Saturday, 1 July 2000

Souther Fell

The long ridge of Souther Fell
Height: 522m (1,713ft)
Prominence: 87m (285ft)
Region: Northern Fells
Classifications: Dewey, Wainwright, Birkett
Summit feature: Nothing
Times climbed: 1
Related trip report:
Souther Fell, Mungrisdale Common, Bannerdale Crags & Bowscale Fell - 13/06/2015
The unmarked summit
What Wainwright said:

"Souther Fell, taking the form of a long ridge, extends Blencathra to the east and curves northweards to its extremity, where there is an abrupt fall of altitude to the fields of Mungrisdale - and no more high ground".

Souther Fell stands to the south of Mungrisdale village.

It is most famous for the appearance of a "spectral army", said to have been seen marching along its crest on Midsummer's Day, 1745. No such force was in the District at the time. On the evening of Midsummers Day 1745, a line of marching troops, cavalry and even carriages was seen travelling along the summit ridge of Souther Fell. The ground over which they appeared to move was known to be too steep for such transport, but the procession continued unabated for some hours until night fell, constantly appearing at one end of the ridge and disappearing at the other.

26 sober and respected witnesses were assembled to view the proceedings and later testified on oath to what they had seen. The next day Souther Fell was climbed and not a footprint was found on the soft ground of the ridge.

One scientific explanation offered was that this was some bizarre mirage or reflection of the army of Bonnie Prince Charlie, that day exercising on the Scottish coast, while another explanation suggests that the sighting was originally misidentifying the smoke from Germanic bonfire rituals, with the story of the "Spectral Army" evolving over the years through transmission and adaptation in the popular press.

Mousthwaite Comb is a geographical oddity of Souther Fell. To the north of the depression, running eastward, is the River Glenderamackin. To the south of the col, flowing westward is the same river. In the intervening time the Glenderamackin has run for six miles, surrounding Souther Fell on three sides like a moat.

Souther Fell has two main tops, although a number of other bumps crown the ridge. That to the north east is the true summit, the southern top being perhaps 30 ft lower. This being the last of the Northern Fells in that direction, the view across to the Pennines is uninterrupted. The Lakeland view peeps around the looming presence of Blencathra.

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