6/9 2020 Three Men/ Magnet
A mixed bag of weather day, but having missed a few good days through work, family and with more work days coming up I was keen to be out regardless.
An energised cold front was passing through about four hours later than predicted - basically in the middle of the day. However, with a bit of luck it provided some pleasant flying both pre and post frontal. Hence it became a two sites, four flights day.
Three Men: I arrived early, around 10am for a 'look'. It was surprisingly SW and light with the front visible upwind with its attendant showers. I took a walk up as it's only a short 15 mins and although light decided it may just be soarable. I had some smooth, pleasant floating around, a few top landings whilst keeping a watching eye on the weather. A top landing showed the wind had picked up so that was the sign it was probably over. I took off, flew south in lifty air and as the rained started, then increased it was a hurried dash for the bottom. The glider was wet, but the rain ceased so at least I packed in the dry.
The mid part of the day 12 - 3pm was heavy rain, most of which I slept through at home. By 4pm the sun was out, the sky looked a lot better, so off again - if only to dry the wing.
The Magnet: The wind was now very light and seemed more WNW so I headed up to the north of the Magnet essentially fly the big west face. A warm, sunny walk up and if the wind was OK on take off it looked a classic evening. The wind was indeed OK, but a rain shower moved slowly up Dentdale, whilst orographic cloud built over Gragareth and moved onto the Magnet. The flying was very pleasant, but the wind shifted more SW until in the end I was flying the Magnet and the wispies. Still .... they were fun to fly until they forced me lower and lower to the point where I was forced to land in totally windless conditions.
I was quite happy with grabbing something from the day on two sites - and the second dried my nicely.
10/9/2020 Three Men
I walked up early (9am) based on the forecast for increasing wind by noon.
Arrived on take off to find (as expected) flat calm, but hopeful the wind would arrive and it be flyable by 10.30am. Which is pretty much what happened.
By the time it became flyable we had a decent crew of seven pilots. It wasn't exactly smooth once the wind came in, rather gusty and bouncy as the sun appeared out front. After about 30 mins Dave and shortly after John and I went and landed. Maybe this was premature as Geoff, Tim and later Baz found it became more settled and lighter. still .... we had a fly and a nice social afterwards with breakfast at Ireby.
Geoff landing by the cars (I mean RIGHT by the cars - next time on a roof?)
A lovely Autumn day, although the first part seemed too windy for flying. By mid afternoon it appeared to have calmed down and I set off for Gragareth - one of my favourite sites and only five minutes drive from home. I can't believe how lucky I am to have so much great flying on my doorstep.
I set off up at 3pm. probably an hour late as there were already four gliders flying and using most of the full length of the ridge. I took off on the lowest step (there are several really nice take off's below the top and if enough wind they work well, if too much they are the place to be). Personally, I prefer the walk in (40 mins) from the south end - not Braida Garth.
An easy take and I set off up the ridge gaining height and in abundant smooth ridge lift - destination Great Coum. Further along the ridge gliders seemed to be struggling. By the time I reached the same point so was I. Chris Kay landed .... and he called no wind .... minutes later I landed too ... at the bottom! Now ... this is not unknown here. It can often be a lot lighter at the north end - there are some shallow sections to cover until the climb onto the Coum and the big bowl brings relief. Getting back is the easier part.
The next 40 minutes was a bit hike n fly to get south again. I had three carry up's - three flights to the bottom - on top it was light and well off to the north. Eventually the further south I got the wind improved and came more on ... and during all of this gliders flying at the south end showed that was still working fine.
Back in action again I enjoyed some really enjoyable soaring and when Tim (Oliver) set off north I watched and eventually followed. The wind was now back on the ridge (thanks Kestrels) .... but the north end was still fairly light. Tim and I pushed it as far as we dare -, turned and skimmed the ridge at about 6' all the way back south into the good lift zone.
Some more lovely soaring, a top land for a chat with folk and then back to Tow Scar for a wander and land by the car (and a chat with Geoff C who'd taken the family out for a jolly).
A nice day's soaring on the best SE in the Dales - just not quite filling the plans I had for it.
Some video stills LINK
27/9/2020 Wolf/Semer Water (north)
A lovely, late September day that began with a breezy morning, but forecast to ease into the afternoon to light. Being a northerly options locally were rather limited, but I settled on the north face of Semer Water ... which I rate, but I had no takers and the rest of J36 shot off to Longridge. Meanwhile I drove over to Hawes to find it very breezy. It was still early and too impatient to wait, I then headed north to Wolf Crags. Before I'd even left the Dales (checking out the approaches into Ayegill Pike en route for future reference) ... it had fallen very light. Travelling up the M6 showed little wind - but I continued.
