5/11/2023 Johnny Barnes
A great day to be out - blue skies, developing cumulus and light winds. It was also a westerly - so lots of options.
I arrived early at JB, about 10.30am - still not early enough to see Neil Plant cresting the top of the ridge and Stephen C and Chris B hanging around the parking area, soon after Tom arrived too. A brief debate (there was zero wind) and we opted to walk up as the forecast suggested it would pick up a bit later and be smack on the ridge. And so it worked out.
A little waiting, not long, and the wind began to blow up the front. Tom, being on short time, proved it was very bouyant by floating as much up as out from the hill. More pilots arrived and Geoff Crossley later put in a rare appearance - so it must be OK. In the end I counted ten pilots - quite a turnout for JB.
The early flights were a bit scratchy until the wind increased a little more, we never had more than about 12mph and a few thermals boosted things further. Once it got good, there was plenty of room and it was easily possible to venture both south and north. Lovely, smooth, relaxed flying. By 3pm, being November the sun dropped lower and the wind went with it so we all landed after having had a good 1 - 2 hrs of soaring and exploring.
Coffee in the Mousehole for the debrief (essential) for the locals.
Stills from video LINK
10/11/2023 Three Men
It looked a promising day, but we're now into November so never easy to predict how winter days will turn out. I favoured the western edge of the Dales to avoid any wind and low cloud. Still .... it was only 10.20 when Geoff/Tom collected me and we set off for Hawes knowing we could always turn back if it didn't work out.
At the layby check before Hawes it was already obvious - the cloud was down on Wether and the clouds were scooting at a fair lick. So, back to coffee at Seasons in Ingleton for a rethink. Part way through our deliberations Joseph and Tristan turned up and we settled on nearby Three Men. It would be a new site for them and it looked a decent option given the forecast WNW - the ideal direction.
A walk up the track showed only a light wind - I expected more. Nice as it was, the wind stayed persistently light until gone 1.30pm. We managed several scratchy flights, many slope landings and a few went down. However, persistence paid off and the hill suddenly switched on wonderfully. There was a tadge more wind, but lift suddenly seemed good and even produced a few thermals. The real action began off the southwest face. A long line of clouds set up - a push out and they were all working. I easily reached into the wispies and headed out towards JB. It seemed high but base was only around 2600'. In summer we'd have sneered at it - for November it seems remarkably good. Looking back there were gliders scattered everywhere at height. (I think I counted 10 wings in total so a fairly busy day).
I came back from behind JB, still lots of lift, the slopes were all working and the wind never seemed to get above 12mph even at height. Now intent on a triangle I pushed well north past Green Hill; then south (slightly out of wind - so not so lifty) - back north until the cold crept into my fingers and body. After such a good spell it was time to land in almost nil wind.
A great afternoon's flying, better than expected as yet again Three Men did its usual lift off trick. Amazing place.
With the sun setting we headed off for pints and debrief in The Barn in KL.
Only a few photos as when it got interesting I suffered a flat camera battery. LINK
Being such a lovely day I wasn't going to stay in. I'd worked the previous two and so looked forward to, well - just a day out really. There was next to no wind so my thoughts were, do a pre Christmas sites tour and look in on some of our J36 farmers to take their orders .... and combine it with a walk and most likely a fly-down from where I thought most likely to work.
At 11.45am I called in at Cotterside farm for a chat. They are due to move shortly and were in the process of packing after 45 years - so a lot of gathered 'stuff'. I also wanted to suss out the change of ownership after 31st December.
Chat over - I decided, despite flat calm, to walk up .... it was a great looking day, warm sunshine, blue skies and clear tops. A bit wet underfoot in places, but the site itself is very dry. Gradually, as I gained height a few gentle breezes came and went. Arriving on take off at least the wind, however little, was on the hill. I laid out, sunbathed, waited and watched some valley smoke which appeared to be developing a little drift. By 1.30pm there was at least some wind - about 6mph in the gusts. Cotterside needs very little, infact it would prove to be even less than I thought.
In a more sustained 6mph I launched expecting to go down - I hopped the wall easily and onto the main edge - going up! There's a surprise. A few beats, longer each time until high enough to relax. Finally I set off for the east end, a kilometre or two away - unsure how it would work. In fact it got better as the edge got bigger and steeper. Beautiful, gentle, smooth lift that for a spell I shared with a buzzard. I never expected that when I walked up.
Eventually, I felt the wind had eased back to flat calm, so rather than fight it by scratching (a bad habit I'm trying to lose) - I set off into the valley, unsure I'd make the landing. In fact it was very bouyant and with no wind I arrived over the Moorcock Inn (closed) with height to spare. A few 360 turns and a nil wind landing - I ran it off, but I'm noticing my undercarriage no longer responds in the way it once did.
Some days (many actually) being in the right place at the right time is very tricky. I won't go into why I chose to go to Cotterside but it played out OK. And of course you need a bit of good fortune.
A few video stills LINK
One of the really good November days.
A lovely morning, but cold, one of those where it's easy to find reasons to stay indoors, warm, procrastinate. That lasted until about 11am when I decided it wasn't actually that bad outside and the sun had a little warmth. I packed and following my usual practice set off for Ribblehead - just for a look.
As I arrived a glider took off from Park and started soaring - so, it may be flat calm down here but there must be something up there. I started walking. Mid way up I noticed they came down - fast! What wind there was seem almost NE .... then SW, then NW then --- whatever you wanted it to be if you waited a few minutes. I could easily have turned back - but carried on with lowered expectations.
A very wandering route up the front brought me to the summit ridge - it seemed on, and it seemed like it might soar. I gave it a go, up a bit, down a bit, too much downand, a slope landing. A pilot walked down .... the lovely Anna. I'd not met Anna before, but really happy to have met a new local - a gutsy lady too. She put some effort into the day. Our chat over I felt ready for another go without needing to walk higher.
The wind built a little, but was never more than about 10mph at best, so I took off again. This time it was BOOMING! Well, lots of smooth lift and extending well out, but very little wind. It had to be wave. All sorts of things happen around Ingleborough - wave is one of them, and it always seems quite smooth and of the pleasant sort. Earlier there had been talk of Wether. I'm never keen on Wether anyway, but in winter it's rarely the place to go and often out of phase and prone to unpredictable shifts. No ... I admit I don't like the place.
By now Tim and Rob had arrived .... having escaped Wether, plus some lone pilot soaring above Ingleborough summit. Eventually we got together and set off for Ingleborough, but crossing the north face in a westerly was a bit tricky - I let Tim go first. He made it, but a bit low and scooted back to the bowl. I made it OK ... soared it for a while, made a few hundred feet but decided it wasn't that good and headed back too. A mistake!
I spotted Tim grounded beneath the main bowl ... I thought I had a chance, but no, I landed next to him. We commiserated and looked at the steep, followed by even steeper slope to the top of the bowl. It was a right bitch! Still .... two old men eventually made it. The odd thing was it was windless until the last 30' - then it was an easy take off in a light breeze and great lift again. It seemed only the top bit of the ridge was working and doing so really well - below that - nada! Sorry Anna - we felt your pain and didn't envy your walk out.
This time things seemed easier and three of us flew across to the summit; flew around it a while and headed back to eventually land at Ribblehead. It had been a surprisingly good day, quality flying for November and we'd filled out boots.
Coffee at the Station Inn whilst my socks dried over the fireguard (great fire) - super way to round off the day,
VIDEO STILLS LINK