April

9/4/2021    Park Fell

 

 

I was time limited as I had to be down and away by 1pm.   Initially this didn't bother me as I thought by then it could be blown out.

I opted for Park Fell for its convenience and I went for an early start - 9.30 at the bottom.  I thought I'd easily be the first on the hill but Kev was booting up as I arrived and within minutes Shed, then Dave J, then Tom arrived.  There was a bit of breeze, but it looked OK .... actually from that point on the wind decreased if anything. Fortunately it was a booming sky.

I took off low in a light waft and being a big hill I went up, Chris Kay had sauntered round for a chat and he took off a bit higher ... then soon went sub orbital. By 11pm we were starting to hit base .... nice thermals, solid climbs, fairly smooth and working well despite it still being early. Given the reliable nature of the sky I headed upwind ... maybe 25kph, it was surpringly light at height.  Over Blea moor I was looking down into Dentdale and thinking all sorts of silly thoughts. However, the dominate  factor (pain) was cold hands, especially the left where the previous week's war wound was kicking in.  I headed back and top landed in very little wind. Chris too came in ... or tried, despite it being light it was also thermic.

Others arrived including Kerim.  We had a very light spell - wait, try it and slope land followed by a walk up. The sky was superb, the forecast wind just didn't happen. Running into my last, remaining 45 minutes of  available flight time I took off as it seemed stay upable.  Shortly after most others were in the air, scattered far and wide .... and very high in some cases (5000'+?)  Any other time it would have been an away day with company.  By now it seemed a lot warmer in the air .... hotaches sorted things and sun had some heat.

As the clock struck one I landed by the car and packed in warm sunshine and windless conditions .... overhead gliders were hard to spot they were so high.  One of the best spring days.

 

PHOTO LINK

10/4/2021  Park Fell

 

Don't let the photo fool you - this sky was about to go ballistic over a fairly wide area.

 

It was hard to know where to go. Light winds and a RASP that suggested it was too unstable. So it proved.

Tom and I headed for Park Fell, given it can take several directions and I had to be back by 2.30pm it seemed as good as anywhere. We arrived on top around noon to find a lonely Tam preparing on the NE face. It was light, but occasional gust would rip through suggesting

it was pretty spicy out front. 

 

Tam bravely sacrificed himself in a light gust, hung in for half a dozen beats then steadily ended up at the foot of the hill. Tom and I sat, waited .... and waited. It was now mostly windless. Eventually Tam sweaty vested his way onto take off for take 2.

 

The clouds looked good, actually too good. First to our distant left, then right towards Settle and ahead over  the moors in front big hail/snow showers were extending to the ground. In the first waft I was away, the plan to just head out over the spur and push forward for a good cloud. Directly in front of take a rather nasty beast lurked .... rough, hard and taking no prisoners. Tom had followed and perhaps more courageously than I tried to wrestle it to the ground. But it gave me a few hundred feet which made heading out front slightly more hopeful.

 

Someway out, well below take off,  I connected. A proper thermal without the nasty characteristics of the first. This gave me a good climb to 3,800' ... about 2,200; over take off. I should maybe have worked it higher but I judged it would get me home to Ingleton.  However, given the sink that followed and the zero wind at height it took two more thermals, one low over White Scar caves. I didn't expect a thermal here - a really good one too.  I rather wish I'd exploited this second thermal - it  was solid and going places. However, a peppering of light snow and knowing I was back over the village meant I left it after a mere 500;.

 

Still, an enjoyable day, some exercise and good company. In retrospect I don't think we could have opted for anywhere better judging by reports.

 

PHOTO LINK

 

 

11/4/2012   Park Fell (again)

 

I didn't intend to go out, nice morning though it was, I felt it would soon overdevelop as the previous day had. When Toot messaged about Semer N, I got tempted and tooted over there. It was too windy at the Semer parking so I scrubbed that idea and headed back.  Approaching Ribblehead two gliders were flying over Park .... one went down and the other was doing OK. 

