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I'm on a journey through the Lake District from here in Windermere
to the upper slopes of the Old Man of Coniston.
My travels will take me from Bowness on the eastern shore
to Ambleside and on to Rydal.
Then I'll cross the water at Coniston
before taking on one of the Lake District's highest mountains.
Along the way, I'll look back at the best of the BBC's rural programmes from the area.
This is Country Tracks.
I'm starting my journey by crossing Windermere from Bowness to Far Sawrey.
The lakes have attracted visitors since Victorian times
and its stunning scenery has inspired some of our greatest artists and poets.
Wordsworth wandered "lonely as a cloud"
and many of Beatrix Potter's tales are set in Lakeland.
And surely 15 million tourists every year can't be wrong.
Just come to the Lakes for the day.
Just for the walks, just to get away, really, from the town.
People just like visiting here, the scenery, the atmosphere. Really good.
Somewhere for the kids to come. Somewhere for them to chill out and enjoy themselves.
And it's cheap.
I haven't been to the Lake District for years and I can't wait to explore
this beautiful part of the country.
But it's always been a working area.
Before the pleasure boats arrived, Windermere was an important industrial artery,
as John Craven discovered back in 2005.
Windermere is the biggest, and some say the best, stretch of water
in the Lake District.
But officially it's not a lake.
The only one with the word "lake" in its title
is Lake Bassenthwaite.
The entire surface of Windermere, or Lake Windermere, whatever you want to call it,
is a public highway. For centuries it's been used by working boats,
pleasure craft and ferry boats.
I went for a rainy ride on a ferry boat more than a hundred years old
to hear about Windermere's history from Andy Lowe.
No fighting for seats today, Andy!
If only you'd come two days ago -
blue sky, sunshine, lots of tourists -
a totally different view!
-Oh, dear. Well... The lake has always been used for transportation.
At Ambleside, not far from here, was a Roman fort
and I'm sure the Romans used it for trading.
In medieval times, all sorts of heavy products used the lake,
just as a means of movement from one place to another.
So the lake wasn't looked upon for aesthetic, beautiful reasons,
it was a purely functional way of carrying products.
When did all that change?
It changed in the 18th century, when people were appreciating landscape quality
and people could afford to come and build houses in the Lake District.
It's perhaps worth saying about the people who settled here in the 19th century,
the wealthy industrialists from Liverpool, Manchester and Bolton brought their architects
and there was real jockeying for who's got the most important house.
Someone came with a Swiss chalet style and some tried to outdo them with an Italian villa
and then somebody came with a Tudoresque mansion.
When did it become a mass tourist area?
The key date in this whole area is 1847.
A railway was promoted to Windermere, although it was intended to go further.
But a certain William Wordsworth
made sure that it stopped at Windermere.
He didn't want the day-trippers coming in their droves to Ambleside and Grasmere.
The railway brought in visitors - day-trippers, staying visitors,
and, perhaps the most important thing is, it was a lifeline
to Manchester and Lancashire.
Without a doubt, the Lake District, particularly the Windermere area,
And at the same time as the railways, came the paddle steamers,
linking together the towns and villages around the lake.
There were two rival companies. There was the Windermere Steam Yacht Company,
who launched The Lady Of The Lake,
and that would come on at a rather sedate pace,
and a rival company, the Windermere Iron Steamboat Company,
thought they'd get one up on them.
They named their boat Dragonfly, which was much faster. It would have a brass band,
and as it passed by, it would play the tune The Girl I Left Behind Me!
# ..the girl I left behind! #
There are lots of islands on the lake.
Most are fairly small. The largest one is called Belle Isle, 37 acres.
That's behind us here?
Very significant position, right in the centre of Lake Windermere.
That's an extraordinary-looking house.
It was build in the 1770s.
This is an iconic building in the whole of the country,
one of the first cylindrical buildings
to be built for romantic, aesthetic reasons.
Is it still lived in?
It is. It's privately owned. Soon after the building was completed,
it was bought by the Curwen family from Workington
and this was given to their daughter, who was married to John Christian,
who was a descendant of Fletcher Christian, of the mutiny on the Bounty.
This island was named after Isabella and became known as Belle Isle.
And that name has stuck ever since.
A short distance from Belle Isle is the narrowest stretch of water
on Windermere, and it's here that the vehicle ferry does a round trip
every twenty minutes.
It can carry a maximum of 18 cars
and a hundred foot passengers, and in summer there's often long queues
because it saves a ten-mile journey.
There's been a ferry in this spot for 500 years
and there's a ghostly story from the days when ferrymen used to row across.
Local legend has it in many years gone by,
a ghostly voice can be heard from the other side of the lake on the Hawkshead side,
known as the Crier of Claife.
