3/6/2024  Dodd Fell


Despite a forecast suggesting breezy in the Dales, Chris and I made our way over to Dodd. Further west the base was too low and further east was too far. It was still relatively early, about 10.30am  and we wanted to be in the air as soon as possible. We made the customary check at the Wether roadhead which confirmed Dodd with its lighter winds was the place. There were a few pg's at Wether - but it seemed an odd choice and would soon blow out. Some hangies flew it later.


So it proved.  We had a nice gentle breeze, an easy take off and the full ridge was working well. The sky also looking good, but base remained low at 3500' .... OK for the flats, but not for crossing the Dales in wind. We set a goal at Selby ... which seemed optimistic given we had the Dales to cross.


For a good hour and half we  climbed to base, then lost it .... never quite convinced that it was go-able. For much of this time I was on my own as Chris ventured too far forward and found himself stuck and scraping the ridge in front - which wasn't working.  Eventually, he would make it back onto Dodd - but just as I was leaving.  A solitary Ozone wing joined me for a short spell then headed back to Wether I think.


One incident of note. My pod unexpectedly twanged and gave way!  One of the internal closure lines had snapped and a cold draft entered.  It took a struggle, some contortions to grab a loose loop, until I managed to fasten it over a buckle - it worked and I can't recall noticing anything untoward after that.  


For the first 12k I hung onto every bit of lift, never feeling that high, even though I often was partly in cloud ... approaching Bishopdale I touched just over 4000' - reasons to be optimistic. Only, now a lot lower, at Bishopdale did I start to notice the wind strength and it was not a valley I wanted to go down in for a few reasons.  A brief track north and I stumbled into a good climb that had me heading for Great Whernside.  This is where the FANET screen proved useful - it told me Chris was 3k behind and gave me his height and vario readings.  So ... I knew he was on his way.  All other traffic had ceased.


I deviated to the NW face of Great Whernside - the wind now showing signs of veering from WNW.  I've been here before and was mindful of the wind.  Not far above ridge height I slowly eased west and picked up a climb on the very corner. Radio comms weren't great ... quite a bit of static, but Chris had now caught up only a k or so to the north.  Now the errors crept in.


Given the modest base, my fear of a long moorland walk out and a  questionable signal, I did my usual trick of stepping out of the line to crosswind south to easier territory.  Looking north it seemed the sensible way, as from my position Chris seemed really low and no more than skimming the moor top and descending into remote Lofthouse.  I headed for Grimwith res ... when the clever track was over the moor towards Pateley ... the climbs were that way. I just wanted the comfort of a main road.


The ground was mostly shaded out, but odd sunny patches tempted  - and almost saved me. A gentle, yet elusive cthermal saw  me slowly climbing again. One minute it was there and strong, the next gone.  That was rather the tale of all thermals on the day.  I passed over Grimwith - busy with sailboats and my half thermal saviour disappeared.


A little further on the cafe at Stump Cross Caverns and a busy carpark tempted me. It was also a good open place to land given the wind strength.  A good landing - a little bouncy on approach,  but no problem.


(Only later did I learn that Chris had dug himself out of the moorland and made it to Killinghall. Fortune favours the brave.)


A coffee and cake followed by a lift in a Tesla (thanks Emma) to Bolton Abbey. Great sight seeing day - a drive to savour with excellent company.  A 5min wait and another lift to Skipton station. Even better - another 15 mins and the 5pm train back to Ribblehead. Back home by 5.45pm .  Maybe I should have gone over the moor.


Collected Chris later from Ribblehead- sorted cars and enjoyed two excellent pints in the Station Inn.


LINK   (not a lot - I was too  absorbed in staying up)

11/6/2024 Park Fell


At last, a flyable day .... although by no means certain with possible showers in the afternoon and a lot of cloud cover forecast. RASP didn't really rate it - but rasp is getting too unreliable to use. So ... back to working it out as you go.


Ribblehead is not only handy for me, but it's an excellent place to gauge the sky and the wind. I had a few options, but Park looked perfect; the right direction, strength and with a fair amount of sunshine. Following on just behind was Rob, Chris and John H.  We had an easy low take off and plenty of lift.


For over an hour we tracked back and forth, finding good climbs but nothing much going above 3600' .... although occasionally I was  tempted. Chris disappeared first off the north end and whilst flogging the ridge I switched to my FANET screen to watch his progress.  At first - it was about what was to be expected - but he kept going up, and up and up. In fact FANET was soon  showing over 6000'. That did puzzle me given the base and his climb rate seemed well above what we had been getting (5m/s). Anyway, back to flogging the ridge with Rob and John.


