The Marvellous Malverns!

Fresh back from my Scottish adventure I was already keeping an eye on RASP to see what the Bank Holiday weekend had in store for us, and Sunday was looking promising from quite a few days out, with the Malverns looking like it might be the best place to be. Clearly many others thought so too because there was a pretty good gathering of xc hounds all getting ready when Mike Humphries, Pete Waters, Nick Somerville and I turned up at about 1030.

Looking peachy!

Fortunately there was no sign of the massed ranks of the British Open Series hangie comp pilots at this stage as I think they were still preparing their thermoses and packed lunches when we arrived 🙂 I know quite a few of my fellow Avon Club members had been put off by the thought of sharing the sky with 70 hang-gliders, but they needn’t have worried because they were still only rigging by the time I climbed out in the second gaggle at 1115.

At base looking west after a nice climb out

At this point the sky was looking fantastic – we really did have high hopes of a 100km day – however as we got closer to Hereford we could see some serious spreadout and over-development to the north of Hereford.

Thermalling with Colin Hawke under a good lifty cloud!

The first 20km or so were very easy – it was just a case of hopping from cloud to cloud – but by the time I was approaching Hereford with Bryan Hindle he chose a slightly southerly line to a cloud that I thought was dying, whilst I chose to head to a cloud that I thought was building. Needless to say he stayed very high whilst I, followed about 1 km behind by Colin, Jim Mallinson and one other (Guy Anderson?) got lower and lower over a shaded damp looking area of land near the River Wye. I found a blip when I was down to about 2,200′ and made a gentle 360 to encourage the pimpers 🙂 to come over to me to help me find the thermal. (Also, I though if I’m going down here then they can come and bloody well land with me 🙂 ). However the power of the gaggle worked and over the next ten minutes we climbed back up to 4,300′. Phew!

Nick and I cross the colourful countryside bordering the River Wye on our identical Sigma 8s

My original plan had been to head to the north of Hay Bluff by navigating between the two bits of airspace near Hereford, however with the sky to the west of Hereford not looking very enticing I headed to the south with Steve Ham, Guy Anderson, Bryan and Nick whilst Jim and Colin headed east.

Grey, red and blue… Adam Hill above me on his Enzo

Thermalling with Guy on his new Ice Peak 6

At this point you might be forgiven in asking yourself why I’m making a fuss about the spreadout because the sky looks fine in the photo above, however looking in a different direction a few minutes later tells a different story!

8/8ths cloud cover and very little sun on the ground as I follow Guy towards the Skirrid

Whist Guy, Steve and Bryan headed for the Skirrid I found a weak climb a few kms to the north of it and I wafted very slowly with towards the southern end of the Pandy ridge. When it finally fizzled out I headed for the ridge just to the north of Abergavenny.

Looking back at the Skirrid from just north of Abergavenny.

At this point I saw Ken Wilkinson heading back to Aber from the Sugar Loaf, and as he was getting low over a completely shadowed Aber I saw him catch a nice thermal so needless to say I stepped on the speed bar and joined him in his life saving thermal!

Hard to believe I got a climb from 1,200′ up to 4,500′ over the town just a few minutes later

Guy and a couple of other gliders came to join us and once we topped out at 4,500′ Ken and one other headed towards the Skirrid whilst Guy and I headed down the valley towards Crickhowell. This was a pretty radical change of direction, however I thought the sky to the south towards Pontypool and Merthyr etc looked very murky whereas the sky to the NW along the Crick valley looked better.

I found a nice climb to the north of Crickhowell exactly where I’d found a climb a month earlier with Mike Humphries, and thinking that Magic Mountain would work as well as it did then I pushed on towards it but didn’t find a thing. I was too low to go back to join Guy so I carried on hoping to pick up something from the south facing slopes, but to no avail, and after 3 hours 30 minutes in the air I landed a few km up the A479 Crick to Talgarth road by the village of Cwmdu.

Inevitably Guy flew high over me shortly after I’d landed, and a few minutes later he was followed by Bryan, and I now see from their tracklogs (Guy’s, Bryan’s) that they went past Brecon then turned back and flew 112km and 105km respectively! Agggh, yet another if only!!!

Click to see my tracklog in xc player

However I can’t complain because I was given a lift back to the Bridge Inn in Aber by a family who only happened to be very close friends with an old paragliding friend of mine, Geoff Moss, who I’d learnt to fly with down in Swansea back in 1989. What an incredibly small world!

And as Mike had got back to the Malverns first he did the hoovering up job in his car and came via Hereford to pick up Pete, then joined Nick and me at the Bridge Inn where I was onto my third pint and having a great chinwag with a bunch of other pilots! Can’t be bad 🙂

Incredibly this was yet another weekend flight – for once the weather gods are smiling on us 9-5’ers! Long may it last!

As usual you can see more photos on Flickr here.

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~ by Tim Pentreath on May 7, 2012.

12 Responses to “The Marvellous Malverns!”

  1. You are really on a roll this year Tim! Good to see you at the Bridge Inn.

  2. Tim, you are certainly making a name for yourself and I am now following your blogs and your tracklogs very closely! Could it be that you are the skygod I long to be? hehe, certainly looking at the leaderboards I think you could be a contender for that accolade!

    I just hope that the weather holds up for my return so I can try a little, just a little XC! A nice 30km and I would be happy.

    Well done for your flights mate, is this year an Epic for you?

    • You are too kind Tim, but I won’t call myself a skygod until I’ve made the Pilot Profile page in SkyWings 🙂 This year has been great for me so far and despite us having the wettest April on record I’ve clocked up more xc kms than ever before, and it’s only early May! And what’s more, they’ve all been on weekends or Bank Holidays so it’s been a good year for us 9-5ers if you’ve been able to get out on the good days… I am putting a bit more planning into trying to spot the good days and going to the right sites and it seems to be paying off.

      • I think you are in Skywings quite enough as it is Tim 😉

      • Ha ha! You need to write up some of your trips to Nepal or Bir or wherever you’ve been Richard!

        And I apologise in advance for the next couple of articles that Joe has lined up for Skywings 🙂

      • Haha that is true. I have no excuse other than laziness for not writing something. I haven’t even edited the footage from last years holiday, let alone Bir this year.

        Always enjoy your articles, certainly better than reading another dead centre article!

  3. Hey Tim. Good flying. My first flight on the Enzo and it lasted more than 5 hours!! After Ledbury I didn’t thermal with another PG until I landed 4 hours later – OMG it was slow going! I took a climb with 4 hangies and 2 sailplanes south of Hereford and another with hangies before Hay and then it was just little me, the sleet and the cold until I landed in deepest Mid Wales. Incredibly unstable air – even the slightest sun on the ground was enough to get the thermals going again. I didn’t get home until gone midnight! 🙂

    • Wow, five hours, that’s a marathon! Well done for staying focussed all that time… You’re right, it was slow going with so little drift and weak climbs in places. But when you’re on your own you take anything if you’re low don’t you, even if the last climb was 2m/s…

      I was eating supper at home by 8pm 🙂

  4. So wish I’d had you guys with me, we would have done a tonne for sure; at one point I thought the female record was on, but ultimately it was just too damn slow going. So little airspace to worry about too!

    • Looks like you left the hill about an hour after most of us, hence the due W then NW track whilst we all went SW… did you just get there a bit later?

      • Yeah was behind you guys and by time I got to Hay wind was ESE and so I headed more north which worked well. I just kept finding lift right till the end when I got a horrible lee side climb with at least 30 red kites!! I’d had enought though by then and so bailed and landed

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