A saunter up Souther Fell

After High Rigg we were hoping for a dry walk when planning our Mungrisdale meander, however, our route in cooperated Souther Fell, Bannerdale Crags and Bowscale Fell and the weather had a different plan for us. 1

We’d planned to join our good friends Dicko and Sue for this session of Wainwright bagging and had arranged to meet them at the caravan.  As we waited for them, prepared for our walk and had breakfast, the rain was pitter pattering on the roof but it wasn’t too much of a concern.  We’d looked at the forecast and it didn’t look too bad and was apparently going to improve as the day went on.  Our companions arrived with the great news that Durham was in sunshine and the weather had deteriorated as they had travelled along the A66.  As we piled Dicko’s trusty Passat with our kit, Sue commented that the bad luck which seems to have followed me since the start of the year looks to continue as the rain got heavier and prospect of a full day in water proofs looked on the cards, again!

Saddleback had quite a bit of cloud cover as we drove the back road to Mungrisdale to the car park near the community centre at the quaint little village.  Sue had brought her daysack but after donning her waterproofs there didn’t seem any point in her wearing it so that got left.  All kitted out and ready to rock but Dicko announced he’d put the car keys in his daysack so the start was slightly postponed as he rummaged around his packed Osprey to locate them.  Keys found and we set off across the wooden bridge over the river Glenderamackin waving bye to Sue’s lonely daysack as it spends yet another cosy day in the VW’s cluttered boot.  Kel’s sister Alison had assured us there was a path just out the back of the Mill Inn which would take us straight to the top of Souther Fell.  After searching the wall line and only finding a gate with a sign saying, “THERE IS NO PUBLIC FOOTPATH THROUGH THIS FIELD KEEP OUT!” we decided walk left from the pub (south) for about 300 metres to a gate, which had seen better days, and a right up through the ferns heading for the top of Souther Fell.   Look at the map and it shows he path running in a diagonal direction towards the summit.  It’s a gradual ascent with, even with all the rain, a fairly decent view across to the A66 and beyond.

2The rain was tipping down now but the wind was being kind, or rather the fell was sheltering us.  As we got higher the breeze started to pick up and as we reached the summit what was a fresh breeze had turned into a near gale.  We had five minutes at the top and Kel put on her new waterproof gloves.  Yep, if you were on any of the surrounding peaks and could see a bright pair of pink gloves struggling in the wind on the top of Souther Fell, that was us!  We were now leaning into the wind and rain, and at one point as I had a cursory look at my drenched companions and saw a few snowflakes mixed in with the driving rain ripping across the summit, effectively my first snow of the summer, officially not autumn yet!!  I looked at Saddleback and it didn’t look good, a quick chat with the rest and we decided to carry on down to Mousthwaite Comb and assess our next move.  At the bottom we headed towards the small wooden bridge across the upper section of the Glenderamackin.  As we approached the slippery wooden structure, one of the many sheep that had been bleating our way down decided it didn’t want to use the bridge and dived into the torrent raging down from the surrounding peaks.  It looked like it was struggling and was going to be swept to Mungrisdale, after about 5 attempts to clamber onto the opposite bank it managed to dig its hoof in and scramble up the grass and run off into the ferns to re-join its mates, who I’m sure took the micky out of it in a sheepy way.  The funny thing was I’m sure I saw Dicko, who was slightly ahead, start to de kit in an attempt to jump in and save the woolly wader.  He’d have left his boots on though as they let in water anyway!3

After a short discussion we decided to bin the rest of the peaks.  Sharp Edge had vanished into the cloud and so had the top of Bannerdale Crags.  The rain was teeming down still and water was starting to cascade down White Horse Bent joining the river.  We started to make our way down the path nestled between Souther Fell and Bannerdale.  The path is in a bad way due to the water and the river is slowly eating away at the route causing mini landslides.  The wind was none existent due to the higher fells shelter, but the rain was relentless.  The two fords on route down were more than ankle deep in places and had to be crossed with care, we didn’t want to replicate the plight of our sheep friend at the top of the river.

4It wasn’t long before we saw the sight of Mungrisdale and the thought of the Mill Inn sprung into my head again.  We sat outside the pub to have our sandwiches before we went in for a drink, listening to Dicko complain about his wet feet and watching the rain drip off Kel’s nose as she tucked into her sarnie made me wonder why we do what we do.  She then turned and looked at me with the biggest smile ever, that’s why we do it!!5

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