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January 2019



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Rambling with Malcolm Saville

They changed trains at Shrewsbury. An evocative line for me, as it’s the sentence which begins (in 1943) the long series of Lone Pine mysteries by Malcolm Saville. I’ve just been listening to Clare Balding on Ramblings (spot the typo on this page) as she accompanied members of the Malcolm Saville Society on a literary walk in the Shropshire hills. Malcolm Saville famously set his stories in real places and at the start of each book explained how readers could explore them for themselves. Each book has map endpapers ‘drawn by David Morton’ (one of the main characters) in which real places like the Long Mynd, the Stiperstones, the Devil’s Chair and Clun are mixed with the fictional Witchend, Dingle’s Farm and Barton Beach. The farmhouse at ‘Witchend’ and ‘Dingle’s’ were based on real places where Saville had stayed with his family, and the radio walk took them in. Listening to Clare Balding, who is both younger and fitter than I am, puffing and panting on the climb didn’t encourage me to go exploring that particular area, which always seems to me in the books to be rather forbidding.

Most of the Lone Pine books are set in Shropshire but three, including my favourite The Gay Dolphin Adventure are set in Rye and Romney Marsh, one on the Yorkshire Moors, one on Dartmoor and the one with the best cover of all, Lone Pine London just where you’d expect. The books are still so popular that they are being republished by Girls Gone By Publishers. Click on the ‘Malcolm Saville’ link on the left of this page for an excellent site. For a balanced account of the books, explaining how they were ruined by paperback abridgements, see Reading Series Fiction by Victor Watson. Ramblings is available now to Listen Again.


I love the Elusive Grasshopper which is set in my beloved Dungeness and Greatstone. Athough I think Saville was wrong when he said it was the bleakest place on earth. He'd never been to the Californian desert...
I do like the southern ones best, although I love Wings over Witchend.
I reckon the Saville books are as good as a Rough Guide to Shropshire if you want to go exploring! :)

There are more than three set in Rye/Romney Marsh, aren't there? The Gay Dolphin Adventure, The Elusive Grasshopper, Treasure at Amorys and Rye Royal are four I can think of off-hand.

Peter has got to be one of the coolest characters in children's fiction.
PS Really enjoyed listening to that. Thanks for the link!
You're welcome!
You're quite right: I was getting the information off the dustwrapper of a book published before the others.

Peter is an interesting character (Victor Watson says he fell in love with her when he was a boy). She's a little tiresome in Rye Royal, being so old fashioned but that's all part of her determined character; she won't change because of fashion.
The books sound wonderful, and I like the way the publisher has kept the old covers.

I love Ramblings, but it's on at a time when I don't happen across it any more, so must go and listen. Ramblings is great to have on when I'm working.
I don't usually listen to R4 in the afternoons but I was tipped of about that programme. I have heard Ramblings before and it's always been good.
GGB always keep the original covers and even do the wraparounds. They also include any colour plates.


Good old Girls Gone By! Jane got several of their publications when she was 'heavily into' the Chalet School books. I love the sound of these mysteries, so I'll need to have a look at them!

I still enjoy them but I have to warn you that the twin characters are unbearably irritating to almost all readers, certainly adult ones.