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Peter Lake FBlog 2015

10 March 2015. Blorenge 
As Nick predicted, an extended top to bottom today. Very light E wind on takeoff. Good to get in the air again and get a little bit of thermalling in. A cup of tea with Viv in Waitrose was followed by a welcome lift back to the car with Nick  :-) (who had managed to get above takeoff and land near his car) Spring is on its way!

22 March Glyders - Snowdonia 
A family weekend in Snowdonia gave me an opportunity to try out flying in the big mountains.
After a fresh walk up to the upper take-off at Glyders, I met with 3 local pilots, one who had already been flying around for 1/2 hour. I took off in scratchy conditions, with broken thermals coming through off the heather and rocks. After over an hour of scratching around, with some pretty exciting spring thermic action, I made it to the summit, some 1500 ft above take off, so landed in a clear patch for a spot of lunch and to defrost my hands, and admire the views over towards Snowdon. Then a 2000 ft top to bottom back to the car, as the wind seemed to be picking up, and this didn't seem to a very forgiving place in a strong breeze! A great spring day's flying.

Easter week in the Lakes. 
Seems I missed out on some great days in S Wales over Easter whilst in the Lakes, but I still managed some good mountain flights.
Easter Monday started in thick mist, but with the hope of the sun breaking through, so we headed to Coniston and walked up the Old Man. Around 2pm, the low clouds broke, and the occasional wisp appeared over the tops. Wind was virtually nil, a hint of a breeze from the NW, so I took off from the W facing ridge N of the Old Man, and hoped that I'd not bomb out in the valley below. The ridge was working, with broken thermals trickling up from the rocks and scree, and I managed to scratch my way along the ridge, then hop over into the Coppermines bowl. I landed after 70 minutes next to the stream below the Conisiton Coppermines Youth Hostel, and had a pleasant 40 minute wait in the sun by the stream for the family to catch up.
Weds 8th April looked very promising with blue skies and light SW winds. I took a lift to Kentmere, the walked up to Kentmere Pike. The odd wisp of cumulus was occasionally appearing over the tops, but high cloud was thickening, so I didn't wait around to take off. The SW facing ridge was working well, and I flew around the Kentmere bowl- every patch of scree and rock seemed to be giving off weak lift. I then caught my only proper thermal of the day, over Ill Bell, and was rewarded with hazy views over Windermere and beyond. I then set off over High Street, topping up on height in bowls and scratching up ridges, before popping over into Ramps Gill where deer were running. Again, the screes were working, so I gained enough height to fly down the valley to Ullswater, where I landed on the fell side. A 5 minute walk took me to the jetty, where I caught the ferry to Glenbrittle, followed by a bus to Windermere to meet up with the family. 17km with turnpoints.

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A ferry and bus retrieve  :like

Nice one Pete!

Abernant 20 April 2015. My first (flat) Triangle!  :-) 
I couldn't get away until 3pm today, so I was worried that I'd miss the best of the day- but I was wrong!
I arrived at Abernant to a very gentle breeze up the hill, with a few crows doing their best to show me that it wasn't soarable, but the Red Kite was showing its superior airmanship and encouraging me to take off.
My first flight was only a few minutes, in pretty rough thermals and ending up with a top-landing.
A good thermal breeze then came through, and I launched into the slightly behind schedule 4:18pm thermal. Pushing out to the right over the dark ground, I found a great climb up to 4000ft, then decided to head upwind towards Pontardawe.
A second climb over the quarry took me to over 4,500 ft, with a little help from a red kite, who kindly circled up below me then pointed out the stronger climb 50 metres away.
A further push forward, over my house and towards Bryncaws saw buoyant air, and I decided that it must be time to turn to try for my first triangle. Heading towards Gordre'R-Graig, I caught another good climb, and then my vario went silent. Despite my best efforts and words of encouragement  :oops:, it would not re-start, so I made a futile attempt at thermalling in silence, with just the altitude readout on my Kobo for guidance.
Realising that the triangle plan was not going to work, I turned back towards takeoff, and arrived with over 1000ft above the car. The wind had now switched to a Southerly sea breeze, as shown by the windmills on the hill, so I landed across the hill, and celebrated my easiest ever retrieve!
On landing, my vario started up no problem with over 50% battery remaining- looks like I have a loose connection somewhere.
17.1 km open (flat) triangle - and my first XC on the Artik- but the XC League doesn't like my tracklog  :-(
Anyone got any hints of how to make a Kobo tracklog compliant? It is an igc file, but not from a 'supported device'

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23 April. Heol Senni.
This time, I had fresh batteries and polished contacts in my GPS!
On arrival around 2pm, there was a gentle, variable breeze blowing up the hill, so I thought I'd give it a go before the forecast swing round to the SE.
My first flight of 45 minutes saw me scratching and catching the occasional thermal bubble, but they all seemed to top out 600ft above the top. At least I  managed to outclimb a piece of straw! There was a visible inversion, highlighted by the smoke from all the recent Arse-onists' efforts.
I top landed for some lunch, then launched for another go. This time, I ended up landing by the track after 15 minutes.
The temptation to head home was tempered when I saw some scraggly clouds over towards Fan Hir, so I thought I'd best give it another go. A breeze came through take-off, so I launched and managed to get some height in the bubbles. I managed to work patiently up to 2600ft, then figured I might as well give it a go and see if I could make it the Cray reservoir. The wind above take-off was virtually nil. I then stumbled into the thermal that I had hoped was out there, just over the forest behind take-off. This one felt a lot more solid, and took me up to 4000ft. I then headed towards Moel Feity, where there was a line of clouds forming. A good glide under the clouds saw me climbing near Llyn y Fan Fawr up to 4300ft. The shadowy ridge of Fan Hir didn't look too inviting at 5:30pm, so I turned back towards the line of clouds, hoping to get back to the reservoir. The line back proved nicely lifty, so I managed to squeak my glide back to take-off, and landed next to the car, 1hr20 after taking off
16.1km open triangle- this time it counted - 24 XC points!  :-D  I am loving my Artik and Ozium Pod harness!

26 April. Heol Senni.
The forecast was great, the clouds looked fantastic, and the wind appeared to be dropping off, so I headed off for an afternoon at Heol Senni.
Steve W, Viv and Nick were already there. The wind was at the top end, but it seemed flyable, so I was first to take off.
It proved pretty windy above the hill, with only a few kph forward speed, but was a bit easier out front. There were proper little bullet thermals coming through- a couple of turns at 500 ft/min, and then it was gone. Steve B arrived and ran up the hill, and soon there were 5 pilots in the air.
I tried pushing upwind to get into a good climb, but this plan didn't seem to work, and I found myself scratching up from just above the track. Eventually, after 1hr20 of flying, Nick, Steve B and I seemed to be in a good thermal, which then disappeared at 1000ft ato. Having seen a sailplane and a hangglider enjoying the day under the clouds, I took an impatient gamble and headed cross/down wind towards the cray reservoir, where the best clouds seemed to be. A blip on the vario proved to be another passing bubble. I turned in zeros over the Fan G road pass, and continued to drift in weak lift down the valley. Eventually, I landed next to the old railway track on the hillside.
I packed up and started to walk back, then saw Steve B popping around the flank of Fan G. He passed overhead, and I lost him behind the hill. I walked out to the Fan G layby, then headed along the road, when I was glad to see Steve W, who gave me a lift back to the car.
On the way home, I found Steve B walking along the same railway track and so ran him back to take-off. It looks like Nick made the best of the day- I look forward to seeing where he got to.

30 May 2015. BCC Merthyr Common.
Nick, Steve, Rhun and I screeched up to the briefing at 10:01 on Merthyr take-off, just in time to be allowed to compete.
It seemed fairly unpromising, with high cloud and a strong wind on take-off. Soon, a few pilots had taken off, and shown that it was better in the air than it seemed. The high cloud disappeared, the breeze dropped to a good soarable strength, and the sky filled with cumulus.
I took off just after 11:00, as the first gaggle was climbing out. I flew away form the crowd for a bit of space, and then saw the 2nd gaggle climbing above take-off so headed back over. I soon caught a good climb, and set off over the back. There were gliders marking various patches of lift, and clouds showing the way. I got low over the back, but then connected with a great climb, and set off towards the Blorenge.
There was a growing cloud over the aerials at the Blorenge- I chose to fly around it rather than straight under, and was glad I did, as I was hoovered up towards base. The clouds now looked good out towards Monmouth and beyond, so I set my sights on the Malverns in the distance.
The next couple of climbs were textbook- long glides towards clouds were rewarded with strong climbs back up to base. With Ross-on-Wye now within range, I headed for the next cloud, but this one dissipated as I approached. A few new wisps were building, but I struggled to connect with them. I turned towards the A40, and landed at the Ross Spur services.
After packing up, I managed to hitch a lift within 20 minutes, all the way back to the end of the track at Merthyr.
61.1 km via turnpoints in 2hr 12mins. A new UK PB for me!  :-)

7 June 2015. Combe Gibbett. BCC. 
After much telegram route discussion on Friday and Saturday, Sunday dawned cool and clear, with the promise of 5+ star RASP ratings.
Team SWWSC arrived at Combe Gibbett in plenty of time for the briefing, and were ready to go soon after 11:00.
The hill was pretty busy (compared to the luxury of SWW sites), but soon we were all airborne and searching out the first thermal.
The plans of flying together were rather hampered by the sky being so busy.
I took a first climb, before dropping back to the hill, then connected with a good one- exactly where we had been told it would be in the briefing- above the trees. I found myself climbing out with Nick, and we worked it up to 4,500ft, then set off South.
From there, there were good clouds marking the lift to Andover, and I soon found myself clear of Middle Wallop ATZ, and able to turn W to try to avoid Solent CTA.
It was a challenge to prevent drifting too far South in the NNE wind, as I admired the views down to the Isle of Wight and over to the New Forest and Poole Harbour. There were a few other paragliders scattered around the sky, but soon I was flying on my own.
I flew over what turned out to be a Yoga festival at Wimbourne St Giles, with the occasional beats of music drifting up toward the clouds
Just past the corner of the Solent CTA, and into clear airspace, my trusty Kobo, with its work now done, ran out of juice and froze, leaving me with a map as far as Dorchester.
With good clouds still marking the way along the coast, I managed to retrieve my phone from my jacket pocket, switch it on and view an airmap, all without dropping it and thermalling back up to base. This showed me that I was clear for at least another 30km to the West.
The last hour of the flight was slower due to the increasing wind, but fantastic flying from cloud to cloud, reaching 5,500ft and flying at full speed, whilst going up under the clouds.
Eventually, the options were to head to the next cloud near the coast, or pick a landing field. Given the strengthening wind, sea cliffs and onsetting fatigue, I happily chose the landing (or the landing field came to meet me!)
I landed after 4hr 50 mins, having covered 128km via turnpoints, 111.9km open distance. I doubled my UK PB, and was only 400m short of my alltime PB.

A chat with the field owner confirmed I was just short of Bridport, and the nearest train station was back at Dorchester. A lightning quick hitch to the train station saw me on the platform with 2 other pilots, and as the train arrived, I saw paragliders piled on seats. I then enjoyed a 2 hr train ride to Bristol with 13 other pilots, most of whom had flown over 100km.
After a welcome sandwich at Bristol, I was glad to see Steve Watkins arriving, having fetched Nick from the back of beyond. We were all back home by midnight after the most epic BCC day. Thanks Steve for the beyond-the-call-of-duty retrieving!

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Well done Peter! Another awesome flight!

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