When Peter Walker took me on his Swallows and Amazons tour of the Lake District we stopped at Esthwaite Water where Arthur Ransome often went fishing. I wonder if he had it is mind when he wrote about Roger’s great fish, the terrifying pike hooked in Shark Bay.
‘I understand Ransome fished it with his friend the Vicar of Finsthwaite.’ Peter went on to explain that Ransome’s last book Mainly about Fishing is dedicated to Rev. Roland Pedder of Finsthwaite – whose father was the Rev John Wilson Pedder of Garstang.
Peter wrote from Kendal to tell me that Esthwaite Water was up for sale on eBay – for £300,000. This did not seem a great deal as it covers some 280 acres, but this was the price for a 15 year lease. Apparently the trout and pike fishing is excellent. The full details appeared on this lakeforsale site
As I looked out through the reedy habitat I could just imagine Jeremy Fisher frog also in residence. I felt sure that Beatrix Potter must have painted him there. Although originally set on the River Tay in Scotland, Peter tells me that the final illustrations for The Tale of Mr Jeremy Fisher were sketched from the shore of Esthwaite Water in 1906. The original cover for the little book certainly looks as if she must have enjoyed doing this.
Tom Murphy of the Westmorland Gazette said that it was indeed Beatrix Potter’s favorite lake. It is just below Hill Top, the farm where she lived. Please click here for his article.
The Daily Telegraph also picked up on the story: ‘Lake District lake which inspired Wordsworth’
Can anyone tell me if Ransome wrote about fishing on Esthwaite Water in his book Rod and Line? ~ please use the comments box below.
6 thoughts on “Esthwaite Water – where Arthur Ransome like to fish”
Esthwaite is a delightfully peaceful lake and makes a pleasant contrast to Coniston and Windermere. I may be wrong but I seem to remember that Windermere Steamboat Museum had Beatrix Potter’s rowing boat that she used on the lake.
I have skim-read Rod and Line without success. When Ransome mentions locations it is almost exclusively rivers that he knew.
I guess that it was not until he came to spend his summers nearby (Hill Top, Haverthwaite) in the 1950s that he came to fish in the lake.
Thanks so much for your comment and for searching through ‘Rod and Line’ – my copy is at my parent’s house. It seems likely that Arthur Ransome went fishing on Esthwaite Water in the 1950’s with Rev Roland Pedder. Somewhere in the back of my mind is the memory that his father went fishing there. The bobbin mill is nearby. Didn’t Dr Ransome fall near there, getting a fish hook suck in his leg?
I’m sure Arthur Ransome must have gone fishing with the vicar, as he would have been delighted to find another keen fisherman living nearby.
I wonder if you are thinking of Stott Park Bobbin Mill? According Ransome’s autobiography, his father fell in the River Crake, south of Coniston Water by the old bobbin mill.
In the 19th century, in order to service the Lancashire cotton mills, a number of bobbin (cotton reel) mills sprung up in south Lakeland wherever there was a fast moving stream and nearby coppice woodland.
Yes, we drove past the Bobbin Mill that is open to the public on our way up to Esthwaite.
There were over 70 bobbin mills in the Lake District at one time, Stott Park at Finsthwaite is the only ‘working’ one left in the UK (ref. English Heritage).
The old ironworks on the River Crake at Low Nibthwaite was converted into a bobbin mill in the 1840’s and was later used in the joinery trade. Today its a private residence called Nibthwaite Mill.
I think this stretch of river around Low Nibthwaite was where Cyril Ransome came to griefs.
Beatrix Potter’s boat was recovered in 1976 from Moss Eccles Tarn a couple of miles to the east but I’m sure I’ve read that it was originally on Esthwaite Water.
Peter, you will have to invite Roger on one of your tours. I am sure you have his books but I think you would both have great fun together on the road.