1/5/2021 Park Fell
Another day, another try.
A good turn out, but the wind remained obstinately on the very nose of the hill, inconveniently due north. Many small hops, a few resutling in a couple of turns to 150 feet above the hill, but no real lift-off into a potentially showery sky.
Eventually, we sacrificed the most impatient (myself being one), to the bottom of the hill. At this point perhaps the only thermal of the day arrived and carried a lucky few to about 4,300'
Other than that brief bit of excitement nothing of note to report.
Photo (below): Very much a waiting game ... with the occasional hopeful hop.
5/5/2021 Three Men
I arrived at the Three Men parking to find it deserted. It was one of those days - good looking sky, but the air had an angry, disturbed feel and you know it could all go so wrong, very quickly. It was also very chilly!
Despite the poor omens it didn't (rationally) have anything to stop me at least having a walk up. It didn't feel too bad. The wind was square onto the hill, it didn't seem strong aside from odd gusts ... in fact flyable.
I laid out and was about ready when John H and Geoff C turned up. A straightforward take off and given the wind, not really any beats to do - just push out. The best clouds seemed well out front and given the wind it seemed the best place to be. A few false starts until after 20 minutes a proper climb came through and I was away. Actually, quite a nice climb - strong, smooth and with surprisingly little drift. I wanted to avoid the hills, given the wind and cloud development in that direction so it became a slow cross-wind push towards Ingleton.
I didn't have any great height, but the clouds were so dark and beefy I was sure they would work - maybe too well. Past Ingleton I hit very strong lift with no easy escape route except crosswind. I pushed south, for a small patch of blue - climbing all the while until at 3500' asl it released its grip. Shortly after the hail started, nothing much at first until it started to fill parts of the harness. Things changed from being an xc stay up day to how to get down. The wind seem to have picked up too given I was touching 70kph at times - and that wasn't directly downwind! OK ... time to go for a big field and terra firma. Overhead a sailplane cruised past ... probably oblivious to the wind.
I found a nice empty field near the main road past Clapham and although it took spirals, super big ears much seeking out of sinking air I touched down OK - almost with a momentary back wind and a sense of relief.
A quick pack and back for the car. Great sky to the south, but to the north over the Dales it still looked pretty angry. I flew for about an hour, but it was more endure than enjoy so not to my liking especially.
Photo below: Passing a snow capped Ingleborough - in May!
6/5/2012 Three Men
Tom had arrived early and was already flying by the time I set off up the hill. At this point the wind, the sky - everything seemed ideal. Unfortunately it would, as in previous days, go downhill - fast. It was very unstable! By the time I was ready for take off the sky upwind had filled in, showers were approaching the Lune and cloudbase was lowering.
A little later Tom landed and after a brief 15 minutes I did likewise. It was pleasant enough but was soon to overdevelop and the showers crept ever closer.
Not exactly May weather, very chilly and very unstable.
A SHORT CLIP of Tom flying .... if you think the sky looks good, give it 20 minutes.
7/5/2021 Three Men
Tom and I tried for both ends of the day, with storms quickly building, before fading away into the late afternoon.
Morning: Arrived early (9.30am) ... the clouds were already building and despite only a very light breeze it seemed possible to squeeze in a short flight. Although the sky out front cleared a little the wind remained light. One short scratchy flight, a slope landing, followed by a flight to the bottom before the first shower arrived. Later, into the afternoon, they would get heavier with quite dramatic precipitation effects.
Evening: The sky had cleared by 4pm but the wind was still fresh. I arrived about 5.45pm and although barely a cloud in the sky it was a still a tadge breezy ... but not blown out. I took off on a nice grassy patch about half way up after waiting for a slight lull. Despite the wind it was easy enough to get well forward and into was some nice lift coming off the moors out front - enough to give 1100'ato. Not long after, Tom arrived, walked to the same point and wisely waited for the wind to ease a little more. Soon he was airborne too.
We flew until the wind eased further and it became a lovely late evening soaring experience. Just at the tail end John H arrived (only realised he was on the hill as I walked back to my car later). By now the wind had dropped to fairly light/nil wind at the cars. John enjoyed a short session and then joined me at the cars.
So, despite the unstable weather, we made something of the day.
A few photos from the evening session. LINK
12/5/2021 Three Men
Another showery, unstable day that led into a beautiful evening with some unexpectedly lovely flying.
Being unable to get away until 5.45pm I felt I was too late, but it seemed worth at least getting out with it being such a pleasant, summery evening. The wind seemed on the light side, but maybe worth a walk up. I arrived on take off at 6.20pm, pretty late, to find it still light, but on the hill and perhaps offering a short scratchy flight if nothing else. A modest gust and I took off and for the first few beats it was as expected, but I could maintain to just above take off height. Earlier there had actually been some nice clouds, I suspected I was perhaps an hour too late, yet a few clouds remained, if sparse, thin and rather anaemic.
Within 10 minutes the first half thermal came through, hoisting me to a few hundred feet over take off. I tried a few 360's, but each time there was no back-end to the lift. Then the climbs became stronger, more regular and better formed allowing multiple 's full turns that kept hold of the climb ... each climb took me higher, nothing stratospheric, but just a joy to work. The wind was light, the climbs smooth, the sun warm and the moors out front appeared to be offering evening restitution. In fact .... ideal, relaxed paragliding conditions.
After 45 mins I was back scratching below take off - which worked surprisingly well up to the hour mark. Finally, happy to have taken a punt that worked out I landed in almost nil wind.
Arriving that extra hour sooner would have been ideal - still, a lovely, captured hour within an unstable period of weather.
I left home just after 5pm for an opportuntist evening hike n fly - the wind being very light and the evening pleasantly warm. An hour and 1000' later I arrived on the very top 15 minutes behind Geoff C. The wind was on, but still very light - a few hundred metres to our left another glider was laid out and waiting (Dean as it turned out later).
We'd pretty much decided it was a protracted flight down and Geoff duly launched, with me following within 5 minutes. Geoff was actually doing OK ... gentle thermalling well off the end of the main ridge and maintaining. It was quite bouyant, although I found next to nothing to consider turning in. We both then headed out towards the lower escarpment which, being lower, I just squeaked over with 30' to spare. Then it was head south for the cars.
At this point it became evident - although almost 800' under take off height, that the escarpment was soarable. So .... we enjoyed some soaring, quite spectacular, rather unexpected, but we'd take it - eventually landing back by the cars.
A quick drive up the road, short chat with Dean and back home - a nice way to spend a few hours at the end of the day.
22/5/2021 Dodd Fell
The morning had been quite promising, but by the time I decided to take an opportunist drive over to Dodd the sky had filled in and there was the possibility of showers. I arrived just as Chris Baird was leaving, he'd had 45 minutes and the light showers were now making themselves felt. I thought it possible to grab a little airtime before the worse came along and set off for the take off.
Aside from the rather dark sky and the distant shower bands it felt very pleasant with a light breeze square onto the hill. I was soon away to find it smooth, bouyant and really rather nice. Which would have been ideal had the first light shower not arrived on the far end of the hill, so - back to the cars and a landing. No rain here, Wuss! OK another try. I walked the wing to the front, still on the light side but easily soarable. Same result only a different landing place. By this time a another pilot had arrived showing all the signs of doubt and hesitancy ... and probably not helped by me constantly landing.
I landed in the top walled area and we chatted - a 6hr pilot, one of Dean's ex students (sorry I didn't get your name). Aside from the odd rain shower it was nice enough for him to give it a go ... and he did. Excellent take off ... short soaring flight as I filmed alongside until. Yep, another hint of shower. Not wishing to push it we landed by the cars and called it a day.
The very odd photo LINK
27/5/2021 Murton Pike
It's some time since I last flew Murton but the 25k of ridge is a rare temptation. I did the necessaries with a phone call and all the details and contact name and number and set off. Glen and Richard were aiming to be there too.
I arrived to see them walking up. The wind was light so it seemed it had to be to near the top. I took the main gravel road for a change .... longer, but an easy walk, before cutting across onto the main face. Shortly after we met up and waited for the shade out to pass and did a final check with Warcop before launching.
We climbed out easily until it switched off and put us back on the hill ... a short wait and this time it did the business and we were soon approaching base. I set off up the ridge, Glen slightly lower and behind ... unsure if the climbs were there, but the clouds seemed reasonable. Given the light and switching wind I didn't really want to get stuck trying to scratch the front ridge line. However, the climbs kept coming and by the time I approached High Cap I'd covered 11k, got past some awkward sections and had made base again. I admit to a paranioa about going down along the middle section .... it's basically an H&F back as the narrow roads are a nightmare of walking. Still I was now at base and the last 12k looked OK and is the easier stretch (I had a O&R to Hartside plugged in). The problem would be getting back as it seemed SSW so that meant a slight headwind.
So ...I did what I tend to do to avoid retrieve hassle, convinced myself I'd hit the Eden convergence, ditched the task and went for a triangle. It didn't work so I set off back ... slowly and finding not a single thermal, where the out leg had produced four. Lower and lower until I found myself scraping along the lower edges, then below. It was hard to know where the wind actually was and pushing around onto a face that might work resulted in sink and a landing just below the fell wall.
I was cursing. The wall was high, no gates and no way to get over and climb the limestone edge above. I was half out of the harness and resigned to packing when it struck me that there was a decent breeze, it was on and I was actually above a good slope of grassy heather. It just may be possible to simply relaunch and fly .... fly over the wall and onto the upper slopes. Worth a try.
It worked a treat, a few beats and I was soon high and heading south in increasingly good air. By the time I was ready to make the crossing to Murton a good, strong thermal appeared and made it really easy. I cruised back towards take off with height and an eventual landing in quite different air to what I'd left in.
Not sure if it was a missed opportunity .... given a willing driver I would have carried on heading north, it looked good, I had good height and the north end is bigger and works better. I've reached a point where the retrieve situation is dominating my flying decisions. Landing below the wall was just bad luck I think ... minutes later the wind would have been on again - I just caught it as it pulled across the slope. It was a better day than I gave it credit for - I lost Glen to the dreaded Dufton Pike otherwise we would have continued I think.
We met up later for a group pint in Dufton ... excellent beer :)
A few stills LINK
30/5/2021 Semer Water
It wasn't the day many had hoped for - or RASP had promised.
I arrived to see about thirty pilots on the shoulder and yet more in the air. A good turn out ... and many very good pilots chomping at the bit. Conditions left a lot to be desired ... breezy on the hill although never a problem for most .... more troublesome was being off to the east and a very blue sky overhead. All the cumulus was a long way to the west and stayed there with no hint overhead.
However - I launched in hope, it was still early and there were lots of thermal markers. The first flight lasted a mere 16 minutes before being tempted by circling wings at the south end. Trying to get back I found myself forced to slope land with the wind across the slope at this point. A five minutes walk to the top to discover it was windy, gusty and not feeling that pleasant. It did seem OK in the air, but nothing to suggest it was other than more of the same, with a tricky launch to boot.
A long spell of sun bathing as small gaggles climbed out very slowly, not very high and a few committed. Eventually (too late) ....I moved from my rotory ledge to a place 50m further along the top. This felt a lot better, with cleaner air and an easy launch. If only I'd thought to do it sooner. What followed was almost 2hrs of unspectacular soaring ... wind still off and just the odd meagre thermal to 800' ato at best. And that as they say was that ... a disappointing day.
Most that left the hill had a single thermal drag out to near Cotterdale and the Moorcock, but Richard Meek took a curved path as the wind turned more southerly further west and he appeared to find better air and climbs - eventually landing near Penrith. Even better was Pete Logan's line slightly further south before turning north more into the eastern fells and an eventually landing near Calebrack (just north of Carrock Fell).
And so endeth a disappointing May.
A few photos LINK