1/8/2022 Three Men
After an early abortive trip that ended up at Stags (too windy!), I found myself with Chris, Kev and Tom at Three Men carpark. On arrival I thought 50/50. The wind had too much south although the strength seemed OK. A walk up was deemed necessary to satisfy ourselves.
Once up on the hill the wind didn't seem too bad. We all had a spell of soaring with the occasional thermal that didn't go very high .... it could have got better, but didn't, instead the wind went increasingly south and strengthened. Conditions became more difficult and gnarly so we all headed down to land by the cars. 'Paddleboard' Geoff arrived .... late as usual.
Coffee and food at the Falls cafe completed the day .... Geoff providing a punishing commentary of outbound flights from Parlick.
Just a few photos LINK
It was too windy all day, but as the breeze started to drop it looked like Brigsteer was the best bet - and I had'nt flown there for a while.
It was excellent on take off, no bouncing down the field, just off and straight up - smooth and bouyant. With the wind having a bit of west in it I decided to drop back and head along the main scar to the far end. The lift was good, but the odd bits of thermal had died away by this time althought the ridge lift was fine. Getting back forward onto the front scar was the problem, but on the second attempt I scraped around below the top. Quite a fraught moment or two as the trees spread out below and escape routes were doubtful.
Danny had just arrived, laid out, and within fve minutes was able to join me. We had a lovely hour exploring down towards Levens and finding the usual bouyant air over the woods. We landed about 8pm and whilst it doesn't beat 200k out of the Peaks it saved on retrieve.
Six of us met up in Ingleton for a coffee and natter about the options, eventually setlling on Dodd, with a few checks on the way. Expecting lots to be there we were surprised to see only Carl. Any reason the majority chose Wether? We walked to the front to find perfect conditions and soon everyone was airborne. I hardly recall a single beat before we were climbing out and searching for the getaway thermal.
Chris and I reached base together (3800' ish) .... not high, but it seemed worth going with. We'd set a goal for Pickering, but given the drift and strength at height it was always going to be too far south. The first glide saw us have very different fortunes. Despite being only slightly different Chris lost less height and found the next thermal quickly - I got low over brown moors but eventually seemed to get the tail end. Whilst climbing, I saw Kev scoot low into the head of Semer and eventually land. To my south Marek and Richard were OK but hardly zooming up. Marek did come across to join me, but then carried on.
I've never had to use the vague edge above the Billinside Moor, all the lower slopes being part of the plantation. Now was the time to see if it would work. I came in just above the trees, but below the top. It was quite rough, strong and off to the south .... hardly a pleasant combination, but I was getting desperate. I slowly edged south for 500m until more promising air arrived and eventually a good thermal straight to base. Phew! I was glad to be out of there.
Above: Back to base from the left end of the plantation.
Once high I passed over Bishopdale, then into Coverdale. Some clouds worked, others looked OK but didn't - it became one of those days where you lost height quickly. Despite that I managed to keep going OK until approaching Penhill. Company would have helped a lot, but unknown to me Chris was already way ahead. I managed a weak climb that never really got going ... odd moments where a nice surge came and I thought I was away ... followed by some weak searching. I gained about a 1000'. The Vale of York beckoned and a tempting cloud lured me downwind - it just had to provide that one good climb to base and I was hopeful it would. But it didn't! Rather than head into difficult retrieve territory I stayed more north.
Soon I was landing by Pinkie tarn, just outside Middleham. The one consolation being it was a stunning place with neatly mown grass to pack away on. I'd no sooner finished, than three more gliders (Geoff, Gary and John H) arrived at the same place. They would prove instrumental in getting a fast minibus that eventually got six of us back into Hawes for £5 each.
Not the flight I'd hoped for, although Chris after a few very low scrabbles in the VoY - one around the Bedale airspace and managed to get almost to the coast. Later, much later that evening, I collected Chris from Skipton and we headed back to a dark Dodd. A late night finish.
9/8/2022 Wether Fell
A day I'd rather forget and where I sweated pints!
