ESP club Blog WordPress weblog for members & friends of East Scotland Paragliding club


Winter High Time….

Filed under: East Scotland — Murray Hay @ 02:18 am

After a FANTASTIC week of personal flying the weekend was looking to be a lot less intensive for me as many of the members & students were ‘booked’ to do family stuff, mainly involving a jolly fat man in a red flying suit! I wonder if he was telling Nair’s crew about some of his mid winter epic XC flights?

Sat was a meet up with just Duncan for the first of two days planned flying, taking the ‘student free’ chance to fly a favorite technical site of mine which as Duncan mentions in his post was a new site for him. From my normal parking spot it was a 5 min hike for Duncan to the ‘second site’ launch point of this split site (two owners, both requiring the private site to be ‘booked’) for me it was the shooting range cliff launch and then ‘jump the gap’ to fly along to the mid cliff landing zone, keeping the wing up to jog up the rock face to show Duncan the layout/pull up and launch areas for the day.

Due to the highly technical nature launches at this stepped cliff site mean even long term members need to go through the full site brief, however once in the air the flying here once ‘sussed’ is often very easy, the main issue on this day being the x-wind factor leading to fast down wind beats but easier launches and landings 🙂

 Flying was in lovely warm conditions with the inversion making it feel more like Autumn rather than mid winter, even the inversion haze was not an issues at it was mostly below the flying site take off and landing altitudes. Part way through the day then again at the end of flying we were joined up on the hill by one of the landowners and his son on their dirt bikes, as a 1,000hr GA pilot he often comes up to chat about aviation in general but is yet to have a flight on the tandem..

Checking the conditions at the top of Dundee Law, prior to meeting Duncan

Sunday saw Jonathan across to further build on the flying tasks he had been practicing at Morrone the previous weekend. the pickup loaded it was up to the low hill launch as the ‘top field’ part of the site was (at that time of the day) still below the inversion layer and almost still, but a couple of 100ft up at the low launch the windsock showed 10ft above the ground there was a nice steady 10kt wind almost directly up slope.

The first part of the day was taken up with JR practicing tricky “double bounce” launches with the wing on the ground only in about a couple of knots breeze… a delicate touch required! With steady progress and a lot of short flights completed… 2 mins back to launch point by 4×4 so no walking required 😉 Duncan arrived midday from the Aberdeen area, and it was now time to shift further up the hill to the mid launch area for a lot more flights & retrives, finaly another shift to the top area after 2pm, flying from where Duncan had hiked up to earlier.

The day was lots of good flights for JR, with the delicate launches and ground control all coming together nicely and the bigger flights giving him time to both enjoy the view more and work on turns and fine tuning both the variations in approach path and the landings (also getting better and better).

The last flight was about 20 mins after Duncan’s last one and the first one for JR from next the masts, with a bit of ‘air to air’ filming (shortly to be added to YouTube) it was a ‘hard’ cut back to the hill for me to spot in next the 4×4 to drive down and collect JR.

 A GREAT DAYS flying and training… the only issue being a wrong turn on the drive down resulting in the pickup being nearside ‘nose down’ in a BIG hole… (about 2 1/2 foot air gap under the rear wheel on the drivers side!) fortunately the trick with putting on the handbrake (to lock the rear wheels) put all the power to the front wheels and a drive back out of the hole! 10 mins later and a ‘alternative’ route saw the 4×4 down at the landing field to pick up JR and drive him back to the farm and his car ready for the long drive back to the west coast.

Murray Hay (VERY Glad for all practice driving 4×4’s while doing commercial photographic work on ‘off road’ courses over the years!)


