6/3/22 Park Fell
My initial thought had been Coniston ... but after a re-think on the wind and thermal strength I decided I didn't need to drive that far .... a mere four miles up the road would suffice.
I set off up Park Fell at 10am, knowing I was probably three hours too soon. I was, and paid the price by having to cower behind the take off wall to stay out of the fresh wind and avoid the chill factor - which was noticeable. After an hour and half of cowering and a visit to the trig point to warm up, Kev arrived - and 15 minutes later so too did Chris. For a short spell we all cowered until as forecast and bang on time the wind eased and smoothed. It was now just after 1pm.
The launch was easy, the sun was out and the conditions very pleasant .... we then also discovered the thermals were OK and set to get better. Kev had climbed in one but was behind us when Chris and I got an excellent, solid climb well out front that eventually got us to base. We passed Ingleborough in the wispies and as the hills spread out far below us we appeared to have ticked the first real thermal of the year box. No plan, no radio - bar some shouting so we sort of did our own thing - it could have been worked a lot better. We drifted over Ingleton ... struggling to find anything and with a street that was just out of touch.
Eventually we all came to ground, met up and got a lift back for the cars and a pint in the Station Inn. Not a bad day that at one stage had looked 50/50.
18/3/2022 Stags Fell
After weeks of windy weather, Friday seemed a much calmer day ... gentle winds and wall to wall sunshine. A real spring-like feel to things.
I decided the Dales was preferrable to the North Lakes, given the wind was due to increase and better thermals were forecast in the Dales - it's also 'just over the hill'. Stags was fairly busy with keen pilots from early. Just after 10am the first cu's were starting to appear. The wind was light, but enough - being off to the south we walked along to the mid point.
Thirty minutes of chatting, chewing and waiting, then it became nicely soarable. The pleasant surprise was how abundant the thermals were and with a bit of umph to them. Soon, maybe a dozen or more gliders were strung out behind, infront and far and wide. I had a good spell on Stags, wanting to get over to Cotterside, but never quite sure I'd make it. Eventually Kev and I got a solid climb to base (4100' asl). Kev headed out first, to me he looked too low ... but he made it comfortably and a few hundred metres along Cotterside he hit a great climb and was soon heading up to base and along the back of Mallerstang. The boy is getting the bit between his teeth this year.
I took a few climbs, just never that convincing and I didn't really want to go xc - they would have normally been OK to go with ... just not today. I set my sights on getting back to Stags .... usually easy enough, but the S wind meant Humesett wasn't working .... as Fred showed by landing and carrying up and Dave Smart had got flushed there earlier. I went for the alternative route. This meant a climb, follow it back onto the moors and come back into Stags by the backdoor. I wasn't too hopeful but it worked out fine and I got back easily in the end.
I had almost three hours in the air .... nice flying, excellent thermal practice. By the time I landed the wind had got up on take off - landing was fine. Later Dean and I went for coffee in Hawes; as we left the wind had dropped again to allow flying and it looked a lovely evening to be in the air.
An excellent day out Grommit.
I rushed out late (almost 5pm) to find Jacob soaring OK .... Andy going down. The wind had really dropped off to light at mid height.
Briefly ..... some exercise I took off and went down. Jacob (above) launched just after me and went up. He (and another glider) then enjoyed excellent flying until dusk.
Above: Climbing with Chris in blue thermals to base over Cotterdale.
Chris and I had a leisurely walk up Cotterside, remarking on what a lovely spring morning it was - warm sunshine, a light breeze; in fact with all the makings of a great day to be out in the Dales with a paraglider.
The wind on take off was light, but just soarable and Chris (being as usual the first away) soon discovered it was also its usual thermic self. I faffed a little, took the odd landing until I too was discovering the joys of bouncy spring thermals ... eventually to 4200' where Chris and I met up.
We set off with the idea of going down the sunny side of Wensleydale (north side) taking in various sites until Leyburn ... then? Well, it all depended, but coming all the way back would be nice. Stags was the first site en route, but there didn't seem to be doing much .... lots of gliders on the ground with only a few soaring at ridge height.
My first thought was, this could be a short flight - but I arrived, having lost a few thousand feet to co-incide with the first decent thermals. The initial one didn't work that well, but the second carried Dean, Rob Criukshank and myself back to near 4000'. Dean headed back, Rob carried on a little further then also headed back - so I was on my own.