This ghostly voice cries out across the lake,
beckoning the ferrymen to go over.
One ferryman went across, rowed over,
was so shocked and literally dumbfounded when he came back,
he was speechless, couldn't tell anybody about what he saw
and he died the next day.
Who knows what is still lurking over there, even today?
Having crossed Windermere, I'm now cycling along the western edge of the lake.
So Windermere's always been vital to support the economic life of the area.
But it also supports a wide variety of wild and aquatic life
some of which can be pretty elusive.
The lake has traditionally been important for fishing
and the waters are rich in brown trout, pike, perch, roach and eels.
But if you're a local angler like Alex Parton, the real prize is a pike.
Rumour has it there are some pretty big ones in Windermere.
-Can I have a go?
-Course you can.
I've never fished before in my life.
Basically, this is a lure for catching pike.
And what we're aiming to do is throw it out into the lake,
wind it back nice and slowly and with a bit of luck,
the pike will come and take it.
Just take that out of there.
As you do that, you swing the rod behind you.
Is this where I get somebody's eye out?
-As you flick forward...
-Just give it a...
-Let go of what?
-Push this finger upwards as you let go.
Is this going to be embarrassing?
It's very high in the sky. Not very far out!
Not a bad effort.
What attracts you to it? What's the appeal?
Well, obviously the surroundings,
it doesn't take long to look around
and realise we live in a beautiful part of the world
and the advantage of it.
Why is it pike that you fish for?
It's just a natural progression. I started when I was really small,
fishing for all sorts of species of fish.
My uncle was particularly interested in pike,
so he started bringing me pike fishing
and then I've fallen in love with it from there
and it's a natural progression, the largest fish in the Lake District...
They get to impressive sizes...
Oh, yes. Certainly, 30 pound and above,
which is maybe 140, 150 centimetre fish,
which is a fair old fish.
It's one of the richer lakes in the Lake District, which obviously means
there are a lot of small coarse fish and other fish
for the pike to feed on.
So obviously this encourages growth from a young age,
so the pike grow faster for longer,
so therefore, when they become older,
at the higher end the fish are likely to be bigger.
So if this lake is so ideal for big pike,
there must be some truth in the rumour about the monster...
Well, I haven't personally seen it,
but I've heard a few reports that there's a...a big fish in the lake somewhere,
whether it's a pike or not...
-As big as a boat.
-It'll eat your children.
Lake monster or not, there are forces at work on the lake
which could change its delicate ecological balance.
Patrick Arnold is an angler with a keen eye for conservation on Windermere.
How healthy is Lake Windermere?
It looks idyllic.
But that is not, unfortunately, the case.
There are serious water problems.
Specifically, what are they?
It is to do with enrichment of the water. You have got phosphates,
nitrates, coming into the water.
-Diffused run-off from agriculture.
And then you've got the huge growth in population and housing in the area,
putting pressure on the sewerage system
and so you have got run-off on that as well.
What does that do?
Your water is no longer as clear and as well oxygenated.
It has got more sediment in the water
and you combine that with the increase in temperature
that has taken place more recently.
It may only be one degree Centigrade,
that doesn't sound a lot.
But it is very, very significant on the ecology of the lake.
That increase is down to a depth of 40 to 50 feet and beyond,
so it's significant in terms of the ecology of the lake.
So how healthy is the ecology in the catchment of the lake?
-Otters are more prevalent now.
Which is great.
We've got plenty of the wild roe and red deer.
So the future's bright then?
Yes, the wildlife around the lake and in the catchment is very healthy.
Now what we've got to try and do something about
is the future of the lake itself.
Since a speed ban was imposed on Windermere in 2005,
things on the surface are pretty tranquil.
But it hasn't always been this way.
Windermere has a long association with speed
and the lake became a mecca for water-skiers, as Ben Fogle discovered in 2006.
Things really took off after the First World War,
when people started using the lake in search of an adrenaline buzz.
It then became the stage for numerous
world record-breaking attempts.
It wasn't just about boats.
During the Second World War,
Windermere was home to a secret factory producing the RAF's famous Sunderland seaplane.
Quite simply, Windermere became synonymous with speed.
The Boat Museum here at Windermere is a testimony to that history.
David Matthews showed me around.
-Tell me about this.
-This is Canfly.
She's very special cos she's the first Windermere speedboat
and she's called Canfly
cos she can fly.
The engine was used in an airship
that did patrols over the North Sea in the First World War.
Like many other speedboats,
because they'd developed big, powerful compact engines
during the First World War,
these were brought in and put into boats
which gave the impetus to speedboat racing on Windermere.
What's her speed?
Probably she would do no more than 35, 40 miles an hour.
They did very long races, about six-hour races,
right round the lake,
which must have been an awesome sight.
