18/06/2017 - Fan Gyhirych
The good days are worth waiting for 8) After the previous day's poor conditions, an improvement was anticipated. We arrived at the hill and were up on launch in good time after meeting up with Aaron, Anna and Pembrokeshire Paragliding in the layby at 10:30. Fluffy cu's were forming further to the east coupled with a faint upslope breeze on the southwest side of the hill and the outlook was promising. A possible fly in the ointment could have been the arrival of a seabreeze at some point in the afternoon.
With this in mind, some of us were already clipped in and ready to go by midday(early for Fan G!) while other were still arriving. It was a bit like an Algodonales reunion up on the hill(Steve W, Aaron, Anna, Mike T, Jon M, Dave, Stein, Viv and Rob Szarlat) plus Chris D. A few exploratory inflations and short hops detected no lift so a little parawaiting ensued. At around 12:45, Viv showed that there was a bit of lift in the air so I launched and found enough to work up a bit of height and was soon gaining enough height to drift back above the hilltop. The drift was stronger than I expected and I needed to push back into wind a few times before getting to a position to leave the hill.
A few of the others had launched but were not gaining much height and not wishing to squander an opportunity, I left the hill, circling away towards Heol Senni where I found a good top-up climb above the hilltop. Downwind, good clouds beckoned and the going seemed easy at first but then...... :o near Brecon, I found myself looking for a save over some sunny fields. Patience was rewarded with a slow but steady climb out...phew!
Back on the case, I passed over the town heading northeast but again, I was soon in need of another save and this became a pattern in the flight - transitions from around 4500' going well at first but then having to slow right down and patiently search out a save from ground sources below. This time, I headed for a few large hayfields together and in one of them - a tractor cutting hay......hay which I could smell coming up in the breeze - a textbook save 8) High once more, I headed north towards good looking clouds which worked initially but again another save was needed over some sunny slopes. I then headed up towards Builth Wells getting some luck over the southwesterly facing slopes above Erwood. I had been looking at the ground for trigger points and could feel that there was a thermal somewhere nearby when I glanced around and saw a gaggle of birds circling a few hundred meters away from me - I booted it over and whoopee, a climb right back up near to cloudbase
. I then found an abundance of lift, easily clearing the high ground above Forest Fields then headed north, avoiding areas of decaying cloud. Further on, I managed to latch on to a nice cloudstreet and enjoyed some straight line cruising while enjoying some inflight refreshment of Fig roles and a tangerine(easy peelers in flight they aren't!)
I could now see the Long Mynd in the distance and active clouds pointed the way towards it. However, I still needed to grind out another low save over some ploughed fields near Churchstoke before setting off on a triumphant glide to the south end of the hill where I found an abundance of weak lift and ascended slowly up towards a magnificent cloudstreet which had just formed overhead. There followed, a glorious straight-line evening cruise passing over the gliding club and heading towards Telford beyond during which I reached my highest point in the flight(6500'amsl). A while later, after 18:30, I sensed that the day was winding down but punctuated by further bursts of weak lift, my final glide took me past the Wrekin and on to a nice cut hay field next to a village a km or two north of Telford, touching down at 19:10
6hrs 25mins and 133km(126km straight distance)
A new UK personal best for me and a new Site Record for Fan G!
Good ol' Fan G
And the retrieve.......a pint sitting outside a nice village pub while I contemplated my options. Setting off to hitch into Telford, I soon picked up a lucky lift to the railway station and quickly caught a train
to Shrewsbury where as it was sunday, I thought I could be stuck for some time. Apparently, the line south was closed but there was a replacement bus service going to Cardiff so I hopped on board, arriving in Cardiff at 02:00. Here, Viv came to the rescue picking me up by car thus saving me from a long night at the station(many thanks there!).