Swallows And Amazons by Arthur Ransome (Vintage, £7.99)

Published in 1930 and written by a former journalist on the Manchester Guardian, this is the lake novel par excellence and one of the best children’s book’s of the 20th century. Set in the Lake District, it follows the exploits of two groups of children: the neat and tidy Walkers, whose boat is called Swallow, and the rather more feral Blackett girls, Nancy and Peggy, who terrorise the lake and surrounds in their dinghy Amazon and fancy themselves as piratical adventurers. Initially rivals, the children soon become firm friends. Ransome’s lake is a fictionalised version of Windermere but the setting is also recognisable as Coniston. Wild Cat Island, where much of the action takes place, is based on either Peel Island (Coniston) or Blake Holme (Windermere), depending on your preference. For the record, Ransome wrote the book after spending a summer with Anglo-Syrian friends of his, the Altounyans, who were staying at Lanehead on the shore of Coniston, and very near Peel Island.

Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner (Penguin, £8.99)

The lake here is Lake Geneva, and Brookner’s 1984 Booker Prize winner tells the story of Edith Hope, a writer of romances and a woman licking her wounds after an affair. Taking time out in the hotel of the title, she observes her fellow residents (a fascinating bunch), writes letters to her former lover and indulges in a holiday romance which ultimately leads nowhere. Wry and tart, it was made into a film in 1986 starring Anna Massey and Denholm Elliott and with a screenplay by Christopher Hampton. The hotel itself is real: Hotel Du Lac is located in Vevey, a resort on the Swiss side of the famous lake.

Doctor Who And The Loch Ness Monster by Terrance Dicks (BBC Books, £9.99)


Until the arrival of Steven Moffat as showrunner and first David Tennent and then Peter Capaldi as Doctors 10 and 12, Scotland’s contribution to all things Whovian consisted mostly of Dunoon-born Sylvester McCoy’s stint in the Tardis in the late 1980s, and 18th century Jacobite Jamie McCrimmon, a companion to Patrick Troughton’s second Doctor in the late 1960s. And then there was this, a 1976 novelisation by the great Doctor Who writer and script editor Terrance Dicks of Terror Of The Zygons, which aired on TV in 1975. Set around Loch Ness, it pits the Doctor against the Zygons, an alien race whose ship crashed into the loch centuries earlier and who have on their side a creature – half-serpent, half-cyborg – which bears a remarkable resemblance to you-know-who. If you don’t, it’s Nessie. The 2012 re-print of the award-winning novelisation contains an introduction by none other than sci-fi luminary (and regular Hawkwind collaborator) Michael Moorcock.