After Austria and the unbelievably beautiful flying I had there anything else would struggle to compare. With others to negotiate with however it almost looked like I would not be able to go at all which was distressing indeed.
Finally after much discussion Theresa and I came to an agreement and I would be able to go for a couple of days, with luck also these seemed to be good days to fly.
The alarm went off at 05:25 we drove then through heavy rain towards the welsh hills north of Cardiff. The rain did not relent until we started to make progress west half way along the M4.
The briefing was due at camping at 09:30 but we were late getting going, then had to stop on the way, so we missed it. Rather we picked up the cars leaving camping for Fforest Farm some way to the north.
Getting to launch required a tractor. Theresa, who has hardly seen any hang gliding was bemused but clung on gamely and finally we were at launch. It was a really strange looking day indeed, with scraggy looking wave like clouds and heavy, hazy air.
I made a good launch into rough air, but struggled to find good lift for a while, I eventually found a climb to base over launch. On the way there I heard the alarm go for the first gate and chatter on the radio about leaving, so when I got to base I left on track.
I made a crap glide not reading the ground well at all and dithering like a girl, but I saw someone on a ridge across the valley and went to join them with a marginal glide, slightly different to the valley crossings in Austria.
There I became stuck together with Gordon Rigg and Justin Needham on a little ridge 4.5km down track which was where we stayed until the lift weakened, I turned a little too often in sink and took a landing approach out over the river.
Not great really but I was really happy to have made a try to go where almost everyone had landed at launch. Gordon congratulated me on getting up from low which made me feel great. It was a fun day overall.
Theresa came soon to pick me up, it was really nice to have a retrieve, nice too to feel that she was happy to be there even picking up some of the flying jargon, even better to know we had a nice place to retreat to and enjoy hot baths, nice food and a relaxing peaceful room.
The day was hazy and the clouds low and wind light. I missed the briefing again as it was pulled forward to 09:00 so again I connected with cars driving to launch.
The day looked like it could be good but the paraglider’s at launch were not getting anywhere so it looked not to be happening. I began to relax and lay about in the sun. Others were enjoying some really funny bantering, taking the piss, baring arses at the passing paragliders, what a sight.
Then things focused a few paragliders could be seen getting up a little so people started launching. Those first off also were first also to top land so things were very weak but looking to improve.
I noticed when I got ready that I had switched off from flying, so it felt almost like a surprise to be getting going. I got to the edge and had a nice launch into some climbing paragliders.
I struggled a lot to integrate with them and only weakly managed to maintain a little under launch height. One climb took me to the western spur but I did not connect well and the paragliders kept getting in the way leaving lift in a way that disturbed my track, I got low and rather than commit to the Meadows I went on track a little to find a landing field of my own.
I also found zeros, remembered my pervious experiences, and was patient hoping it would trigger over the little village I was over. It didn’t and when I cleared the village I only had a few hundred feet to prepare a landing so I went for that.
The fields were all small and lots of them had power lines or obstructions, another pilot was already down in a field marked out like a car park so I went for that. I made a reasonable approach but was a little high over the base leg to clear some power lines so felt set to overshoot into a church and its graveyard! I deployed my drogue and pulled in to get fast to the deck, it worked great, but I was only a wingspan away from the edge of the field, close but the right side of close which made me feel great. A good ending so a great two weeks of flying.
Theresa arrived quickly to get me, just as I had deriged which was really great, we called in at camping said our goodbys and then got on the road home.
Grant Crossingham won the day getting over 30km in those really tricky conditions, amazing.