Archive for March, 2007

Parahandy does the Coe

Friday, March 30th, 2007

 

 Beinn a ChrulaisteIain over rannoch moorJoe heads for the BarIain groundhandling

After 3 weeks of solid rain, the old clyde puffer and myself having an extreme case of cabin fever and an even bigger case of red wine had had enough. No more talking the talk, we declared that, once again, it was time to walk the walk, fly the fly or, put  simply, feck-off and see if the big boys would let us play with them. But, where to go? What to do? A plan was needed. And fast.
    We had talked briefly about staying local, flying our usual sites in the Tarmachans or Killin, but fancied a wee change, and thought it high time we spread our wings a little further afield. So, we checked the forecasts, consulted Iain’s corns, looked out the window and said ‘ah feck it! It’s Scotland let’s take it as it comes.’ It did look like we would get  better weather the further north and west we went though. An easterly wind then pointed us in the direction of the White Corries. A place I’d had my eye on for a while. This was ok for me, but Iain reckoned that all those skiers watching us might just give him a dose of Murryitis and cause him to ‘fluff it’. That of course would be far too embarrassing for a couple of ‘cool dudes’ like what we are. With that idea then unceremoniously binned, a definite re-think was required. Discussing it over a quick phone call, we set out the challenge. The rules were simple. It had to be big. It had to be quiet. It had to be easy and, above all else, it had to have a pub within landing distance.
That left us with only one option. Beinn a chrulaiste, a big whaleback shaped lump of a hill lying directly behind the Kinghouse hotel.

  
Ben-Crusty! In my minds eye I could see the blog report now
Captains log: Start date 24 march 2007.
Your mission Joe (should you choose to accept it) To boldly go where no-one else can be arsed!
         

 But, hey-ho. A jump’s a jump as Mr Carr would say. So that was it sorted then, and on Friday, night phone calls exchanged to check who we could drag out and a wee note left on the forum to tease all those we couldn’t and off we went.
 

     Arriving in the Coe about 8:30 first port of call, after putting the tent up, (well, every drunk needs somewhere to stagger back to) was the ‘Kingy’, – reputedly scotland’s oldest Inn.

   
      As an aside, it has to be said that I am getting a wee bit worried about old parahandy. For years he’s been tighter than lycra on a ‘weegie’s’ arse. You know of whom I speak. You see them walking down Callander’s main street every Saturday, bag of chips in one hand, irn-bru in the other; legs like a bag of marbles. Now it seems he’s found the key to his purse strings and gone all para-dandy on us. Take Fri’ night in the bar for instance. Gone were the years of sitting quietly in a corner with a half pint shandy or a jug of 70 shilling reminiscing about bygone days when he was Scotland’s answer to Don Whillans. In were the bottles of Becks and budweisers! Combine that with a clean fresh shirt and there are definite undertones of a mid-life crisis.

      
        Last month also saw a nice new trendy Montane top added to his wardrobe and this month a new variometer. I reckon that’s just so he has something else to blame for the high pitched banshee type noises so often accompanying his take offs. I eventually did manage a bit of a snigger to myself on Saturday however when he left it switched on while walking up the hill. I always thought they were supposed to go Beep, beep, beep. Not ……Beep……………beep……………beep………..cup of tea….beep……change your top…………beep………..check the wind………beep………photo stop………….beep.

Joe heads for the Bar

Joe Heads for the Bar

If you haven’t been there Beinn a chrulaiste is the hill lying just north of the  Kinghouse hotel. Our approach being from the track junction at the corner of the old road. The first 20 mins or so are a little on the boggy side as you cross the edge of the moor but, if you are careful, you might be able to pick out the remains of an old wall/path, which makes the going a whole lot easier. Follow the burn under the pylons to the mouth of Coire Bhlacach and from there turn left up the East ridge. There are one or two relatively easy take-of options on the lower third of the ridge but then it becomes a little more difficult and steeper with large outcrops until you reach the top third or so. Taking off anywhere near the summit is fairly straightforward. (Time to top 1hr 40ish with full kit)

  
        As it looked like being a fairly warm spring like day we had decided to take it easy in the morning and enjoyed a few caffeine kicks in the hotel lounge, trying to guess what the other 9 of the top 10 viewpoints in the world were apart from the one we were looking at. Sadly, Pamela Anderson sunbathing wasn’t on the list. Anyway we took our time wandering up the hill, timing our take off for late in the afternoon, once the sun had past its peak. This turned out to be a good plan as the wind had also died down slightly to a fairly steady 10/12mph and had veered more to the south just as we reached our planned take-off spot. Perfect.