What happened after the Canfly?
They developed various forms of hydroplane, with powerful engines
and that gave it the introduction to speedboat racing
in a much more organised manner and, indeed, world record attempts as well.
Does White Lady II come after Canfly?
Yes, she's about ten years after Canfly.
She's very important because she's the early prototype of a stepped hydroplane.
The hydroplane is where they're lifted off the water?
She's skimming on the water.
-What sort of speed?
-50 or 60 miles an hour.
-It's almost double...
-A significant speed. Yes.
As engines got more powerful, so did Windermere's addiction to speed.
In 1956, Norman Buckley set a new world speed record
reaching 79 miles per hour in his boat Miss Windermere III.
So what do we have here?
This is Miss Windermere IV.
These were record attempt boats really.
They achieved speeds well over 100 miles an hour.
They've got fantastic exhaust pipes coming out.
These were Jaguar engines and things and every year more development
would take place to get more speed out of them.
Boating was an expensive hobby.
It wasn't until after the Second World War
that this began to change.
Enter The Albatross,
lighter than anything the lake had ever seen.
Tell me about the development of The Albatross.
If you go back to the 20s and 30s,
it was a very specialised and upper-class, only people with significant money could do it.
Boats weren't production lined or anything.
After the Second World War, with the knowledge of building Spitfires of riveted aluminium,
they started building these and started a production line.
What strikes me is that it's so small.
Doing 30 miles an hour in this on the water must feel very fast.
It's... And they're very exciting and very manoeuvrable.
They don't have a gearbox. If you turn the engine on, it goes.
So there was nothing for it but to have a go.
Observing the new 10mph speed limit, of course.
And what a privilege it was
to be a tiny part of Windermere's boating tradition.
And it's not every day you get to see the lake in such glorious weather.
But Windermere's speed demons weren't just happy on the lake.
They were constantly looking for new thrills.
It was from the lake that some of the world's first seaplanes took flight.
Some of the earliest seaplanes were gliders towed along at high speed
until they could get airborne.
In the Second World War, the RAF built a factory
on the banks of the lake to make Sunderlands,
the Air Force's antisubmarine planes.
The seaplanes would hurtle along Windermere at 90 miles per hour
before finally taking to the air.
There are only two left in the world but it's claimed that one remains
at the bottom of the lake.
Tim, tell me about your family's search for the missing Sunderland.
Years ago, me and my father spent two weeks out on the lake
with all the latest technology,
painstakingly searching and unfortunately we didn't find it.
-Does the myth pervade?
-Well, it does.
There are still people who still say they were there, they saw it happen,
but we're pretty sure it's not.
-It's your very own Loch Ness mystery.
As boats got faster and lighter,
a new craze came to Windermere - water-skiing.
How long have people been water-skiing here?
We believe that Windermere is where it started. Back in 1922
people were skiing behind steamboats
back in the early 1920s, before the Americans.
-So is water-skiing an integral part of the lake?
-Very much so.
Last year there was a ban introduced, a 10mph speed limit
which has put an end to competitive water-skiing.
It's still open to skiing, but below 10mph.
That sounds strange, but a lot of beginners do ski at that speed.
So I'll be your guinea pig for this year?
That's right, Ben, that's why we've got you kitted up.
The face says it all.
Wow, was I glad to lift myself out of the water.
Don't be deceived by the sun, it was freezing!
But what a fantastic setting!
Then time to brace myself for that icy water all over again.
I'm heading north now to Ambleside in the heart of Lakeland.
Ambleside had an industrial past, producing charcoal,
bobbins for the textile industry
and machine tools used for quarrying the local slate and stone.
The distinctive blue-green slate is world renowned.
In fact, it's rumoured that billionaire Bill Gates
spent £1.5 million just to line his swimming pool.
With the decline of traditional industries,
Ambleside has had to adapt.
These days, it's biggest business is tourism,
which has touched every part of village life.
With over 15 million tourists visiting the Lake District every year,
I'm interested to hear what it's been like for local people who have lived through all the changes.
In the face of tourism, the locals may argue
that the basic necessities in Ambleside have suffered.
So how does life today compare to the past?
There were very few cars at all.
Groceries and a lot of things came by cart.
Everybody shopped in the village
because all the shops were in the village.
We had everything you could want, actually.
Now that isn't so.
You can't get...knickers!
You can't get your knickers here!
Where do you go for your knickers, Joan?
You've got to go to Kendal,
or I suppose people buy these days online or by catalogue.
But, no, there are no - what I would call useful shops -
so it's changed in that way quite a lot.
Has tourism been a bad thing for Ambleside?
-It's our only industry, anyhow.
We are 100% dependent on it.
We are very lucky. We have a twelve-month season now.
