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5/5/2024  Scar End

 

Scar End?  Well, it's the very end of Twistleton Scar and takes mainly a SW, maybe a bit of SSW .... perhaps even WSW. It's quite short, but it's useful and handy as it stands out from my bedroon window. I recall flying onto it last year and it seemed to work OK.

 

It didn't start to clear until 2pm; I had to be back for a video Birthday call at 4, so it was all a bit tight.  Being a bank Holiday, The Falls walk was busy .... even the ice cream van had a lengthy queue so I set off up the hill - a 10 minute steep walk. Lots of grassy take of  areas, several limestone pavements to explore and some waiting. The wind was very light, off to the west and in the end it became a fly-down, over the ice cream queue to a landing by the car.

 

I'll certainly try it again,  but only because it's so handy.

BPCup  9 - 11th May

 

This entry covers the three days individually.

 

During the days leading into the Cup I thought the forecast looked reasonble, with a good chance of flying. High pressure was establishing with a breakdown coming on the final scheduled day (12th). It wasn't an easy forecast to interpret however in terms of wind direction, but especially cloud cover. Add into the mix the numbers involved in the comp and site choices become limited.

 

9th May - Wether Fell

 

The morning fog wasn't inspiring as I made the early drive over, however it was clearing and Hawes was in sunshine.  I drove to the top, it checked out OK with a light breeze on the hill and I had an early, 10am flight, to confirm the conditions before everyone arrived. 

 

A task was set to a goal at Constable Burton with a TP based on Penhill.  Everyone flew, the day improved, in fact it was flyable all day from 10am until 7pm. It wasn't easy to get away, there were thermals but base was only about 3000'. Best effort was Josh Coombes who took a good, curve ball route (must have listened to my previous night briefing - better than me anyhow). He got to within a few k's of the ESS. I meanwhile dribbled with a few weak thermals to Worton.

 

10th May - Windbank

 

A brighter, sunnier day, but marred until late on by high cloud cover - the late afternoon looked lovely.  Although a light SSW was forecast the hill started working by about 12 and early pilots found plenty of thermals. An interesting and challenging 'box' task was set taking pilots up the valley to TP1, then over the back to TP2 (centred on Wether) and back via Buckden (TP3) and Gt Whernside to goal in the landing field. At least it kept the awkward WB retrieve, easy. A bonus was wherever you might bomb out there was a good village pub.

 

TP1 -  claimed a few victims. Tagging it and returning to the back ridge was tricky - you needed to go with height or find an elusive return climb.  I found the back ridge tricky too ... the wind was light and the climbs all seemed to be out front on the shallow slopes.  Eventually, pushing out I found one and joined by Rob U we set off over the back towards Buckden - not exactly on line for TP2. Still - it worked.  Some weak dribbling until something a  little better got me high enough to go for a promising wooded slope at the head of Wharfedale, over Hubberholme. As Rob and another pilot landed I found a superb climb to get me back over 4000' - John Murphy came in below (I think he was returning from TP2). I easily tagged TP2 and returned looking for the same thermal .... and there it was, just as good. Back to 4000' and the slightly into wind crossing to Buckden.  Getting to Buckden was easy enough - in fact I was confident of making it back to goal at this stage, then the God's decreed otherwise.  TP3 was actually over the back of the summit by a k - I could tag it, but I didn't think I could get back to the front of the Buckden bowl. It usually thermals OK in the bowl - but not today. In the end I gave it up and opted for flying out front. As some before me found - not a thing. I slid along the valley side and landed at Kettlewell for an ice cream in the hot sun and a visitor gave me a lift to my car.  Bit disappointing having done the hard work my luck then ran out on the run in.

 

When I left about 5pm the hill was still working and looked lovely in the evening sun with lots of nice cu's and gliders dotting the sky.

 

11th May  Whernside

 

This should have been the day of the comp - an awesome xc day.

 

Bit tricky forecast-wise as it indicated a SSE (not SE) and increasing a bit in the afternoon.  I walked onto the lower slopes at 10am to checked it out. It seemed OK - a little light and a  little off to the S ... but normal here. Whernside has the strongest compression of any site I know, but pilots insist on climbing to the top only to then read the day as blown out!  It's usually not, that's just Whernside.  The temptation was the much better air to the north.

 

An early flight confirmed lots of lift, smooth and easy penetration - in fact I was only reading a max of 22kph at height, often less. I landed at the bottom of the slope - too late the day had been canned. I recall one individual standing on the top edge and radioing 20, gusting 25mph. That's not how Whernside works -  then to walk up into it. The rule here is ...launch as low as conditions allow.

 

As many made their way down, about a dozen of us flew and if anything the day got better - the wind even eased and straightened, the thermals were OK and a few cu's formed. After an hour I decide I'd go xc - a few others went at different intervals too. This now becomes my solitary xc tale.

 

At 3,300' (not that high at this stage) I thermalled over Kingsdale to Gragareth - being much higher I carried on to Barkin. Barkin was deserted.  It's a huge, steep ridge and I expected a lot of lift given the breeze ... oddly  it felt becalmed. Thinking even staying up was going to be tricky I then found out why it had switched off - a big fat thermal out front.   This got me up and into the Lune valley.  The big problem so far was no clouds and the first appeared some distance away where the Lune rises towards the M6. The question was .... could I reach it? 

 

I wasn't high, but it worked, a wispy cloud - the first of many great thermals. All smooth and a real joy to work. Best of all, clouds now started to appear ahead -the path became easily plotted.  Each cloud closer, more distinct and stronger. I'd made the better airmass. The disappointment was I imagined flying these conditions as a gaggle - far more sociable ... it would have  been fun. To the south was the long Bay convergence. I headed into the eastern fells, over the A6 and the more I progressed the more the wind eased and turned more to the south. Usually I'm heading the other way - out of the Lakes. I passed high over Haweswater, then Ullswater and the clouds strode on to the north and the flying got ever easier with base now over 5'500.  In fact .... I pressed on through weaker stuff and only used the strong climbs. In the end, with Carlisle station in mind I just pressed bar and headed there ignoring thermals. I arrived over Carlisle centre, stumbled into another climb and the difficulty came in getting down. It seems stupid now, there was so much more in the day that I wasted. I had to go back upwind some distance to find any sort of sink. Eventually I landed not far from the station in a light breeze beneath a dream sky. What I'd give for a driver.

 

What I didn't know was Robin Wallace had also ploughed a lone furrow slightly east of me - to get a PB of 116k. More to the point Simon Ford was acting as retrieve driver - if only I'd known. Still - many thanks to them for collecting me from the station. I'd love to have flown with Robin .... he didn't know the terrain and it was very familiar to me. We had radios, but despite calls I only picked up various other northbound pilots.

 

A great day ... one of the best. It would have made a super task.

 

With more wind and thunderstorms forecast Sunday was cancelled.

 

These are some video stills from my gopro. The visibility wasn't good for filming - so many are a little dark.  The xc day is better, but my camera stopped at Ullswater for some reason. I'll add captions at some point.

 

PHOTO LINK

18/5/2024  Yoke

 

Cefn, Chris and I opted for the too long, over-looked Yoke.  Part of the reason may be the length of the walk in - it's getting to be a bit brutal .... and of course Cefn was 'on call' so brought a hefty sized laptop with him to add to his sack weight. Another reason is I refuse to pay for the COM parking which to me is pure criminal greed! So ... Yoke it was.

 

A lovely day, rather warm and also a bit breezy so the walk up could be rewarded with a walk down. It nearly was. It was blowing hard over the cliffs from the NE - an awkward direction and rather unsettling. We waited ... it took a while before the venom went out of the wind and things settled to a more steady ENE. Time to send off the OAP to test it out.

 

It was actually quite smooth, not windy at all and reasonably thermic. We boated around the local area for an hour before I got the feeling it was time for a beer at Ings. Best of all - no walk down.

 

PHOTO LINK

19/5/2024   Laythwaite bowl

 

Everyone went to either COM (my no payment protest put that out), or to Yoke (and I couldn't face the walk a second time in two days). So we went exploring - Chris and I.

The first discovery was a lovely cafe in Shap - that delayed us for a spell. Then we discovered a charming hamlet called Burn Banks at the foot of Haweswater. It even had a free visitors carpark. I admit to be totally bowled over by the walk in. For the first 2k it meanders along the waterside, through lovely woodland until it reaches Measand Beck - then the climb begins. even the climb is interesting as it passes small, tucked away waterfalls. Breaking onto the open moor the hard graft starts. Flat at first, then steeper - being almost windless we just kept going, Chris easing to my slowing pace. Eventually, we topped out high in the bowl with stunning views up the water. 

 

By now it was 2pm ... maybe an hour or more too late. However, the cu's had only just started forming in the eastern fells as we laid out.

Photo:  Chris plots the route - first stop Applethwaite Common, second Shap quarries.

 

We climbed out in the first bowl, a little scratchy at first before heading south for the bigger stuff near Kidsty Pike and the back of High Street. The scenery is what makes this place so worth flying - it's truly spectacular. We wondered if  Haweswater would subdue the thermals, but it was such a good day that before heading into Kentmere we had reached 5500'. Best of all almost no wind at height. We reached the first TP together. Chris got a better climb and seemed to me well over the back - he wasn't and hell, there was no wind anyway. Still .... my irrational retrieve  fears kicked in and I bolted back over the pass to High Street. Not a good move. He did call me back to the climb - I stupidly ignored him. The previously fruitful craggy bowls just refused to offer up anything - on to Kidsty Pike - same thing. Most noticeable was the huge raincloud heading into Haweswater from the Eden valley and it didn't seem long before the rain hit and possibly a gust front. I flew down the very spine of Riggindale - it's a long, long ridge and it's popular. Heading down it at speed at 100' I saw the surprised faces and the cameras come out. It was reasonably OK in the bottom and I landed by the carpark. As I finished packing the first raindrops fell - big ones!

 

For a while I sheltered under bushes, occasionally trying to get a lift from the odd passing car. Eventually a nice couple of walkers passed and chatted, then offered me a lift.  The final part is meeting up with Chris 15 minutes later and enjoy a pint on the terrace of the Mardale Hotel - a place everyone should visit on a nice day.  Once again the day had turned blue, and sunny.

 

We could have made a lot more of the day, being late didn't help and the big rain shower curtailed activities somewhat. Still - it's one hell of a place to fly.

 

PHOTO LINK

20/5/2024  Park Fell

 

A poor day compared with the previous two. Lots of cloud cover, not a great base and poor thermal activity.

 

I set off up Park as Chris launched. I only managed to catch him up two hours later. The wind being more NE than ENE I took off lower on the spine and hopped the wall/fence. It seemed OK - however, it wasn't.  For short spells it soared fine, then it would instantly switch off. I had many short 10 - 20 minute flights, never able to get above 300' over take off. Meanwhile Chris seemed to being finding Simon Fell a bit similar. This went on for well over an hour until I eventually got enough to cross south to Simon's. Meanwhile Chris had hopped again onto the east face of Little Ingleborough. Simon's Fell is bigger, it's an east facing bowl basically with a good NE section - again, it wasn't brilliant but at least no more top landings were required.   I again persevered for an hour before  again crossing over the to join Chris on Little Ingleborough. I knew it wasn't going to work well ... it was a bit out of wind facing E in a NE.

 

Down below the size of the colourful Gaping Ghyll encampment amazed me - a colourful tent city nestled in a shallow ripple of the large plain out front. We never got very much height  and in the end I flew down to land beneath Grey Scars.  The wind  had been light until this point - it was quite windy on landing.

 

Aah well - 3 hrs of pushing broom without a lot to show for it.

 

PHOTO :  Just visible is the gypsy encampment off the toe of the pod.

25/5/2024  Whernside

 

A tricky forecast. All showed a decent, if short, 2hr slot with it likely blown out by midday. In fact it was almost a carbon copy of the BPC day and stayed better for longer with the wind never really an issue.

 

Met up with Nina, lovely lady, very keen, but I wasn't sure the day was flyable at this stage, so maybe some ground handling. Still .... arriving at Whernside showed several in the air and others laying out. Optimism reigned and it looked like it might be OK. Not an easy take off for the less experienced or even the experienced with either a steep slope, a few rocks and a rather gusty, switching wind to contend with.  Pete set off (Gretna Green bound) - shortly after Cefn followed, then Nina gave it a go .... good take off, but a fly down unfortunately.  

 

Ten minutes later I launched and had about 45 minutes. Lots of lift, sound thermals that got a little hard edged towards the end. Landed, packed and set off back to KL.

 

An hour plus in the Royal Barn with Cefn before sitting for a further hour plus in Rob's garden with Tristan drinking coffee and talking parabollocks.  

 

Stills LINK

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© Ed Cleasby