Date - 17th November 2013 Distance - 5.25 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL5 Start point - Mungrisedale (NY 364 306)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Souther Fell 1713 522 NY 3547 2914



Allen and Tetley were reading quietly, when Shaun, with Little Eric riding on his back, trotted in with Grizzly.

"Tea" announced Shaun.

"Ooh great", responded Allen. "My mouth is really dry so I am really ready for a cuppa."

"Me too", added Tetley. "And some cake too."

Grizzly said, "well there is a choice. Chocolate caramel shortbread, made by Little Eric, and cherry and ginger scones that I made."

"Sounds delicious", replied Tetley.

"One of each I think", added Allen.

So with mugs in paw and cake on our plates our thoughts turned to walking.

"It was great to be out again last Sunday after such a long time", Little Eric said excitedly. "I wonder if Dad will take us this Sunday."

"Well the first thing is to see what the weather will be like", replied Allen, grabbing the iPad and bringing up the Met Office app. After a few more taps he said, "looks good for the morning, but deteriorating in the afternoon with some rain."

"Well then a half day excursion should fit the bill", said Shaun. "It is just a case of deciding what to do."

Tetley replied, "I have have been looking in more detail at where you are with the Wainwrights, Little Eric. We know that you do not expect Dad to repeat all that you have not done, but there are some of the books where you have done the majority, so if we were to concentrate on those at least there would be some completed parts of the challenge. In book 3 you just have the round of Steel Fell to Helm Crag, but that is perhaps best left until next year now. The other book where you are a fair way on is book 5, Northern Fells, so perhaps we could do one of those on Sunday."

"Thanks Tetley for all that research", Little Eric replied. "Can anyone suggest one for Sunday then?"

"Souther Fell", said Grizzly without hesitation. "It is on its own, and will be easily accomplished within the weather window."

"So that is decided", said Allen, who getting the book off the shelf, then said, "I will go and see what Dad thinks."

Soon he was back, with a smile on his face. "Yes it is on and he has said that he may return via the central Lakes and call in at Grasmere to see Kim.

Southey our pal who was adopted at the Wordsworth Hotel, where Kim works, piped up, "if that is the case can I come along again too."

"Sure pal", said Shaun, grabbing another mug and pouring him some tea.

"Thanks pal", Southey replied and then said, "thanks Grizzly", as he offered him some cake and a scone." Taking a bite of each he said, "absolutely delicious. You and Little Eric are very clever."


The Walk

For speed Dad used the M6 to Penrith, then taking the A66 west, and just before reaching the massive bulk of Blencathra, we turned right along the narrow road signed Mungrisedale (this is pronounced Mun-grize-dl, with the emphasis on the grize).

We drove as far as the outskirts of the village, Dad parking on the ample verge to the left of the road. There were just a few cars when we arrived, but by the time we returned this had multiplied threefold. It is a popular start point for a number of walks to fells in this vicinity.

Tetley said, "Little Eric, Southey, that is our objective, Souther Fell (pronounced Souter), away to the left."

"We climb the path through the bracken to reach the ridge at the lower right side, then turn left up it to the summit, which can just about be seen on the skyline, just left of centre", Tetley advised.

In the shot we can just about be made out in the open boot of the car, getting settled in Dad's rucksack.

Checking the map and Wainwright book, Shaun said, "we should walk along the road a little way towards the village, and then cross the river by the footbridge and climb the slope to the Mill Hotel."

So, shouldering his rucksack Dad strode off in accordance with Shaun's directions.

Once by the hotel, Shaun then said, "it is left along the narrow road."

Strolled on, to after a bend reach a gate across the road.

"You don't see many gated roads these days", remarked Dad. "The advent of cattle grids did away with most of the gates."

"You're right", agreed Allen. "The one I remember with the most gates is that through Kingsdale from Thornton in Lonsdale to Dent."

"You are spot on pal", added Tetley. "If memory serves me correct there are four in all."

"Then there is that road near Ings, and the one past Hoses Farm, below Stickle Pike", went on Grizzly.

Breaking into this reverie, Little Eric demanded, "where do we go now?"

"Immediately beyond, we take the narrow path right up the fell", advised Shaun.

It climbed steeply, and it was not long before Dad stopped to catch his breath. "This is the first hill we have climbed for nearly two months and I can tell I have lost some of my hill fitness and strength", said Dad.

Happily though, Dad soon got his second wind, and it was not long, after the path had swung left and then right, that we crested the ridge. Here the main path was joined, and we turned left ascending the ridge.

However our progress was arrested temporarily by the views that had opened out to the right. "Wow", exclaimed Southey. "What wonderful scenery I am getting to see."

This shows in the foreground The Tongue, behind which, is the sweep of Bowscale Fell with its two summits. A path can be seen running along the base of The Tongue, which we had walked more than once to get to the ridge and summit of Bowscale Fell.

"Do you remember the day when we climbed The Tongue", remarked Grizzly.

"Do I!", replied Dad with feeling. "It was ever so steep, and was without a doubt a once only ascent of that Birkett summit!"

"It joins the likes of Scale Knott on the southern end of Mellbreak, for steepness", agreed Tetley.

To the right of The Tongue, is lonely Bannerdale, a lovely valley.