Chris and I found ourselves on Wether. This site choice was based purely on RASP .... but which was probably the one place NOT to be. The wind was light and all over the place but if anything mostly a northerly. The result was we walked all the way to the far end ( a long way under a broiling sun) .... then found ourselves too far back on a shallow slope and had to walk/hop/fall over and surmount a fence to get back to the front.
Once on the front it was equally - off to the north. So more hot waiting, sitting, sweating. Eventually, some wind blew up the hill and we took off - and straight into a thermal. it wasn't bad and seemed to be heading towards a lone raggy cloud above. I think I gained about 1500' and was thinking - well, I didn't expect this 10 minutes ago.
I'd managed to climb a bit higher than Chris as he set off across the valley, I wasn't quite sure why, although we had a turnpoint over Baugh Fell. I followed. This was a bit of a wild throw of the dice. Totally blue ..... no clouds, maybe a hint of one building way our front. Chris landed in a pasture behind Dodd .... with more height I managed to try to work something that eventually became nothing. Mindful of the car being at the roadhead to Wether I headed back and landed in a field by the road up.
It should (I thought), have been a fairly easy walk up the road. It was a killer and at the mid point I dumped my sack behind a wall. It was so hot, uphill all the way for a mile, and seemed to go on and on. My only relief was counting fence post shadows. But I made it.
I had a last message from Chris He was at the top end of Snaizeholme .... but once down in the valley it's pretty signaless. I drove up Snaizeholme, then the dirt road at the end .... trying to go as far as possible. That didn't end well for my front trim. But he was already back in Hawes.
Not an easy or fruitful day.
Hotter than the day before ..... so too hot!
I took an early morning drive up to the top of Kingsdale (chatted with the heli- lifters who told me the previous day had been good on the Magnet for paragliders .... not sure I wanted to know that). There was a guy there about to walk up and it felt like it should be soarable. Despite having my wing I declined in favour of reading the papers and a coffee. One has to remain civilised about these things.
Later, 12pm, I set off up Ingleborough .... actually at quite a pace and was ready on take off above the bowl an hour later. It felt fine .... fairly fresh at times, but not the nil wind of the valley. Something thermic must be gusting through regularly.
I had about 45 minutes, mostly thermals ... often broken and rough at times. Typical high pressure, hot weather thermals that aren't much fun. With my time up I headed down and landed.
Two cars loads of us arrived on take off to find a light breeze on the hill, wall to wall blue sky and lots of pilots sat and procrastinating. A few occasionally tried to soar but their scratching soon ended in a landing back at take off. An hour earlier a good sized gaggle had got away high ... the A team setting off on their big triangle. Now it was the turn of the B team.
A spell of sitting in hot sun, waiting for something to happen and ready when that special thermal came through. At this stage I wasn't too optimistic and plugged in a 35k FAI triangle. In retrospect the day held so much more, but at this stage just staying up would feel like success. 35K was a bad number - I'd figured on a 1.6 deduction, not 2.4 ... so it would eventually push my score down an important notch.
Finally, a thermal arrived and a group of us were off and straight into it - it proved a good one. Although it was going higher I still hadn't tagged my start cylinder so headed back south to the plantation. En route xctrack decided it was frozen on the thermalling screen - Sod's Law. A quick reboot thankfully sorted it and shortly after the ping of task started chimed out.
I headed back up the ridge stumbling into a nice climb to over 5'500 - never gone up the ridgeline with so little fuss. Up to now there had been a few gliders to thermal with - from this point I never saw another - except as specs in the distance. Eventually I needed to cross over the valley above Yockenthawite .... easily achieved as 6000' was showing. Pushing on ... and getting lower, I aimed for the hill behind Wether and my turnpoint. Odd climbs arrived, nothing hoofing, but enough to stay comfortably high. Cylinder tagged I turned back for Buckden Pike along south faces that I expected to work well.
The next turnpoint was a little way over the back of Buckden , enough to make it uncomfortable without height. Again a decent climb arrived and the drift helped, although it tended to push me off to the side. Once that was tagged it was back forward and onto towards Great Whernside.
