22/23 May 2005 - Tim Pentreath, An epic weekend in Snowdonia

It was exactly 14 months since my last visit to Snowdonia with Simon and Stephen & Lisa in March 2003 – could it possibly be as good? Well yes, and then some!

Nicolas Zurlidan and I had travelled up on Friday evening to join the Avon gang staying for the week in “Harvey’s House” which nestles at the foot of the Glyders. We met up with Ken, Iain and Rich for a curry in Llangollen to break the journey, then drove the remaining hour in increasing excitement at the prospect of some great flying on Saturday. When we got to the house we heard that Stephen had had a great flight that afternoon – flying from Moel Eilio over Snowdon to land back at the house – this only made me even more excited!

On Saturday morning Stephen had us up and out of the house by 10am and we had walked up Moel Eilio and were flying by 11am. Initially the wind was pretty light with only gentle thermals, but by lunchtime there was a good breeze and some nice strong thermals coming through. Stephen was the first to leave Moel Eilio, dashing eastwards towards Snowdon. However I could see he was having problems and he eventually top landed a couple of km away from Moel Eilio unable to penetrate in the stronger breeze. Next to go was Graham Fisher, who had no such problems. As he was now almost at Snowdon I resolved to follow him next time I got high…

Looking east towards Snowdon from Moel Eilio

And once I did it was an easy run over to Snowdon where I spent about an hour playing in the clouds waiting for Ken to make it over. Ken hung around for a bit before heading off and as I was the only one around I decided I’d top up my height in the cloud over Snowdon – 15 mins later and 1000’ higher I popped out of the cloud dripping wet near Yr Aran, about 3km from where I’d entered the cloud! Fantastic things these GPS’s!

Me over the Snowdon Horseshoe (photo Ken Wilkinson)

From my max height there of 5,758’ I headed off in a general SSW direction with no real plan. Three thermals later I was nice and high again but the sky to the south was completely clouded over so I decided to maximise my glide by heading for the lowest bit of land – ie. the coast! So from about 5,300’ I glided about 15km down to Harlech, flying right over the castle, landing on a football pitch almost on the beach!

Harlech Castle

Getting back to the house was surprisingly easy, and after a great meal (thanks Richard) I was wondering how Sunday could could beat this 3.5 hour 27km flight!

But beat it it did, and to cut a long story short - Cathy’s only got one page in Nova to fill – I had another cracking flight, this time from Elidir Fach, above the old slate quarries overlooking Llamberis. Ken had taken off first and as the quarries were obviously working I lobbed off after him. A short while later I was at base (and higher :-) over Elidir Fawr so I headed east towards the Glyders.

Ken low over the Glyders

Here I got stupidly high (6,342’) after climbing a good 2,000’ in the white room and headed over the house towards Moel Siabod, where I scratched around very low until I found a lovely climb which got me back up to 5,000’ again just to the west of Capel Curig.

My playground in the sky!

From here I bimbled slowly along under a rather unpromising sky for about 35km where I finally ran out of luck and landed after another fantastic 3.5 hour flight, this time flying 49km!

So what an epic weekend – needless to say I’ve been totally high on it ever since!

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