  1. No such things as private flying sites in Scotland.

    Comment by Joe Smith — 21/12/2007 @ 10:47 am

  2. <p><p>These twin sites are ‘private’ in two ways:</p><br />
    <p>First vehicle access is restricted to the club pickup and is subject to the landowner being phoned PRIOR to pilots turning up. The private road runs from the main road a couple of miles to the hill so it is a case of loading up the pilots & gear onto the back of the pickup.</p><br/>
    <p>In addition as the land is farmland WITH STOCK on the hill, access for FLYING is restricted to pilots with landowner(s) permision, if the whole hill site is being used BOTH landowners MUST be phoned as there is stock on both hills.</p><br />
    <p>Scottish access rights for walking (crossing) farm land are of course a different matter, in fact the private road has a sign specificaly welcoming walkers at it’s start.</p><br />
    <p>so in short: Walking across Scotland with a paraglider in it’s bag is no diffrent from any other walking, BUT taking a aircraft out and laying it out to fly is a seperate issue, regarding aviation land is often ‘private’.</p><br />
    <p>In practical terms flying from Scottish highlands & mountains is not an issue.</p><br/>
    <p>Murray Hay</p><br />
    <p>NB. A few of the others sites are ‘private’ due to restrictions under the ANO (‘airspace’ requirments) or are ‘restricted’ by local bylaws regarding sporting activities.</p></p>

    Comment by Murray Hay — 21/12/2007 @ 11:09 am

  3. Sorry, still doesnt make it a private site. You need to do a little more research on your access and flying laws. There is nothing in law to prevent me walking to the top of those hills wing in bag taking it out and flying over them.

    Comment by Joe Smith — 21/12/2007 @ 11:40 am

  4. Actualy there is, the cattle are on top of both the hills, so taking a paraglider out of the bag and laying it out on farm land that is in use… then launching will ‘disturb’ the stock…

    I understand that the term ‘private’ when used about land in Scotland is offensive to some (a view in many cases I can sympathise with) but we are not talking about a open hill top.

    Launching and landing an aircraft is NOT covered under free ‘land access’, however flying over the land is only controled under the ANO, and in some cases local bylaws.

    Comment by Murray Hay — 21/12/2007 @ 11:50 am

  5. Paraglider pilots have the exactly the same access ‘rights’ and ‘responsibilities’ as walkers. The only difference only is in regard to flying through controlled air space. Also if the land owner is happy for you to launch when there is cattle at the top of the hill then, in court he could not differentiate between you and other pilots. Not unless he can prove that cattle have the ability to recognize and not be disturbed by your nova wing – doubt it. In summary – no cattle on top of hill = open hill. Cattle and allowing you and club members to fly = effectively open hill.

    Comment by Joe Smith — 21/12/2007 @ 12:06 pm

  6. You can exercise these rights, provided you do so responsibly, over most land and inland water in Scotland, including mountains, moorland, woods and forests, grassland, margins of fields in which crops are growing, paths and tracks, rivers and lochs, the coast and most parks and open spaces. Access rights can be exercised at any time of the day or night.

    Quote: ‘fields where there are horses, cattle and other farm animals’

    Allowed activities under access laws:
    active pursuits, such as walking, cycling, horse riding and
    carriage driving, rock climbing, hill-walking, running,
    orienteering, ski touring, ski mountaineering, caving,
    canoeing, swimming, rowing, windsurfing, sailing, diving, Air-Sports and wild camping etc.

    Comment by Joe Smith — 21/12/2007 @ 12:25 pm

  7. uote:

    You can also exercise access rights above5 or below the land
    (for example, you can exercise access rights in the air and in

    Comment by Joe Smith — 21/12/2007 @ 12:27 pm

  8. The bottom line is that if pilots want to piss off the landowner and so get access to a site closed (except on foot) all it takes is for someone to turn up on FARM LAND with crops or as is this case STOCK ON THE HILL…. without permision/agreement from the farmer/landowner.

    So Joe while I do understand your view point on ‘open access’ unless the law actualy STATES that “preparing (layout) and LAUNCHING/LANDING an aircraft (paraglider)” is specificaly a right in Scottish law ON “FENCED FARMLAND containing stock” I have to disagree with your interperation on the access laws on this point.