I'd been over Great Whernside (from Windbank) a couple of times recently and that helped in knowing where the climbs might be. I was getting ever lower, well below the top. Despite losing height I managed to get onto a small edge above the hostel. It behaved pretty much as the previous time. The first thermal was weak but I stuck with it for a while. Just to the south is a shallow, scree covered edge ... so do what you did last time - back forward. This too worked a treat. Once back at 4500' I knew I had the glide to get back ... I didn't continue the climb as the thought of goal and a beer were too tempting. I pinged into goal with 1000' spare.
In retrospect the day held so much more ... but, Hey! ... I enjoyed myself and I stuck to a plan I'd deviated from twice before
12/8/2022 Semer Water
Rasp had it excellent around Hawes with convergence running north, further to the west. We didn't imagine the disappointment the day would bring. We arrived expecting masses of pilots and difficult parking ... only a single van; that should have told us something. However, the wind was on the hill and messages from elsewhere spoke of poor conditions. We stayed.
Eventually, there were about six of us. Thermals were rare, never giving us more than a few hundred feet ... with odd landings, later the soaring improved - but xc-able it wasn't. Pete Morris found to find a way and managed just to make the Widdale ridge. Meanwhile, just a mere 10 miles to the west they were being hoovered to 7000' in convergence. Such a contrast. We never saw a cloud near us, but did see the convergence - way out of reach.
PHOTOS (Many are not mine, but permission of Kai and Denise)
14/8/2022 Semer Water/ Stags
I arrived on site during the early afternoon, not terribly hopeful as it looked similar to the two days previous. It was certainly flyable as a lot of airborne gliders showed, but none were gaining much height. I set up on the shoulder and was soon off. The day did look and feel similar to before ... but after only 15 minutes the air started to change and a decent thermal came through. Would this quickly die at 500' like the rest?
This climb got at least bigger, if not stronger and attracted a nice gaggle of five gliders - Rob (Leopard), Smarty (Zeno 2) and the rest of us being Pete, Charles and myself. This took us to just over 4000' with very little drift. Smarty and Rob probably had a plan and stuck together, the rest of us did our own thing - and the plan won.
I headed over towards Stags, unsure what was unfolding behind ...I'd like to have headed for Widdale but didn't think I had the height/glide and the drift showed SSW - hence Stags. if I got up again I'd rethink ....I had a goal set at Brampton. I was also contemplating going east towards Leyburn and then back - an impromtu triangle. Nothing, barely a sniff turned up over Stags, despite my optimism, so on to the slopes rising north of Humesett - again nothing. Remembering my long, hot walk out from there a few weeks earlier I didn't press deeper but headed back over Humesett to land by the main road under Cotterside. I noted Rob and Smarty low below Widdale - they would eventually find a slow escape climb and go on to do well. That second climb seems to have been the crux.
My lift back was a bit scary ... I don't think I've ever felt a crash so imminent and my life in peril. I was rather glad to be out in Hawes.
Pete and I decided on an evening fly on Stags as the wind had now turned SSE, and were joined by Alex Pealing. Although fairly light it was bouyant and worked well for 45 minutes before Pete headed and out and me back to the car. A quick pint completed the day.
PHOTOS (Very few)
A decent looking day, a good RASP and a sky full of promise (see photo above from Scales). It turned out to be a long drive, lots of sweat and almost some angry tears when taken hostage by hostile bracken.
Carrock seemed the obvious choice, however, on arrival, the wind being off to the south saw me quickly scurrying round to Souther. Expecting it to be almost full due to the numbers limit I found not a soul, yet it seemed OK flying-wise. I was almost deterred by the amount of high bracken, which seems to have crept ever higher up the hillside over the years. When a pilot arrived who was unfamiliar with the site we had a brief chat in which he indicated people had gone to Scales - which seemed a better option (at the time). So ..... off to the parking below Scales.
