The setting of the Lassie saga

In Eric Knight’s original novel, Lassie Come-Home, Lassie travels from the Scottish Highlands back to the Carraclough home in Yorkshire, England. This is hardly an easy trek. To understand why, it’s useful to look at the actual geography.

Yorkshire is located in the north of England and is often called “God’s Own County.” The most likely reason for this name is the wide areas of countryside that have been left in their natural state over the years. The Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors are two of the best examples of this. Both areas were made national parks in the 1950s. The Dales is characterized by intertwining river valleys and hills, while the Moors alternates between areas of green pasture and the brown heather of the moorlands.

The Moors are similar in climate to other areas of Yorkshire, but experience more snow—generally around 50 days of snowfall a year. In the summer, temperatures often fall between 68 °F and 90 °F, while in the winter they drop to between 30 °F and 50 °F. The storm that Lassie encounters on her journey home can and does occur in real life.

The Scottish Highlands is another sparsely populated area, located at the very northern tip of Great Britain. The area is so-called because of the mountain ranges which criss-cross its area. Among these is the Grampian Mountains range, which includes the highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis (1,344 m).

To reach her home, Lassie had to travel from this area and over the Highland Boundary Fault, which runs between Stonehaven and Helensburgh and separates the Highlands from the Lowlands. Technically, the Lowlands are not an actual geographic location—instead, they simply refer to everything that is not the Highlands, i.e. everything south and east of the Boundary Fault. This terminology can be confusing, since some areas of the Lowlands are actually higher than those in the Highlands.

As you can see, the journey that Lassie made on her way home is full of perils and unpredictable weather, to say nothing of the hundreds of miles she had to cross. You can follow Lassie’s journey for yourself in the original novel, in the 1943 MGM film adaptation, or in Charles Sturridge’s 2005 remake of the original film. The 1943 adaptation, interestingly, was not shot in either of the locations its story takes place in, but rather in Washington State and Monterey, California. The river scene was shot on the San Joaquin River. The 2005 film was shot in Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man (a self-governed island that is part of the British Crown Dependency and is located between Great Britain and Ireland).

Posted on Dec 26, 2010 in | Comments Off