BB1318 : Donny and the QUARRYboys

Thursday 16th May 2013

Do you remember a group called Dee Shore and the Beachcombers?

I thought not.  Despite their name, they actually lived close to the Mersey but at its eastern end, at Stockport like the rather better known Hollies.  In fact, the Beachcombers never made a record.  Indeed I don’t recall them even playing a note.  Sadly, the passage of time has robbed me of the names of my erstwhile backing group.  But we must have been good as, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, several other groups subsequently emerged under the Beachcomber brand.

At the same time, at the other end of the Mersey, was a group known as the Quarrymen, a.k.a. Johnny and the Moondogs.  Do you remember them?  They subsequently changed their name and earned rather more fame and fortune than my combo.

Today, some fifty years later, saw the metamorphosis of ancient rockers to become......
No, not the BOOT

Introducing: Donny and the QUARRYboys.

Johnny and the Quarrymen

Comitibus :  Donny and the QUARRYboys

That hadn’t been the intention.

Drygrove Gill had been the objective- a curious canyon-like area high up to the east of Kentmere reservoir. To reach it, we set off up the western side of the River Kent in weather that was recovering from an early morning shower.

What to expect was anybody’s guess.

The forecast seemed to have changed every half day from torrential rain to brilliant sunshine then light showers through mild spring-like conditions and finally afternoon downpours.

At least, there was an old tractor to excite Martin and Tony.

Martin and Tony inspect the tractor

As we neared the reservoir, temptingly close on our left could be seen a large opening in the crag, reached by a short stroll over some quarry spoilage.  Or so it seemed.  The reality was that the climb was rather longer and steeper than expected, the choice of terrain being wet grass or loose scree.  Either way was hard work.  Nonetheless, the cave was worth the climb.  Some braver souls explored a side opening and reported having discovered a Buddhist shrine.  And, sadly, a pile of beer cans.

The climb to the cave

Inside the cavern

The cave entrance

Stan skips downhill

Returning to the valley we passed by the Reservoir cottages which have been renovated for the use of youth groups.  Beyond that was an innocent looking path up a spoil heap. At the top was a larger opening and an abyss.  We could see a square cave mouth on the other side of the abyss but that was as far as I wanted to go.

The slagkeeper's cottage

The square mouth across the abyss

Stan the Intrepid had other ideas and to our consternation climbed down into the abyss then across a narrow ledge into the cave.

Whilst this was happening others were rapidly constructing another Buddhist shrine to pray for his survival whilst I went out to see if I could get a mobile phone signal to ring 999. The phone idea did not work but the Buddhist incantations did and Stan gamely reappeared above the lip.

Kentmere Reservoir

Across the valley we could see the Drygrove Gill target, still with a little snows at the top, but as we walked up the west side of the Reservoir, it looked to me increasingly less interesting as a destination.

At the head of the Reservoir we decided to follow the embryonic river further north. Bryan was not with us today but one of his ambitions is to follow the Kent from source to sea.  I wanted to have a look at the initial descent from High Street to the source and thereafter.

As it happens, we didn’t go that far up the valley.  Instead we stopped for lunch at an elaborate sheepfold which was reached by an exciting leap across slippery rocks and gushing water.

The luncheon sheepfold

Kentmere Reservoir from the north

The OS map shows, above the sheepfold, an area marked Settlement.  
How old, I can’t say but there was little to be seen other than rocks.

Another sheepfold.....

..... with view back to the caves

The plan now was to traverse round Kentmere Common to join the Nan Bield Pass track and maybe climb up to the canyon.  However, it started to hail.  Tony and I decided that the traverse was at an uncomfortable angle so we left that exploration to Stan, James and Martin. Instead, we headed back down to the reservoir to inspect yet another quarry. It was now brilliant sunshine.

From what I later heard, I think we took the more interesting route.  This quarry involved large spoil heap with building on top plus a small ravine and cave like opening but the slopes were far too steep for us to make a detailed examination.  Stan, no doubt, would have danced down and back up.

The third quarry.....

