2/4/2022 Swarth Fell
It was a pretty cold day, although not excessively so once warmed up. The rasp for the Dales was very good which tempted us out - in the end it filled in, showers developed and finally the wind increased which made for interesting landings.
I arrived as Andy and Tom H took off .... Andy stayed up, then got high and finally across onto Wild Boar. Later it would back to NE and the thermals stopped coming through. John H, Mark and I had several flights interspersed with some warm-up sessions. Finally, having had enough I set off to fly down and land by the car. This proved difficult. The valley bottom had the wind across it, was turbulent and given the increased wind I decided to land higher on the moor. Later with lots of big earing John and Mark followed suit.
We then went to the excellent Moorcock for a debrief.
Photo link (not many it was awkward filming today).
3/4/2022 Three Men
A better looking day than forecast and certainly am improvement on the previous day. Few seemed inclined to be out so I was on my own.
I arrived to find a light westerly at the foot of 3Men, just about the perfect direction. More wind as a carried up so I opted to launch below the top step. Easy soaring, but still early (about 10.30) ... and the thermals still had to get going. When they did the air got more bouncy and the wind increased .... after 30 mins I opted to land. I rather wished I hadn't.
My new telegram site/area app showed a wing on JB .... and at a decent height. The FLARM id indicated it was Dean. As I packed I saw him (on screen) set off along the back of Barkin, heading north. I owed him a lift, so once packed I set off after him.
About 6k north he turned and headed back to JB eventually landing by his van, Johnny Ditchfield had just landed minutes earlier. By general consent it was a bit roughy, becoming too windy to be fun .... although still quite light in the valley.
Above: Lovely day on Windbank
Having missed 'Big Sunday' I was keen to be out, although the day didn't seem to be that special. Tim O, Tom H and I pulled into the bottom field as the first gliders were taking off and the hill just starting to work. Perfect timing.
We arrived on a busy take off to find ideal conditions .... not often you can say that ... warm, a nice breezy and cumulus starting to fill the sky. The only thing to wish for was a higher base. I had a rather convoluted plan to try and avoid a protracted retrieve (Tom had to be away by 3.45pm latest). The idea was Windbank to Nappa, west to Stags (Cotterside if possible) and then either back down Wensleydale towards Leyburn (bus) or (long shot) back via Brantside. I thought the lowish base would preclude getting back however.
I barely soared the ridge and shortly after taking off was climbing towards base, just touching cloud at 3,400' asl. The cloud distribution looked decent enough and I headed across to Buckden where a lone glider (Rook2) was searching, before beginning a very slow climb. Buckden was working after a fashion, slow, weak, with odd better surges in parts but at least going up. A glider came across (Dean) .... probably decided there was better elsewhere and headed upwind. I didn't know at the time he was on his usual 'trip' and heading back to Windbank. The Rook 2 was milling around close by, always a 100' higher and I'm not sure where he went once I'd had enough of going nowhere fast.
I now took a bit of a risk by crossing over to the north side of Bishopdale ... mainly tempted by a single decent cloud down the valley that I would struggle to reach. I got very low on the valley side (well below my take off height) and just above the tree line when I ran into some rough surges .... very broken, but maybe I'd just made influence of the cloud overhead. It was rough at first, broken, but eventually I thought I've actually got out of jail as I climbed 800' and was looking over the moors into Wensleydale. Nappa was this climb away if I could stick with it and it seemed OK.
Never relax and think you've cracked it.
Then .... I lost it. Not sure why. Maybe relaxing and starting to think ahead on auto. Maybe I just fell out of the side .... whatever, I soon found myself sinking quickly back into Bishopdale.
So ... a good plan spoilt by a moment of error. I'd like to try that last thermal again please.
Hitching was a bit tricky having lost my sign. Finally, I managed to meet a super, young guy who took me right back to the car ... even driving into the field.
Not a great looking day with 8/8 cloud cover and the wind forecast to strengthen.
As I walked up the few gliders in the air landed as the wind went from light to very light.
By the time I reached the far end and laid out it was getting towards too windy! I video'd a few take off's and then launched. It was OK .... lifty, reasonably smooth initially before becoming inceasingly unpleasant and bumpy as a few patches of sun came out and roughened up the air.
On days like this I ask myself am I enjoying or enduring .... if it's more the latter I land if it looks like more of the same. Landing was actually very smooth and easy .... and the winds much lighter. Maybe enduring a bit longer would have paid off.
Not much to say. Just one of those days.
