BP CUP group en route to Bradwell
The BPC week (Camphill - Gliding Club)
We had our usual bout of indifferent, August weather .... almost a week of it. However, it was also a lot of fun, with a group of great people in a superb venue. Flying then becomes a bonus, and we did have some flying ..... not lots, but enough to maintain the interest and with one very good day.
6/8/2017 (Sunday) - Stanage.
The winds were forecast to increase, but we gave it a go, arriving early to try and get a ridge based task in. Rush as we might the wind still beat us, although a few managed to brave the daunting, rocky take off. I'm glad I wasn't one of them is all I can say ..... it didn't look inviting. Most agreed and we pack up and headed off with Tuesday on our minds - it looked promising.
8/8/2017 (Tuesday) Bradwell.
Not a bad looking day, a bit less wind and a modest base of around 3500'. Given the luke-warm thermals an elapsed time task was set, 16k to the outskirts of Sheffield. It looked easy. NEVER say something looks easy .... it was anything but for most of the field. Task setter Gareth, Tony and Brad did make it however,
Full of the confidence of 'only' 16k I climbed out to about 3000'+ and started off downwind with a small gaggle ..... one more decent climb and the drift will do the rest I thought. When the lift died the gaggle, such as it was, broke up and scattered - so from this point I was on my own. Ahead a distant Fred was my marker - scratching Millstone Edge but starting to circle in something weak. Mid glide I got a climb - weak, broken, but going up - Yeh, only an easy 9k to go still a nothing distance. What could go wrong?
Well, for starters the climb decided to give up the ghost- and I wasn't so high I could afford to get too cocky. I glided off to Fred who now decided to stop circling as I came towards him. Whilst he glided off I hung around Millstones searching for his ellusive residuals ..... but he had left nothing. Next try was the moors, at least following the road for comfort but as the ground rose my spirits and attitude conspired to provide only sink. As the moors fell away to green fields I simply streched it and eventually gravity brought me into a pleasant field by a bus stop.
A meagre 11k ........... who said a 16k task would be easy. Oh, ..... that would be me.
13/8/2017 (Thursday) Bradwell
The big day .... the one we had pinned our hopes on. In the days leading up we had begged, pleaded and silently prayed it wouldn't get snatched away. It held - so it was a happy bunch that gathered for the en route, walk photo.
Task setting is notoriously difficult, but give Gareth his due, he set a good one - a 66k race to goal at the edge of the Trent, not mega but a good test for the field and the day. He even managed to set goal (by accident?) next to an excellent, river-side pub.
Bradwell was busy! However, given the light winds and regular cycles it was never that busy in the air. A short wait for a few to show something was coming through and I was away and climbing with no single beat required to gain height, enough to head forward for the start cylinder. The climb out was straightforward with scattered traffic downwind to indicate the next moves. Today base was 4500', rising later to 5000' ... and once in the flats to 5,500'.
Passing south of Sheffield I glanced down at Tuesday's goal, a mere spec that had caused so much trouble two days prior. For much of the flight It was just me and a few gliders (Olly and Toby mainly) that I kept joining up with. Both excellent pilots and a great help. At times the lift got a bit meagre and then, finding myself slightly off track to the south of the TP cylinder and getting lower ...... and lower, and lower. Soon it was getting time to plead a little with the Lord. A long, sinky and prolonged glide ahead, I'd seen Toby climb out from a small patch of cleared ground in an area of woodland. It worked for me too. The name of the immediate game changed to staying up and getting high again .... the upwind trek back to the TP at Bolsover would have to wait.
Once high we both headed back to the TP cylinder, my line a bit better than Toby's so I arrived a few hundred feet higher. Once tagged Toby hung back for a climb whilst I set off for Mansfield - it was en-route to goal and I'd always had luck there before. Again, it was a long glide with little happening, but Mansfield appeared beneath with a few gliders circling low and wide. So ..... there was lift, but judging by the thermaling going on below it was weak and scrappy.
Once again Olly, Toby and I worked the unconvincing lift and gradually gained height. Downwind of the town seemed the place to be and first one, then the other would explore that way. It paid off and we were rewarded by solid climbs to the increasing higher base. Goal now seemed a thermal away and pretty much along the edge of a street that lead that way. Toby's next move puzzled me. He headed off across a blue slot to a second street. Thinking I had missed something I followed, until, at the midpoint I thought this is not right and it's probably my last chance to turn back. In hindsight - it was the final point as getting back to the original street took a long time and considerable height loss. Gliding back I was able to enviously eye Olly at great height sailing along the street.
Approaching the street I came again under its influence and got a decent climb - just enough to make goal. Then ...... from being pretty much on my own, a glider appeared 400' below and to my right and overtook me by 100m. Goal was a little touch and go according to my glide, but ..... forced into race mode for position I had to go. I'd have liked a little more height, but if this Aspen 6 can do it then a Peak 4 with more height can't let the side down. Using half bar I caught up until level - it struck me that Mr Aspen 6 (Brad as it turned out) was forced into max glide to make it. Hence little or no speed bar was being used. Still ...... I had my own concerns as I'd also set a 400m cylinder (goal was 1K) to use as a declared for the League. (Actually I had it in a non C record tablet so it was irrelevant).
