In the Footsteps of the Swallows and Amazons: Climbing the Kanchenjunga

One of the most engaging books I read as a child was Swallows and Amazons, and its sequel, Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome. (I didn’t get to read more of the series until later.)

Last week, we visited the Lake District and went to see the locations where the books take place. Young Friend of the Elephants, a firm fan of Swallows and Amazons, even lugged the books with her on the trip.

This is our joint tribute to the beauty of Lake Coniston and the genius of Arthur Ransome. (Click on the images to enlarge them.)

Climbing the Kanchenjunga

All this time the explorers had been climbing up the northern side of the peak of Kanchenjunga. The huge shoulder of the mountain had shut out from them everything that there was to the west. As they climbed, other hills in the distance seemed to be climbing too, and, when they looked back into the valley they had left, it seemed so small that they could hardly believe that there had been room to row a boat along that bright thread in the meadows that they knew was the river. But it was not until the last rush to the top, not until they were actually standing by the cairn that marked the highest point of Kanchenjunga, that they could see what lay beyond the mountain.

Then indeed they knew that they were on the roof of the world.

Arthur Ransome: Swallowdale

Panorama view from the cairn on top of the Old Man of Coniston

The Swallows and the Amazons climbed the “Kanchenjunga”, aka the Old Man of Coniston in the second book, Swallowdale. Young Friend of the Elephants has never been up the mildest, shortest slope in her life without whinging about how steep it was but she was determined to follow in the footsteps of her heroes. So we bought her her first pair of walking boots and climbed the Kanchenjunga: to her credit, she made it to the top, with hardly any whinging.



8 thoughts on “In the Footsteps of the Swallows and Amazons: Climbing the Kanchenjunga

  1. George

    That’s a steep climb up through the old quarry too! Great photos – looks like you picked a perfect day. Did you visit the Ruskin museum in Coniston too? They have Mavis, the sailing dinghy that was the basis for Amazon. They’ve also got a temporary exhibition upstairs on Ransome’s time in Russia, which is fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We got very lucky with the weather – it was the only sunny day from beginning to end while we were in the Lake District. As for it being steep, yes but oh my gosh the path we came down on was much worse. 🙂

      We didn’t get to go to the museum but we did go back on another day to take a boat trip on the lake where they pointed out the various locations which I dutifully photographed, I just need to turn it into a post.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Well we walked along the ridge a bit and then came down near a stream at Little How Crag to Levers Water, which was really steep. Afterwards we just went into the valley and walked straight back to the village. We meant to walk further than that originally but it was getting a bit late and to be honest we thought that the child had done quite well already and deserved her dinner! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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