3/3/2024 Stags


I arrived to find Rob Cruikshank packing. He'd had about an hour and remarked how cold his hands were. It was now about 1.20pm and back home it had been a pleasant, sunny day so far, quite spring-like, so I'd not bothered  with a duvet. I was in two  minds - should I bother?


I walked up, arriving on top to find a gentle breeze and the day getting brighter.  If anything the wind was a tadge off to the west - but quite OK. An easy take off and surprisingly nice lift given the light wnd. I enjoyed a very relaxing 45 minutes, never felt cold at all, if anything on the warm side. I thought the cold might seek into fingers but it never did. I had expected to see other pilots, but none turned up after Rob left.


With the wind dying further and going a little more west I landed, into wind  but with a different approach to the usual Stags one. A lovely afternoon spell.


No one to film so very few photos LINK

6/3/2024   Whernside


Chris and I met up at Ribblehead with the intention of perhaps flying Widdale. However, although the wind direction and strength were fine, there was a lot of low cloud to the north and east - so plans changed. We considered the options and settled on Whernside as it was handy and the cloud was starting to lift from the summit.


On the walk in we spotted two pilots on the ridge top. Although the wind was still reasonably light, we suspected this being Whernside with its appreciable compression, they were feeling its effects. Our plan was to do the usual thng here and lay out just up the lower slope. The two 'compression victims'; Simon and Ged set off down and joined us for a chat and watched as we laid out, took off in about 6-8mph and soared easily up the ridge. it convinced them to open their bags and do similar.


We had about an hour or so flying - until finger nip set in and we went down to land. Chris tried Twistleton  Scar without any joy as the wind was coming down the valley.  The flying was pretty smooth, lots of lift which extended well out into the valley plus some orographic flying to add some excitement.


An enjoyable hour finished off with coffee and pie in Seasons, Ingleton.


A few photos off the video  LINK

16/3/2024  Stags


The day looked promising - or rather a short, three hour slot did before more wind and rain spolit the day.  March has not been the most conducive month for paragliding.


I drove over to Hawes, past all the 'Road Closed' signs, hopeful the Lanacar Lane slip road would be open. Fortunately the gamble paid off and the sight of gliders doing OK on Stags spurred me on - straight into a single lane traffic jam.  I parked up next to John H and became a Traffic Management Officer - I believe I have missed my true calling. Fifteen minutes of bending people to my will (officer material) and we were through; John H and I dropping a car and pairing up.


The conditions looked (just) OK. Wind a bit too SSE for my liking,  rather overcast but otherwise worth the walk to the far end. The slightly puzzling bit was hardly  any Dales Pilots, just the J36  lot and Josh Sanderson dotted across launch. A gentle breeze.


We enjoyed easy soaring for about 40 minutes with the sky slowly breaking up and patches of sun appearing. In the end it started to look quite good and as the amount of sun increased the thermals kicked in - all the way to cloudbase at 3,300asl.  Jacob and Josh had planned great things. I thought they were over reading the day, wrongly as it turned out, and then it got interesting. 


I recall reaching base with Josh and Jacob, but then lost them in the murk although I suspected they were away.  BIt stupid really - ageing brain fade maybe, but I could have got them on my FLARM screen as I knew they were showing. Still they were gone.  Gliders were now really spread out towards Humesett and Cotterside so I headed there.  A sinking spell of wondering if this was a good move, but I had a cloud in mind and others seemed to start circling.


A bit of searching in weak stuff before  I was nicely centred on a solid climb that slowly took me to base along with Andy and John H. We had a team, we were heading high (well 3,400')  towards Great Shunner Fell - but we had no radio comms!  From very little drift the wind now became a factor (it was forecast to increase). What to do? It looked OK downwind despite the lowish base. But we all turned back  in our own time. It a was a real push forward against the wind, none of us made it, but I discovered a secret valley (to me) and landed by a valley bottom stream. After packing I quite enjoyed trying to solve the puzzle of finding a  stream crossing without getting wet!


A very enjoyable spell of flyimg - perhaps could have done more with it at the end. Jacob and Josh managed a credtable flight to near Appleby.  As they awaited a train we three had a length coffee and debrief in Penny Garth cafe.


Video Stills LINK

24/3 2024 Park Fell

Following a recent finger injury (bloody and mangled) - I wasn't really up for some flying; indeed just putting on a glove was proving difficult.  Still .... it was the first decent xc day of the season and if I couldn't fly then I wanted to be out. Maybe cameraman/retrieve driver?



More as a 'just in case' I loaded the wing and headed up the road to Park knowing others would be there. A word on the day - whilst it looked really good and getting better I figured it would take until 1pm for the wind to ease.  That proved good timing.


I walked in (with the bag, again, just in case) and it seemed OK ... in fact I was only a 150' up the slope at my favourite, low level launch when I couldn't resist and got the glider out. It really was perfect, a gentle, smooth 8 - 10mph.  I'd thought out a new sort of one handed launch technique  - and being smooth it should work.  Tom S joined me and went a little further along the slope.


