Pigeon Post, Paperback Book
5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Reunited for the summer, the Swallows and Amazons with Dick and Dorothea launch a prospecting expedition to find the lost gold mine of the high hills above the lake.

But the mining camp runs into all sorts of trouble: not only the danger of fire in the drought ridden countryside but also scary encounters with unsafe tunnels.

Worst of all is the sinister Squashy Hat, who appears to be a rival prospector and who's certainly a spy - how can they keep working without him discovering what they've found?


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Publishers UK
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Adventure
  • ISBN: 9780099427193

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It's the Swallows' third summer in the Lakes, and once again Ransome is faced with the challenge of not writing <i>Swallows and Amazons</i> again. This time the reasoning is that the rather scatter-brained Mrs Blackett is sole responsible adult in charge of all eight children. Uncle Jim and the other parents are all otherwise engaged — Dick and Dorothea seem to be having a particularly bad year for seeing their parents, with four holidays away on their own and the rest of the year at boarding school. As she's also supervising the redecoration of the house at Beckfoot, Mrs B decides that it would be unwise to allow them to go off to camp on the island, so they have to think of something less dangerous. So they come up with gold-mining...This idea works rather better than you might expect. As others have said, this is one of the highspots of the Swallows and Amazons series. Practically no sailing, but a lot of incident and variety. There's a comic misunderstanding at the core of the plot, and Ransome is careful not to give away what it is (of course, you'll see it coming if you've read the book before, so it's not quite as much fun to re-read as some of the others). There's a mysterious stranger who gives a John Buchan/<i>Riddle of the Sands</i> flavour to the book, with a lot of clandestine observation and scout-work on the moors (in a very Buchanish touch, the children know the man only as "squashy hat").Ransome takes advantage of having the full set of eight children to work with by bringing out a few of the more obscure characters and putting John and Nancy in the background a bit. Dick is definitely the key character this time, all-too-conscious of how heavily the others rely on his inevitably somewhat patchy technical knowledge of metallurgy and geology. Titty has a memorable chapter to herself as well, and Roger gets plenty to do: he's not just the random element of chaos that he is reduced to in many of the books, but a believable small boy we can identify with. Even the infuriatingly-competent Susan gets to display her human side a few times.The pigeons turn out to be a bit less important to the story than we think they're going to be, but they provide a bit of comedy. They provide a bit of a puzzle, too. Playing at being pirates is not very surprising behaviour for a tomboyish, rural, middle-class girl like Nancy, with plenty of access to boats and to adventure stories, but in British culture pigeon-keeping is something very strongly associated with urban, working-class men. You could easily imagine that Ransome knew people who kept pigeons when he was a child in Leeds, but it's very odd that Nancy's uncle should think of giving her a pigeon. But we shouldn't complain about it, it makes for a great story.

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