The long glide in took a while, but it was a decent line. A few k short Brad's Aspen started a 360 to gain a little height to be sure. Now in pole position I shot ahead sure to make the ESS first. 500m short and mindful of my (irrelevant 400m cylinder) I also turned in a weak climb ...... only to see Brad come past beneath. Cunning! Back on bar we raced for the line ..... we seemed level and it was touch and go. Brad just managed it by 4 secs. Sometime you can get just too cocky for your own good. Nice competive finish though.
10 minutes later Olly came in .... followed an hour later by Alastair Tytler. Four in goal and a fun task. We all decamped to the Unicorn and celebrated with two pints by the riverside and awaited our taxi back to base. Sweet.
A great week, I really enjoyed it and all thanks to a great base, great company and super organisation.
Big thanks to Viv and Gareth.
Flying at base down the south side of Wensleydale
13/8/2017 Dodd Fell
The day had one of the best rasps of the decade so I think, (at least the Weasels all agreed) it had to be a triangle. Mike shared a few options (and we added a few smaller ones to compensate for genius). In the end Mike and Richard Bungay went for the 74k option, whilst Geoff C, Steve E, Ben and I, the 62k one. We were all to be disappointed - well, except Mike who just revels in the challenge.
We gathered on a perfect day on Dodd. Over on Wether they had been flying since early and some had already left the hill by 11am ..... apparently it was working even better earlier. One by one we chose our moment and launched .... the winds were light but the cycles fairly obvious - even so a few did go down at times.
The climb out was rather bitty in parts but we managed to get up after a while. Mike and Richard were a climb ahead so radio talk suggested the climbs were good and their location. On my own .... as always, I passed over Wether at height - which seemed to be in a down cycle with a lot grounded and a few scratching. The promised climb over Semer Water came and took me into the wispies, so I hung about and saw the lovely sight of a veritable fleet of gliders streamimg towards me from Wether. Nice line abreats formation flying. Spotting Steve E leading the pack I hung on for him as a light aircraft passed beneath him.
Steve pushed ahead towards Pen Hill - our first turnpoint. The sky looked good, we had reasonable height and all was very positive. The usual climb approaching West Burton failed to appear - still Pen Hill usually works so no worries yet. Then ..... Pen Hill didn't seem to want to work and with the turn point just over the back it seemed best to get high first, tag it and then get back. I took a weak climb so maybe, just maybe all was well. It gave me a good 1000' but never seemed to get its act together. Geoff C appeared out over the valley - a bit low then starting to climb .... soon he was level or just above to I decided to switch climbs. Not the best of moves as I found it worse than my climb and I'd lost 400' to boot. I scooted back looking for my initially climb only to find it departed and pushed back further downwind and tagged the cylinder.
Things were now getting a little desperate ...... three more gliders appeared so at least it gave us a good search capability. But, it wasn't to be and one by one we got lower and pushed out into the valley. Evetually, we were forced to land - Geoff got up again but only made it another 5k up the valley before being decked.
A disappointing end to a very promising day. Mike and Richard got further but again got downed well before the second turnpoint. For once the Dales looked good but just didn't seem to want to play ball.
17/8/2017 Home site.
A superb looking day but marred by the strong wind. That said, I'd checked Brigsteer at 2.15pm whilst passing on a shopping trip and it looked OK - even on the light side but I'd no glider with me.
Decided on a very pleasant hour nearer home before tea. I landed at 6:30pm .... rushed back, fed, showered and went to Ben's Birthday drinks for 7:30pm.
Happy 45th Ben. Enjoyed the evening.
20/8/2017 Radar Masts, Hartside
Not a great forecast. The base was at 3000', thermals few and the wind didn't exactly play ball - still, it was a few hours of useful flying.
Drove up with Geoff C, John H, with Tim O on drums ...... arrived about the same time as Gary and the NE crew. A few more turned up later so a decent gathering. Fairly light but at least on the hill. Never taken off here before - interesting. A shallow slope and long 1k+ glide leads to just about where a more pronouced edge begins. It works quite well as a way into Melmerby Bowl.
At first it looked pretty pants. A 20 minutes period of scratching around with no sun and little likelihood of thermals. Missed cylinder so scratched off back to tag it .... it went OK when I thought it would deck me. A (surprisingly) good climb came through and got me to base at 3000' over the back of Melmerby Bowl. Gary and i joined up and set off south expecting a second thermal - nothing! We found zero wind and less lift on the edge south of High Cap. I squeaked a top landing whilst Gary went down (Later walked up again, to only fly back down)..
The wind picked up 10 mins later so took off and was joined by Tim. There then followed a lot of scratching and three thermals that gave out after 800'. An hour and a half of this and I was running out of patience so headed out and landed near Blencarn.
A fair day out, nothing special but such grabbed days are all we seem to get up north this summer. Milk Hill meanwhile delivered a few 100k+ flights - a different sport down south it seems.
