The lighthouse tree ~ filming ‘Swallows and Amazons’ on Derwentwater 1st July 1973

Suzannah Hamilton, Stephen Grendon, Sophie Neville and Simon West above Derwentwater in 1973
Suzannah Hamilton, Stephen Grendon, Sophie Neville and Simon West above Derwentwater in 1973

‘It would make a superb lighthouse,’ but not for a good few years yet.  The scots pine planted by The Arthur Ransome Society on the northern end of Peel Island was growing well when I last paid it homage. I hope I don’t spoil the magic if I explain that the pine used in the 1973 film of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ is on a promentary above Derwentwater.  An appropriate tree was chosen that overlooked the location we used for Houseboat Bay.

Captain John, played by Simon West, starts to climb the lighthouse tree at the Lookout Point: Photo ~ Daphne Neville

If you can avoid being distracted by Bavid Bracknell’s trendy two-tone trousers you can see a bit more of the lighthouse tree location with the lake beyond.  I’ve been told it is Friar’s Crag.  Can anyone tell me more  about the bay on Derwentwater where Captain Flint’s houseboat was moored for the film?

Sophie Neville as Titty Walker hanging the lantern. Claude Whatham sits beside the camera crew including Eddie Collins, Dennis Lewiston and Bobby Sitwell, whilst first assistant David Bracknell looks on: photo ~ Daphne Neville

As a child reading Swallows and Amazons I was always deeply impressed that Captain John managed to climb the pine tree in Arthur Ransome’s drawing. Simon West was able to use branches but he really did climb quite high.  The camerman had a scaffold tower.

Suzanna wrote that, ‘In the late afternoon the Amazons were filming on the pontoon. Kit wasn’t feeling well.’  Lesley was feeling a bit better. There was a ‘flu-like bug going around.  Neither of them look that well in the resultant photograph but they survived.

Kit Seymour as Nancy Blackett with Lesley Bennett playing her sister Peggy Blackett in Amazon, who is still sailing today.

If you would like to read more, upload a copy of ‘The Secrets of Filming ‘Swallows and Amazons'(1976)’ for sale on Amazon Kindle and other e-readers for £2.99

Author: Sophie Neville

Writer and charity fundraiser

14 thoughts on “The lighthouse tree ~ filming ‘Swallows and Amazons’ on Derwentwater 1st July 1973”

  1. excellent, I love reading your blog as I am a big fan of ‘Swallows…’…very very interesting

  2. Lovely stuff as always, Sophie – logging in from rural Turkey where I’m on a dig for the summer, but it’s worth enduring the grindingly slow internet to see the latest blog – keep it up for all of us!

    1. Much of what I am doing feels like archaeology – digging up the past and piecing it together. I have been finding out that our second assistant director Terry Needham went on to have the most fascinating career in movies working with all the great directors.

  3. Thank you Sophie for all the fascinating background to the film which all our family love. I have spent ages identifying and visiting the locations in the film and books – I am fairly sure houseboat bay is brandlehow bay and the lighthouse tree is on Brandlehow point

    John white

    1. I am so glad your family have been enjoying the posts. thank you so much for the information about our Houseboat Bay – I will add it to my book! Did we meet at Bank Ground Farm in 2003?

      1. I don’t think we’ve met sadly – but it would be good to! I’ve just bought funnily enough and am enjoying it greatly

  4. Another excellent piece of the story, thank you. It’s intriguing how all the bits, often filmed out of sequence, finally come together to make a convincing and seemingly seamless whole.

    1. Claude began by wanting to shoot the film in story order for our sakes but it proved impossible. You can have fun watching how the trees came into leaf – and went back into bud! Did you notice when you first watched the film?

        1. Richard Pilbrow worried about it. We did begin filming in May and Cumbria is pretty far north. You can compare the railway scenes shot on Day 1, with scenes featuring the houseboat, which were filmed in July.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: