05/08/02 - Alex Coltman, 48.1km from Pandy
Monday 5th looked nice and after an infuriating weekend at the BPC I decided to go to Pandy, wind was soarable strength but a fair way off to the North. Being a lazy git I used the lower take off with a plan of getting some height and flying round to the more Northerly facing bowl. After about 10 minutes it was obvious that this was going to be difficult, the wind was a lot further off than it had felt on the ridge. Using a mixture of thermal and dynamic lift I worked my way north, touching down when the wind went more North and taking off again when it came back on.
Once around the spur it was easy to maintain and it wasn't long before a climb came along, a good 6 to 8 hundred ft/min, not smooth but not too scary. This took me to base, all the time looking for my next step. Base was low about 3200 so no long glides. After drifting with my cloud for a while I headed for the Sugar Loaf, which had a nice dark cloud growing above it. A small top up from the ridge before and I was there, climbing in a weak 2 up.
The sky from here downwind looked difficult, big blue hole over the Abergavenny valley then big decaying clouds over the Blorenge and Blaenavon. The only nice clouds I could see were more than a glide away to my right over Crickhowell so I took my bearings from my GPS, and went into the white room, climbing for another 500 ft. I find cloud flying disconcerting and this was about all the time I could bear without a horizon so I set off on glide from an invisible Sugar Loaf. Popping out from the side of the cloud I adjusted my glide to a small new cloud and took another climb over the joint services centre, again taking all the height I dare with a small climb in cloud.
Heading downwind now to cross the Aber-Crick valley, towards a huge dark cloud over the gorge, where the Heads of the Valleys road runs. This didn‚t work, seemed that today the bigger and more menacing the clouds looked the less seemed to be going on underneath them!! I got low searching for a climb here and ended up drifting in a zero towards the ridge between Ebbw vale and Blaina. This was soarable so I waited here about ten minutes till some gulls, climbing well in the valley, showed me the next thermal. This climb was slow but had a very small fast core and soon had me sweating away at cloud base.
From here things looked bad, spread out from some large clouds to the North and no signs of a sea breeze to help me along. I headed downwind taking anything that was going up no matter how slowly, but was slowly losing altitude. My last decent climb came from the Tredegar valley (I think) and was weak till it drifted over the quarry on the back of the hill, where it lifted me back almost to base.
The ground ahead was totally in shadow and the clouds all looked no hopers so I set off on final glide, checking where roads went and where villages were for retrieve. Nice landing followed by a four-mile walk and two bus journeys (one which took two hours!) had me back at Abergavenny bus station where my car was waiting. All in all a pretty good day topped off with a visit to the Usk chip shop on the way home!!
5th August 12:08 to 2:31