All the restaurants, cafes, hotels,
they were all closed in wintertime, whereas now,
they're open all year round.
What's your opinion about houses that have been bought as second homes?
-That is a problem.
A lot of them are empty all winter, they don't come in winter -
or they don't come all the time anyway.
And they were houses that could have been used for family houses. Not now. So it's a waste.
Whilst tourists are the lifeblood of the Lake District's economy,
there is a price to pay.
Property sales to second-home buyers can make it hard for local people to get on the property ladder.
Lucy Nicholson runs a busy bistro in Ambleside,
but she's aware of the challenges young people face.
So 20 years ago when you started,
were there many cappuccino and carrot cake venues here?
Not at all! Cappuccinos were definitely the prevail of the Italians.
I see you employ lots of young people here.
Do you think that contributes to them staying in the area
and keeping talent and being able to have jobs and houses?
Yes, I do, and I think this particular area, I think the Lake District in general
has a mass of really, really solid businesses
that are well known, well respected,
and it is our duty as, I suppose, custodians for the future,
that we make sure that we do actually give people
the privilege, to empower them,
to actually work within the area that they were brought up and lived in.
Tourism is an essential part of her business.
But the pressure on local house prices
has had an impact on Lucy's own family.
I've got four daughters,
one of them works with me here in the business and lives in the village,
although she doesn't own a house. She'd very much like to. Unfortunately, for people living
and working here, it is unlikely, with the current climate, that they can get on the market.
Leaving Ambleside and its people behind,
I'm on the move again, northbound to the village of Rydal.
Rydal was the home of Lakeland poet William Wordsworth.
It's become a place of pilgrimage and a popular location for those second-home buyers.
Of course, I'm a tourist here as well. I've got my collected poems of Wordsworth, very nice,
and because it's getting dark, I'm going to need my very own second home.
But the place where I'm staying tonight is a second home with a difference.
OK, it's only my home for the night,
but I'm staying in a Mongolian yurt,
on a campsite you can visit all year round, with minimum impact
on the environment. A yurt is a type of shelter,
lived in for thousands of years by tribes from Iran to Mongolia.
And now here, in William Wordsworth's back garden at Rydal Mount.
This is my first time in a yurt,
and I'm not quite sure what to expect.
Look how big it is!
My goodness, modern camping, but not quite as luxurious as this.
Wow, this is incredible.
This is a far cry from the tent pegs and musty canvas of childhood camping, this kind of camping,
I could well become accustomed to.
And these are the kind of noisy neighbours I don't mind
once in a while.
I had a pretty good night's sleep in my yurt last night. It was full of dreams,
but I think I was sleeping really lightly, as I don't normally camp on my own,
so you tend to be really aware of every single sound.
And last night, it got very windy with the trees roaring, then the yurt made a few odd squeaks.
It wouldn't shake, it was very sturdy. And it was very dark in there, which was lovely.
And the fire was going, so it was really warm, which was such a unique camping experience.
And then waking up to birdsong, which is such a treat, always.
So, yeah, thoroughly recommended.
A quick wash and brush-up and I'm hitching a lift from Rydal,
through the Grizedale Forest, to another famous Lakeland landmark,
We're in the Grizedale Forest now, as were Countryfile, back in 1990,
when the Arts Society had just won a highly prestigious award.
For more than 500 years, Grizedale has been managed by man.
Generations of foresters have left their mark on these 10,000 acres.
This century, the biggest impact has been the massive plantations of conifers.
With all the tourist pressures these days on the Lake District,
Grizedale is still a perfect place to get away from it all.
Nestling in a fold in the hills, in the converted outbuildings of a long-vanished manor house,
is the Theatre-in-the-Forest. It's run by the Grizedale Society,
a charity devoted to bringing the Arts to a rural audience.
While we were there, a rehearsal was going on for a piano recital.
This stage sees all manner of entertainment, from lectures to full-scale drama,
many of them with a rural theme.
And it makes money, attracting audiences from all over the country.
Bill Grant, Grizedale's former Chief Forester,
started the Arts Centre 21 years ago. He's built up a thriving complex,
which includes an art gallery that's become a showplace for forest-linked exhibits.
Even the children's adventure playground was designed by a sculptor.
It's all part of the intention to show art in action, amid the trees.
The arts have a place in the rural environment.
It's not just the prerogative of towns and cities,
but it can play a major role in a place like Grizedale,
where it's overlying a working situation. Grizedale is a large, commercial, working forest,
production forest, with a lot of people working in it, and the Arts fit like a glove.
This harmony is exemplified by a sculpture in local wood of an organ. It's one of more than 60 pieces
-of modern sculpture that blend into the forest.
