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Parahandy does the Coe

Filed under: Mountain days — Joe Smith @ 03:54 am


 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

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