 

Walking up it felt spot on ... NW and just a nice windspeed. I laid out very low, sure it would be OK and it proved to be. A few beats and I was passing Dean and the school setting up a little higher.

 

It didn't take more than five minutes and I was climbing out in a good thermal. Reaching 4'300' and thinking, "Well this is easy" ... I set off downwind. The sky looked decent and I was pretty convinced the next climb would soon be connected with. It didn't happen.  Each cloud seemed to break up, or dissipate and heavy sink wound off the height fast. I still felt it was only a matter of time until something turned up. Eventually getting low over Helston Bridge something did start happening .... Phew! A get of jail low save.  It was rather broken and my initial optimism faded. Three or four turns and ....maybe I lost it (search though I did) .... maybe it was an isolated little burst of lift. Either way I was soon decked.

 

Before the snow showers arrived I got a welcome lift back to the car by a very nice couple. By this time the sky was starting to throw big snow showers and a few lonely figures could be seen on the Park Fell skyline.

 

Finished with a burger and coffee at the butty van .... very nice too.

 

Very few photos. I've decided to upgrade the camera as the quality seems to be fading. LINK

12/4/2012   Dodd Fell

 

The two Geoff's and I didn't  leave Ingleton until gone 11am. The first problem arose when a road closed sign appeared on the road over to Hawes. A look on the local fb page suggested various work-rounds - so we drove Oddies Lane to come out at Chapel le Dale. Only to find it coned and with a man in a van standing guard. I'm afraid to say we harranged him .... or rather his managers.  No signs on some roads, no information .... as others were also to find out. Shocking! He was a young lad .... he took it well. Someone had given him the dirty job for the day

 

So we back-tracked and drove over  via Horton.  It was now getting on for noon. Gliders appeared, lots and high over Dodd as we passed Newby Head. Geoff couldn't resist informing all the rest of our group who were becalmed on Clough Head ... the very top!  Arriving at Dodd it was very quiet ... they'd all buggered off.  It was light ... off to the north and rather scratchy. One 15 minute flight and I slope landed. For the next hour it was light and pretty useless ... I know, I tried. Each time a few beats saw me higher up the slope until eventually I was as high as you could be.

 

Then, now well gone 2pm ... it felt a little better so I took off .... scratcheda little then connected and climbed to 6300' I wended a very cold and lonely path down to Harrogate until I could suffer no more pain and no more high climbs. I'd also stupidly fogotten my glasses. Not only were my hands totally numb, the damaged finger from a week ago  (cut it on a bandsaw) was a mere numb appendage!  My eyes were suffering from the cold - so i shut them for long spells to ease the stinging. On glide it became ..... look, aim, close and count - I could get to almost a minute before taking a squint. VFR it wasn't. In the end I looked forward to getting low for a warm up .... and eventually the field I've landed in twice before. I thought about passing over Harrogate with Wetherby as next goal ... but does it have any public transport?

 

Getting back was all going so well until a fatality on the line west of Leeds reduced options to  buses, a short train ride from Shipley, a very expensive taxi and a begging message to my wife. My £17 train ticket to Settle had seemed very reasonable .... then the costs racked up!

 

Photo LINK

 

15/4/2021 Whernside

 

A gorgeous. if chilly day, that both disappointed (and frustrated) me.

 

I walked up to the north end .... thinking I may have the take off to myself. Not so .... it seemed to have become the main take off with many laid out.

 

As usual, it was light, then a thermal gust would hammer through. The clouds had yet to build overhead ... but good development was only 30 minutes away. I rigged, brief chat with Ges and others and was soon away and climbing. There seemed little trouble finding good climbs on the hill so I pushed increasingly forward towards Blea Moor ... and yet another came along - now going to over 5000'.  Park Fell and Ingleborough began to seem very attainable and the thought of the Three Peaks flashed through my mind. But .... only for a flash.

 

Drifting back towards the hill I linked in with Richard M and Pete L .... about as good a company as you could wish for. For the next thirty or forty minutes we drifted back over Gragareth and Barkin .... always high and with plenty of climbs. The clouds were now beginning to form nicely.  Over the back of Barkin, Pete and Richard headed NNE (the wind now had a more southerly drift at height). Being more fixed on Lambrigg (NW) and avoiding the Howgills I hung back and climbed a little more to almost 6000'. Slowly they disappeared into the distance, getting lower and finding no climb - whilst I procrastinated and tried to warm my hands.

 

I was in two minds .... then the advantages of being in company, and with two top pilots overcame my desire to go my own way - if a little late. I set off NNE too. I was high, confident, but the drift was slow and the sink relentless. Just plough on I guess.

 

Approaching the big E/SE faces of the Howgills I could see them soaring, or it seemed more like scratching. It  looked a difficult place and a struggle. Richard seemed to get a sort of climb when I was still 1k short; Pete was lower and not finding much. As I hit their bowl I thought I'd hit lucky ... a sort of climb. Small, ratty, hard to work and it didn't live up to expectations. Well, not for me, further south Pete seemed to have got better and I was back down to ridge height. Time for a gamble.

 

Ahead, a little way over the valley was a classic cloud. I headed out, and out ..... and out until underneath it. Nothing but a few weak blips. Gamble number two - the big south face of Yarlside. It was a sinky glide with height unwinding too fast.

 

I came in well under the height of the lower take off bump, feet out of the harness and preparing for a landing. Into wind (?) I took a few blips, turned and they continued - weak and light, but consistent. I gained a 100' - then a little more. Many turns later I had added 1100'.

All the time it was weak, odd broken surges of hope, then I'd lose it, find it. Even with height it didn't get organised (this is a thermal I've worked before and it's usually been a good consistent one - not this time). I was drifting towards Carlsgriff ... the wind, well there was none and the thermal had me stumped.  I pushed forward to no avail then headed more or less up the road to land by a good hitching place.

 

That was sooo nearly a very low get out of jail card. I really thought I'd pulled it out of the fire at the last moment. I recall finally being able to look over the Howgills and see the Lakes appear ... the relief - and then it was swallowed up by heavy sink. Very disappointing.

 

And Richard and Pete made it to Threlkeld. I'd love to have shared that flight.

 

Easy lift to Sedbergh. Loweswater Gold at the Dalesman with Richard B, Joseph, Sarah and Ges. First pint for ages, sat outside a pub in warm sunshine .... I suppose it could be worse.

 

A few photos   LINK

 

16/4/2021  The Magnet

 

It looks like there were better places to have gone ... but given the forecast it seemed a sound choice.

 

A warm, sunny walk up brought me to a windless take off just before noon. I was the only one there,  but Westie was due to arrive later - no doubt at the end of a long, convoluted 'fitness training' walk.  With little else to do and things not due to improve for some time I walked higher. Still no wind, but I laid out and sunbathed. The sky however did look OK at this stage. A few others arrived at the usual take off, but an hour or more later gliders had not left bags. I can sort of understand why.

 

Finally, about 2pm, Westie hove into view. We chatted and killed another hour or more. Occasional wafts came up the face, but we lost the sun and the windless conditions shaded things out until gone 3pm.  With patience running out we glided down and across to the main face. A little more wind appeared just making it scratchable and allowing us to at least test the air.  After 30 minutes of scratch and land we started to find some thermal coming through and now the real action started.  We climbed out, myself having the best of it as Westie, much lower, headed forward.  On reaching 4200' I believed that was it, a lone, late thermal and with nothing to stay for I headed off. 

 

Given it was windless at height I may as well have just played locally. The clouds lacked definition but they were working to a degree. Over Blea Moor another climb to 4700'. I headed off down towards Wensleydale , not sure why other than there seemed more sun there - the moors were very shaded out. I think I'd have been a lot better staying south of Newby Head .... Westie finally got up and topped at 6000'. It was a slow struggle to Hawes, not just the weak sky, but  an easterly headwind. Finally I landed in a light east wind.

 

Easy hitch back home in time for tea. Westie and I enjoyed a beer.