A pleasant, warm walk in to Wolf (lots there) .. all waiting and the 5mph wind dropped to zero. A repack, walk back and drive down to the Dales again ... maybe more wind there and maybe Semer would be OK this time. I knew on opening the car door it was fine, a lovely smooth breeze ... and predictably all to myself.
An easy launch off the shoulder (which is about halfway up the main take off face) and I soon climbed above the top. A Kestrel joined me and its appearance seemed to coincide with some light thermal lift ... this was better than expected. With the wind due to back to NW I knew I was time limited so explored the back ridge (Green Crags) until eventually the wind did back and I had a fast return back to a landing on the shoulder.
A word on the north face of Semer. It's very overlooked compared to its sister face, yet is long, offers some interesting challenges and possible good xc potential (although airspace awats about 50 - 80k downwind. Information in the guide is very limited so I'd suggest a careful site assessment, although it's a fairly safe, uncomplicated place.
A short piece of video to get a flavour (LINK)
29/9/2020 The Magnet
Ten minutes drive from home ... about two as the crow flies and if Carlsberg did thermal sites this would be one of their best. What's not to like? Well, there are two approaches, one an easy 30 minutes, the other an easy hour and a half with a heavy sack and pulled muscle. I took the long option from Ribblehead and surprisingly it was also kind to my leg. Our target, the back face of Whernside.
I could write lots of compelling, mouth watering words about the Magnet - but that would tempt people there. So, I've selfishly decided to keep its charms to myself and the locals for now.
Chris (Kay) and I walked up (from Ribblehead) steadily, soaking in the sun, chatting to people, whilst Westie ran (Yes, ran) ahead with his mini sack with mini everything in it (a mere 10kg) - he was doing the NCT Three Peaks. We expected a WNW wind, but found a WSW so deviated over to the 'Magnet' face tempted by a Zeno thermalling high (Dean) whilst his students admired his grace and skill. Others had arrived, with more following up from the Kingsdale side - all in all, quite busy for a non site.
With conditions excellent we were soon away, Chris leading out and finding it rather scratchy given the fair breeze. The best part (?) apeared to be about 1k to the south, abutting the SE face. I didn't have to wait long before a good cloud appeared out front so I pushed forward 500m. The climb out was solid and within 20 mins of taking off I was on my way. Spectacular cloudscapes of stunning cumulus as I climb as high as possible up the sides - base was only about 3500'. Chris had helpfully pointed out the thermal sources and route towards Wether, " .... straightforward, they always work, 95% success rate". And he was spot on ... everything says they will work and they do - textbook.
Whilst circling up I'd noticed the cloud shadows. I tend to use the shadows a lot ... but this time they were so perfectly and sharply plotting a street downwind that for once any fear of going down diminished (see photos). By the time I arrived over Dodd/Wether, at base ...I could see lots of gliders soaring, but none at any great height, so no company - same on Wether (worse if anything). The thought ocurred that they were just off to the side of the street and not managing to connect. Had I had a radio I might have suggested they try as far south as they were able.
I continued on a familar route down the moors towards Pen Hill, it can be tricky at times but today it was quite easy. Stay on the street of individual clouds, pick the next climb, move on climb, move on, climb .... base rising all the time. By the time I arrived near Bishopdale I was only taking the climbs to 4500' and then moving on, conscious that the effective hours were time limited and the street was disappearing behind me.
I'd set a goal at Ripon, but failed to allow enough consideration for the backing wind - which was now obviously SW - Northallerton would have been better. I ended up too far north so slow crosswinding became necessary. Fortunately, the street (probably now a last of the moors convection line) bent that way and the lift continued, albeit more weakly. Over Masham I again found good lift that I failed to capitalise on, convinced the clouds ahead looked reliable. Funny how you break your own advice to others - this was the point to slow down, climb as high as possible and realise the next 15k could be feeding on scraps. But I banged on - over confident and a bit complacent.
No climb came - no cloud I sat under, no quarry or ploughed field, no working tractor. So that was it .... unfortunately about 5k short of goal. But still very pleased.
An excellent day for late September, which will cause me to reassess Autumn potential.