Geoff Crossley - first flight on his new Zeno
6/10/2017 Barton Fell
Quite a good forecast with lighter winds than previous days and switching from WNW to WSW later. Some thought Barton an odd choice, but like Clough I see it more a westerly as it then opens up the ridge line south towards High Street and beyond.
I walked in from the back (lots of advantages if you're approaching from that side - not least you can fly back and land by the car). Getting out of the car ... It was windy! In fact I was thinking it could be blown out. (Balloons setting up to fly in south Lakes!) On the plus side we had a passing, very narrow ridge and I thought in a hour or so it would drop off. A level, but rather wet in places walk followed, as the time passed the wind did indeed drop away. By the time I reached the lower, first take off it was quite light.
I took off with the wind slightly crossed but optimistic of getting up. All went well for a while as I gained 100', then it all shut down and the wind dropped to calm. A slope landing and 15 minute carry back up. OK, try again. Now a bit higher I made take off 2 - with the same result. This time I slope landed on very steep grassy ground and contemplated the new, much steeper and much longer carry. Five or six steps at a time, slipping and trying to figure the best line - rest and then go again. It was slow work but eventually I was back on top again 45 minutes. Same light wind, but now noticeably (as forecast) off to the west. I wadded along for 100M to a more into wind section and the wind increased a little.
Take off 3 - at last I was cimbing out in decent ridge lift. Quite a relief as I was having visions of a long, wet trek back to the car. My plan had been a declared O&R to Applethwaite Common but the start cylinder didn't allow for wind to have backed so much and I'd lost about 90 minutes in sweaty faffing. So ... I simply set off towards Rampsgill Head with a view to High Street if it seemed safe and attainable.
With a slight following wind Rampsgill was achieved without recourse to scratching the slopes en route. Approaching Rampsgill crags it became obvious that the wind was now spilling in from the SW and into the bowl - so going in low was not an option. I soared above the tops - just pushing on until the rotor started to be felt, then turning tail. 15 mins later, with more height I tried again with the same result, so set off back Bartons where I could see other gliders flying in a more NW wind.
Arriving at Barton I spotted a shiny, new Zeno, hard to miss in its strong red and yellow colours. A quick shout to Geoff as he passed and headed to where I had just come from - 8k south. Shortly after I turned and followed him down the ridge. Again, at midpoint the thermals/good lift appeared (it did on my four crossings - in retrospect I think the two air flows were meeting and producing a degree of convergence?). We both tried getting as far as possible into Rampsgill, but now the wind had backed and strengthened a little more making it harder to progess. In fact 1k less than my previous stab 45 minutes earlier. So - we retreated back towards Barton. Again - at the sweet spot on the ridge we got good lift to 3,200asl. Whilst Geoff pushed forward I carried on down the ridge, along the front of Barton and then back across the moors to land neatly by the car. Both Geoff's followed a short while after.
A frustrating start to the day, but rewarded with some excellent flying after the ealier exertions. Coffee x 2; beer x 2 (Loweswater Gold) in Askham ended a good day out.