..... as seen from the first

Looking back up Kentmere valley

We regrouped at Overend and there is little else to report other than our inspection of St Cuthbert's Church. On our last visit to Kentmere, the exterior was being re-rendered. Today, it was clear that the works, now concluded, had included repainting the interior.  It is rather plain inside but enlivened by the multitude of cushions (perhaps kneelers is the more correct term) all embroidered in different patterns.


St Cuthbert's Church

The kneelers

There is a plaque in the church that merits further investigation.  It is dedicated to Bernard Gilpin, a 16th century theologian born at Kentmere Hall.  He was known as the "Apostle of the North" for "his works in the wilds of northern England"!

Bernard Gilpin

His plaque

The expedition finished, as often seems to be the case, at the Brewery in Kentmere. There is an old, politically incorrect, joke of how to confuse an Irish Quarryman.
Answer: line five shovels against the wall and ask him to take his pick.

In this case, we QUARRYboys might have been confused by having eight different choices of beers lined up for us from which to take our picks.  But we were up to the challenge- not that we each had eight pints of course but we each knew the right pick to take.

Don, Thursday 16th May 2013

C2C éd8

Thanks to the Stroke Team for this photo of Bryan and me near Greenup Edge.

You can follow their progress at JustGiving.

Tim's team:

Day 5 to Shap:   I really didn't believe it could rain as much or blow so strongly as today's walk from Patterdale to Shap. The walk up to Kidsty Pike was something else - still, we all made it.  

Off to Kirkby Stephen tomorrow.        Tim

Don & Bryan near Greenup Edge

Day 7, Kirkby Stephen to Keld, Bryan rejoined the group:

Finding myself with a free day on Saturday I contacted Tim and his C2C group and arranged to meet up with them for the start of their next stage at Kirkby Stephen.

It was a damp and breezy morning as we set off with cloud covering the tops of the hills. The group were setting a brisk pace as we climbed past the Hartley quarries and we soon reached the open moor and the start of the peat bogs.

The wind was strengthening as we reached Nine Standards Rigg and it had been my original intention to leave them here and loop back to Kirkby using some variant of the route we did in BB1036 .

Tim however kindly offered me a lift back to Kirkby Stephen from their finish point at Keld. I hadn’t been into Swaledale for a while so I accepted.

The next section over the open moor through the peat bogs; crossing from Cumberland into Yorkshire; was a hard slog. Tim was doing the navigating using the maps in the Cicerone guidebook and waypoints on his GPS.

Walking on a bearing using map and compass in the mist over this kind of terrain is quite challenging because you are constantly being forced off line to get round the peat bogs. But with a GPS the direction arrow will always be pointed at your target so it becomes much easier. Personally I enjoy the challenge of using a map and compass but I would undoubtedly have been slower doing it this way today than was the case with the GPS.

At Mould Gill we followed a large track that took us down to the road. It turned out to be unmapped and we should in fact have carried straight on. It was easily corrected and we were soon on the route again.

By this time we were all ready for lunch but there was little shelter to be had from the wind and rain. We made one diversion to investigate the possibility of using an open wooden shed but a quick inspection showed the inside to be several inches deep in various forms of ‘manure’. 20 minutes later though we came across a splendid shooting box complete with tables and benches in which we could sit and listen to the rain on the windows.

We had now reached Upper Swaledale and the final few miles down Whitsundale to Keld was a pleasure as the sun eventually made an appearance. Tea was taken in the sunshine on the lawn of the small café in Keld before the drive back over the moors to Kirkby Stephen.

The weather has not been kind to the group over the four days since I last met up with them on Greenup Edge which is a shame as they have passed through, but hardly seen, some of the best countryside in the North of England. But they have kept pressing on and have now reached the half-way point. Let’s hope for better days to come.

Bryan, 11th May 2012




Thursday 16th May

Distance in miles:

9.8 (Garmin gps)

Height climbed in feet:

2,143   (Memory Map / OS)



Other Features:

Kentmere Quarries


Don, James, Martin, Stan, Tony

BOOTboys routes are put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. You can follow our route in detail by downloading bb1318

To discover which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing see
Which Wainwright When?

For the latest totals of the mileages and heights see: BB Log.


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