Unsurprisingly the stream to the left side is Bannerdale Beck, and the crags behind are known as Bannerdale Crags, a Birkett and Wainwright, the summit being just a little behind and left of the steep east ridge.

"We have walked round above the crags more than once, to the summit", remarked Allen. "Like on the day we did The Tongue, Bowscale Fell and then Mungrisedale Common."

"Ooh that must have been quite and adventure", said Southey. "You certainly are an intrepid group."

So having enjoyed this fine prospect, Dad put best foot forwards, and strode on along the ridge to reach the embedded stone marking the summit of Souther Fell, where of course we promptly hopped out of the rucksack and settled for our picture.

Two couples were following not too far behind, and they had observed us having our picture taken, and arriving at the summit then asked about us. So, Dad once again had to explain, and introduce us. We love it!!

They then walked on, and we followed soon after, but not before Dad had taken this quite dramatic shot of Bannerdale Crags, with in the centre behind rising the fearsome Sharp Edge on Blencathra.

"We have not been on Sharp Edge", said Shaun.

"No lad", Dad replied. "I have only done it once, a long time ago, with my sister Elaine and my nephew Roger. We had climbed Blencathra via Hallsfell, reaching the summit in mist. Our intention had been to walk east and descend via Doddick Fell, but we got totally disorientated and walked north to Atkinson Pike, meaning we came down Sharp Edge. It was quite frightening too. That was in the days though when I was not very experienced. I would not make that mistake now."

Walking on along the ridge, the path finally descended unerringly to a crossroads.

Going ahead leads towards Blencathra, but our route was down to the right leading to the simple footbridge over the River Glenderamackin, seen here with a tiny but pretty waterfall in the foreground.

As we crossed the bridge, Southey said, "I think that makes a nice picture of the river looking upstream."

Beyond the bridge there was a very short climb to then go right along the clear and at times very muddy path above the river. First below the steep slopes of White Horse Bent and then on past Bannerdale with the crags towering above on the left. While all the time to the right the were slopes of Souther Fell.

Allen remarked, "we have not seen any sheep so far, so perhaps we will get away without any sheep pictures."

Sadly his hopes were dashed, when after about half an hour along this path, we came across some black-faced sheep browsing the bracken above the river. Eagerly Dad got the camera out of the bag and lined up a shot, to confound us once again.

On the latter stages, the path became very boggy with large pools of water needing to be negotiated. Too, the path was at times on an edge where slipping off would have meant falling in the river. Dad however was sure-footed and this section was crossed without mishap.

We were then soon to join the path that if followed left, runs below The Tongue climbing to Bowscale Fell, with Bannerdale to the left. This shot shows The Tongue and gives some idea of the steep ascent we faced on that day in March 2007. And believe us when we say that it is actually even steeper than it looks in the photograph.

Turning away and about to move on again, Dad was stopped as Tetley called out, "look someone has had some fun building towers of stones on that rock beside the river."

"Worth a picture, don't you think", went on Grizzly.

Very soon now we joined the path from Bannerdale, and kept on ahead to come to the gate leading into the village.

A short rough lane by the telephone box leads to the road. Our route was right, but Dad walked left first a little way to the sharp bend to get across the field these autumn colours behind Mungrisedale Farm and with the sheep grazing in the field. A very typical Lakeland scene.

Turning back the road led us to the Mill Hotel, going left before the buildings to descend to the bridge used at the start and so reach the car.

So that was Souther Fell, but before ending this tale, we must tell readers about the strange mystery of -

The Spectral Army of Soutra Fell

This is no legend.
This is the solemn truth, as attested on oath before a magistrate by 26 sober and respected witnesses. These good people assembled on the evening before Midsummer Day 1745 at a place of vantage in the valley to the east to test incredulous reports that soldiers and horsemen had been seen marching across the top of Souter Fell (Soutra Fell was its name in those days). They saw them all right: an unbroken line of quickly moving troops, horses and carriages extending over the full length of the top of Souter Fell, continuously appearing at one end and vanishing at the other, passing unhesitatingly over steep places that horses and carriages could not possibly negotiate, as the bewildered observers well knew. The procession went on until darkness concealed the marching army. Next morning the skyline was deserted, and a visit to the summit was made by a party of local worthies fearful that the expected invasion from over the border had started. There was not a trace of the previous night's visitors. Not a footprint, not a hoof mark, not a wheel rut in the grass. Nothing.
There was no doubting the evidence of so many witnesses, and yet it was equally certain that the marching figures had no substance.
Scientists and students of the supernatural had no solution to offer. The only explanation ever given was that some kind of mirage had been seen, probably a vapourous reflection of Prince Charlie's rebels, who (it was discovered on enquiry) had that very evening been exercising on the west coast of Scotland.

NB - there are various accounts if this on the Internet, but this is as described by A Wainwright in the Book 5 Northern Fells.

So sitting in the car waiting for Dad to get changed we sat pondering this mystery. As planned we made the return journey via the central lakes, by taking the road down St John's in the Vale and the on to A591. We went to the Wordsworth Hotel at Grasmere, but sadly Kim was not working so Dad and Southey did not get to see her today.

Dad then just drove us home after another interesting day. Thanks as always, you are the very very best Dad!!


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