19/4/2021  Semer Water

 

A day best forgotten ... the highlight being the beers afterwards in Hawes.

 

It was very light, very blue and hard to decide whether it was a day  for a south or  southeasterly site. I kept options open as it was still before midday and awaited developments. Given the amount of east at this stage I went where most went - Semer. 

 

With the wind from every direction and it looking a bit uninspiring, I walked to the shoulder without my wing. It looked no better so back down to the car. I drove over to below the hill, just to turn and met and chatted with a Polish pilot. During this time a solitary wing took off and soon climbed quite high ... and found it easy to stay high. Encouraging. The next wing (Charles) went down!

 

Deciding to stay I walked up, past Dave Smart (who would go on to make 113k) and demonstrating that it was (at that moment) 90 degrees off the hill. Plenty of wings laid out on top .. but none inclined to launch.  Nick Pain launched, but no joy. Dave Smart launched and nearly was down but somehow got back onto the shoulder. Oddly, I never saw him again.

 

As a blow came on I launched and along with three others we climbed out, but in zero drift.  One continued over the back, the other two pulled forward. Thinking it a one thermal wonder I declined to go forward (bad move) ... and set off across the valley in pursuit of the higher first glider (not so good a move). Feeling confident the moors beyond Stags would work I pressed on ... not high and not finding anything. Stags approached ... not far below now and with options running out. A weak, bitty climb gave a short respite, but not a lot of height.

Getting a little too deep and too low into the (sensitive grouse moors) I pulled forward to land above the Stags cliffs. Well, that was short and not so sweet.

 

A walk down and chat with Chris, Tom, Liam, Kev and Tim and that was about it.  Stags just wasn't the place to be. Back to the glider, a slow fly-down to the cricket pitch and a long walk back to Semer and the car.

 

Not having an easy time of it at the moment ... but early days, it's only mid April.  On the plus side - I've shed 2kg of weight.

22/4/2021  Stags Fell

 

Very light winds, very blue (all day) but lots of pilots heading for Stags.

 

I rigged at the very west end .... all were at the far end. I just felt it would come round later. It did .... but only after I'd walked to the far end. Before my glider was out of the bag the first gaggle of eight were climbing out .... if very slowly. This was the A team, plus some southerner's discovering the north.

 

First flight ... took off in a waft, got up OK and dogged around at about 4000' over Humesett. Just made it back and landed above the car.

 

A short walk to take off (original one) and as it felt OK I took ... flew along and although meeting odd bits of lift ended up landing below the top. A 15 minute walk back up, another take off and this time as two gliders were floating around nicely in what looked like very bouyant air well out from the ridge ... I headed out. Nothing. This time I landed low in the pastures ... a long, hot, sweaty walk back up. As the two gliders were still floating happilly above this was the last throw and it was well past 3pm. At last ..... I stayed up then got higher ... and higher until I was on my own and heading out over the valley towards Widdale. 

 

For the next hour it was the best flying you could wish for. Light winds, plenty of strong thermal and base was now at 6000'. In fact at 5500' and feeling the chill I'd just move on. The only thing was .... everyone else had finished for the day so i had this late afternoon/evening all to myself. I can't say I began with a plan but the day decreed one - so  went for a modest FAI. Over the back of Mallerstang I met a westerly breeze, not strong, about 14kph but enough to convince me that I was heading into a sea breeze. So I turned tail.

 

Heading back I climbed high in a great thermal ... not sure how high it was going, but again I just felt a chill, and pushed on. In retrospect, a group with a plan (or me with a driver) could have done great things. I just couldn't face any landing except by the car. I was walked out!

 

I arrived over Hawes with lots of height to burn, still very bouyant and eventually put down by the car. All the cars had gone bar one .... and the occupants sauntered up for a chat. Pete L, Chris and Tam. Their day hadn't been so great - just how it goes in this game.

 

It turned out a lot better day than I expected.

 

PHOTO LINK

 

 

23/4/2021   Stags Fell

 

It looked like a re-run of the previous day .... very light winds, blue skies (no cu's) - but was 

subtly different. 

