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Downholme Quarry


OS Landranger Sheet: 99

Map Reference: SE113982

Aspect: West

Altitude: 220m

Approach: 3 minutes



The quarry was developed by members of the Swaledale Outdoor Club, and is regularly used by Catterick Garrison for training purposes. No recorded history exists, but the quarry was checked over one day for Stew Wilson's old North of England guide by Karl Lunt. "I soloed all the routes and lines that looked possible. These I then named and graded (except for Sweet Pleasure which looked too serious for me to try solo) and this is what subsequently appeared in the guide. It was obvious that some of the routes had had traffic but some were most likely 'new'. Without any earlier records though an accurate history won't be possible. Unfortunately, I didn't date the piece of paper I wrote on but I reckon it would have been around 1990, shortly before I left Carlisle."  Over the period 1996 to 1998, Bob Bennett and Maggie White checked all of the routes, naming some where necessary.


Downholme Quarry © Steve Crowe



Situation and Character

A small limestone quarry immediately North of the village of Downholme. The useful part of the quarry consists of two faces of rough and solid limestone, Introductory Bay and Main Wall.

Although relatively small, the west facing and open aspect of this quarry contribute to make this an excellent place to visit for a short day or evening. At the time of writing the pub was well worth a visit too!


Access and Approaches

From Richmond, take the minor road that runs East off the A6108 (Richmond to Leyburn road) approximately 1 kilometre South of the junction with the B6270 road to Reeth. The minor road leads into Downholme village where the Bolton Arms is passed on the left. Turn into 'public' parking on the left just after the Inn. From the parking place follow the lane which curves round to an old barn and housing. Go left through a gate just before the old barn (MOD signed at time of press) and follow a track for 100 metres until the quarry is seen on the right.


At present the MOD require all individuals wishing to use the crag must ring the Bookings Office on 01748 875507 to ensure the quarry is free and available. Check with the BMC RAD for the latest situation.


The Climbs

The climbs are described from right to left.


Introductory Bay

This is the first small wall. The first two lines are Solo Route One, D and Solo Route Two, VD.


Little Jay

The first thin crackline.

Alan Hinkes 23rd March 2003


Pongoes 6m Severe

The prominent crack in the right wall of the bay.


Stumbler 5m VD

The corner dividing the right and central walls of the bay


Brown Stane 5m HVS 5b

Climb the middle of the central wall to an awkward finish.


Bumbler 5m HS 4b

The curving corner groove separating the left and central walls.

All of the three next climbs on this innocuous looking wall are much harder than they appear!


D. E. W. Line 6m E2 5c

Start just left of Bumbler. Climb the wall direct on small widely spaced holds.


Alistair 6m El 5b

The Zig Zag crack up the middle of the left wall.


Crystal Tipps 6m VS Sa

Climb the curving flake cracks towards the left side of the left wall


Left and up over the bank top is Main Wall.


Main Wall

Again, starting from the right.


Tracer 5m HVS 5b

Climb the centre of the slim wall set at an angle to the main wall


Big Boots 5m D

Climb the polished corner, which marks the right end of the main wall


The Thwarting of the Vamp Cow 6m HS 4b

Climb the wall left of Big Boots by a shallow rounded groove.


Fascination Street 7m S 4c

Start 3m left of Big Boots at a short crack. Climb the crack arid wall above, trending right to a bold finish.


Line of Fire 5m HS 4b

Climb the obvious crack 4m left of Big Boots with an awkward start.


Downholme Racer 9m HVS 4c *

Start 2m left of Line of Fire, below an overlap. Pull onto a ledge above the overlap (runner). Follow the good but unprotected wall above.


Je cours tout seul 10m VS 4b

Climb the wall 3m left of Line of Fire to gain a left slanting crack. Step up and right to good holds then trend left from here to finish.


Pas d’elle y Rhone que nous 10m E2 5b *

Just right of the central crack of El Capitain, the wall leads up to a peg below a small overlap. Climb straight up to this (good moves) on small holds passing another strange peg to easier ground.


El Capitain 10m HS 4c

The central crack line, the start of which has become more difficult because of the loss of a flake. Gain the crack from the right with difficulty and follow it to the top.


Four metres left is a square flat, block embedded in the ground.


Sweet Pleasure 10m El 5b *

Start from the embedded block and follow the thin crack to a protruding peg and good nut above. Continue with difficulty to the top.


Soldier Blue  10m E2 5b *

Start from the same flat block as "Sweet Pleasure" and climb a very thin crack direct to the small roof.  Pull over and climb the face above and just left of a tiny corner. 

Karl Lunt, Geoff Dawson 10th May 1992 Geoff Dawson and I did Solidier Blue on the same day we kicked off the development of Redmire Quarry.


Bitter Sweet 10m E2 5c

Starts immediately left of Sweet Pleasure, and takes a direct line to finish up a small shallow corner below the right end of a grass-covered ledge. Easily at first to thin and poorly protected moves pulling right into the small corner. Finish straight above.


Best Bitter 10m VS 4c *

Start immediately left of Bitter Sweet. Climb the slabby wall then move slightly left to a quartz jug at the overlap. Pull over on two mini "tuffas" to the top.


Never Enough 8m HVS 5a

Start 3m left of the embedded block, Climb easily up to the obvious small groove. Pass this with difficulty using holds out left to finish up the crack above. (Care with debris at finish)


Southern Death Cult VS 4c

Scrappy with an unpleasant finish. Start 2m left of Never Enough at a small overlap. Climb to a flake at half height and finish up the wall above.


Left of main wall is a small buttress in the form of a groove. Tank Tracks D takes the right rib, Colonel Blimp VD takes the groove itself and General Accident S 4a the steep left rib.


Turtles Head Traverse  HVS 5b

Best done from left to right:

The main wall can be split into three horizontal bands, roughly resembling a sandwich. The idea is to step onto the wall from left ('Southern Death Cult') at ground level and maintain this level as the wall drops down away to your right below you. Keep your feet at the join of the lower slice of bread and central filling and this leaves your face at about 1/2 to 2/3 height as you gingerly make your way along. Its pretty easy up until about 'Bitter Sweet' where there is a 4 metre section on particularly delicate holds until reaching the safety of 'El Capitan' - sparse footholds in particular as I recall (crux). The traverse continues at the same height before again finishing at ground level at 'Big Boots' in the opposite corner.

“The real skill is in gear placement. You are not far above the ground and with slack rope and spring - a collision with the uneven rocky floor is not unlikely. Micro nuts behind fraglie flakes and a couple of little friends are helpful - but as to their chances of holding you.......? It can be supplemented by hanging a crab on the end of an abseil rope from the top at the sparser areas or even by trusting in the antique piton in 'Sweet Pleasure' (there used to be two - one disappeared in about 1996 – probably dislodged by a roosting sparrow) or perhaps the peg in 'Pas d'elle y Rhone que nous' (at the time of writing my Spectra thread on this peg dates from 1995). Of course - confident boulderers would probably just solo it all without a second thought!” Dave Middlemas



One route has been recorded in the Bay to the right of the main wall.


Holding onto Dust   VD
It starts below the overhanging block and climbs the wall to the right of the prominent crack on questionable quartz holds. Belay on top of the block with good nut placements above. Descent is to the left by easy downclimbing.
Edmund Mackeith-Prince, John Coutts 29th July 2011

"There is some loose rock and this route is not recommended but there is definitely scope for development of this bay."


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