26/03/02 - Tom Mayne, 39.9km from Leckhampton
Had a nice flight on Tuesday, my first XC in well over a year!
Weatherjack gave a 4 for the day, and in the morning it looked quite nice, light winds and a few CU about, so I decided to take the afternoon off. First decision was which site, the wind being NE it was going to be a either a bit off at the Malverns, or a bit off at Leckhampton. I decided to have a look at Leckhampton first as it's ten minutes from my house.
The wind was a bit off, but coming back on during the cycles. In the air it was quite rough, strongish broken thermals, nice to be on the stress free Carbon. After a while of not really getting anything to tempt me away from the hill, I ventured round the corner to the east where there is a second smaller face, which was a bit more into wind. There, I quickly found a really good thermal and climbed 2000ft in 5 minutes. At this point I was still on the hill really, as the drift was very slow. The climb slowed down, and after 15 minutes of climbing it finally stopped at 3700ft ASL. I was less than 2km away from the hill, and not feeling terribly positive about the prospects for a decent XC.
Time to cover some ground, so off I glided towards a promising looking cloud. Finding some broken lift underneath, I looked up to see that the cloud was clearly dying. Since I was climbing a bit I stuck around and was rewarded with another decent climb, which again ended in frustrating zeros and very slow progress, and still less than 10 km. No clouds anywhere now, so I glided through moderate sink towards Painswick, hoping to get a climb on the downwind edge. I got a bit nervous whilst I was upwind of the village, as I was a little unsure of making it past. However I reached the far side with about 500ft left, and luckily there was a thermal, but it was a bit broken and difficult so I had to work quite hard to get established. I could now see the take off at Haresfield off to the west, Selsley ahead and the distinctive profile of Frocester in the distance. This climb got me to 3400ft, and again zeroed out.
I was now just upwind of Stroud with Selsley in easy reach, I was bound to get a thermal somewhere so familiar. So off I went keen to cover some ground, my luck held, and I found a thermal well before reaching Selsley. This was a good one, and it took me to a very cold 4300ft, the high point of the flight. I was now definitely at or just above the inversion, there was a very stark line between the hazy air below, and the crystal clear air above, the sky was much bluer, and in the far distance to the North I could see CUs poking out above the inversion.
When this climb stopped there was clearly no point hanging around, so I took a few pictures and glided off over the gliding club, and into yet another thermal over Nympsfield, this one was a bit weak, so just a little top-up really. Off again... aiming for Wotton-under-Edge now, hoping to get something on the ridge south of Uley. Nothing there, I clearly wasn't going to make Wotton', so I selected a nice big field to land in. I reached the field with 500ft to spare, which seemed a bit early to give up!, there was the option of another field slightly further away, smaller, long and narrow, and next to a sun facing wooded ridge. So at 300ft above the ground a started setting up my approach to land, flying downwind over the ridge, and up we go, low save time again, up to 3500ft this time.
From here it was just a glide to the ground really, landed by a road a little way north of Yate, did my usual paranoid out landing final approach in the PLF position, which was good really as I hit some sink at 50ft and landed with a crunch. A dog came over and pissed on my glider, but I didn't care.
My first XC from Leckhampton, but probably not my last, excellent terrain down wind, with masses of trigger points etc. The south coast has got to be possible (I can dream can't I).