    So does the law specify state we have a right to launch/land or not (in the case in question)? If so please provide the refrence, thanks.

    Murray Hay

    Comment by Murray Hay — 21/12/2007 @ 04:29 pm

  9. Law specifically mentions access rights and activities including air-sports and access to land containing live stock and enclosed fields and other areas. Read above comment No.6 which contains all the quoted material and comes directly from the land access agreement. Also it does NOT specifically have to mention the word ‘launch’ to be applicable in law. Hence you may feel free to disagree as you wish, however since that opinion does not constitute law it is worthless in this context and neither here nor there. Law is the law wether you prefer to adhere to it or not is up to you.
    I can understand that you may wish certain sites to be classed as ‘private’ and also for certain landowners to think like-wise however we have a long history in Scotland of fighting these dickensian attitudes which have now thankfully been enshrined in law to protect access for us all. This ensures equal and fair use to ALL users and prevents access to the countryside being the preserve of the few. As such it is worth ‘pissing-off’ the few landowners and, if it comes to it, pilots who feel they have more rights than others to fly certain sites.
    If you have managed to negotiate vechile access to certain sites then thats absolutely fine. Good on yah! However donating the odd bottle of whisky to a landowner doesn’t actually make that site a ‘private’ flying site.
    Please bear this in mind when meeting other pilots on sites you condider private.
    Bottom line is that all pilots have the right to fly in these areas and that right is enshrined in law. For those who wish to read further then please download a copy of the land access code.

    Comment by Joe Smith — 21/12/2007 @ 08:44 pm

  10. So after posting all that you still have not stated the refrence in law that specificaly permit an AIRCRAFT to take off from active FARMLAND without permision of the landowner/farmer…. In other words at the moment just like me you are simply stating an opinion. As I have said I understand your viewpoint, it is one which certainly holds as being widely accepted to be true for open hills/mountains, IF as you state it IS also the case for enclosed farm land please provide the refrence to the act.

    Comment by Murray Hay — 21/12/2007 @ 10:02 pm

  11. It would have been helpful if you had provided a link to the relevant act, however what I have found up to now is the “outdoor access – scotland (.com)” PDF., There appear to be two points to be noted, as it states in this doc refrence in the final case rests with the relevant acts of law AND in the judgment of the courts… NOT with the ‘Code’ as such, which as far as I can tell is mainly aimed as providing a guide to correct behaviour (both for the individual AND the landowner).

    Much as I guessed there are a number of sections that clearly imply that this site (at least the west part of the site the club flys) in question would NOT be covered for access under this document under a number of the sections (current other use/buildings etc.)

    The core part of the code relevant to airsports is found on page 74:

    “Maintain good liaison with relevant land managers at well-used launching and landing points. Take care not to alarm wildlife or FARM ANIMALS and avoid damaging crops” NOW IN THE CODE this is stated as “RESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOUR BY THE PUBLIC” that is us as paraglider pilots…

    So if you DONT “Maintain good liasion” you are NOT complying with the guidlines of the code!

    With still half the code to read AND search the relevant Acts of Law… there may be more to follow!

    Comment by Murray Hay — 21/12/2007 @ 10:41 pm

  12. Further on (p 117) the code states on the subject of UNFENCED grassland WITH farm animals on it that the right to access exists, however it is worth noting that it does NOT also state that right of access exists for FENCED grassland (with farm animals)!

