2/3/2023   Gragareth


Despite a reasonable forecast the morning didn't really inspire.  It began with light drizzle under low,  full cloud cover, but with the promise of marginally better for the afternoon.


I walked in from the bottom end of Kingsdale, spotting two other pilots cresting the hillside about 15mins ahead.  The wind seemed OK, a little off to the north and by the time I hit the Turbary road I'd decided to knock 30 mins off the walk and launch near the bottom. It worked a treat and I was soon soaring up the hillside and passing the 'walking ' pilots still heading up (and soon to head back lower as the wind on the top was a bit fresh for launching although fine in the air).


I had a plan for a  'dogs dinner' 30k flight I've done before, but unsure if the wind being off to the north would make the ridge difficult heading north to Great Coum. Again it worked out OK. The wind was veering very slowly to E and the sometimes awkward entry into Great Coum proved straightforward - I just kicked myself later for not pushing it a little further.


Back down the ridge - at speed, tagged another TP where again I could have pushed it another half k. Back to Great Coum and this time I did push on a bit further, before returning, passing Tom and Rob heading north. I felt the wind was easing on this second run of the ridge, although the trip back south was surprisingly fast - touching 55kph at trim. Back to my take off ... but with a  glider high just up the ridge I nipped back for the climb. I just need a little more.


Finally, I settled on a flight to Cowan Bridge where I knew I had a lift waiting. As I was passing a sunlit, Tom's place, I took a bit of video. I was hoping one of the clouds might just work and present a final boost to the k's tally, but aside from a few beeps nothing of note came along.


A very pleasant few hours    Some STILLS 

7/3/2023  Dodd Fell


"Have you seen the forecast?"  Chris was more excited than I'd seen him for a while.  Nope! In fact, I'd not been following flying forecasts for a while beyond the BBC end of news summary. I tend not to bother much until winter relents. In my head it was still cold (bitterly), somewhat windy and apparently a foot of snow was on the way.  However, on his insistence I went back into the rasp routine ... only to see the UK a brighter shade of red!  Wow! I didn't see that coming.


Seven of us convened on Dodd and made great plans. The wind was surpringly light - soarable, but less than expected. The only fly being it was a bit off to the north.  It didn't take long to get us all in the air to find the main ridge working OK and the thermals fairly regular. The sky? Well it was starting to look - amazing! Not a great base, just over 4 grand but with few excuses it had to be over the back.


I left at the second time of asking, mainly because there was no reason not to and because Andy and John were roughly with me.  it was also getting a bit nippy on the hands so it would be a good distraction.  Today - I was in 'impetuous' mode.  I didn't want to hang about, I thought the clouds would work although I expected lots of mad sink between the climbs. Pretty much how it worked out.


Over Yockenthwaite, and heading for Birks Fell I got on the low side. Nothing seemed to want to come together and a lot of mincing and meandering took place as both Andy and John joined me and lift off was proving illusive. Finally, a good strong climb got us to base at 4,300' and the emphasis moved to navigation. Although we'd set Harrogate as the goal there seemed a lot of north in the wind which could make it awkward, given LBA was down at 3000' and we could end up penned against it.  More impetuousity on my part followed as I wanted to cross the valley towards Whernside. This was my normal route and I knew better how that side  worked.


Now this may be total bollocks!  But - every time, without fail, I've come very low into Kettlewell, the small stepped, ridges behind it have given me one of the best and most reliable of thermals.  I was pretty low, didn't have much more than a gully side to work (it's not a ridge) and yet again it got me out of a fix with a decent, if slow climb.  Progress now was steady .... a few gulls, more climbs, but a dilemma.  Harrogate meant cross-winding the wide moorlands where all the heather fires (at least five) showed a NNW wind. The sky looked OK, it should work,  even if slow crosswind progress ... it could also end in a bitch of a winter's day retrieve (and were the trains even running?)  By the time I was level with Grassington it was too late to really do other than keep heading south for Skipton - at least an easy retrieve.  


The sky was now at peak performance with good climbs and I never really  worked too hard.  Small flocks of gulls marked the way ahead and I should have been less relaxed (or maybe chilled) instead I found myself crossing low onto the start of Rylstone Edge - and quite excited by the prospect of flying a tasty ridge (topped by a War Memorial) I'd never been on before. I came in below the top but it was working so well I simply trundled along, climbing nicely and rather missing the chance to fully explore it.  At the south end was a broad bowl, a bit lower yet it worked superbly. On the final craggy point a good climb came along that I took to 3000' mindful of the fact it was leading me towards the 3000' airspace. Quite content I enjoyed a long, leisurely glide to the outskirts of Skipton.