-There's nowhere in Grizedale
where you see two sculptures at the same time. This is different to a sculpture park, where it's usually
a fairly confined area, and there's sculptures all over the place,
all within vision. But here, each one is specific to its site.
They find the site, and then they conceive something which fits in with the landscape,
-that fits with that particular site.
-Some are hard to spot at first,
like these wild boars, made from materials found in the surrounding woodland.
These sculptures have been paid for with revenue from the theatre,
and they're sited well away from the working areas of Grizedale.
The idea is to help visitors appreciate not only the skill of the artist,
but the beauty of the forest.
Nine years after that Countryfile visit, The Grizedale Society
decided to leave its sculptures with The Forestry Commission,
close down the theatre
and concentrate on visual arts.
I'm meeting Deputy Director Alistair Hudson at the Society's new premises,
on the edge of the forest,
to find out what passes for contemporary Lakeland art today.
-So why have you moved here?
-Well, I think, by the 1990s,
these sculptures in the forest had lost currency within the art world
and movements in art and we really wanted to bring that back up to date.
One of the problems is that the environment of the forest is a very particular environment
and people's ideas of it have changed since then as well
and everything is more connected with the global situation.
Hence we moved here to Lawson Park Farm,
which is an iconic Lake District hill farm,
with a long history to it. So, for an arts organisation,
it's a perfect vehicle to try out all the ideas
that we're looking to attempt in this new location.
Lawson Park is a historic Lakeland hill farm, once owned by Victorian art critic John Ruskin.
It's being refurbished to become the headquarters of the Society
and accommodation for artists.
So, Alistair, what do artists actually do here?
Well, um... it's quite similar in a way,
in that the artists used to go and work in the forest,
alongside the foresters, in that working environment.
What they do now, in this expanded version of Grizedale,
is they come here and they work on this farm
and they work in local communities
and work in communities in rural situations abroad as well.
The organisation is now a network of projects,
both locally and internationally,
into which the artists are placed.
The Grizedale Society's mission is to make artists and art
more useful within the local community.
This is a project by the Urbania Art Collective.
How accessible is this art to local people?
Um...it's very accessible. In fact, we are part of the community.
This farm is looked at as being within the parish of Coniston.
We've done a number of projects with the village,
including reviving a water festival, events in the village hall,
and inviting people to come here and take part in this project
and this farm and bring their ideas,
to rethink how a farm might work.
It seems Grizedale is one rural arts scene which has left its 20th century ideas back among the trees.
Whether art stays in the wood or not,
as long as there are trees here there will be wildlife,
as John Craven discovered all those years ago
but he had to be very (very quiet).
Dawn in the forest and life is stirring in an area specially reserved for its wildlife.
Together with the chief ranger, John Cubby,
I'm waiting in one of the hides, hoping to catch sight of red deer.
Some mornings they stay hidden but today we're lucky.
Because deer damage commercial woodland as they feed, they are allocated areas of their own.
-It's an important herd of reds which we have at Grizedale.
As far as we know, they're the only indigenous herd of woodland red deer in England.
Never had any introduced park blood.
And they really are superb animals.
How many are there?
Well, there's in excess of 100 at the moment
but the population varies a bit,
depending on the age and stage of the forest.
The combination of deer fencing,
ever-increasing numbers of the public...
means it's becoming a bit more difficult to see them all the time.
So it's very important that we have these quiet areas,
scattered throughout the forest,
where we don't encourage the public to go, so the deer can have a bit of peace and seclusion.
One or two of the deer management areas
we do have covered by observation nights.
That's where members of the public can come and...
try to see wildlife in its natural surroundings.
Looking in our direction now. Do you think he's spotted us?
The older hind just got suspicious for one reason or another.
It may just be a puff of wind got back to them.
They will all follow her example and get out of it pretty quickly.
So it's the old hind, not the stag, who gave the warning, really?
Nine times out of ten, it's the old matriarch who takes them away.
Off they go.
My journey so far has taken me across Windermere,
then due north to Ambleside and on to a hint of Mongolia in Rydal,
before snaking my way south through the Grizedale Forest.
I'm heading for the Old Man of Coniston,
but first of all, I've got to cross Coniston Water -
the Lake District's third biggest lake.
I'm meeting Johan, who's going to take me across in his Canadian canoe.
Hello, here you go.
-Is that for me?
-Try that for size.
-Is that mine?
-Grab a paddle, yes, that's for you.
-Pop that there. If you could sit in the front, that would be helpful.
-I'll sit on the back here.
-Walk right down to the front.
-Mind the flasks.
-We might stop for a brew later.
-Good, like the sound of that.
Light as a feather, eh?
What's special about the Canadian canoe?
They can be used to transport quite heavy loads,
like a lorry for the lake.
