Swallows and Amazons (2016) isn’t the first film adaptation of the beloved children’s book by Arthur Ransome, but it’s the most recent and (I have to say) the best. It is a wonderful family film and the Swallows and Amazons film locations are wonderful (and authentic) too.
Kelly McDonald stars in Swallows and Amazons as a mother of four children from the south of England who venture up to the Lake District in the summer of 1935. The children are thrilled when their mother allows them to camp out on an island in the middle of a lake and play out their wildest fantasies. Their vivid imaginations and sailing skills get them into all kinds of mischief which teaches the children how to make friends yet stay true to themselves.
Swallows and Amazons shot in authentic filming locations in the English Lake District as well as other places in England. So, where are the Swallows and Amazons (2016) film locations? Let’s find out!
Where Was Swallows and Amazons Filmed?
Swallows and Amazons Film Locations in England
1. Keighley & Worth Valley Railway Station, West Yorkshire
The first Swallows and Amazons location is set in a 1930s Portsmouth train station where the Walker family live but it was shot in West Yorkshire. The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway Station stands in as the south England station.
The Walker family (Mrs Walker plus John, Susan, Tatty, Roger and baby Vicky) hop on a steam train here that will take them all the way up north to the English Lake District. Tatty was “controversially” renamed because, in the book, she is called Titty. I don’t need to explain why they changed it, do I?
2. Hewenden Viaduct, West Yorkshire
The steam train briefly passes over the Hewenden Viaduct in West Yorkshire. I bloody love a good cinematic viaduct. There’s the world-famous Glenfinnan Viaduct in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), of course. Everyone knows that one. Ribblehead Viaduct in Sightseers (2012) is also an iconic British cult film location and Artgen Gill Viaduct in Miss Potter (2006) is pretty cool too.
3. Oakworth Railway Station, West Yorkshire
The family may arrive in the Lake District at ‘Furness’ Station in the film, but the real-life Swallows and Amazons film location is Oakworth Railway Station. It’s only 10 minutes down the train track from where they set off! The Walkers are met off the train by Harry Enfield’s Mr Jackson sporting a questionable accent.
4. Boon Crag Farm, Coniston, Lake District
Mr Jackson drives the Walker family to their home for the summer, Holly Howe Farmhouse. In reality, it is Boon Crag Farm in Coniston. It is a very authentic filming location because the setting for Swallows and Amazons in the book actually is Coniston so they’ve done a stellar job here (I don’t believe they mention the exact Lake District location in the movie). It’s a Grade II listed building and a quintessential (yet absolutely massive) Lake District farmhouse.
5. Coniston Water, Lake District
As soon as they arrive at Holly Howe Farmhouse, the children want to climb ‘Darien’s Peak’ to see a vista of the lake.
The lake (in the movie and in reality) is Coniston Water, a 2-minute walk from their holiday home. For most of the movie, the children sail on this lake and set up camp on an island in the middle of the lake called Peel Island which the kids dub ‘Wild Cat Island’.
There’s a bit of CGI trickery going on in Swallows and Amazons because two lakes are used: Coniston Water and Derwentwater. Because instead of Peel Island, the film uses St Herbert’s Island in the middle of Derwentwater as ‘Wild Cat Island.’ So, throughout the film, the two bodies of water take it in turn to portray the same lake.
6. Heptonstall, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire
Mrs Walker tells the children they need to ask their father’s permission before they take Mr Jackson’s boat (named Swallow) out on the lake. The problem is, their father is a ship’s captain sailing somewhere in the South China sea so they head to the post office and local shop to send a letter.
The village of Heptonstall near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire stands in as Coniston. It looks like a village stuck in the 1800s so it’s no wonder that this place is one of the Swallows and Amazons (2016) locations. Extremely pretty and it appears a couple of times in the film during the carnival scenes and when the kids need to source supplies.
7. St Herbert’s Island, Derwentwater, Lake District
After their mother finally lets them go sailing and the wind finally picks up, the children pack their supplies in Swallow and off they go on an adventure! In search of pirates’ treasure! And excitement and danger! As I’ve already mentioned, St Herbert’s Island stood in for most of the scenes on the island.
A good chunk of the film is set on the island and the lake so it’s one of the most prolific Swallows and Amazons filming locations.
8. Plumpton Rocks, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire
St Herbert’s Island doesn’t have a very diverse landscape. Mainly just a few trees. No hills or cool jagged cliffs. So Plumpton Rocks in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire stood in for the ‘Amazonian’ part of the island where the Amazon girls live. They stick their trespassing sign onto one of the rocks.
And those are the top Swallows and Amazons film locations in England! Have you watched the movie or visited any of the filming locations? Let me know in the comments below!
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