A WELL-loved children’s tale by a Lake District author could capture the imagination of the Harry Potter generation when it takes to the silver screen.

The BBC is to adapt Arthur Ransome’s beloved Swallows and Amazons with the aim of launching a series of films.

The classic 1930s novel is the story of the Walker and Blackett children who set sail in their dinghies for a series of adventures in the Lake District – which will provide the back drop when filming gets under way next spring.

Head of BBC Films Christine Langan said Ransome’s book presented a world far from today’s health and safety obsessed society.

“This story is from the pre-health and safety generation,” she said. “Modern parenting is fraught and complicated – worrying about what sort of society we live in.

“There is a danger we are physically infantilising children. There is a sense of freedom in the book and a sense of innocence that people perhaps miss. The film is very timely.”

Ms Langan confirmed that both the Swallows – the four Walker children – and the Amazons – two Blackett children – would be shown as they were in the book, so they will not wear lifejackets.

She said that she hoped that the film would fill the gap after the final Harry Potter hits the screens.

“I hope Swallows and Amazons could draw upon that same audience,” she said.

“It is a very British film but it is universal in that it is about the dreams of all children.

“It's a hugely loved novel; a period piece and definitely ambitious family entertainment that we're excited to be working on.”

The last film of Swallows and Amazons was released in 1974 and starred Virginia McKenna.

BBC Films has confirmed it will be cast later this year and is expected to be released in summer 2013.

Geraint Lewis, of the newly-formed Arthur Ransome Trust, said that the film – to be directed by Tom and Charlie Guard – would help new generations discover Ransome’s work.

“There are many elements in Ransome's books that are timeless,” he said.

“Swallows and Amazons explores the world of childhood imagination, creativity and play.

It also emphasises the value of practical skills, self-reliance, personal responsibility and loyalty.

“I'm encouraged by the producers’ commitment to respect Ransome's original work.”