Top UK hg pilot discovers the joy of tangled lines!

DHPC - Coaching Day


1/6/2014  Windbank/Hawkswick:


We had an excellent turn out and great weather. Although it started out a bit strong the day soon mellowed and produced wonderful smooth lift that extended the length of the valley. I was ably assisted by coaches Kate, Toby and Kev who had a wonderful calming effect. I think the pilots there got a good amount of airtime and learnt quite a few things in the process. It was great to see some of the UK's best hg pilots turning to the dark side ...... once they have picked up the glider control skills they will be a force to be reckoned with.


Odd video clip from my phone on a take off

3/6/2014 - Tow Scar


Test flew a new glider after work. Very easy groundhandling - nice in the air. Chucked it around a bit. Only landed as I thought a police car which had arrived was watching me too closely ...... when they moved to park next to my car I really thought I was being summoned. Landed next to them - they approached and said .................., "That looked fantastic, how do we get to do it?" So I told them I only came down as I thought they were after marking my card - they said they were really sorry. We chatted for ages - they owe me.

6/6/2014  Semer Water:


With a wind showing SSE we dithered over Stags or Semer Water and in the end decided on both - however a quick visit to Stags showed the wind on, but likely to go more east, so Semer it was. Arrived on Semer to find plenty of pilots but no action - the wind was well off to the south, fairly light but worse was a rather dispiriting sky. There were signs of the next front coming in from the west, no cumulus and it didn't look that promising - however, some decent days have come out of such senarios. Slowly the wind edged round more to the east so it was just at least getting flyable.


I took off and scratched across to the crags at the south end (thinking I may have to land) and luckily into some gentle lift that started to improve and was fairly extensive. Mike and I climbed out with others rushing into the bottom - it was slow but enough to take us to about 4500' and made the crossing towards Stags fairly straightforward and gave us access to the moors behind Stags which usually work quite well. As usual Mike was off and running whilst I was still contemplating, he arrived with modest height and was soon climbing with a shout of good lift - that was enough so off I went.  Below Mark and a few others .... I think Wallbank was one, were struggling along in dribs and drabs .... and that continued for them. Eventually Phil W went down but Mark managed to hang on across the moors and then make it back up.


I climbed over the head of Swaledale on a hill that hadn't worked for me a few weeks back. Once back high I spotted Baz so decided to hang around here for him and once joined we flew together for a while. I tried him on the radio but no joy - I'm not even sure he knew it was me as I was on a different glider to my usual. Eventually, no doubt tiring of my slow pace he rushed off towards the edge of the moors near Kirkby Stephen. I am slow - no doubt, but also wary of coming off the moors without max height and a climb - it's been my decking a number of times in the past. This time I decided to chose my moment and line ( a little more west towards higher ground). 


The whole of the Eden valley opened up as the ground fell away. There had been the odd cu over the edge of the moors  - and some strong lift, but ahead it looked flat and washed-out. Still nothing ventured. As predicted little of note  happened other than I slowly went down - but it was a slow process and the glide angle was good. Near Warcop with about 1000' left it started to get more interesting - weak but worthing hunting around for. Very slowly I circled and drifted up the A66, tracking just outside the Warcop D area. (I wasn't sure it hadn't been cleared as Baz was in there?) For a spell I move over to join three gulls who showed little interest and having lured me in flew off. By Appleby I'd gained about 1700' and whatever was working up the Eden I wasn't complaining. Appleby looked a picture in the sunshine but the Horse Fair was the main attraction - all noise, smell and bustle. Later at ground level it was more like Dodge City at the round-up. But a man's gotta do etc  ........... so I carried on with my silent drifting and circling. Eventually near Culgaith it came to an end - another 6k and I would have made the rail station at Langwathby (where Ali G and I had boarded only a few weeks previous). For whatever reason that miffed me a bit as it would have saveda bit of hitching.


All told not a bad day and fun to try a another wing - I must stop buying gliders!


PHOTO LINK (mostly video stills)

Lovely AirCross UCross - for sale.

12/6/2014  Brantside:


Not quite the day we'd hoped for but some pleasant afternoon soaring to a lowish cloudbase. A number of us met in Hawes and could see that Wether Fell was basically blown out with just the odd hg flying. After  a tea and debate some I think went home but Geoff Moss, Dave Buxton and I went to Brantside which is usually a lot lighter. So it proved.


A light wind on take off and the sun breaking through nicely soon saw us airborne and we enjoyed a few hours pleasant soaring with the odd thermal to base at 3000'. With  the promise of a lift, Dave went fairly low over the back and tried to make Dodd but didn't quite make it. Not a bad afternoon and again Brantside showed that it's always a lot lighter when Wether is blown out.

Approach to landing area

14/6/2014   Carrock Fell:


It seems a while since I've flown Carrock, but it became the obvious option given the forecast. The weather brightened up and the wind looked good so on arrival I expected it to be full of Northumbrians (travellers) and Cumbrians (woolleybacks). However, not even Mark Lenin was there - just a small gathering of Dales pilots and Chris Field from Penrith - too posh to be a genuine Cumbrian.


After the ritual walk up we waited for some wind and although light it proved enough as the air was very bouyant - some thermals plus cloudsuck meant we made cloudbase easy and often.  As the day brightened it became easier and in the end we all enjoyed about 2hrs airtime and some messing about/chatting at the bottom.