A very short bit of video LINK
It rather illustrates the day.
18/4/2022 Three Men
It appeared to be a rather excellent day 'down south', meanwhile we had to wait for the wind to abate - and that took late into the afternoon.
Most went to Brigsteer, but Tom S and I elected to go to Three Men, which we had all to ourselves. I took off around 6pm and didn't expect more than a float about - in fact it was becoming rather light so I thought I may have missed it. Despite the modest wind .... the ridge lift was adequate, but it was the decent thermals that made it especially good. In fact they had some strength to them and as they slid up the gentle slopes to the top of Gragareth seemed increasingly organised and solid. I was half tempted to follow them across to the Magnet - it was quite possible but rather late in the day. The good climbs continued until gone 7pm - perhaps restitution from the moors in front ... something we've experienced before.
A lovely evening and very pleasant to be out.
26/4/2022 Park Fell.
Nice to be out after a spell of inaction, mostly due to windy easterlies. Down south may have had a succession of 100k days - not so in the north.
I took an early drive up to Ribblehead and judged it top end and a bit gusty. Met up with Tim and Geoff for coffee at Country Harvest and passed the time in idle chatter. The sky however looked good and as Geoff departed for child duties, Tim and I decided a second trip to Ribblehead was worth it. A gilder (Polly) took off and flew down as we walked up, if anything it was more on the light side. Well, it was at that time but the day had the disconcerting trait of spells light to 20+mph. The thermals could be testing!
I opted to take off from halfway up in a bit of breeze .... and it worked until level with the top when it again switched off and required a slope landing. This on/off occured several times until it really picked up - again from very little to strong and staying strong. Finally, the wind became a bit more NE (from N) and in a lull I was away and going up nicely. There were quite strong climbs, quite a lot of drift and some roughness to manage. I never really considered going downwind - a pity as John Hamlett did and it was probably the way to go. Heading out front, with John behind I never actually saw what he was up to. The lift out front was quite good - a decent line at least and soon (but slowly) I edged out over the moors in front hoping they would deliver. My half plan now became 7k out, turn east or west(?) and try for a small triangle. It wasn't that really sort of day, I wasn't especially high, but I kept going without too much height loss - sadly no thermals. Eventually, I turned and headed back and landed at Ribblehead.
John made it to the moors above Hornby, (about 25k) Tim got stuck high in a gale and had to walk down from Little Ingleborough.
An interesting day.
Below: Looking back at Ingleborough from near John's landing.
27/4/2022 Park Fell
Yet another trip up Park in very similar conditions to the previous day. Spells of light wind and slope landings - then strong. Not too bad in the air, but broken, disorganised thermals. Tim R and Steve present and we all had spells of flying. Can't say it was especially pleasant.
By 12.30pm Jacob and I had laid out high on Barkin with only a light wind and under 8/8 cloud. It didn't look promising and nothing like the RASP forecast. Within 15 minutes we were joined by Tom H and Kat.
It's useful having an eager youth like Jacob. He showed it to be quite bouyant, but had to slope land. Mission accomplished - for now. 10 minutes later he tried again, was soon on the main ridge, then high above it - thermals!
I followed, with Tom and Kat about 20 minutes after me. Despite full cloud cover the thermals were actually quite good ... especially towards the south end. Would the cloud thin and break? It showed every sign of trying for an hour but never managed, although small patches of sun did appear around Bullpot. Still, for a good hour the flying was excellent .... forget ridge lift, just pure thermal flying and climbs to 3600'/4000'. At times broken and others times strong and consistent. We pushed out towards Crag Hill/Great Coum ... Jacob leading. At first it was fine, but near Crag Hill the climbs weakened and became harder to find. Jacob pushed doggedly on, getting lower until eventually sinking ever lower into Dentdale where Gawthrop claimed him. Good try. I turned tail and was soon back on the main ridge. Later Tom managed a pushed towards Rise Hill, but couldn't make it and Dentdale claimed its second victim.
After completing a small FAI (about 13k) I passed south over launch to see Tim O and Andy laid out. By now it was becoming more scratchy, the thermals were dying and staying up meant working. Kat, after one low save (I saw) got up again. She is one excellent pilot.
After over 2hrs I decided to call it a day, thaw out and land. Andy and Tim managed some soaring and landed as I was about to leave.
Barkin was a good call by Jacob as it seemed as good as anywhere. An unpromising start turned into a very pleasant ... and quite rare, light wind thermalling session.
