5/2/2023 Middle Earth
I got today WRONG!
Not by much, but a single kilometre made all the difference. Rob and I walked into Middle Earth, with Tom splitting off (wise man) onto the south face of Barkin. At this stage we had zero wind, a pleasant day unfolding and the hope the wind would increase and it would swing from SSE to SW. Anyhow, that was the plan.
Arriving just above the normal take off the wind did indeed appear, so after a pleasant, brief chat with the Deerhunter and the possibility of being mistakenly shot out of the sky for a Chinese spy balloon - we laid out. It seemed OK, but the wind was rather across the slope, not by much, but the lift just wasn't there. Many slope landings, more udges a bit higher and then the sight of six gliders doing very well on Barkin south. I'm sure they glanced over their collective shoulders and felt .... a degree of pity.
Slowly the wind came on ... but then lost what strength it had. In the end I flew down, in fact as fly-downs go it was a really interesting one. Despite a very slight headwind and having left the hill after a few descending beats, I made it over the village easily. That surprised me.
A chat with Andy over the wall, a slow pack up then Rob and I departed for the Churchmouse to be joined later by Mike and Ben. A nice day to be out despite the lack of flying.
Above: Andy on the Fusion light.
12/2/23 Stags Fell
Following decisions over coffee at the Ingleton bakery we set off for Hawes, optimistic and willing the sun to appear (as promised). A good turn-out, about nine of us (J6) and a few more turned up on the hill. The 'other' option would have been good also, but we settled on Stags for convenience.
Lots of great soaring, plenty of lift and very smooth. After much boating about, Jacob (or Andy) found a nice thermal, a real pucker, proper one (2m/s) and the first of the year, so Rob and I piled in too and rode it to 3000'. I flew across to Humesett with no difficulty and ended up spending 45 minutes soaring, frustrated by the wind being slightly off to the south and no repeat thermal to get me onwards to Cotterside - or return to Stags. Eventually, Jacob made it to Humesett too ... and at the same moment the first half decent climb arrived. It wasn't great, but enough to get me back across to Stags and a landing by the cars.
All agreed it had been a good day's flying as we set off for the Pantry and a debrief over coffee and food. A pity the sun never put in an appearance - the day could have got really interesting.
A few snapshots for the interested LINK
A cold. still, start to the day with ground frost and developing high cloud from the west.
I put the day at 50/50 due to the approaching front and the possibility it could be too windy after lunch. Rob however was his usual keen self, otherwise I may have canned the day - I'm glad I didn't.
Walking up Cautley was warm work, it was almost flat calm and not until approaching the lower take off shoulder did any wind appear - in fact enough to soar with ease. I had a short flight, top landed to set my tracker running and watched Rob take off and head for Yarlside. We had a fair amount of airtime, several landings back on the shoulder and generally it was OK. Two things struck me as worth taking heed of. It was rather off to the west of south and the wind seemed to be coming out of the Spout - always a bit disconcerting and it felt a bit rotory heading towards the Spout. Getting higher the wind was a lot stronger so it seemed prudent to not top out over Yarlside but keep east and forward.
Having enjoyed a good spell of flying I set off to bottom land before (too low) deciding to go back up and join Rob. Back on the lower slopes, 100' below take off it was almost flat calm, so down it was - to a nil wind, fast landing. During packing it suddenly seemed like a summer's day - the sky was blue the sun shining and the temp reading was T shirts. Sunbathing weather in February.
Finished with coffee and cake in the Churchmouse as the Sedbergh cafe's all seemed shut.
Still LINK (apologies, I left a finger smudge on the lense so not the best quality).
Remind me this is February. If today was the harbinger of a good year ... it's going to be a very good year.
All the omens were favourable - nice direction (NW), fairly light, but enough to launch low on the hill and soar up with ease. There were even some cu's, not many, well spaced and kicking off out front, so some theremals were to be expected. Flying across to Ingleborough was a non event, just so easy at height. Along with eight others I spent some time around the main summit until cold hands saw me head back, top land and endure some hot aches - after that no problem.
A breezy launch from Park and I headed back south. Midway it became increasing thermic - gliders started climbing out front and a building cumulus suggested it may be the place to hang about. Chris took one from low and disappeared over the back - although with him I was less convinced and hung back. Chris got low and headed back, whilst with more height I pushed foward again to be rewarded with a better climb that took me to near base at 4190'. This seemed worth going with, even if just to see what February could deliver.
For a while I was able to stay high on weak broken lift under my cloud, when this broke up I was in two minds - downwind or crosswind. I took the latter option and a long sinky glide north to another substantial cloud. It too worked. In fact I was still high approaching Pen y Ghent and thinking ... do I really want to find myself flushed down near Grassington? (The plan should have been Plover/Fountains to use the hills as the cu's had all but finished) The easy option was to follow the high ground towards Settle. At this point I spotted Chris setting up to land just south of Knight Stainforth. That decided it for me. That, and the fact the sky was shutting down and I wasn't set up for a retrieve with no sign, car keys in pocket and Karen on a phone changeover. So I landed with Chris to share his retrieve.
In the end he headed south to Settle whilst I dusted off my hitching technique and set off north for Ribblehead. Despite discovering I'd lost my hitching sign and the road was fast a campervan soon picked me up and took me to the Station Inn. Easy.
A lovely day to be out, lots of pilots (I counted 12) and a small, but first xc of the year.
Stills LINK (Over Knight Stainforth caravan site - a weak climb I gave up on).