It was nice, but  becoming a bit frustrating. Eventually John got away off the south end leaving just Rob and I.  I decided that whatever the outcome I was away, and leaving Rob down on the ridge I set off with no great height.  Over Crummackdale a climb of sorts appeared (they were all rather slow) and I took that back to about 3000' . A slide towards Settle provided a better climb  as I passed over the town.  This was quite a strong one for once, especially as I got higher. Usually clouds don't bother me, but approaching what I took to be base (about 4000') and zero escape routes I basically bottled it and set off, bar in, downwind. I soon regretted that hasty move and should have turned back.


Aside from the odd splodge of sun on the ground - they were always crosswind  so with height draining away I made a move south for the main A65. I got the odd beep, the odd hopeful turn, but nothing to avoid terra firma. I landed just beyond Hellifield - missed a bus by 5 mins, but a pie helped me pass the next 55 mins until the next bus (with John aboard) took me to my door.


I'd set a goal at Colne. Coming back on the bus, John looked up and spotted a glider overhead.... under 8/8 cloud cover. Rob had eventually managed to get away ... in fact that glide would take him to my goal cylinder (which he had no idea of).


I'm going to mention a problem I have.  I struggle to get the Photon to thermal, it just seems an effort to turn and always wants to open out. Now .... it may be me, but being used to agile gliders it doesn't feel at all the same ????



12/6/2024  Brigsteer


Chris and I had a short messaging debate about where to go ... with a few others joining in the loop too.  The Dales was forecast windy, not OTT windy, but enough to give food for thought.  The day had started blue, but by 9am it was starting to go a bit Marge Simpson and fill in.  In the end we thought west is best and  by the time we reached Cowan Bridge the sky ahead looked pretty classic - so we carried on to Brigsteer. 


As soon as we arrived we knew it was the place, the wind was on and about right for the shallow take off.  The sky looked great, you never get a high base here so need to go over the back with more faith than height.  Within ten minutes Cefn and then Andy and Tom H arrived. 


We set a goal at 62k (Leyburn) ... I think with the view there was a slight W in the wind, which didn't turn out that way.  Easy take off (you never know here) and onto the scar. I fully expected to have a spell of soaring with the others, but having no sooner arrived on the main scar I was climbing in a solid climb to base - surprisingly with little drift which always tells me it's strong and solid enough to hold against the wind. The others seemed to be just scratching the scar whilst I went into orbit. So .... do I wait (probably lose all the height) or go, but without the power of the gaggle. In retrospect the wait would have been the best option as they climbed out only  minutes after I left.


For a while I skirted with my cloud. The sky downwind was rather too blue for my liking, but the wind seemed to have a lot more south in it so it would have been the best way (after- thought). Instead I went directly crosswind on a long, slow glide that lost me 2000' to eventually arrive over the Helm and a decaying cloud. I desperately needed something if this gamble was to pay off. 


At 1800' asl i found a weak climb, very scratty and broken and then stronger surges ... I made only 400' always finding bits that cheered me  - Yes, out of jail, back in the game. Then it was gone ... so illusive.  Further downwind - another, but that too was small cores to nothing. after three abortive attempts at getting up again, mindful of the wind and approaching HT lines I sought out a field and nice landing. Bugger!  During the final struggles I'd watched both Chris and Andy 8k, to my NW, on my FANET, at a good height and with positive vario readings - if only I'd not hared off on my own. Double bugger!!


An easy retrieve in a smart BMW and I was back at Brig to see Cefn happily soaring - but under a rather grey sky.  I opted to do retrieve duty. I spoke with Andy - down near the A6, but sorted by his wife. Chris, he said had landed near Tebay. So I headed for Tebay. The only thing was - Chris was still flying. I did coffee, sandwiches and sunbathing at Tebay ... Chris kept flying - an airborne photo came through which I instantly recognise as over Murton village. With no tracking it became guesswork and I had visions of a long drive towards Hexham. My xctrack screen was showing showers down the xfell range ... and a big one over Murton Pike (it was quite dry) Chris eventually landed near Dufton Pike and as he walked out I drove over and we met in the village outside the Stag inn.


A day I could have done a lot more with. Repeated failure dents the confidence (a big element of xc flying) and I need to reflect on why.  Impatience?  Too much 'lone wolf' flying? Poor decisions? Bad luck? And I'm finding thermaling the Photon a problem ... either me or the wing has a problem. 



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© Ed Cleasby