Ben Keayes and I over Brigsteer
A breezy day with low base so we left it until 5pm before venturing out to Brigsteer. It's worked well this year late pm/evening and this was one of the best evenings this year.
I arrived to find Steve Thwaites vanbound - but it seemed fine and the sun was breaking through. I laid out and took off to find abundant lift and weak, but workable thermals to 1100' ato. Lovely flying - relaxing and easy. As time passed other pilots arrived until we had a nice group comprising Ben, Ian, John and Steve and I. Lots of top landings and then at 8pm we finally packed in and headed to the Wheatsheaf at the foot of the hill.
Just a few photos as my video editting is playing up (LINK)
Cruising out to the weak convergence beyond the M6
26/8/2017 Far Whitestones
One of the best days I've had on Far Whitestones (FW) - but it didn't start out that way.
I woke to the sound of heavy rain beyond the curtains and a barrage of messages from Geoff about southerners having all the weather luck ... and Milk Hill. Things were starting to get so desperate he suggested a trip south complete with (his cavers) dynamite to blow it up. One stick he thought would do it .... I thought a small spade might do equally well and save on cost.
By 12pm it was looking a lot better - but nothing that caused us to rush so we set a meet time of 2pm at KL. John H joined us and although it was looking better by the minute we still approached in a joyous, no rush mood. Such was our lack of urgency we even had time to stop and yell at Dennis (packing up in a field) from behind a wall, "Gert outta ma field". We think he may have had soiled underwear for his second flight judging by his shock.
We parked up to see a few flying, the sun (sort of) out and some wings laid out awaiting a bit of breeze. Apparently it had been up and down since 11am when they started flying. We were just the Johnie come lately's, grabbing the last dregs before pubtime. Still at saunter pace we headed up the hillside, Geoff for once lagging behind with toilet urgency more pressing than the flying and bracken a useful diversion.
Now laid out above the bracken it looked ... surprising good. The unusual factor was the wind being off to the west - now, we almost aways fly it in a south west wind but as it turned out that bit of west turned a good site into a super-site. OK, it may have partly been the day, but the route we took towards Sedbergh was so easy, direct and quick; faces we'd bypassed before now worked a treat.
When the laggards turned up we had a grand time down near Winder, pushing out and stretching our personal triangles. Eventually, we set off back to the Calf using the regular thermals that were now coming through - in fact it looked a tasty day except for the cloudbase which never got much over 3300'. Ping! Went the next turnpoint at the trigpoint and off we toddled back hardly needing the ridge and with lots of height.
Back over take off things seemed to be happening out front. A red streamer pilot was having a whale of a time so Geoff, Ben and I headed out too. It looked like a weak convergence ... or maybe not, but at least it worked and hoisted us up into the clouds. Lovely, mellow clouds - the sort you want to hug and wrap yourself in. So we did - too nice not to. Simply enjoying the view, the cloudscapes and the height I partly forgot the mundanity of stretching the triangle - bit silly, but probably intoxicated by the moment.
Over the motorway, staring at Grayrigg Pike the thinking 'what if' and 'only' from earlier in the year, I stumbled into a weak climb. It got me back high again and despite knowing there would be nothing over the back I went for the hell of it .... Geoff had landed and had the car keys. True to FW form it disappointed - although it was now about 5:30pm. The biggest thrill was clocking 65kph across the moors - Where did that wind come from? An easy landing 4 miles along from Tebay in a light west - Where did that wind go to?
A darned nice day out, one of the best I've had on FW. a small FAI of about 16k that could have been a touch bigger. Still, better than I hoped for as the rain beat the windows that morning.
PHOTO LINK (Sorry about the rather grainy effect - I miss set the camera rez.).
As Ben and I headed into the Dales it was looking like a re -run of yesterday; fortunately it turned out anything but.
We decide on Brantside as the best option, it's always a bit lighter there and it thermals well. On arrival it looked fine, a west wind and not that much of it, surprising given the wind in other parts. As a bonus it was brightening up too.
It was light on take off, in fact touch and go whether it was even soarable. I brought the wing up really just for a line check, but it was obviously bouyant and wanting to be in the air so the check became a take off. It was clear from the off that the air had a lot more life in it than it appeared. 10 minutes later Ben followed and as the sun broke through it got better with weak, but decently formed thermals emerging with each dark cloud seeming to offer lift. Lovely smooth flying, nice thermals and the odd top landing when it got on the light side.
After several bouts of thermalling back to Great Knoutberry, Ben eventually followed one back and committed to going. I was less convinced, with base limiting things to 3000' at this stage. With the car being awkward to get back to, I suggested Ben just saw what he could do with the day and I'd drive to retrieve. So ..... Ben was away and the next I heard he was climbing out from a windy, rough Wether and heading over Semer.
I had a good hour and a quarter playing with the lift as it came through. A couple of other pilots came along and struggled a bit in the light conditions. The it was time to head back to the car, land and go and collect Ben.
I collected Ben from West Witton, an enjoyable 30K for him ....... still, it was a lovely afternoon to be out.