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5/7/2024  Grey Scars

 

Nothing too exciting.  

 

40 minutes of scratching. Wind mostly on, decent strength but no great lift. Pleasant evening.

8/7/2024   Middle Earth

 

Despite a promising forecast, including a good RASP, the morning 9am paper run showed significant development, far too early.  The clouds were growing tall and the spread out becoming extensive - especially over the Dales and Bowlands fellsAll of this resulted in continual site and plan changes, with the best sky being to the west ... not in line with RASP, but it seemed the way to go.

 

John H and I had a few conversations regarding our options. Middle Earth became the favoured site - it was handy, still basking in the sun and the sky there looked far better. It was also, given the light wind  was forecast to back later in the afternoon,  seemed best able to accommodate this.  So .... Middle Earth it was. We met up at the church as the bells struck midday.

 

Little changed on a warm, leisurely walk in. Being so light we eventually ended up going to the top of the slope.  It was still light,  just odd breezes that felt like it might work - it didn't. We both tried and slope landed. Earlier I'd checked the high tide times for the Bay - 1.34pm, the theory being that it takes about an hour to reach this point in the Lune valley, with the incoming  wedge acting as a trigger.  It's what happens on nearby JB - so why not here. There was an indication of SB clouds near the coast.  At 2.20pm, on cue, things changed and some venom came into the cycles.

 

John launched first, I followed five minutes later as he began climbing.  This time the air was most definitely buzzing ... in fact scarily so at first and quite a shock. The first bullet struck me within minutes of take off, the glider twisted, tossed and reared, but surprisingly seemed less concerned than I felt. Not even a tip - remarkable. Being close to the ground, only 100' feet agl, I feared the unexpected, but thankfully all remained well. A shift 100m west and the climb became better and much nicer. Soon we were  circling to base (around 4200') with barely even a single beat of the hill.  

 

The drift was neglible and remained so over the next three hours. The question was where to go next?  The sky and the lack of wind (light SSW) determined this. To the north, over the Howgills, were dark and extensive clouds extending into the Lakes - aaah, so the bridge has set up.  Beyond, to the north and  into the Eden valley, whilst it looked sunny,  were rather broken, unconvincing clouds. Personally, I was wary of making the long crossing under such a  powerful and broad convective line. With  a wave of the hand (radio issues) we opted to follow the front edge to the NW.

 

We headed towards J37 with a cloud to go for and enough height to reach it. A long, diagonal crossing of the Lune to where I'd got a good climb back in May.  But .... nothing, not even a sniff. We were now not far short of landing. John, slightly higher, headed 100m further south, towards Lily Mere, a small lake, hemmed in by trees, found  a weak climb and began circling. I followed lower, distinctly conscious of the lake, the trees and awkward landings (?)  It began very slow, some searching, but provided a few hundred feet until it became a solid 2m and we were away again. That turned out to be the crux for me .... John's would come an hour later

 

I'd fallen a little behind and being lower it's never easy to keep track. With very little drift you never go far on a paraglider before needing  another climb - in my case just the other side of the motorway. Easier this  time, I was starting to make more sense of the lift line and how to use it.  To the south, sunny with odd cu's, whilst to the north a solid, dark line  extended into the Eden valley - and in the distance a broad shower line.  We progressed along the south edge of the  convective bridge, passing Whinfell Beacon and into the Lakes - every dark bit working.  Maybe starting to take chances too, as we occasionally pushed out front to explore the odd tempting cu in the blue.

 

On into the Lakes and  Longsleddale, a long narrow valley - tempting fate at times, even getting low on occasion, but always finding a strong climb back to base (4800'). The wind shifted slightly to SSE but remained  light.  At this point a thought occured - I wonder if I can get back? It was well past 4pm, but the convective line remained strong, well defined and led in fact right back to take off, retreating slightly south as the Bay SB weakened and drew back (Yes, I put this down to the ebbing tide).  Before turning I spotted John - really low!  Right at the head of the valley - he would get out of there on a strong climb and continue towards Yoke, but at the time he seemed doomed!  I set off loosely retracing my route.