A lovely flight, I even got quite warm during the second half and touched down in a light breeze.  Thankfully, the bus service was still running OK and I got a ride back to my door with my  OAP bus pass. 


Only a few photos as I had my bigger gloves on  LINK


19/3/2023  Johnny Barnes


A rather uninspiring morning with 8/8 cloud cover and no wind to speak of. I was in no rush as the wind was forecast to increase slightly and the cloud rise above the tops - any sun would remain a luxury, although odd bits did appear AFTER I'd landed.


I arrived at the foot of JB not entirely convinced the walk up wouldn't be a wasted trip. It was still windless, the turbines were stationary - things could changed however over the course of the 30 minute walk up.  There was no one else there, but John H would arrive about an hour after me.


Arriving on top there was certainly a modest breeze, slightly off to the south, a little gusty but it should work. I was soon in the air to find it pleasant enough and working quite well. A trip south to the next hill - then south again in lifty air. And so a plan was formed.


WSW is a good direction to explore further north towards Middle Earth which I'm very familiar with now - and maybe even further.  The crossing was OK ...but I arrived very low on ME, below the bracken line and a spell of intense scratching ensued.  It was still light low down and only parts were working as the gusts came through - but eventually I was up into stronger winds and better lift. Going in deeper got me a lot higher but the wind was noticeably stronger. Now what? Sedbergh?  I didn't think it worth the attempt.


The next hill to the north is actually equally good, with a decent WSW face ...I should have tried it but was wary of not getting back. In retrospect it should have presented few problems. Having gained a enough height to get back to JB I set off for a straightforward, into wind, crossing. By this time John H had arrrived and was high off the south end.


Landing time.  There was quite a pronounced wind gradient and it was a bit bouncy as I dropped into zero wind into the last 40 feet and a fast landing.


Not a bad hour and half of flying when I hadn't expected much. Coffee in the Mousehole rounded off the afternoon.



27/3/2023   Cotterside


Almost a year ago to the day, Chris and I had walked up Cotterside in very similar conditions. It looked almost perfect, warm sun, a great sky developing and we only had the breeze to wait for. This time Rob U was being introduced to the place, later Mike Cav would join us and similarly try it out for the first time. 


After a 30 minute wait for things to start happening we got to at least soar the full length of the ridge.  Soaring hardly describes it ... simply bouncing along in broken surges of lift, then dropping  below the top only to be hurtled a hundred feet above. Nothing as yet was coalescing - after 20 minutes I went in to land where Mike was laying out, for a brief chat. There was now a surprising amount of wind, enough to wait for a launch window.


I took off just before Mike and things felt quite different, more reliable  - a re-tag of the start cylinder and a push out front into what felt like a proper, organised thermal.  We circled to about 4000', Chris coming in below. With little to hang about for we headed east towards Stags with the usual grounded gliders. Mike headed south on his  mysterious plan towards Widdale, Chris and I continued east down Wensleydale. 


Things progressed easily enough, from seemingly low Chris was soon at 5000' and well above me. Thermals kept coming. Our last view of Mike was him scrabbling low below Widdale. With height I became very conscious of the cold and developed quite painful hands - below 3000' they felt better, but we were often above 3000'  and much higher.  I briefly toyed with the idea of crossing towards Semer Water and and the back of Wether/Dodd for a triangle - xctrack showed it at 36k.  The sky that way looked excellent.


Approaching the far end of Nappa, where I thought I'd put my turnpoint, I discovered it was 6k further and back towards the moors - not sure why I stuck it there. Still .... made it OK and even got a 1000' climb over the TP cylinder.  So .... getting back?  Every thermal showed a WSW drift and some wind at height - about 19kph. It was going to be a very slow return.  I decided to continue.


Although it looked better going over the moors to Richmond, Feldom wasn't showing on xctrack (?) .... Bellarby was. Sinking below 2500' (Bellarby has a celing of 3000') I opted for a cloud on the south (valley) side. This resulted in the strongest climb of the day to 5700' and I still had a few hundred to go to base, but my hands couldn't stand it and I pulled out.  I could clear Bellarby by a huge margin and that's where the clouds looked best - in fact a street of sorts. However, the old retrieve fears set in and I carried on east to a solitary small cloud in a blue sky. Not sure why, but it just didn't work at all and the rest was a drift on to a landing by the main Bedale road. Ah well .... maybe next time. I think with some company the right decisons would have been made ... there was certainly a lot more distance to be had going NE.


Fairly quick hitch to Leyburn, a pint waiting for the bus to Hawes and reunited with Chris and Rob.  A good day out really, can't complain.


A few photos (cold hands made operating the gopro hard) LINK


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© Ed Cleasby