There were no spectral armies as we walked up on to Souther Fell, unlike those merry days in the 1700s when lots of locals saw long processions of phantom troops, complete with carriages marching along its long summit.
Did they see anything at all?
Probably, though the story grew in proportion with every re-telling. Perhaps a mirage? Maybe. Certainly not some distant reflection of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army on exercises in Scotland. The dates don’t fit.
You can see funny things in the hills. I’ve had some inexplicable experiences myself out in the wilds, some of which I’ve related in my book “Wayfarer’s Dole”.
And, a couple of years ago, we did see a figure cross the Keswick to Penrith road in front of our car, so…
Anyway, back to the walk. There was rain in the air, but we managed to snatch a couple of hours of mostly dry weather as we walked up on to the fell from Mungrisdale. Not taking the Wainwright route, but the diagonal path just beyond the gate of the gated road above Beckside. An easy ascent and you wonder why Wainwright ignored it? It certainly looks a long-established track to me.
Terrific views over the Mell Fells and right across to the Pennines. On the broad summit ridge, Blencathra was lost in the cloud, but Bannerdale Crags and Bowscale Fell looked very dramatic under the glowering black clouds which heralded the wet weather still to come.
This held off as we explored the ridge, rather reminiscent to me of Hameldon on Dartmoor, though without the antiquities but, as we descended the way we’d come, there was one light shower. We had Souther to ourselves until we were descending.
In the Pinfold below the fell, the villagers of Mungrisdale have created a beautiful little community garden, with daffodils, primroses and Rosemary. A pleasant place to sit on a nice day.
No spectral armies on the ridge this day, unless you count the fellwalkers who followed us up.