 

Slow, but steady progress took me over the A6 and towards the M6. Getting low again I targeted a good cloud near a shallow moor valley and some windmills. Feeling level with the blades it needed to work - and again it did. Weak at first, considerable searching and then back to base as the climb strengthed with each turn. In fact ... as I was circling slightly north the cloud developed more to the south and its pull increased. Time to do a runner.  With lots of bar I flew due south, west of the M6 for 4k, still climbing, occasionally in surges and always heading for  the blue salvation upwind.  Once clear a 90 degree turn and back towards the Lune valley, more windmills and feeling confident reckoning I was only half a thermal away from making take off. This section into the Lune was very smooth, hands off relaxed - in fact I should have reset the go pro battery. it occasionally does this switch off nonsense.

 

Back into the Lune valley things again got more feisty. Nothing too bad, but that bit rougher. I took a few turn in a climb I should have persevered with .... but convinced others lay ahead I continued. The plan now was ....OK I can make take off, but not being a declared, I'm free to extend to the south. The next move was towards Three Men, or at least the back of JB. If that worked then however far ... there was now a distinct SSE to come back on.  In fact I only made the SE corner of Barkin, the expected didn't happen and with reducing height I headed back to close.

 

Landing was interesting - the lower I got the rougher it got and the harder to get down - like the fields were baking and pumping off. One minute a strong headwind, next a tailwind - then a hole and surge upwards. For whatever reason thoughts of the Laragne landing field came to mind. In the end touch-down was easy into a gentle southerly. As I packed that became a steady 10 mph northerly ... and then flat calm again. It was just gone 5.30pm .... over three hours in the air. The air temp reading 25C - that hot?

 

A very unexpected flight where I really let the sky dictate how and where I flew - and it seemed to work. The only thought afterwards was should I have extended to High Street - then again would I have made it back?  I guess be satisfied with what you're given.

 

Photo LINK  (only the first outward section before go pro froze)

 

12/7/2024   Semer (North)   

 

Are pilots creatures of habit?

 

Semer (north) seemed pretty nailed on as site for the day, so as I drove over I was pretty confident it was flyable - the only question was how good.  I arrived to find no-one there. which actually wasn't a big surprise.  Given a choice, the north side is way better than the SE face. It's longer, more interesting, has more possibilities to explore .... and boy does it thermal well.  I still stand by my view that it's vastly underated and doesn't even figure on most folks radar.

 

The low shoulder is an easy take off. As I walked across the wind was on the slope, about 10mph. So without any hanging about I peeled left onto the main face and was soon climbing and heading across to the main edge.  For the first 40 minute it was smooth, relaxed, soaring with the odd bits of something coming through. The sky was 7/8 cover .... little sun to speak of, but the thermals got stronger and more organised meaning I was able to extend the ridge at both ends. Eventually, with no great height, but it being very bouyant, I pushed forward towards the end of Wether. This took me into a sustained period of lift and using bar to counter it somewhat I headed for Hawes. There are two main sections on the north end of Wether I could have used either but in the end didn't need to. I tagged a sector near Hawes and simply cruised back to Semer. All pretty easy.

 

After an hour and half and needing a Jimmy Riddle I landed on the lower shoulder near the car in a gentle, smooth breeze.  A very pleasant hour and a half. Forgot the go pro ... pity really.  I wish people would take this site more seriously, being about the only true northerly in the Dales, it doesn't have a lot of competition.

13/7/2024  Semer (north)

 

Not quite a carbon copy of the previous day. Same wind, same direction ....soarable, but without the thermals and some drizzle dodging thrown in. I didn't stay up long.

 

In retrospect, Park was the better place being drier, brighter and the shower activity far lass

15/7/2024  Cautley

 

The day started off really nice, warm with blue skies.  By the time Rob, John H and I arrived at Cautley it was overdeveloping in the Dales to our east. Richard Meek had just taken off and was climbing OK ... we set off up with Dave Smart just ahead.  Andy A would join us later - and walk up twice! I found the walk up gruelling, given the heat and humidity ... it wouldn't have been so bad until the wind dropped forcing Rob and I to carry a balled up glider to near the top. The others managed to just catch the wind and soar up the last big section.

 

A fickle wind then went light and east.  At least it allowed a dive across to the huge cliffs left of the Spout. These sort of worked OK and I was at least able to soar up them with Rob - very impressive. I've never actually soared the cliffs themselves so that was spectacular and made things a bit more worthwhile.

 

The clouds darkened, the wind dropped to little and we all went down and landed.  A drink in the Royal Barn to end the day.