They're versatile and easy to paddle when laden,
as well as being able to cross large expanses of water
and you can even sail them.
So they're the most versatile boat, really.
Well, Johan, I've got to head up to the top of the old Man of Coniston.
-Wow, do you know how high it is?
-Go on, tell me.
-It's 803 metres, which is pretty high.
-There's a bit of snow as well.
-I'm weary just thinking about it!
-It's quite a cold one.
There's an inversion.
You can see the clouds below the summit at times, which is beautiful.
It's a stunning place to be on a day like today - barely a breath of air.
-I hope so.
-Hardly any wind.
-It's pristinely clear and calm.
We've already seen how this incredible landscape has inspired writers and artists over the years.
While I could wax lyrical about Jemima Puddleduck and Beatrix Potter,
Ben Fogle is more of a Swallows And Amazons man.
He came to Coniston in 2003 to spark his childhood imagination.
Swallows And Amazons - the classic British children's novel,
made into a film and set in the Lake District - my favourite as a child.
It combined all the ideals of lakes, islands and, of course, sailing.
Over here, we've got an exact replica of the Swallow
but this one is the real Amazon used by the children.
These boats are clinker-built -
-the planks overlap
-with rivets along the side -
-a design first used by Vikings.
-This boat dates from 1920.
One reason it was used is it's so stable for small children...
and big ones!
Over there is the boathouse where all the adventures began.
This is Bank Ground Farm on the northern shores of Coniston Water.
It's in Arthur Ransome's book, and in the film, as the Swallow's fictional holiday home.
The farmhouse bed and breakfast is still here
and so is the landlady who let the cast and crew in 30 years ago -
not that she knew what she was letting herself in for.
They said, "We'll have a shot there, one there, then talk about money."
To me, with seven kids, I thought this was great
and they offered me £75,
which 30 years ago was a lot of money.
-And so I didn't know what was going to happen.
-So what happened?
Well, they came...
And there were double-decker buses,
-they took the whole house over,
took every room over, shifted beds from here, beds from there,
sideboards from here, sideboards from there.
In the end, they were about three quarters of the way through it,
when somebody said to me, "Stop them."
So I closed the gate at the top with a chain
-and told them what I wanted, and...
-Which was what?
Are we allowed to know?
-Which was a lot.
-A lot of money from £75, weren't it?
A lot of money, yeah.
'And pay up, they did.
'Swallows And Amazons is unashamedly a children's film.
'Adults play only a very small part.
'But, for this film,
'there was something more than just good acting skills needed.'
The most important thing was that they survived the sailing.
Of course they were going to be in boats without life jackets.
And, at times, in slightly treacherous conditions.
The wind changes so quickly on this lake
that they have to know what they can do.
And their ages varied between 8.5 and 13.
So, how did you fit all the children and a whole crew in one of the small boats?
Well, that worried us a bit before we started filming.
So we designed a pontoon.
And it was shaped rather like this.
Like a cross.
About 20 feet long.
And the boat fitted in like that.
It was tied there and tied there. And the boom would come out.
And then we could put a camera track round there,
we could put sand standing there.
We could have lights there if we needed them.
Then, when we needed to do another part of the boat,
we moved the boat round to there,
and then we moved the track round to there,
and so on, according to where the wind was.
And this way, we could have complete sound coverage,
get all the pictures we'd want and not get in the way of the children.
Another of the film's locations that's right here
is this small wooded island just waiting to be explored.
Peel Island at the south end of Coniston,
used as Wildcat Island in the stories,
it's the very same island that the children discover in the film.
This is the secret harbour on Peel Island...
Although, today, it's not quite so secret!
This is where the Amazons made secret markings so that they could navigate
their way through the treacherous rocks.
'Typical, beaten by some modern-day Amazons!'
Hello, Amazons. Have you been for a swim already?
It's a bit cold!
Too cold for me, anyway. I'm off to explore.
Peel Island and much of the shore around the lake is owned by the National Trust.
It can be explored by anyone,
although you will need a boat to get here.
Filming was great fun for everyone.
Because the actors were so young, they couldn't work long hours,
so the crew would finish early and enjoy their surroundings.
The two young actresses, Suzanna Hamilton, who played Susan,
and Sophie Neville, who played Titty, were inseparable.
You haven't seen each other for quite some time now?
Not for a very long time.
-Probably about 30 years, I think something like that.
Since the premiere!
The Arthur Ransome books were so popular with children and still are,
being able to play out all of those things!
What was it like at that time? Having all these adults around filming it?
-It was fun.
-It was really fun. I think we were really privileged.
And we knew it, I think, to an extent.
I think we did, we inhabited our parts
without any of that sort of, erm... Method.
What did you think of Claude as a director?
-We loved him.
-We loved him. And he gave us danger money...
