Dennis Bentley 1926 – 2018
By Dave Shotton
Readers of the lively reminiscences by former member Dennis Bentley in two recent Newsletters will have been saddened to hear of the passing of Dennis on 13 August 2018, following a short illness and on the eve of his 92nd birthday.
Dennis was a member of the Karabiner Mountaineering Club from 1945 to 1952 during the formative years of the club, although he had already become acquainted with a number of those involved with the later formation of the club as early as 1942/43 when he was an apprentice in his future profession as an engineer. He is mentioned in a number of the first meet reports in the original handwritten Record of Meets logbook from early 1945 and also in the first club Newsletter of October 1945. He married a ‘Lancashire lass’ (Mary, sadly now deceased) in 1954 (the wedding was attended by various KMC members, including Len Stubbs as groomsman and Derek Seddon as photographer - Dennis still prized Derek’s photos from the day, as well as a postcard given to him by Plum Worrall on the day expressing Plum and Robbie’s best wishes). The following year Dennis and Mary moved to Dorset (with the furniture-removing assistance of Len Stubbs), where they settled and raised a family (Dennis was living in Dorchester at the end of his life). They had three sons, Martin who lives in Lancashire, Peregrine (Perry) who lives in British Columbia, Canada and is married to a keen outdoorswoman and mountaineer, and Julian, now resident in Australia.
Dennis re-established contact with the KMC (initially via his son Perry) late in 2017 after reading on the club website of the sad passing of Derek Seddon, and maintained an animated email correspondence, mainly with myself and latterly also with Alan (L) Jones, until almost the last weeks of his life. Many of his evocative recollections of the formation and early years of the KMC, along with clear memories of various of its Founder Members, appeared in the May and July Newsletters earlier this year. I would strongly recommend reading or re-reading these two articles to get a feeling for Dennis as a man and KMC member and for the early years of the KMC (it may be recalled that the second article contains a memorable first-hand account of Plum Worrall’s presentation of a painting to Edmund Hillary at the Free Trade Hall in 1953). In informing us of his father’s death, Dennis’s son Martin confirmed that Dennis had very much enjoyed the opportunity to reminisce, his memory undiminished by age, about his days with the Karabiner Club during our recent correspondence.
I shall close with a short description in Dennis’s own words of a photograph of himself taken at the end of an attempt (in the late 1940s?) with Len Stubbs and Tony Taylor on the Lakeland 3000s, abandoned after 35 miles due to adverse weather conditions. (The photo has already appeared in the May 2018 Newsletter, but the description is previously unpublished).
The photo was taken by Len. The third member was Tony Taylor. The scene a very wet Sunday lunchtime in St John’s in the Vale. It was the end of our attempt at the Lakeland 3000 ft summits in 24 hours. We had left Wall End Barn at 10 am on the Saturday and set off up Rossett Ghyll, a fine morning. We had a fine trek over the Scafell Peaks and set off down Borrowdale to Keswick and Skiddaw. We reached Keswick late evening and had fish and chips before setting off up Skiddaw. Nearing the summit everything became undone. Thick mist and cloud enveloped us, it was pitch black, and the rain came, it was Lakeland rain and we were soon soaked. A shooting cabin offered brief respite... It was beyond midnight and we took the wrong path back down! After a little while Len realised we were descending the far side. We hiked back in driving rain and mist, soaked to the bone. So, it was that at St. John’s in the Vale already on the hills in excess of our 24 hours we had to decide if we were in a fit state to tackle Helvellyn and the Striding Edge. Knowing Len, I’m sure he would have had a go, but he wouldn’t risk “the lads”.