    Comment by Murray Hay — 21/12/2007 @ 10:54 pm

  13. Keep reading, I’m glad to see you finally now accept that paragliding is indeed provided for in the land access code. Im sure your investigations will also finally also show that it includes enclosed fields and those with livestock. Much earlier than page 74. Likewise continued reading will also show that the landowner cannot discriminate for or against certain users or grant exclusive access to some. The crux of the discussion therefore being proven that there are no ‘private’ flying sites in Scotland. If flying is permitted, under law, for one then its there for all.
    Aint life a bitch sometimes:))

    Comment by Joe Smith — 21/12/2007 @ 10:57 pm

  14. Joe I always knew that flying was covered in the land access code, so far your comments/views have provided no new information. The two points I mentioned still need to be addressed: in the case of this ‘private’ site (and yes I know you object to the term regarding land in Scotland..) ONE: Taking off/landing an paraglider on FENCED farm land with stock on that field, you have not yet provided the refrence in LAW stating that this is permited WITHOUT landowner permision, so can you provide the refrence? I’ve been unable to find the articles of LAW covering this ‘right’ that you state exists. TWO: I have still NOT found any refrence in the code/guide that states there IS a right to launch/land a paraglider from a FENCED field that contains STOCK… again in the code can you provide a refrence to where, if it does, it states that this is a right? Remember that under the CODE to exercise a ‘right’ ALSO requires the individual to comply with the OBLIGATIONS under the code… taking off in a STOCK, FENCED field without the permision of the farmer means that the pilot is NOT complying with the obligations and so MAY NOT exercise ‘rights’ under the code!

    Murray Hay

    Comment by Murray Hay — 21/12/2007 @ 11:07 pm

  15. Bullocks! Point is those sites are not restricted and for those with the intelligence enough to apply them properly, easily fit into access codes guidlelines and therefore not private. Sorry but that’s the end of it.

    For readers that have lost the will to live, I’ll finish this one here. Though I’m sure as always Murray will want the last word. It’ll be the wrong word but, hey its xmas, let him have it.


    Comment by Joe Smith — 22/12/2007 @ 01:17 am

  16. I don’t know if this will be the last word or not… but are you EVER going to provide the refrence to the section on the act of law as requested i.e. where it SPECIFIES that a aircraft (paraglider) has the right to launch/land from a FENCED area containing STOCK…. as I pointed out the access CODE does ONLY specify UNFENCED grassland…. Remember Joe I have no disagreement over the access rights for paragliding from land in Scotland that IS clearly specified in the code that is OPEN hill tops/UNFENCED grassland with stock etc.

    Comment by Murray Hay — 22/12/2007 @ 01:25 am

  17. I can only suggest that you read the guide more slowly and much more thouroughly as you obviously have some comprehension problems.
    However for ease of clarification the followin might help you on your way:
    Page 92 Fields with farm animals.Access rights extend to such fields,…….
    Landowners responsibility:
    Keep animals known to be
    dangerous away from fields
    crossed by a core path or other
    well-used route. If this is not
    possible, tell the public and
    signpost a reasonable alternative

    Fields with young animals page 93: Responsibilites of public.
    You can avoid disturbing sheep close to lambing time, or young animals such as calves, lambs, foals and farmed deer, by going into a neighbouring field. If this is not possible, keep as far from the animals as possible.

    Page 92 fields with crops:
    Acess extends to such areas

    Page 74: Airsports:
    Access rights are exercisable above the surface of the land and so extend to non-motorised air sports, such as paragliding. By their very nature, many of
    these activities require the use of hilltops and escarpments.
    Responsibities of landowner: If you are responsible for a hilltop, escarpment or other well-used launching or landing point, you could work with your local authority and relevant recreation bodies to ensure that any disturbance or damage by air sports is minimised.

    Page 60: Prohibited actions by landowners to prevent exercising of access rights: leaving an animal known to be dangerous in a field or area where there is a path or track likely to be used by the public.

    Page 9 section 2.2 expressly lays out areas where you can exercise your access rights. These include:

    • fields where there are horses, cattle and other farm animals.

    Although I could go on quoting, I think that should be more than enough evidence for the reasonably minded to prove once and for all that access code does not only specify unfenced grassland. You may wish to disgree and probably will however its written in black and white. Those with nothing better to do for the next year or so may wish to play semantics however watching paint dry is probably more interesting. You do not have ‘private’ rights to fly these scottish sites. Acess for all means just that.