It was a bit of a search n scratch, but eventually I arrived on Nappa at ridge top height. A lone glider was laid out (Liam I later discovered). I hung around for a few beats - the sky was shutting down but there were still a few thermals to be had. Liam took off ... found what I was after, so I took that and continued east. Nappa is quite an extensive ridge line, bigger than it gets credit for. A small climb got me over the back a ways with a small into wind face to head for and so low I thought a walk out was on the cards. Another climb of a few hundred feet got me there (more a modest banking than an edge) - but lower than useful.
The next move was for a long limestone scar, 3k away, some trees at its foot, but into wind and I thought I could soar it to just about Leyburn. The plan was OK, it was just that the thermals had now all died away and the half a thermal I required didn't arrive. I managed the scar, but just 300' too low so headed out to a landing.
Still .... a nice few hours of good flying that was unfortunate with the day shutting down by mid afternoon.
A big thankyou to Rob C for an excellent pick up. Later we all enjoyed a pint in the Crown before Rob dropped us at the car on his way home.
23/3/2022 Stags Fell
Chris and I briefly messaged around 9am, it was forecast windy into the afternoon, and it looked windy. We left it with me saying I'd see how it looked after midday.
John Hamlett came round at 10am, we had a cuppa and chatted until gone midday. Then, really just on the off-chance we loaded up and went off over to Hawes ... it still seemed breezy although we knew a few had flown and found it very top end, it still looked only for the desperate or daft. On the Semer col we decided it was both windy and a bit off .... no sign of pilots; so back to Hawes for coffee and a chip butty at Penny Garth. We'd sit it out and see.
Just after 2pm, we spotted a glider. maybe two on Stags .... they looked fairly stationary ... a drive up wouldn't hurt so off we went again, travelling more in hope. At the parking it wasn't bad .. so onwards, upwards and across to the far end. Liam was laid out about 100m further on and the wind made take off tricky on the shelf - but possible in a lull.
In the time it took to prepare I thought it was feeling increasingly better - smoother and less windy. Take off was in the end quite easy. The air turned out to be quite smooth, penetration very easy and as time passed a few thermals appeared and the drift was neglible.
In total the five of us (Pete M, Joseph, Liam, John and myself) enjoyed a nice 2 hrs and occasionally pushed out well across the valley. At the 3000' mark the ground was indistinct, the air very hazy. The last point is worth mentioning as about this time Chris Kay was over 7000' and heading north towards Carlisle from Ingleborough. Impressive! At earlier message had reported ... 'too windy, looks like a flydown.' Some fly-down, some height gain, some distance ....80k plus. He later quoted visibility at height as 'bugger all' .... that seems an observation I'd have to agree with.
Anyhow, we flew and very nice it was too.
25/3/2022 The Magnet
Some debate over where to go - a good rasp but a light and fickle wind. A gang of us settled on the Magnet.
The walk up was warm, the sky looked OK and there was even some wind ... although a touch off to the south.
Chris took off first (as usual) and did his usual thing of quickly finding a thermal and setting off over the back. We never saw him again. For the rest of us it became a very frustrating couple of hours as, despite the wind, there were no thermals and disappointing lift. The sky had blued out and it had all the signs of sea breeze which looked like scuppering the day. It settled into lots of short flights and slope landings, some a lot lower than others.
Eventually Kev went on a death glide and despite our gloomy predictions, as he got lower and the walk out increased, he got up and managed to get away. I grabbed 500' before falling out of the bottom. Fifteen minutes later the next thermal came through .... Geoff took it first, followed by John and I. It was rather bitty at initially, but improved and soon we were approaching 5000'. The wind at height was light so we'd hardly done more than pass over the summit of Whernside.
We pressed on and stumbled into a rocket of a climb .... this going almost to 6000'. Thirty minutes before I'd never thought the day was going to reward me so well. High over Brantside it was difficult to know what to do. The whole of Hawes and the surrounding valley was shaded out and a message from Kev (downed before Hawes) spoke of heavy sink and no lift under the leaden sky. We set our sites on Mallerstang ... it was in sun, but there were few clouds and the sea breeze seemed to be washing it out.
Whilst John headed slightly more north, I set off for Humesett, all the time getting lower. Lower still, a glider appeared from the moors behind Mallerstang and eventually John and this mystery glider (Dean as it turned out) would end up soaring Humesett. I got a bit of luck here ... a slow climb resulted in 1500' of height gain before dying. The only sun was a long way down Wensleydale, but I went for it. Approaching Whitfield Scar (?) .... I needed the scar, but mindful of the dire 'keep away' warnings I headed more into the valley. This didn't work and I landed at Askrigg. MInutes after landing Dean called with the offer of a lift
Not a bad day out, a pint at the Marton Arms and a big thankyou to Dean for the lift back home.
A few photos - LINK