Souther Fell

Grid Ref NY 354 291
Height 1,712 ft

The downfall for Souther Fell is its unfortunate closeness to Blencathra. For obvious reasons Blencathra will always have a lure that this little fell simply cannot compete with. And while the fell may not have the upper hand in some respects, very few places have legends that can match that of the ghost army of Souther Fell. Here is an excellent account of the the ghost army written by Harriet Martineau in her 'Guide to the English Lakes' of 1855.

On Midsummer eve, 1735, a farm-servant of Mr. Lancaster's, half a mile from the mountain, saw the eastern side of its summit covered with troops, which pursued their onward march for an hour. They came, in distinct bodies, from an eminence, on the north end, and disappeared in a niche in the summit. When the poor fellow told his tale, he was insulted on all hands ; as original observers usually are when they see anything wonderful.
Two years after,— also on a Midsummer eve, — Mr. Lancaster saw some men there, apparently following their horses, as if they had returned from hunting. He thought nothing of this ; but he happened to look up again ten minutes after, and saw the figures, now mounted, and followed by an interminable array of troops, five abreast, marching from the eminence and over the cleft as before. All the family saw this, and the manoeuvres of the force, as each company was kept in order by a mounted officer who gallopped this way and that. As the shades of twilight came on, the discipline appeared to relax, and the troops intermingled, and rode at unequal paces, till all was lost in darkness.

Now, of course all the Lancasters were insulted, as their servant had been : but their justification was not long delayed. On the Midsummer eve of the fearful 1745, twenty-six persons, expressly summoned by the family, saw all that had been seen before, and more. Carriages were now interspersed with the troops ; and everybody knew that no carriages ever had been, or could be, on the summit of Souter Fell. The multitude was beyond imagination ; for the troops filled a space of half a mile, and marched quickly till night hid them,— still marching.
There was nothing vaporous or indistinct about the appearance of these spectres. So real did they seem, that some of the people went up the next morning to look for the hoof-marks of the horses ; and awful it was to them to find not one footprint on heather or grass. The witnesses attested the whole story on oath before a magistrate; and fearful were the expectations held by the whole country side about the coming events of the Scotch rebellion. It now came out that two other persons had seen something of the sort in the interval, viz., in 1743, —but had concealed it, to escape the insults to which their neighbours were subjected. Mr. "Wren, of "Wilton Hall, and his farm-servant, saw, one summer evening, a man and a dog on the mountain, pursuing some horses along a place so steep that a horse could hardly by any possibility keep a footing on it. Their speed was prodigious, and their disappearance at the south end of the fell so rapid, that Mr. Wren and the servant went up the next morning, to find the body of the man who must have been killed. Of man, horse, or dog, they found not a trace : and they came down, and held their tongues. When they did speak, they fared not much better for having twenty-six sworn comrades in their disgrace.

As for the explanation,—the Editor of the "Lonsdale Magazine" declared (Vol. ii. p. 313,) that it was discovered that on that Midsummer eve of 1745, the rebels were "exercising on the western coast of Scotland, whose movements had been reflected by some transparent vapour, similar to the Fata Morgana." This is not much in the way of explanation : but it is, as far as we know, all that can be had at present.

Having read the above account, the obvious day to walk here is midsummer eve, although It's doubtful that you'll encounter any apparitions as spectacular as these good folk. Regardless of what you might or might not see, I'm sure you will enjoy a walk on this fell.

Location maps

Route suggestions

Route suggestion: Mungrisdale - Low Beckside - east side of the fell - Souther Fell
1.4 mile / approx 1000 ft ascent
This is the shorter of the two routes I've listed from Mungrisdale onto Souther Fell. The most obvious line of access to the fell is across one of the fields behind the Mill Inn. Unfortunately the landowner has placed signs on the gates asking people to keep out. I know we could all moan about this, but at the end of the day, if land is privately owned I think the owner should have the right to keep people off it (most other fell walkers would disagree).

The alternative to the above is to carry on along the road for a while and take the diagonal path up the side of the fell. The only awkward bit here is where the path crosses the little un-named gill where it is more than just a little wet.


Route suggestion: Scales - Mousethwaite Comb - Souther Fell
2 mile / approx 1000 ft ascent
I should imagine almost everyone who sets out from here will be heading onto Blencathra and not Souther Fell as is the case with this route. So, after what might well be a busy place at the start, should soon turn out to be nice and quiet.

There are actually a few different paths from Scales up to the low point above Mousthwaire Comb, but I've chosen to highlight the most straightforward in terms of ending up where you really want to be.
Make sure you turn left just as you're approaching the twisty bit on the narrow road you've followed from Scales. If you cross the bridge over Comb Beck you've gone too far. Once you reach the ridge itself, you may find yourself splashing your way across to the summit. It isn't exactly what you'd describe as boggy, but the grassy path does tend to hold a lot of water. Those who don't mind wearing gaiters may want to use them up here.