A very nice afternoon and we had the whole site to about eight of us - I should add that Steve Thwaite's also turned up (late) or he'll moan if he reads this :)

Crossing over Carn Mor Dearg toward Castle Ridge. North face of Ben Nevis with cloud cap.

15/6/14   Aonach Mor:


Rasp said the only place to be was the NW Highlands and Mike insisted - so we went to Fort William and Aonach Mor. Mike driving (fast), Steve E and myself in one car; Glen and Chris Greenwood just about keeping up - somehow.


For most of the journey the weather was pretty dire with low cloud and occasional drizzle; and the nowcasts we were getting from Tony Shepherd in Fort William weren't much better - at least he was honest.  We sped down a gloomy Glencoe to find it a little brighter as we weaved along the A82 besides Loch Linnhe. Arriving at the ski centre the optimistics Scots were gathering and it was indeed brightening. A bit more lingering over coffee and we took the gondola ride - marvelling at the suicidal mountain bike course. I was told 4 minutes (ish) from top to bottom! In my mind I saw dozens of dead and injured bodies scattering the slopes ...... take up paragliding boys - it's for pussies.


We took the short level walk to take off - plus attendant tourists and waited for either wind (on the hill) or a dappling of sun. Despite some reluctance to believe people began to float off ..... and eventually Julian found the lift out over the quarry - then everyone was away. This was my first time at Aonach Mor ......... and I MUST come again now I have my bearings - an awesome place. I can't believe what it must be like under a high cloudbase. Everytime I come to Scotland it seems to deliver special flying .... a magical place.


A bit like most others I just spent my time simply exploring and the area around the north face of the Ben is a magnet with its jaw dropping cliffs and snow filled gullies and cornices. Eventually I moved on into Glen Nevis. At this point I shared a geat thermal with Chris and then we went our separate ways. Moving deeper into the hills was a bit committing, but I did it although desperate to avoid a walk-out having not got much sleep the previous night due to the England game. Then, a bit silly of me, but rather than pop over the lat ridge line (easier said than done) to Kinlochleven and then Glencoe I chose to head back forward (west) ...... and this resulted in the dreaded walk out. On the bright side, after about 5k and sore feet I got a lift that took me all the way back to the ski centre (result) ....... I must be getting a lot better at forming relationships!


Meeting up again was easy and we all gathered at Glencoe for fish (huge) and chips plus beer ...... thanks Steve for using your plastic. A pleasant drive back (Thanks Mike, those little pills worked then?) and home for the second half of another footie game - seems like I've filled Sunday.


Scotland ...... can't beat it: if only they could solve the midge problem.



18/6/2014 Tow Scar:


The start of the week (when I wasn't working) was not that good. Eventually it got a lot better for Wednesday to Friday so I did some familiarisation flying on the M6.


Had about 40 minutes on Tow Scar in light conditions during the evening. Very scratchy but the M6 showed it does that well and from as low down as I've ever been I managed to get above the top scar and enjoy  about 40 minutes before landing.

20/6/2014  Far Whitestones:


A stunning evening after work. Arrived at 4:20pm to find it deserted so  walked up and had it all to myself for an hour. Flew down towards Sedbergh and well out front in abundant lift to cloudbase (3400' - not that high really).  Quite fiesty at times and not especially pleasant, probably the sea breeze and thermal kicking each other. Flew back and went out over the motorway, ostensibly to lose height as an approach to landing. However, it was quite difficult to get down through the last 600'. I was on a deadline to get back and might overwise have big eared in but I've discovered it often cravats a tip. Bit too early to say much about the M6 but whilst it's the easiest groundhandling wing I've ever had .... in the (rough) air it feels a lot less solid and confidence inspiring than the Peak 3 ..... it bounces around a lot. I may try it more heavily loaded with my other harness - that would bring me to 104kg (as opposed to 99kg with the Ozium). It's sink rate and glide are pretty exceptional however .... great speed range.

21/6/2014   Dodd Fell:


Some places are a real bitch to get back from (if you live where I do) ..... a bus journey and two train journeys to go the long way round because nothing goes across to the metropolis that is Skipton. Made it back to my car at about 10:15pm  having deliberately left a perfectly good car ride to enjoy the hour walk up to my car over the moors as it was the solstice and a lovely sunset. Met Ziggy and wife on top who were staying to enjoy the solitude with a bottle of wine.


Odd sort of day - quickly over the back and all seemed to be going well until we met a sea breeze front way inland and blocking access into the VoY. Just ahead of it we had climbed into cloud at over 5000' ...... then there is was reducing to 3500' and cutting off the thermals. Unfortunately I didn't have any cameras so couldn't record it ..... it did mess things up though. Got a very rough climb out of Nidderdale to extend things a bit. Maybe I should have spotted the changes  whilst climbing at Great Whernside and headed back towards take off.


Memo to self  .... don't leave your bus pass in another jacket; don't leave big hitching sign in another glider bag.

30/6/2014     Ozone Chabre Open (practice day):


OK on take off, but cloudy with stronger winds forecast. No task set - about 2/3 of the  field walked down whilst the rest of us flew.

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© Ed Cleasby