A brief late afternoon/evening window of good weather - nice sky, but too windy until 4pm.
Brigsteer remains an acquired taste, except for the converted. Quite how and why it works so well late in the day I'm not sure - but it does and on a regular basis. It's quite common to float around at a few thousand over take off as gradually the wind dies away after around 7pm and the shadows lengthen across the far side of the valley. For a site just a few hundred, shallow feet high it packs a lot of quality punch.
Around half a dozen of us convened at about 4.30 and soon took to the air. Take off is still (after 33 years) the most unpredictable part of the flight. You get what you're given - anything from the easiest, smoothest, floatiest climb out towards the trees ... or a rodeo-ride down the field towards the trees, followed by a battle just above them until you're finally up - or not!
We could climb out in late thermals to around 3000' and wander over the full length of the ridge and then some. Towards the end I drifted back to Natland with decent height and even some clouds. I was tempted. At any other time it would have been a goer but a glance at the time said no one starts an xc at 6.30pm - so I headed back. However, my bridges were burned so I didn't quite make it by a couple of fields. Still - only a short walk.
Back at the car the hill seemed deserted - pub then? Which pub? I discovered later that my super shit phone on aeroplane mode doesn't get messages. So I tried all three local pubs to no avail and went home.
A short video clip of Geoff thermalling his M7. LINK
10/6/2019 Wolf Crag
This looked a good opportunity to meet up with Brian and do the GTO 2 drop off. We met up at Penrith with a view to Cold Fell in the north Pennines, but the forecast had us heading to Wolf. The forecast actually had it wrong in many ways, the day was much longer, much better and the wind dropped away, so the untried Cold Fell may have had more potential.
We arrived on Wolf to a lovely sky - about as good as it could be to find not a soul until a lone pilot arrived a little later. The wind was quite light, but thermals started popping through soon enough. We had set a goal at Grange over Sands - not far, but the wind going more NE and the poor sky further south closed off options. (In fact Millom would have worked better in retrospect).
After a good intial climb it all got a bit frustrating and after a spell on the back of Clough and some rough broken stuff that didn't work - we headed back to Wolf not really expecting a lot given the wind had now a lot of east. I landed for a choccy bar, which in retrospect lost me about 5k later. A strong gust came through which indicated something was afoot so I took off and joined Brian in scratching around until we were soon rewarded with a great climb to near base at 5000'. It was a good climb, but the NE wind meant it wasn't quite so simple staying on the east side of the Helvellyn ridge. We made it to Helvellyn and a good black cloud that didn't prove the easiest of comapanions
I can't speak for Brian who was a lot lower and further east, but mine was as rough as old boots. Still - nothing untoward happened to the wing. Brian also found a climb that looked a bit mega as he visibly hurtled skywards and was then above me. Our height made it more appealing to cross behind Dollywagon and we headed towards Easedale, passing over the Lion and Lamb. From this point on the sky changed markedly - the super cu's washed out and the ground lost all sun. Slightly separated, but both fairly low we got bounced around just south of Grasmere - I heard later Brian's bouncing was more energetic than mine!
A spell of mincing in stuff that didn't work and I thought to call it a day and pulled forward into Grasmere. Now only a few hundred feet over the valley floor I marked a field for landing by the lake and headed there. The wind strength seemed OK, but I still expected a kicking. Actually, as I set up for landing it appeared fine - fairly smooth. Turning into wind on finals I got a nice bit of smooth, light lift - worth a turn? One turn and the drift seemed OK (behind me was Rydal Water and then at the far side trees! A second turn, then a third, out over the water - actually this was a decent thermal in its infancy - more turns, the drift still not that marked. From near ground level I clawed it back to 3000' and was crossing Langdale. Well, that was a turn up!
I spotted Brian landing below - tough, wrong side of a river too! The Langdales still held some sun but ahead looked a bit grey and bleak. I think I should have gone onto Wetherlam and used the ridges but it was 3.15 and school out time at Coniston, so I headed there, landed on the playing field and caught the school bus back to Ambleside. Yes ... lazy but That's how retrieves matter more to me now than a bit of extra distance.
A great retrieve. Four buses within minutes of each other, and after Brian and I reunited at Ambleside we were soon hopping off the Penrith X4, back at his car at Troutbeck and even quicker enjoying a pint in the warm sun. The north Lakes was still a picture - the end to a near perfect day.
A few stills from my video LINK
A little quickly edited video LINK