He gave us danger money, he gave us overtime.
The swimming scenes, Claude had to pay us big time for that.
-We got £2...
-I only got £1! And I went in more than you!
And you went in twice!
Was that quite difficult, to get in that cold water?
-It was melt water.
-We don't mind that, that's fine!
She was brilliant - I minded!
But when you came out, you were all wrapped in a blanket.
It was cold, the lakes are cold, yeah.
Shall we have a dip now?
In the film, the children's exploits were usually at the expense
of actor, Ronald Fraser, who played the Amazons' Uncle Jim,
better known as retired pirate, Captain Flint.
He lived on a houseboat, which comes under friendly attack at the end.
And he comes to the same sticky end as most pirates...
And this is Uncle Jim's houseboat,
which was never really a houseboat at all.
In fact, it was never even on Coniston Water,
it was shot here on Derwentwater.
It was carefully modified by filmmakers
and then returned to its former glory as a passenger launch.
And it's still used today - the Lady Derwentwater.
Swallows And Amazons has become part of the history of the Lake District
around Windermere and Coniston.
When Arthur Ransome wrote the book, he was trying to recreate
an idealised version of his own childhood.
He succeeded in inspiring generations of other childhoods,
including my own.
And I think that's exactly why the film is still enjoyed
by children and adults alike even today.
Because there's a part of all of us
that wishes we could go back to those innocent and perfect times.
From the glassy stillness of Coniston Water,
I'm now off to tackle more rugged terrain.
I'm coming to the end of my Lakeland journey and I've saved
the best till last - getting up the Old Man of Coniston,
which is just 800 metres as the crow flies and 800 metres up...
'The Old Man of Coniston
'is a fantastic landmark in this part of the Lake District
'and marks the highest point in the Furness Fells.
'And I'm here to meet some fell runners
'who have been inspired by a local hero.'
This is Eskdale in Cumberland and this is the Upper Esk.
Magnificent, tough, brutal countryside,
the training ground of Joss Naylor, the king of the fell runners.
Joss Naylor is a sheep farmer turned fell runner
from Wasdale in north-west Lakeland.
Following success in his youth as a cross-country runner,
later he turned his hand to the epic sport of fell running.
Fast-forward 20-odd years to the age of 50,
and his feats included running seven Wainwright Walks in seven days.
Then at the sprightly age of 70,
Joss ran 70 Lakeland fell tops in under 21 hours.
he was awarded an MBE for his services to sport and charity
and he's been noted as one of Britain's top 100 sports personalities.
I'm meeting one of Joss's disciples and running partners, Barry Johnson.
Tell me about one of your happiest memories up here.
Um, I think one in particular, we ran all day.
-We ran for about 16 hours.
I promise you, the craic, or as they say up here, the talk,
was just constant, because Joss is just a lover of the environment.
He's so involved in it. He's Cumbrian out and out
and he knows every little track you go on, every sheep trod,
every little lake that you go past. A real treat to be with.
Well, Joss couldn't be with us today.
He's sunning himself on a Spanish beach.
But three years ago, he made this video diary for Countryfile.
My name is Joss Naylor and my sport is fell running.
I live at a place called Grey Nail in the Lake District
and today I'm gonna go up Seatallan,
which is one of the mountains behind my house,
for the 100th time this summer.
This year in particular, it was my 70th birthday.
I thought, well, I'll do 70 Seatallan's for a start.
I started about the 7th or 8th of April
and I got my 70 in on the first day of June, which was good.
Fell running in this area is mostly longer distance stuff, that I do.
It's maybe 15 to 25 miles long
and takes about seven and a half hours to run it.
The young men would maybe do it in about five,
so I'm still managing to get round, which is what I aim to do.
This is the Millennium Seat I built. It's been built about six years now.
I decided to build it cos we had a Millennium Bridge down there
which was built by William Dixon in 1900
and this little seat here was built in the year 2000.
Obviously I don't use this seat when I'm out running,
but when I walk the dogs during the winter and times like that,
I sit down for five or ten minutes just to take the views in.
It was in 1960 there was a mountain trial up there
and the organisers wanted to know if I'd like to have a go.
And I did. That was the first one. I had no running shoes or anything.
I just ran in my work boots
and took my knife and cut the legs out of my trousers
and away I went.
It keeps you fit. I know I've ran now all these years
and I've taken no harm.
I think when I started running I was about nine stone
and today I'll probably still be nine stone.
I had a medical the other day
and the doctor said I was half a stone too light.
I'm not gonna do anything about it,
I'm not gonna have an extra plate of porridge or anything.
I'm just gonna continue as I am today.
If I can go up the fells, I'll continue going up them.
I get a lot of pleasure out of it.