A stiff, warm walk up - a light and switching, occasional breeze and I laid out high. The first flight was short, it started well, but then dropped me slightly lower than take off. Two gliders seemed to be doing OK on Souther (Pete and Rob) ... maybe I should have tried working Scales again but opted to fly over. This resulted in a nice height loss, no lift and a landing on the south shoulder of Souther. I balled and walk higher. Another try - little lift and a landing above the dreaded bracken. Lots of it, acres - that I was determined to avoid at all costs!
Another balled up walk and another try ... same result only this time I had to pick a tight clear spot between two fingers of bracken. Missed it by 4' and some lines fell into the bracken. What followed was 30 minutes of picking the most fiendish, clinging, fronds from my lines. That done ... everything checked OK and another balled walk up. By now all I wanted was to make it back to the car. I scraped south along the hill, rarely more than 30' over dense forests of deepest green until at the far end, above the landing, I found bits of lift to mess with - broken and pretty useless. Then across to Scales - nothing. That was it, my patience and body exhausted I went down, landed had a pint of Loweswater and drove home with little to show for the day but blood, sweat and and another lost pair of sunglasses.
A breezy morning, decent rasp with the wind forecast to drop after 1pm. I left about 1.15pm heading for either Three Men or JB. In retrospect I was an hour late and with little indication of any J36 action I switched sites to Brigsteer. It also seemed to have the better sky and higher base - over the hills it appeared less well developed.
Kitt arrived just after me on Brigsteer take off and was soon airborne and doing well. I launched expecting the same. It wasn't to be. Whether complacency or bad timing I found myself packing in a bottom field followed by a trek back up through the woods.
A second, more considered attempt (it was still on the light side) and this time I managed to get up. The sky had been really good up to this point, but was rapidly clearing from the west. There were still some thermals but over time they appeared to be weakening. After an hour and a quarter Kitt landed for a football game and I hung in. Despite the blue sky it actually got better again, but felt a bit different ....a lot more bouyant and best down over Levens village. Eventually, after 2 hrs airtime I decided to land. By now there appeared little wind but staying high was easy and I had to resort to a bit of whanging to get down. There was little wind on top landing.
A bit of a packing battle with curious cows before Tim arrived ... by now it was too light but he gave it a go. He met a bit of that bouyant air but found himself in my previous bomb out field.
At least I got a few hours of very nice flying.
25/8/2022 Three Men
A less than promising start to the day with low cloud and wind - but forecast to get a lot better during the afternoon. By 2pm it looks really nice for either Three Men or JB as it was very westerly. I opted for Three Men simply because I felt JB could still be windy at take off and a west wind would open up the Three Men ridge.
As I parked up it was certainly westerly, but also surprisingly light. I carried up the track before cutting onto the hillside and at my preferred take off it seemed just about OK - 10mph and soarable. I was soon airborne and although a bit scratchy at first it soon improved with height. Just very smooth soaring.
The sun was out over JB, but TM was consistently in shade. This lasted for about 40 minutes and then the sky cleared and the sun broke through. This also heralded a marked change. Once the first thermals appeared it got a lot rougher and the wind (entrainment) a lot stronger. I gave it another 45 minutes before heading down.
As I left I could see a number of gliders doing well on JB. I think once the wind eased JB came into its own.
26/8/2022 Parlick south face BP CUP 1st day/task)
It could easily have been a day that got canned. A fair sky, but little wind to speak of and later high cloud cut off the sun. A small group of locals managed to climb out and even get high ... so it was starting to work. We just didn't have at any task set at this stage.
A task was then set - up to Dunsop Bridge, then back vith a final TP near Chipping and goal back near the hill. At this stage just getting up seemed a tough ask. Finally, Tom H raise his Volt 4 and simply headed out. A few others saw the plan, saw him start to climb and followed .... the start of a good climb for three or four gliders. Unfortunately I wasn't one ...I was quick to follow, but midway to his climb I started getting distracted by other surges of lift and the odd 360 that simply resulted in a loss of height. My next distraction was Gary S. Gary had launched after me but found a decent climb near the hill - soon joined by what became the main gaggle that climbed out with him. I was just too late and too low and caught between two plans. The result was a slope landing and sweaty carry up.