 

Tom very kindly picked me up and we drove over to Stags. Lots of pilots, plotting and scheming and well over the prescribed number's limit. However, conditions (what wind there was, well off to the east) meant the majority soon decamped for Semer Water. Soon just the contrarian half dozen of us remained .... waiting it out. 

 

It took some patience, an abundance of optimism and  several failed attempts before the 3pm thermal eventually arrived. We were off.  I'd just carried back to the top, well along the ridge and the train was leaving, just managing to make it to the final coach by my fingertips.

 

Kev had already led the pack and climbed out, Chris and I followed a respectfull distance below playing catch-up.  Drifting back over the moors we had a parting of the ways and I found myself feeling low over the moors and contemplating the potential walk-out.  But .... it was a good place to be thermal hunting so I was fairly confident.  Several decent, if elusive thermals later we re-grouped over the north end of Mallerstang.  Decision time.

 

There were several options, but radio comms (or lack of) didn't really allow much discussion.

I'd completed one leg of a triangle I had from the previous day. Do we head back along the very tempting Wild Boar ridge - go south. It was probably the best option given the terrain. Or head along the rising limestone ridge towards Tebay (go west) ... or do what just seems to happen when no decision is made - head onwards (go north). I headed onwards - despite knowing the green fields of the Eden valley would offer little this late in the day. I steered for woods as the only real hope. But the day was now pretty dead.

 

I managed a weak thermal over Appleby ... you never know. Sadly it didn't have the legs to provide more than a few hundred feet. Circling around over the station I saw a train arrive and leave - little knowing it was the last train for four hours!

 

Chris and I met up in Appleby for a few pints, whilst Kev courageously organised his wife, Gill to do the retrieve. Big thanks to Gill for coming all this way. Really appreciated.

 

Not a bad day out, great to fly in company for a change and more than we expected for a good part of the day.

 

PHOTO LINK

 

The photo's are too grainy ... it may be the settings have changed; or it may be time for a new camera. The S7J has served me well over many years.

 

 

26/4/2021  The Magnet

 

Chris and I opted for the Magnet, of all the options being mooted for the day it looked by far the best and the most obvious.

 

Walking up it seemed ideal, sunny, the wind light but on the hill .... the sky? Well, this was the last of the good days and it showed all the signs of deteriorating later. We walked to the top, back ridge ... it's only another, easy 15 minutes at most and the first cu's were only just appearing. The wind was on and Chris was soon away and high ..... I waited a little longer and then joined him. Meanwhile Dennis and Shed arrived on the lower take off. 

 

The rasp didn't extend beyond the Dales to the east so we loosely set a modest goal at Masham as the day didn't seem to promise much more. We'd be happy with that. There were climbs but they never seemed to push above 4000' ... or hold together enough to head over the back. Eventually, my desperation led me to dive for Blea Moor at a very low height and Chris followed my rashness thinking I knew something he didn't. I didn't! 

 

We landed out on the slopes of Blea Moor a short walk from the main track up Whernside. My own landing coincided with a very strong gust. Exciting!  The next hour consisted of packing, followedby a walk back up and around to the same point as our previous launch. Lots of walking today.

 

We launched again, mostly it was light, but generally soarable. Lots of little flights and landings followed until it became more consistently soarable.  My final lengthy flight allowed me to get from the very south to the very north of the Whernside ridge - despite the wind being WSW. A low scratchy return being just possible. I signalled to Chris I was now going to land and set off for the car. Chris followed his own route back to Ribblehead to catch the train.

 

Not the day we had hoped for but we had a few hours of varied flying, plenty of walking ... an adventure might best describe it.

25/4/2021  Wild Boar Fell

 

Now for something completely different.

 

We initially went for Swarth Fell, with adjacent Wild Boar available if the wind was more east than NE. Rasp indicated a convergence line into the South Lakes, that swung north from Coniston towards Keswick - a dogleg flight? That was the plan for the Rebel Alliance.