29/4/2022 Swarth/Wild Boar
This was a very special day.
For once RASP had it correct ....maybe even understated some aspects, but essentially spot on. Four of us (Kev, Chris, Tam and myself) decided that amongst the options available the Swarth/Wild Boar ridge was the most accessible, flexible and a proven thermal site.
The walk in was warm, the wind light as the first small cu's appeared in an otherwise blue sky. Take off on Swarth had thermal gusts, but little meteo wind and slightly off to the east ... it could be tricky. And so it proved. We just managed to squeak across the long gap onto Wild Boar ... or rather the slopes and rocky steps below the top ridgeline. Getting up was initially a nervy, scratchy, boisterous affair, but once above the top ridge things improved.
The first big climb arrived quickly, strong and solid. Chris and I climbed to base (5,300') and settled for drifting (slowly) along towards the Howgills .... nipping in and out of the clouds. Kev would follow behind 15 minutes later, playing catch-up until into the central Lakes. We had a plan of sorts, but really the obvious line of clouds dictated that we follow them. To the north was blue, and similar to the south. The first 20k was fairly easy, just a case of staying high and moving on to the next darker bit. Passing over the Howgills, gilders were laid out on Great Dummacks with a few climbing out OK and the odd one (a Zeno) downwind beyond the M6.
Things required a little more thought crossing the valleys to the north of Kendal, we never got really low but losing a few thousand feet over the high ground felt more testing. However, the climbs arrived just when needed and passing high just south of Ambleside the sound of fast jets intruded on the beeps from the vario. Next step the Langdales.
Ideally we'd wanted to be slightly more to the north but found ourselves scrabbling for height entering Elterwater. It all became a bit more fraught and taking a few chances came into play. I took the left side, banking on Lingmoor, Chris more the right. I managed a climb, nothing that convincing but enough to allow a long glide to Pavey Ark/Harrision Stickle. I arrived level with the top and sunk down the craggy faces in lively air. Meanwhile Chris was scrabbling lower over the flat ground above White Ghyll ... on balance I preferred my situation. A few beats, surges, kicks and bruises and I soon found a solid, strong climb that got me back high and into relax and film mode. The Scafells, Gable, Great End looked stunning as the sea breeze banked onto them producing lower level orographic ... the view couldn't be beaten.
I spotted two glider about 2k to the east .... Kev turned out to be one, the other I'm not sure; it looked a bit OXA3 ish from the washed out colours. Kev had caught up and now proceeded to cut the corner into Watendlath. From being high he suddenly looked low ...I headed in the same direction, sinking and hoping. It was at times that sort of day .... big highs, little drift and suddenly the need for another climb whilst not having covered a great deal of distance. Again, on cue, a strong climb appeared and I pushed out and up Derwentwater towards Keswick.
Once over Keswick the air was especially lifty ... not at all rough, everything seemed to be going up. From on high it struck me that Keswick sat at the confluence point of several airflows .... in other words a large convergence area. Climbing to over 6000' the coast seemed doable, although the last of the clouds was now in sight. A final climb and I set off.
Ground speed now became 'interesting' for a period, my ground speed was between 60 -70kph (from the east). Some distance ahead the windfarms showed a distinct SW. My thoughts were that this was due to the meteo winds being drawn into the rear of the seabreeze at height. Sinking back through 5000' and then 4000' the speed slowly dropped into the low 40's, then 30's. I was dropping into the sea breeze and the trackline became more crosswind to maximise the final 2500'
From feeling this was a very solitary flying experience I soon got a pleasant surprise. Whilst hand's off and concentrating on hooking up my extra powerbank, I slowly turned 180 degrees, only to see a red glider at my height about 80m away and heading towards me before shooting past. Wow! Kev had unexpectedly joined me for the final run in. What a great way to end a really special flight. For the final 10k we shared a long smooth glide to the coast. Landing was fine, but windy, a typical coastal bouncy sea breeze.
Retrieve could have been a bit of an arse, but after a two mile walk onto a main bus route we sampled the delights of Workington, Cockermouth, Keswick, Ambleside etc .... all the way back to Kendal. Actually the bus service was really good all the way through. We even enjoyed the front of the top deck just about all the way on a stunning sight-seeing evening. The only fly in the oitment was the Moorcock had stopped drinks at 10pm. We were 15 minutes too late.
A very special flight, in super conditions and great to finish it side by side with a mate. We were quite made up .... even though Kev can be a bit droll about such things.