Route suggestion: Mungrisdale - River Glenderamackin - Souther Fell
3.4 mile / approx 1100 ft ascent
This is a longer route to the top of a fell which isn't too far from where you set out from in the first place. The distance is worth the effort because you'll feel much more secluded and remote than you really are. The downside however, is the section between crossing Bannerdale Beck and turning the corner on White Horse Bent. The path along here is extremely wet and muddy after periods of rain. To be honest, this is a route I'd avoid if I thought we'd had enough rain.

At the bridge where Bullfell Beck joins the River Glenderamackin, make sure you take the lower path running off to your left.

Photo gallery







Choose a walk that includes this fell
The number of walks to choose from is 19

9th April 2017
  A short walk over Souther Fell 3.3 mile abot 1100 ft
Mungrisdale - Diagonal path up the side of Souther Fell - Souther Fell - north ridge - Low Beckside - High Beckside - Mungrisdale

25th June 2016
  Blencathra from Mungrisdale 9.3 mile about 3000 ft
Mungrisdale - River Glenderamackin - Bannerdale Crags East Ridge - Bannerdale Crags - Bowscale Fell - Atkinson Pike - Blencathra summit tarn - Blencathra - Scales Fell - top of Mousethwaite Comb - Souther Fell - Low Beckside - Mungrisdale

6th March 2016
  Souther Fell from Scales 6 mile 1300 ft - more or less
Scales - road on east side of Souther Fell - Souther Fell - Mousethwaite Comb - Scales

4th October 2014
  Bowscale Fell, Bannerdale Crags and Souther Fell 7.3 mile 2200 ft
Mungrisdale - Bowscale Fell east ridge - Bowscale Fell - Bannerdale Crags - White Horse Bent - Souther Fell - Mungrisdale

26th May 2014
  Quite a big milestone on Souther Fell 6.3 mile 1300 ft
A66 - Scales - Mousthwaite Comb - Souther Fell - Hazelhurst - Far Souther Fell - Scales - A66

3rd March 2013
  Bowscale Fell, Bannerdale Crags and Souther Fell from Mungrisdale 7.3 mile 2200 ft
Mungrisdale - Bowscale Fell east ridge - Bowscale Fell - Bannerdale Crags - White Horse Bent - Souther Fell - Mungrisdale

21st September 2012
  Souther Fell from Scales 6.3 mile 1300 ascent
A66 - Scales - Mousthwaite Comb - Souther Fell - Hazelhurst - Far Souther Fell - Scales - A66

15th October 2011
  Blencathra X 2, , , sort of 10.4 mile 3200 ft
Mungrisdale - The Tongue - Bowscale Fell - Bannerdale Crags - Atkinson Pike - Blencathra - Knowe Crags (Blease Fell) - Blencathra - Scales Fell - Souther Fell - Mungrisdale

14th June 2011
  An evening on Souther Fell 6.3 mile 1300 ft
A66 - Scales - Mousthwaite Comb - Souther Fell - Hazelhurst - Far Souther Fell - Scales - A66

8th December 2010
  Souther Fell from Scales 6.1 mile 1300 ft
Scales - Mousthwaite Comb - Souther Fell - Hazelhurst - Far Southerfell - Comb Beck - Scales

11th May 2010
  Souther Fell from Scales 6 mile 1400 ft
Scales - road on east side of Souther Fell - Souther Fell - above Mousethwaite Comb - Scales

28th December 2009
  Souther Fell, by a much longer route than I'd expected it to be 8.4 mile 1520 ft
A66 Mungrisdale junction - road to Mungrisdale - Souther Fell - Knotts - road below Souther Fell - Low Beckside - road back to the A66

16th October 2008
  A quick walk on Souther Fell 5.1 mile 1300 ft
Mungrisdale - Souther Fell - Knotts - Road back to Mungrisdale

9th December 2007
  A sunny Sunday on Souther Fell 5.3 mile 1555 ft
Mungrisdale - Low Beckside - Souther Fell - White Horse Bent - River Glenderamackin - Bannerdale - Mungrisdale

1st April 2007
  The fells above Mungrisdale 8.6 mile 2579 ft
Mungrisdale - Souther Fell - White Horse Bent - Bannerdale Crags - Bowscale Fell - Tarn Crags - Bowscale Tarn - Bowscale - Road to Mungrisdale

4th June 2006
  A short walk up Souther Fell from Mungrisdale. 4.9 mile 1145 ft
Mungrisdale - White Horse Bent - Souther Fell - Mungrisdale

6th December 2005
  A short walk from Mungrisdale. 4.8 mile 1138 ft
Mungrisdale - Souther Fell - River Glenderamackin - Mungrisdale

5th March 2005
  Three fells in the snow - from Mungrisdale. 7.5 mile 2303 ft
Mungrisdale - Bowscale Fell - Bannerdale Crags - River Glenderamackin - Souther Fell - Mungrisdale

17th January 2004
  A walk up to Souther Fell from Mungrisdale. 5.7 mile 1306 ft
Mungrisedale - River Glenderamakin - Bottom of White Horse Bent - Souther Fell - Mungrisdale

David Hall -
Lake District Walks