Today it's gonna be magic cos we're going up for the 100th time
and you might say, oh, that's silly going up there 100 times.
But anybody who says it, just let them go and do it 100 times.
And I hope if they do,
they get the pleasure out of going up there that I've had.
I promised my wife I won't do any more of these multi-distance things,
you know, running for 24 hours and she's much happier about it.
She thinks maybe I'm getting rather old for doing them
and she said she terminating my licence for doing them!
I better just behave myself.
Well, that's just great.
That's 100 times I've been up Seatallan this summer
in all sorts of weather.
There was one morning I came up on here and it was just blowing us off.
I had to lay down on the ground three or four times
and hang on to the grass. It was blowing the dogs away.
They were lying down behind us.
The only bit I've got to do now is the wall
and that's the jog back home.
In 1990, Joss set up the Joss Naylor challenge
to provide a fell running target for people over 50.
But his celebrity transcends age barriers.
He's also been an inspiration for Ben Abdelnoor,
who's the men's team captain of the Ambleside Fell Runners.
So, Ben, why fell running in the first place?
Um, it's something I've really wanted to get into.
I've always come on holiday to the Lake District
and come walking with my family and I enjoy road running.
It just seemed a natural progression.
To get out in the hills running and just enjoying being out.
-Making it harder up in the hills?
So you had quite a serious accident, is that right?
Yeah, about four years ago I had a paragliding accident
which left me with a broken back. It took a while to recover.
That's serious. How long did it take to recover?
It was a year before I was even able to start running again.
Yeah, it was fairly serious. So, to get a call from Joss, which I did,
was a real inspiration to me.
What was it like getting the call from him?
It was a bit strange, actually. I got back in and my dad said,
some old bloke was on the phone, I didn't quite catch his name.
It sounded like Ross or something. I explained afterwards to him, I said,
it's the equivalent of getting a call off, I guess, David Beckham,
so he was my hero who I quite looked up to.
So to get a call from him was pretty amazing, yeah.
Running over this terrain is a real test of endurance
and certainly not for the faint-hearted.
I've only covered a very small part of the fell
and I'm already exhausted.
'My trip today has taken me up fell and down stream,
'from the shores of Windermere
through the tourist buzz of Ambleside,
'to the serenity of canoeing across Coniston Water.
'Now I'm nearing the upper reaches
'of the Old Man of Coniston and I'm trying my hand, and feet,
'at a brand-new way of walking, an all-over body workout
'that burns nearly twice as many calories
'as a typical stroll.'
So, fell running was plenty of good fun,
but I think I'm going to enjoy this pace much, much more.
Martin, what is this that I'm attempting - very badly - to do here?
-This is Nordic walking.
It's like trekking with poles.
It's an exercise technique and we're using the poles to help propel us forward.
-It means we're working our upper body,
which means we're using more muscles,
because we're using more muscles, we'll burn more calories than ordinary walking.
Because the poles help us along,
most people find it easier than ordinary walking.
You burn anything up to
46% more calories than ordinary walking,
but it feels easier. It takes some of the load away from the knees,
some of the load away from the hips.
It's very good for your back, and just nice to be out, really.
So it's cardio and it's working muscles that you wouldn't normally work on a walk?
Absolutely. You're working your arms, your back, your chest,
-and you feel it quite quickly.
So what's the technique here?
The idea is that the poles are angled back behind us.
They're propelling us forward.
We're swinging from the shoulder, so it's normal movement,
normal walking movement patterns,
and that means it's a very safe exercise for almost everybody to do.
It's always tempting to do leg with leg, isn't it,
but it's the opposite you need to do?
Yeah. It's why people need to...
Even having a single session, learning how to do it,
-makes a world of difference to what you get from it.
-It makes it much more effective.
-So who's doing this Nordic walking?
Well, lots of people all over the country.
Nordic Walking UK has trained over 650 instructors,
and that includes areas like Manchester, London, the Malverns -
rural areas as well as urban areas.
Poole Borough Council run classes on the beach on a Monday evening
and people wear head torches and the classes are full even in the evenings.
-People can feel self-conscious.
We recognise that and we get jokes like, "Where are your skis?" and "Where's the snow?"
But less and less as people see it more. It means that people want to do it with somebody else.
You don't feel so self-conscious when you've got a friend.
If you've got a friend, you're much more likely to go out and do it, and enjoy it socially as well.
Fantastic. I think the fact it makes you so much fitter, THAT much more fitter, is amazing.
It's a really easy exercise to learn and a really easy exercise to do.
Do it with somebody else. You're getting out in beautiful surroundings.
-It's a winner all round.
-Let's keep going.
Well, I've come to the end of my journey through the Lake District
and what a beautiful spot to finish up on.
Join us next time on Country Tracks.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd