The taste of spring.

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.
 

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