The Lake District, Cumbria, has featured in countless film and TV productions across the years – from Hollywood blockbusters to British TV series. With Cumbria Tourism celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, in this two-part series we're taking a look back at a few highlights from half a century of film and TV, with locations across the county.

1974 - Swallows & Amazons

Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway

Photo: Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway

1974 saw the release of Swallows and Amazons: a film based on Arthur Ransome’s novel of the same name. With the book based in the Lake District, Cumbria, it’s no surprise that scenes from the movie were filmed here too, during the summer of 1973.

The film opens with shots of the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, which can still be visited today. Much of the movie was filmed at Coniston, including on Peel Island which featured as ‘Wild Cat Island’ - today, it can be visited by boat with Path to Adventure running guided canoe trips. Or, take a cruise on Steam Yacht Gondola, which stops off at Brantwood where you can enjoy tea and cake overlooking the water.

Additional scenes were filmed on Derwentwater including at Friar’s Crag.

1987 - Withnail & I

Haweswater Reservoir

Photo: Haweswater Reservoir

The 1987 cult film Withnail and I was set and filmed almost entirely on location in the Lake District. It stars Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann as two friends who spend a weekend in the area at a cottage near Penrith. 

While here, they explore the surrounding countryside: locations include Shap, Bampton, and Haweswater Reservoir. A telephone box, used for a phone call from Withnail to his agent, can still be visited today: it is located beside Wideworth Farm Road in Bampton.

1996 - Agatha Christie’s Poirot

An episode of the popular crime drama, titled ‘Dumb Witness’, was set and filmed around the Lake District in 1996, with filming locations including Windermere, Keswick and Hawkshead. 

2005 - Housewife, 49

Starring famed comedian Victoria Wood, Housewife, 49 is a TV movie based on the wartime diaries of Barrow-in-Furness based housewife Nella Last. Filming took place across Barrow.

In 2013 the movie was adapted for the stage, with Victoria Wood choosing The Old Laundry Theatre in Bowness for its premiere.

2006 - Miss Potter

Yew Tree farm

Photo: Yew Tree Farm

Starring one of the Lake District, Cumbria’s best-known figures, the 2006 biographical film Miss Potter tells the tale of Beatrix Potter who lived much of her life in the Lake District. 

Filming took place at several locations, including Loughrigg, Grasmere, Loweswater and Coniston. Yew Tree Farm (today home to the Herdwick Experience) played Hill Top in the film, The Rum Story in Whitehaven acted as the location of William Heelis’ offices, while the Arten Gill Viaduct – featured as Miss Potter travels away from London - can be crossed on the Settle to Carlisle Railway.




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