 

A few pics LINK

17/7/2024    The Magnet/Whernside WNW

 

A lovely summer morning, but it took a while for the cloud to clear off Ingleborough and Whernside. Base was never likely to be very high, but given time and the further east we could fly then the better it should get - or at least that's what Mr RASP said.

 

John H, Rob U and I walked up from Kingsdale, arriving just as Alan and Chris made it from Chapel le Dale.  A nice breeze, on the hill, but rather shaded out front. We soared easily for no more than 15 minutes before the sun struck the lower slopes  and from that point  on the thermals kicked in. My first climb reached base - a modest 3,300'. A look downwind convinced me to go across to the very north end of the hill ... beyond the tarns, where good looking clouds were building, with more beefy one's down track. It's now becoming my favoured route away from the hill.

 

The climbs were good, solid and strong and the next one didn't look far away. Again I was on my lonesome as the others remained nearer the point.  Reaching base I set off, heading for Wold Fell, spotting gliders on Brant that seemed to be struggling.   Having lost about 800' I was relieved when another good climb arrived and hoisted me back to base - now just under 4000'.  What seemed like way below, I saw the other three gliders scooting into the forestry below the railway line. Two didn't make it out of there, but tenacious Chris did.

 

Another glide towards Dodd and again a good, solid climb out that took me to 4000' - getting better. The sky was - at least to the next climb, looking OK, but large blue areas were opening up ahead  Into the blue over Semer I had really nothing but a few wisps  to go for - still I had found climbs here before.  Yet again, a solid climb to 4200'. Way below -  in  a horrible place behind Wether I spotted Chris. Whilst I was back in the wispies he had a low level struggle I didn't envy.

 

I now had something of a dilemma. The south side of Wensleydale, the usual route towards Pen Hill, showed no cloud development. It may produce a thermal out of the blue, but I elected to cross towards Nappa Scar.  Pro's and con's.  There were good clouds over the moors beyond, but it's a long crossing - it also has some airspace to deal with.  I made the crossing, not that high as the ground rose - found strong, but strange, surging thermals that rapidly disappeared - slowly I drifted towards decision point with Bellerby D area approaching and the ground never far below. Initially, my plan had been get another good climb and go through the  Bellerby and Feldom gap. In the end I played safe (for retrieve at least) and took the south side of Bellerby and back into Wensleydale.  Very little thermal came my way, a few birds gave me moments of hope and the best had me thermallng towards the edge of Bellerby with my airspace warning shouting. I didn't wish to transgress as I had done a few years ago, where a single, final turn had me clipping it. 

 

I knew I was pretty much at last orders as I slid along the tree covered ridges towards Leyburn. Some gulls tempted me .... then buggered off. Just one more climb please - the VoY was starting to look good.  In the end I landed at Wensley RU field (freshly mown that morning a lady told me).   So .... another nearly flight where the hard work seemed behind me and my goal (Stokesley) looked a possibility.

 

Now the sweet and sour of getting back.  I walked to a bus stop, it said 15.57 so that meant a 35 minute wait in broiling sun. I counted the minutes down and on cue the bus arrived - despite me being very obvious, big sack and sticking out an arm - it didn't stop!  I am getting very Victor Meldrew and rang the bus company. A nice lady (Emma) apologised and said she would have collected me, but was on her motorbike that day. A short, hot walk to another hitching place and within 10 minutes I was being whisked at high speed to my front door in Ingleton.  Lovely guy (Rob) who lived just outside Kirkby Lonsdale and was coming back from a work job near Richmond. A rapid change in fortunes, leaving me thinking the bus would have been the worst option.

 

So ... all's well that ends well. Super day in the end - except I wanted to fly further.

 

A few pics LINK

19/7/2024   The Magnet

 

A head cold meant I hadn't slept well the night before, the oppressive heat didn't help so I wasn't feeling in the mood and rather lethargic to consider flying. That changed by 5pm when on a whim and a pint I decide to just go out someplace handy. The wind had dropped, maybe too much so I had to do the Magnet walk again.

 

By 6pm I was in the air - wind a tadge off to the south, but just enough to soar in a gust.  at first it was rather scratchy but then got better and in the end I found decent thermals to over 2m/s.  It was OK but nothing to get too excited about.

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© Ed Cleasby