3/4/2024    Three Men


A bit of a nothing day - flying-wise.


2pm - under Grey Scars ... grim!  Cloudy, cold and not a hint of better upwind.

4pm - under Three Men ...  sunny, very pleasant, but not a lot of wind. Still ... I walked up.


One short flight where I initially (and surprisingly) went up and thought, maybe?

A second short flight where I went down and had a leisurely, sun bathed pack.

16/4/2024 Park/Ingborough 


Given the previous weeks of unflyable weather, I had no intention or expectation of flying. so the day came as something of a surprise.  I bumped into Kerim in Settle about 1pm and we both agreed, nice as the day looked it was still too windy and although generally a great looking sky, the odd big and developing cell was evident way off to the south.  So I sauntered about, went for a coffee, cut the grass and ran out of fence paint.  At this point, about 3.45pm, I thought that aside from a tempting sky, the wind had also eased - at least enough for a run up to Ribblehead.


I arrived expecting to find it blown out - it's fairly open and exposed. Surprisingly it seemed OK, the odd gust, but worth a walk in - not up, if there's any wind at all.  Just above the fell wall was sufficient, a mere 100' feet up the lower grassy slopes. it seemed 'just' OK ... the odd gust, but generally doable.  I mulled for a short while until a second pilot appeared walking up just below the wall. Chris Kay and nephew.  Boosted by this I laid out whilst Chris disappeared elsewhere.


Take off was straightforward, a bit cross slope given it was WNW and I was on the NNW bit of slope. Lift was plentiful and extended way out. At this stage there were a few gusts to contend with but penetration was good - infact very good given the indicated wind speed was 20 - 24kph. 



Photo: Soaring Park just after take off


I spent about 30 minutes soaring in front of Park, getting used to the conditions until deciding things were mellowing  and becoming fairly smooth I headed south for Ingleborough.

WNW is the perfect direction, but it was just so easy .... I didn't even require any extra height, simply a direct glide across knowing it was impossible to go down. It may sound odd but it was one easy 5k cruise to the summit and beyond in constant zero and 1ms up.  I spent a while around the summit area and to the south, observing the last of the walkers treking down.  Way off to the north, maybe 5 miles away, were the signs of a cell developing and having had an hour I decided it may be prudent to head back and land.


I passed Chris in front of Simon Fell and guessing he'd seen the same development we headed back together for a smooth landing south of the quarry.  I had a leisurely pack, it was sunny and I was in no rush. It was only on shouldering the sack it struck me how dark and overcast it had suddenly become.  Within minutes it was hailing, then raining  ... whilst to the south, Ingleborough remained bathed in lovely evening sun.


Aside from the shower at the end, a really super spell of flying that, like the shower, came out of nowhere.



20/4/2024  Dodd Fell


This is a difficult entry to make and I do so with a very heavy heart.  At some point during this flight a great friend and regular flying partner departed this life due to sudden natural causes. I only found out later and it was a huge shock.  I'm still trying to process it and as a consequence this entry will be quite short.


Whilst most went to the Ingleborough area, I opted for Dodd and met up with a group of about six pilots. A bit shaded over, but smooth easy climbs to base and a straightforward flight to Skipton. Pity the wind was a bit too northerly until near Skipton when it went more WNW. Very nice flying although it got a bit shaded out towards the southern Dales.



RIP Kev.


I'm going to miss your friendship, the retrieve escapades, the socials, but I still have all those recorded memories of the great flights we shared and  which are spread across the many years I've kept these entries.

24/4/2024  Worlds End


Northerlies are problematic in the Dales .... there are limited options and it can be difficult choosing between them. Factor in a forecast that wasn't easy to read - especially when the morning is throwing a few curve ball distractors into the mix to keep you off the scent.


Still .... you travel in hope.  


Essentially my groups were telling me two things. The J36 were off to try Holme Knott ... let's call it an experimental site at this time. Meanwhile Joseph had done a sterling job in rounding up a Dales posse prepared to take a chance. After some deliberation we settled on Worlds End and if it all went belly up then so be it.  


Alan, Rob and I rocked up to find  Rob C and Pete M keeping warm inside Pete's van.  It wasn't inspiring - a cold wind, a  bit too much of it and almost full cloud cover. If it followed yesterday's  pattern we anticipated it would break and the wind drop by about 1pm. So ... off to the Costa in KS .... snack and chat then back up the hill. Overhead Dave Smart flew over from the N face of Tailbridge, then proceeded to climb out ... things now looked a whole lot better.


A gentle walk up the east side, not all the way, find a nice grassy launch (near Allan Blackett and Steve Gill) and away. The wind had dropped to a moderate breeze and the hill soared OK. Out front the sky was breaking up and patches of sun edged closer. I guess it took about 15 minutes of soaring, searching and waiting - then lift off.  It still looked a bit glum downwind, but we had a big gaggle (or several sub gaggles), the climbs were solid and they went to base (5000') ... so no reason to hang about and off we went.


All the way down to Cotterside I was able to find climbs and stay high. The gaggle broke up - Pete, Rob C and Andy seemed lower over the middle of the valley and showing signs of struggling, whilst I stuck to my tried and tested, stay over the high ground along the top of Mallerstang.  Thinking a gaggle would help I got together with Steve G, Allan and for a brief while I think Rob U was there too. 


So far it had been quite easy and the main focus was on finding patches of sun to aim for.  Heading for the back of Widdale/ Great Knoutberry Rob U shot off - and sank out a fair bit. And then there was three. Soon that would reduce to one as Steve and Allan headed into Snaizeholme and the Grove Head area.  Still .... I stuck to my plan, I had height, was confident the top of Gt Knoutberry would kick off in a patch of sun and the sky owed me a living.  It's surprising how soon you can find yourself low and grovelling and how desperate the desire to find that good solid (or weak) anything. Please .... if I get back up to 5 grand I won't take advantage again.


Despite all the upwind, crosswind and downwind searching I could find nothing ... and I knew once I'd drifted over Newby Head it would get less likely.  In the end I put down near the famous 'collapsed hut'. Overhead Rob U had got out of the Widdale valley and delighted in telling me he was at 1200m overhead. To rub it in ....  the sky had suddenly opened up and turned classic. Such is life. I had expected better 15 minutes before. Now it was shorts and   T- shirt time - well not quite, but very pleasant in the sun.


A lovely, slightly hippy lady (my age), Lou -  picked me up and took me to my car in Hawes. Turned out we were born in the same town, went to the same school, got drunk in the same pubs and had lots in common. Small world. 


Bit of a puzzler today .... I think there were some distinct N/S convergence lines - that were quite narrow. Step out of those and you were soon down. Not easy to spot in the air. I guess I stepped out of mine whilst Rob U put his foot in his - all the way to towards Settle.  Almost a year to the day I'd flown the same line, with the same base, but found it a lot easier to read what the sky was telling me.


A good turn-out, I think I counted well over a dozen.


Very few photos/videos as it was really murky at base, the ground shaded out and so not that good.



26/4/2024  Park Fell


Arrived about 1pm .... far too late, the other were well on their way.


I walked up anyway, to the very top, by now everything was shaded out and the wind had dropped to very little. It had even veered from north at the car to SE. Met Marek on the top and it was so useless we just flew down.  The morning had looked superb but no one seemed top be going out so I'd gone shopping, had breakfast number 2 and generally wasted time. 


Below: Marek landing.

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© Ed Cleasby