    Comment by Joe Smith — 22/12/2007 @ 02:12 am

  18. “If you are responsible for a hilltop, escarpment or other well-used launching or landing point, you could work with your local authority and relevant recreation bodies to ensure that any disturbance or damage by air sports is minimised.” This one is the one of the relevant points, the site is a “well used” flying site BUT as such there are REQUIRMENTS and OBLIGATIONS on BOTH sides, the access CODE clearly states that as pilots we are REQUIRED to work with with the landowner if we wisht to take advantage of our ‘rights’ under the code, FAILURE to act in a reasonable manner and the code does NOT apply… any court would be likely to rule that phoning to check site & book it for a days flying activity was “reasonable” on the part of the farmer… So it all comes down to interpretation/viewpoint YOU clearly feel that it is “reasonable” to set up and launch/land paragliders all day long in FENCED fields containing stock without any discusion/agreement/notifying with the farmer… I do not consider that “reasonable behaviour”, and I seriously doubt that the courts would rule in favor of paragler pilots against a farmer in THE STATED CASE… try to remember that I fully agree with you that open hill tops/unfenced etc. ARE open access… Here we are talking about an arranged club flying site. So again where does it STATE that we have a right (with no obligations as you imply!) to use a FENCED stocked field as a flying site without/against the wishes of the farmer i.e. in this case phoning to ‘book’ the flying site…

    Comment by Murray Hay — 22/12/2007 @ 10:27 am

  19. I’ve put this on its own for clarity… Is this “reasonable behaviour?” You state that the right to access i.e. in the case under question to ‘launch/land a paraglider’ includes “Page 92 fields with crops: Acess extends to such areas”……….
    Now I agree that under the code when WALKING we have the right to access along the border of the field on route to say an unfenced open hill top that looks good to fly from, but are you seriously suggesting that the code gives pilots the “right” to land and take off from/in crops!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Murray Hay — 22/12/2007 @ 10:36 am

  20. Regarding P 74 it states as “responsible behaviour by the public (pilots)” and I quote “Maintain good liaison with the relevant land managers at WELL-USED launching and landing points”, clearly a requirment to phone to ‘book’ the site for flying would be regarded as being “responsible behaviour”…

    Comment by Murray Hay — 22/12/2007 @ 11:47 am

  21. DUH!!! Re- comment 20. No-one said you can take off from or land in the crops. Crop field borders – yes. Harvested fields – yes.
    Also Re-comment 21. Nonesense, nowhere does it say there is a is the requirement to phone any landownder and ‘book’ a site. If you wish to phone then thats fine. Go ahead. It could be considered a courtesy NOT a requirement and in no affects access rights. In contrast landowner has the obligation to ensure continued unobstructed access from well known launch/landing sites.

    So once again in summary…There are NO PRIVATE PARAGLIDING SITES in Scotland.

    Suggest you perhaps try reading the agreement again – slowly. If you are still having comprehension problems then perhaps a visit to the local primary would be of benefit. I’m sure any 5 year old will be able to explain it.

    Comment by Joe Smith — 22/12/2007 @ 10:40 pm

  22. Joe YOU quoted IN THE CONTEX OF THE DISCUSSION ON PARAGLIDING as a right included.. ‘access’ to cropped fields…. I simply pointed out that to exercise any ‘rights’ under the code also REQUIRES obligations to be met (by the pilot) in the end it does in fact come down to what would be regarded as “reasonable behaviour”, the sites in question ARE “flying sites” (as apposed to a hill someone chooses to climb to fly) the CODE states that the public (in this case PG pilots) should work WITH the land managers… one of us clearly is having trouble understanding what is written! I leave it for others to decide who does/who does not… have an approach that constitutes “responsible behaviour”…

    Comment by Murray Hay — 23/12/2007 @ 12:43 am

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