March 30, 2023

Marathon Reading of Arthur Ransome's Swallowdale

From the cover of Swallowdale

Arthur Ransome fans will gather in the Lake District this summer for a marathon reading of Swallowdale, one of the adventures in the Swallows and the Amazons series.

The event will take place over the June 24/25 weekend at the Windermere Jetty Museum and devotees of the children’s story of all ages are signing up to read a chapter.

Ransome’s classic stories set in the Lake District were written 90 years ago but have an enduring appeal. “He’s a master story teller,” says Chris Routledge, one of the organisers. “His books have never gone out of favor or out of fashion, and they are especially loved here where so many of them were located.”

Swallowdale will be the fifth marathon reading of Arthur Ransome’s novels staged in the Lake District. Chris, and his co-organiser and latter day Nancy Blackett, Eileen Jones, began in 2017 with Swallows and Amazons on the lake shore at Coniston. This was followed by Pigeon Post, staged at the Coniston Coppermines YHA hostel, and then an online reading of The Picts and the Martyrs during lockdown.

The book follows on from the great adventure of Swallows and Amazons and finds the brave crew of the Swallow, plus one parrot, beginning another summer of adventures on Wild Cat Island. But what has become of  the Amazon Pirates, and what if you turn out to be a duffer after all?

A reading of Winter Holiday was held in January 2022 at the Jetty Museum. “The readings are sheer joy,” says Jones. “There’s no agenda, no fanfare, no money involved, we just read for the absolute pleasure of reading aloud.” Some readers have turned up in suitable costume for previous readings, including an armadillo for Pigeon Post. Members of the Arthur Ransome Trust are planning to come along with memorabilia and merchandise.

If you’d like to join in and read a chapter, please head to