After the kids had both listened to Swallows and Amazons and played being Swallows and Amazons and talked endlessly about Swallows and Amazons, I let them watch the film (the old one - the new one isn't out yet and I don't think I'm going to like it). And of course, that meant that they had evidence that Wild Cat Island actually existed and wasn't entirely fictional. And they wanted to go. A lot.
So we hatched a plan. It started by leaving York at 6:53am with two boats on the back of the car (it's almost like they designed the GP to have an Oppy slotted upside down inside it). By 10 o'clock we were putting up the tent in the campsite in Ullswater and and had shed one boat. Then we were back on the road towards Coniston. We wound our way round tiny roads at alarming angles and the boat bumped along happily behind us. I saw Thirlmere for the first time and was most impressed, though rather dubious that I'd enjoy it do much from the water due to the road running along side. We discovered that Windemere isn't signposted very clearly, and Ian did an amazing bit of reversing on the side of a massive hill with a boat trailer. By 12:30 we were in a deserted carpark halfway down Coniston measuring a gap between two rocks with a tape measure. That deserves a story too.
|The crew were kept busy|
|Rigging on the launching beach|
Landing was not as easy as we had hoped. The landing place was downwind and much narrower than it was in the film (or book). In the end we tacked closer and closer to the northern end in the lee of the island and eventually drifted carefully in among rocks and tied up very carefully. And then we explored.
|The boat was pretty happy downwind of the island|
|Tiny landing place. Subsequent conversation with cast of the first film (!) yeilded the discovery that the water was lower and they shipped in gravel to enlarge the land place.|
The harbour was amazing. Much easier to see than in the books - the rocks around the end didn't mask it so it was clear to see from the water (we didn't land there due to the onshore wind). But it was narrow and had great steep sides. Thea spent a lot of time walking up and down the channel. The camp was long and thin and stretched almost the length of the island. There was a fire in the centre and plently of trees for hanging Swallowesque tents. There were a least two levels of paths on either side of the camp at different heights through the tress and winding around massive rocks. You could play hide and seek here for hours as it would be easy to evade the seeker. The look out point was dramatic, looking south down the lake with no trees to make a lighthouse!
|Thea on her island|
|Look out point|
|Swimming while we pack up the boat|
Both kids enjoyed the endless attention from their adult friends of the sailing club. They were constantly induged with flap jack, chocolate, discussion about maps, time in camper vans and general love. Yet again the sailing club proved that they are total suckers for polite kids and generally went out of their way to make sure that the kids were in seventh heaven! The kids totally took over Jasper the dog and took him for long walks around the campsite. Jasper was so tired after all the attention, he climbed out of bed during the night (in the campervan) and had to be lifted back up as he was too exhausted to get up himself!
|Jasper the long-suffering dog|
|The kids con another poor man out of his last marshmallow|
|Consulting over the map|
|N and D go to their secret cove along the edge of the lake|
|Bedtime at 12:15 - proof it never really gets dark at midsummer|