 

I got away late, which became later still as I forgot my phone and had to return home to collect. By the time I arrived in the Mallerstang Valley and set off on the long, steady walk up I was 40 minutes behind the others. A number of figures showed on the skyline above Swarth .... just standing, contemplating ... perhaps walkers as the wind was well off to the south.  Slowly they edged off towards Wild Boar following a high traverse. Meanwhile I cut the corner, dropped into Ais Gill before climbing onto Low White Scar. It seemed they had the same idea as we all converged on the take off same point within minutes of each other.

 

For the next hour or so we sat, chatted and waited for the gusts to mellow and the sky to start showing some cumulus development. We had a decent team. Aside from ourselves ... Chris, Kev, Shed, Marek and Liam we'd also picked up two Peaks pilots, Helen Gant (Grouse) and Matt Cook. Gone 3pm the plan changed, out went the dogleg and in came a straight goal flight to Coniston Old Man. The added incentive was, having left my wallet in the car I was money and cardless, that COM would most likely have cars heading back east - hopefully.

 

As  conditions improved we all took off and quickly found thermals ... strong,  but not especially rough beyond the normal aclimatisation process. Chris got high and left first and from that point I neither heard, nor saw him again. Next Kev and I reached 4000'+ and I set off for the Howgills. Kev turned back .. then five minutes later followed, but by then we'd lost contact and were playing our own game. Helen and Matt headed out into the valley and landed ... not sure why.

 

The Howgills can be a bit challenging if taken direct. The best cloud was right over the centre, but I opted for a slightly more northern route given I wasn't that high and I didn't fancy the terrain for landing out. It worked out well and I managed to get high, clear the Howgills and cross the M6 with the good ground clearance and excellent prospects ahead,  The convergence line was now fairly well defined and looked good for the next 20k at least. To the north mostly blue and likewise to the south, mostly blue. 

 

I passed well north of Kendal, took out time for some video and headed for Staveley.  The climbs kept coming, but the convergence line was dissipating until over Windermere it was mostly blue and the way ahead less promising. I pushed north into the hills and the last of the clouds until another climb turned up at just the right point to get me high and across Windermere. I cruised over the lake at 5000', a beautiful sight, more concerned that retrieve might be more problematic if I landed short of goal. Hence, and rather irrationally, I swung north until the realisation dawned that despite the blue it was actually very bouyant. A 90 degree turn and I went for the hills north of Coniston which now looked very attainable - plus the sight of gliders soaring. As I approached, two gliders passed me going the other way - the air here was really nice. A cruise, along the front ridge and a stumble into a great climb meant it was in the bag.  I climbed as high as necessary with a quandry. Do I climb higher?  I could go north to Keswick, south to Black Combe - or even continue to the coast.  Or .... I could be satisfied and land for an easy retrieve. Set against being stuck on the west Cumbrian coast it didn't take much thinking about.

 

It was so bouyant it took some getting down, but eventually I landed as the last few gliders were touching down and packing.  I had several offers of a lift, but Charles (heading back to York) kindly drove me all the way back to my car. A big thankyou to him .... and also for the beer I got bought in the Sun at Coniston and shared with all the other Dales pilots.

 

The perfect day out really.

 

PHOTO LINK

 

 

30/4/2021  Park Fell

 

Although flyable, at least  up until noon, I was in two minds until Tom posted he was off to Park to give it a crack.  I arrived last!  Chris Kay soon showed it was soarble on top, if a little scratchy. Tam soon followed as Tom completed the final part of the walk up.

 

Being more lazy and last, I launched, after a brief conversation with a couple decending and on their way to Whernside, from just below the top.  It was nicely soarable, smooth, with the odd thermal ... or cloud suck passing through. The main concern was the high instability and how quickly it could develop.

 

A spell of flying for all, some top landings, quite pleasant until we all decided to go down and land - probably a bit prematurely with hindsight. Actually the day cleared out (after the odd light shower) from about 4pm.

 

A pleasant Friday morning and some excercise thrown in for good measure.

 

I didn't take my camera ... so just a quickie with my xctrack phone.

 

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© Ed Cleasby