   
             Site check completed, we both made sure the other had spotted the pylons lining the valley floor and did a quick estimate of how close we could get to the tents. Then we were ready to go. It was a fairly short runway, so I popped my wing up to feel the air and to give it a quick shake out, while Iain did his pre flight check and readied himself. Then a quick nod that we were both set and a few steps later I was in the air. A couple of quick scoots along the ridge to maximise any lift going and then turned back S.E heading for the old road next to the tent. Surprisingly, despite it being fairly late on, there was still plenty of thermal action to be had. If your not as heavy on your wing as me that is.
            As usual being about 10kg on the dark side there really isn’t much that’s going to keep me in the air for long other than a tow from a passing moon rocket. So, after about 10 min’s I found myself nicely coming in to land on the road, about 50m from the tent. Great, a quick pack-up, wander back to the tent and put a brew on. It’s not a bad life sometimes.

         
                After a few min’s sitting in the sun enjoying the views, there was still no sign of Iain, so I got the binoculars out, did a quick radio check and scanned the hill sides for him. Surprisingly, he was still at the launch site ‘ground-handling’ Though, through the bino’s it was hard to see who was handling the ground more. Him or his new Nova.  Watching the wing snaking around like that was a bit like watching a cobra on cannabis. About ten min’s later he managed to get it together and did a rather nice take of straight into the path of an oncoming express elevator. A few min’s more he was a very respectable 300m above launch showing absolutely no signs of coming down. Wee Bugger……..! 

         
               Well, after what seemed like an eternity, he eventually graced mother earth with his prescence once more, landing on exactly on the same spot as me. Well, with one small difference that is. Only one of us dropped his wing onto the Barb-wire fence. **/x!! That’s the owners of ‘The Loft’ mortgage paid for next month. Seriously, I hope there’s not too much damage auld yin.

And that folks as they say was that. Another cracking weekend in the big hills. Tune in next weekend for more feckless adventures.
 
Joe Smith (Kmrt Air corps)
Fly fast, fly hard and if you see us – fly away.
 
 
 Iain over rannoch moor
 
 Iain hovers over the moor
 

Friday, March 30th, 2007

Skiing and Paragliding – All In a Day

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

I spoke to Murray last Friday 23rd March from Heathrow Terminal 1 after my regular visit to the BMI lounge and the use of a laptop PC to log on to the ESP Club site and click on the weather link. I saw Joe’s posting on the Club Forum for the weekend and with a Monday flight back down to London I knew I could negotiate with Jacqueline for at least one day out.

Both Saturday and Sunday looked like flying days on the Bracknell Chart so I kept my fingers and toes crossed.Saturday morning came and I phoned Murray at 7.30am to check his plans. He was heading out PDQ to use his Season Skiing pass at Glenshee and asked me what shoe size I was and I knew what was coming next…. I did fancy a go at skiing as I have not been for a few years but my heart was on getting some air time as I had not been in the harness for quite a few weeks. Into the TT and headed out of Aberdeen. Stopped at the Aboyne Glider site and watched plane and glider take off. Wind was light and variable. The blue skies beckoned.Through Braemar now and saw a car at the track leading up Morrone so I knew some of the Aberdeen Club members were out. I looked up at Morrone but could not see any canopies in the sky.Pushing on to Glenshee I saw Murray’s Pickup in the resort Car Park. Speaking with Murray on the phone who at the time was enjoying some skiing I took his advice and went to the South Car Park.  

The wind was blowing up the valley so I took the decision to head up with the paraglider and make a flight.The wind was square on the slope. I saw Murray at the bottom pull up and lay his wing out. I laid my wing out and took off, working the weak lift coming through. Helmet camera was on so I was recording the flight. 10 minutes in Murray was flying out in front and I landed just behind him. During the flight I experienced tip collapses which worked themselves out very quickly. I should have leaned back more though. I had to scratch and fly above the snow several times. Thermals were weak and punchy. 

Ian heading down to land next the road.

 

Ian came out and we chatted about conditions. A kestrel or hawk was hovering in the bowl at the top right. Murray advises to move round to the bowl which I did. Ian flew round to join us.A number of flights from the bowl were had by all, including one I had into a pile of snow which was great fun. Murray flew the other side of the bowl and Ian had a good flight after showing us up with his ground handling skills. Well done Sir!My last flight was down to the Car Park after flying over a family enjoying some sledging. I landed just short of the road and my canopy settled onto the road. I should have carved round and headed nearer to the south side as the valley wind would be disturbed downwind. I have posted a video onto www.YouTube.Com , search for Paragliding and Glenshee.     See you on the hill soon.  Duncan  

The taste of spring.

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Well, it has to be said it didn’t LOOK like much of a start to the day, no matter what Murray forecasted, it was a mediocre morning, clocks forward day or not. Only the wind strength was right, but a little too far north of east for my liking. Overcast, muggy, nothing dreadful, but not a lot of sunshine on the ground. Driving past Arbroath en route to Lunan Bay at twenty past ten, there was a distinct lightening of the sky to the east though, so I began to feel at that point that a little optimism might not be altogether unrealistic.
Arriving at Lunan to meet up with Alan C, in the public car park, the wind felt more like it was parallel to the beach, but that was to change quite quickly, or rather we were to change site, moving down to the gorse ridge as soon as Alan C arrived. After a rather bumpy ride in the back of the pickup, (Sorry M’lud) I went down to the base of the gorse ridge, popped up the canopy, and went walkabout, right along the its 500 metre. There did seem to be more of a cross component than would allow me to climb out from the beach, so I struggled round the north end of the gorse ridge, and up into a bowl about 200 metres in diameter. First flight from there took me round the corner, and onto the front, where I proceeded to do a very good landing. The fact that Murray and  Alan C were soaring non stop throughout this last attempt to launch, and through most of  my futile ascent into the bowl, fuelled a certain impatient sulk in me, which always leads the kind of fluffed takeoff which I now proceeded to demonstrate my expertise in. Time after time. Gosh, I am a good swearer.
In the end though, even my incompetence could not prevent me taking off, and once in the air I settled into staying up there. The wind was indeed well off, but there was plenty of lift. Getting to about 100 feet over the top was about the most I could hope for (the very most) so it was down to using the airtime to practice penetration flying (low height loss wingovers), high speed scratching, an interesting mix of easy lift, rules of the air, and then, an opportunity to get into the bowl, there to use thermals rising from a seeded field.
As the afternoon wore on, the sun came out, and the field heated more and more, so there was a really cool dirt track, paraglider style: Climb at the south end of the ridge, wingover where beneficial right up to the pill box at the north end, then turn into the bowl, and either follow the rim to the thermal source, or fly straight to it across the field. It felt quite low at times, but I always managed to climb out again. It was just a blast. I’d get up to the north end of the bowl, and then hurtle along just above the gorse with the wind well behind me, back down to the south end of the ridge, turn in the house lift there, gain height then do it all again, and see if I can do it faster/less height loss/ low as I can/ big eared  etc.

 

 

 Alan Coffin enjoying his first ‘feet wet’ (as the RAF say) flight out over the sea.

Bottom image is me flying the far headland, shot when Murray landed to drive Alan back to his car.

About four oclock, we went up to the cliffs (pictures above), and walked along the tops. Murray took off from above the huts and flew along to the section we were going to soar, but Alan and I had a good enough look from the cliff top path to see that bottom landing was not an option so we walked. When Alan and I arrived at the takeoff, on the next bay up from the fishing village, the wind seemed well on to the hill. Obviously there was enough lift, with Murray getting 150 feet over the top. Alan promptly took off. I promptly screwed up my takeoff like I did in the morning, following up with a linethrough which took 10 minutes to clear. Eventually, I too took off, as Murray and Alan disappeared down the ridge to the beach so Alan could get a lift back to the public car park and keep the family happy by getting home on time!
 So, here I am on my own again, I thought, as I pushed forward to the very front of the cliff line, but absolutely no further. A series of little bays, a serrated edge between the sea, the land and the sky. A row of houses, and of boats in one, the others grassy, or rocky, broader or narrower. Over the spume and froth of the rocks, red sandstone reef, water deep blue, flecked with patches of fleeting turquoise. The smell of coalfires, the fast run towards the beach, turn and work your way up to the front again.
And then Murray came back from delivering Alan C back to his car, and for a few minutes we shared the air. I turned and ran for the beach, And discovered I’d been in the air for an hour since my last takeoff. Bliss. More of the same soonish, I hope. Maybe even tomorrow.
 

Lees Hill, Gargunnock

Monday, March 12th, 2007

Alan Coffin getting some good ‘touch & goes’ top landing training in fresh conditions on his first visit to the Gargunnock Hills, in addition a nice tight 360* diving turn and a good amount of big ears practice before rain arriving indicated a cut & run to pack up for the day. All in all a long drive from Aberdeen but judged well worth it!

Ian from the Killin Mountain rescue crew was also out and flying his new Nova, Joe deciding to keep his wing dry chose to hike down as the showers were arriving. 

Lochan na Lairige Dam

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

Some play time at the Dam near Ben Lawers before the occluded front arriving early stopped play for the day!

First flight was with a straight valley wind up the dam, take off and cut 135* right to jump the power lines and scratch up the dam face until a few beats later climbing into solid lift above the dam top 🙂 worked the lift for a while then cut back throught the dirty air to landing next the dam top & road. Back to the launch point and following a number of hops which got me round to the east and up to Sron Dha Mhurchaidh, working the whole hill (lift on all sides!) before flying to the center car park to meet Ian & Ali. Then a hike up from the bridge and work in stages the main low face of Ben Lawers and a final run to the Visitor center for a drive back to the dam, the wind now with a lot of east gave an ‘intresting’ jump to the far side of the dam to re-launch and work the west side & dam up high before puncing out front and carving in low to land at the bottom of the dam 🙂

 A BIG thanks to Ali for doing the driving and shooting pics… I will arrange better (warmer) weather next time! (honest!)

 MH

 Trians has a YouTube video from flying about 7 miles west of where we were, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NSjVT7cmk4