Finally, the day had nothing left to give and it ended in a fly down off the west face.
27/8/2022 Parlick BPC day 2
Another windless, hot day to begin with ... later the sea breeze would shift the light breeze from the south face to the west face (in fact it went NW). A difficult day.
An ambitious, 66k task was set to Leyburn via two turnpoints. It was always going to be tough ... in the end it became hard to even get away from Parlick, Cloudbase was often little above 2500', later I managed 3200' but over the back always looked dark and uninspiring.
Plenty of airtime, but little to show for it and the best was a short 8.5k by Carl Scraggs. short it may have been - the retrieve was long and protracted I believe.
Above: The strange cloud that grew and finally killed the day.
28/8/2022 Parlick BPC Day 3
An even harder day. Hot and odd.
The day began blue and hot, until a strange cloud formed behind us over the Bowland fells and caused much comment - from concern to wonderment. There was again little if any wind, but occasional wafts would come up the south face. Dougie SL took off on a borrowed Zeno 2 .... but was forced to slope land low down. He swiftly carried up and shortly after tried again - this time it worked and he climbed out. By now the strange cloud had grown and was beginning to envelope us as the high upper cloud arced over. Dougie got very low over the bottom field, but again managed a masterly climb out. Time to give it a go .... there were obviously climbs out there.
Two of us launched quickly together ... sank a bit then found our climb. From that point the climbs got better, stronger and the farther out the better it worked. Over Chipping I was really enjoying myself ... well in front of the 'alien' cloud formation and with great cu development where I was. I was very tempted to just carry on pushing out until the call came 'task called' so I headed back through lots of lift and even getting down took a little thinking about. In retrospect I should have just kept flying but it looked set fair at this stage. The landing should have informed me - into wind was now into a light northerly, the opposite to the take off 30 minutes before.
As the task was set, a complex Cat's Cradle' the sun then disappeared and the sky became 8/8 cloud cover. Worse still ... the wind dropped to leave a flat calm .... everyone moved to the west face and the task was reset slightly differently. We all eventually flew down and that was that.
A disappointing day, although I managed to grab nice spell before everything shut down - and it shut down really fast!
31/8/2022 Carrock Fell
The last day of August with autumn looming. Rob, Tim and I drove from a windy, grey Dales, hopeful of better further north. We pulled into a busy Carrock parking with many already walking up the hill - but none airborne. Typically, the wind was light, but worse, it appeared to be from the SE .... not good here. A walk up to a high take off didn't improve matters. At this stage things didn't look inspiring.
A wait. A touch of wind came through, a little more on (?) and a few of us were off. If it worked fair enough, if it didn't then at least it confirmed the poor looking conditions. To cap it all, a shower cloud was building to the south and adding some urgency. In fact it was working well ... sometimes you can never tell until you try. Soon the air was full of gliders.
I sauntered over to West Fell. Phil Kew had found a climb there not long before and it duly did the same for me. I pushed forward and on to Sandbeds. The climbs were still around, in fact it appeared better than Carrock and the sky a lot better At least it was further from the shower that seemed to be moving ever closer. I had a modest FAI (about 17.5k) plugged in with the start just north of Sandbeds ... I was now very close so tagged it and pushed out for the next cylinder. It was a bit ambitious. Base wasn't that high. Several times I got low but climbs came along - I think the best I reached was just under 3000'.
Giving up on the triangle I set off back for Carrock, arrived at the brackenline. A brief, but fraught spell off scratching until I got really hoovered up. The shower had duly arrived. It didn't look much, but the raindrops were heavier than anticipated. I pushed out on bar, some resorted to ears and all made a downward dash for the landing field.
The gliders were surprisingly wet. Maybe we came down a bit prematurely as the shower soon passed and the day brightened and a few gliders were flying well. At least we could have dried the wings.
That was the end of our flying day, a few walked back up but we set off for coffee/tea and a snack.
Very few pics as I shot little video it being a bit dark LINK