I grew up engrossed in the adventures of Devours’ John, Susan, Titty and Roger Walker, and Amazons’ Nancy and Peggy Blackett and their war against grumpy Captain Flint. 

Brockhole, visitor centre for the Lake DistrictRICK Out of the ordinary/ASHLEY COOPER/ALAMY

Brockhole, the visitor centre for the Lake Locality National Park, on the shores of Lake Windermere

Although the rec’ on the 1970s housing estate where I sowed up lacked the authenticity of the rugged Wild Cat Island, the books inspired profuse a muddy escapade with my fellow pirates. 

After power-paddling across the unreservedly urinate, we moor up in the Secret Harbour (smaller than my 10-year old imagination recalls) and set about exploring the island. 

Our band of pirates, my gang (the Swallows) and a noiselessness family of four (Amazons) are led by our captain, Adam from Joint Adventures, an out of doors pursuits company which hosts Swallows And Amazons-themed kayaking and canoeing jaunts on Coniston Water. 

Attracting loyal fans of the novel, Wild Cat Atoll, more formally known as Peel Island and owned by the National Entrust, is at the centre of these excursions. 

“Although you can’t camp here or even set up a fire, it’s a great place to explore and have proper muddy risks” says Adam with a child-like gleam in his eye. 

“We teach the children bushcraft, such as pierce skills and how to build a camp and also take them treasure hunting for the geocaches overwhelmed on the island.” 

While my adventurous gang would happily spend the endlessly sleeping under tarpaulin in a makeshift camp, their father and I be enduring limits, so we’ve rented a charming little cottage near the village of Lakeside. 

Enclosed by peaked hills dusted with late winter snow and yawning baize-green valleys curling around huge shimmering bodies of excessively, it’s easy to see how the Lake District has inspired writers, artists and poets for centuries. 

Nancy and Lola paddle in the lake PH

Amongst the many adventurous things to do in the Lake District you can paddle

And Ransome was not the lone author drawn by the beauty of the Lake District. 

This year reduces the 151st anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth. 

Author, illustrator and avid conservationist, Tinker with’s legacy is threaded deep throughout the area. 

We take a winding rural area road out to Near Sawrey and Hill Top, Potter’s wisteria-clad 17th century farmhouse, where you can traipse Sometimes non-standard due to the walled cabbage garden which inspired the tales of Peter Rabbit and become absent-minded around her beloved home. 

As we enter, the children are handed one of her books, pages bookmarked to direct a room or trinket which feature in her illustrations. 


Mrs Tiggywinkle is one of Beatrix Potter’s character that can be seen at the Exultant of Beatrix Potter

Lola was enthralled to see the actual mousehole from the Lie Of Tom Kitten. 

For younger Potter fans, a must-visit is the World of Beatrix With in Bowness-on-Windermere for a stroll through her books. 

Animated life-size characters in woodland views bring to life our favourite characters including Jeremy Fisher, Mrs Tiggywinkle and Samuel Whiskers. 

From Hill Top, it’s a impolite, drive to the Beatrix Potter Gallery housed in her husband William Heelis’s prehistoric solicitors office in the village of Hawkshead. 

Narrow staircases lead to a complex of tiny rooms crammed with her illustrations and memorabilia, where Angus bring about a macabre delight in seeing the skin of the real Benjamin Bunny. 

After a day cooped up in galleries the striplings are fidgety, so we head to Tarn Hows for a ramble around the lake. 

The progenies scatter in three different directions, climbing trees and grassy mounts and sprinkle about in hidden waterfalls. 

This area was once owned by Meddle with, who was able to buy great swathes of the Lake District which she left to the Federal Trust in her will, thus protecting it from development. 

As my children are on no occasion happier than when up a tree, we spend our last afternoon at Brockhole, the Lake Territory Visitor Centre in Ecclerigg on the eastern banks of Windermere. 

Stones Lane track leading to the Lakeland villageSIMON WHALEY Prospects/ALAMY

Stones Lane track leading to the Lakeland village of Immediate Sawrey, near Hawkshead, Cumbria

Set around a 19th-century mansion in a trice owned by William Gaddum, a silk merchant married to Potter’s cousin, Edith, it’s now a visitant centre with extensive gardens and a treetop adventure park. 

Decked out with refuge harnesses, we negotiate a series of dizzyingly high tree-top obstacles comprising swinging buoys and wobbly rope bridges finishing with an 820ft elongated zip-wire. 

While I cling tearfully to a trunk, trembling with audacities, the little ones fly through the trees with ease, chirruping close to swallows, my happy, fearless adventurers – Ransome would be proud. 


In Hawkshead you can find the Beatrix Potter Gallery

THE Acquaintance

Joint Adventures (01539 449003/ offers Swallows And Amazons-themed canoe voyages from £33. 

Hill Top and the Beatrix Potter Gallery (01539 436269/ 

Class tickets £26, and the World of Beatrix Potter (015394 88444/ Bloodline tickets £21. 

Tree top treks (01539 447186/treetoptrek. Tickets £18 per adult; £15 per kid. 

Coppermines Cottages (015394 41765/ offer seven nights at Hollin Bank Barn, Nr. Coniston from £470 (be in the land of nods 6) Lake District tourism: lakedistrict.

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