I was soon away, climbing fast and without really beating the hill I was climbing easily to base Mere specks out over the valley, and  touching the clouds, were Chris and Toot.  I eventually, loosley, joined Toot, then pushed forward for a better climb that got me fully to base at 4'800'. A short chat with Chris on the radio and he said something like, take Toot to Skipton ... he wants to fly there. The problem was he'd no radio and I'd lost him in all the murk at base. A check on my FLARM put him at my height, but 2.7k away ... so he must have set off?  I hared off downwind toward PyG, but the distance kept increasing - odd? Maybe he was still on the hill? At this point I just decided I was on  my own and set off.


At first it seemed slow going, never a great drift, but certainly a well marked convergence line - a quite common occurence here. It wasn't too difficult to dodge in and out of the quite strong lift and at one point I got well drawn into cloud to 5'300'.  The day was getting really good.  Beyond Settle and towards Malham Tarn the line weakened and lift became harder to find and a bit weaker. I drifted along for about 10k then spotted Toot just to my north. Great ...  some company - it would be so much easier together.


As I headed towards him he was a bit lower, but en route I found a reasonable climb - he appeared to come across - then continued on. I was rather hoping for some video, but he never came close enough.  Just a shy guy I guess.


I watched him for a while, getting ever lower as he turned due south for a landing near Gargrave. On my own again. I was rather torn at this point. The wind now seemed to have more west in it which would allow a line around the north side of the LBA (3000'). I initially set off that way, but the thought of being stuck on the moors over towards Pately Bridge made me choose the easy life and  I headed back southeast for Skipton and a bus ride. Over Dead Eyes (west side of Sharp Haw) I expected a climb and got one. It was fairly weak and short lived so after half a dozen turns I drifted off, admiring the Embsay railway, and settled for a field on the edge of Skipton.


A nice landing in a light wind in a field I've used before. Very pleasant in the sun.  Packing was a slow one-handed affair before setting off for a bus stop.  I waited - no bus. A walk into town and the main bus station - I waited, again, no bus. It would have helped if I'd realised it was Sunday - one forgets at my age!  Still ... I did get back.


Photo LINK

30/3/2024  Cotterside


I arrived at the Moorcock about 1pm, a little later than I would have liked. A good sky developing, wind on the hill and a pleasantly warm walk-in. There was the odd glider flying on Stags, but this looked the far better place.  


Below: On launch

Quickly kitted up, away over the wall, a scratchy first 100m and then easily well above the ridge. Radio comms suggested a frustrating time on Stags, but with far better ground out front of Cotterside, I was more than happy to be here.  The first climbs came through, then things got more reliable and I was climbing away as a Gin glider sneaked round low from Stags.  


I set my usual out and return of 40k to Caperby and back.  Crossing over towards Stags I met a good climb and took it to just over 4000' .... about base for the day.  Two gliders came in low down (one a Zeno or Enzo3?).  It was a strong climb .... had my plan been downwind I'd have continued with it, instead I set off east to arrive modestly high over Stags. Another Gin wing (Pete Morris) marked a decent climb, but I'd ready got a climb .... although I think it was just one very wide thermal. Pete set off back and I carried on towards Nappa.  It's always OK, but never feels like it as it involves sliding  along small,  shallow ripples and getting ever lower. I arived at Nappa at ridge top height and found better lift as I continued east.  The plan was to hang around here, find a good climb, then go for the turnpoint about 5k further on. As it happened I didn't need to wait long and without a single beat, one weak, but consistent thermal and I deemed I had enough to get there. Two other gliders then appeared low on Nappa .... possibly from Windbank?


It took a while to see the numbers count down and to realise that on the hill I'd set the turnpoint a bit further than I thought. Tagged, I turned back - I seemed to have a headwind and probably too quickly I again turned east. This is the third time I've tagged this area and each time struggled to get back .... the return always seems a real bind. To the east was a blue slot, rather too wide given my height, but the temptation was a big street - it was a streeting sort of day. Maybe a crosswind OR was not a great idea in retrospect.


Things then got a bit desperate.  Another long crossing getting ever lower, until  lower still over a deep wooded ravine. I'd landed here before and noticed a small limestone edge above my landing field, but guarded  by a powerline.  Desperate times!  I made the edge - just. It soared in a very up and down fashion - below it, above it, below it. 100m further east was another higher and longer edge ... this time big trees stood in the way. I tried it once and retreated at the thought of rotor. After what seemed a long time of getting bounced on my mini ridge something gave me the height to jump safely onto the ridge. Behind appeared the quarry and Bellarby D airspace.   It actually worked OK and I able to scoot along quite nicely until it became a full wooded hillside. Maybe I should have hung around here but the sky was dying and I deemed the next step a jump too far. When the ridge ended above Preston under Scar I pushed out in hope after some seagulls and landed by the road.  


For hitching it wasn't a great road being fairly quiet.  I was therefore really grateful when a small red car pulled in and despite being a little tight for space it worked out fine. I met a lovely retired couple, enjoyed their conversation, and although only going as far as Redmire they took me all the way to Hawes. Really lovely, kind, generous people that only a lifetime of retrieve hitching with a glider allows you to meet. If you read this .... thankyou again.


In Hawes my messages showed Pete M and Alan O in the Board Inn having a beer. A great way to end the day and Pete gave me a lift back to the Moorcock and my car.


Just a few photos from the bit of video I took  LINK   


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© Ed Cleasby