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Just Ramblin Three?

What a good day we had at Clough on Thursday.

With a summer of little promise slip-sliding into autumn and good days few and far between, and a weekend of high winds coming up on the horizon, I can safely sit with this shawl around my shoulders again, the tin cup. Brim- filled once again with strong tea, and just a hint of bromide….Now what’s that for again?....

Memory fails me….

Reflecting once again how Cloughead came up with the goods for those who got the day off from work on Thursday, or whatever it is that they do to keep the wolf from the door

Everything has to be paid for of course….there is always a down side….

Travelling with Brian Day…

Do you know how many people are creeping dangerously close to him in the XC league? ….Do you know that the masses are rebelling even as we speak…..do you know how little the cretins know about good leader ship?,,,,

Yes Boss, I’ve got my mind right Boss, I’m a shakin’ it Boss….Wake me up when we get to Penrith Boss!

Gary is back home tomorrow, now he takes some beating…. I think I should be grateful for small mercies…

And when we got to the quarry at Clough you still have to face the hump ahead…unless of course you have your own sherpa….Thanks Dan for that.

Two down……and now that we’ve got to where we are going to get off….Where’s the wind?......none……There must have been about twelve of us then….and six decided to go higher…onto the Hintertoisser traverse to the very top of Clough…

Not for me…..I chose to stay put, an odd man out, among the Carlisle rejects who like me, cannily knew that if the wind came….it would come to where we where….and before long …whyyabugger!

Who’s a canny fella now?

Brian Doub…(have I got the name right)….took off first, flew too the crags and the UP escalator….It works every time….I just love the place…..and for the rest of us that followed, the long wait became history……Just good flying from then on in….

Seeing the Panorama of the Lakes from the air is something that you just never tire of….

I often wonder, if you could only take one of those walkers who love to look down their noses at us as we drive our 4by4’s up “our” track at Cross Fell, beat them over their heads, with their own walking boots for five minutes or so, just to get their tiny minds right….then say…..Look here bonny lad….sit here in this armchair, I’ll just put these strings onto it….Now the helium balloons….now we’re cooking on gas, up you go now……now is that how to do it?

Or is that how to do it?....Want to buy this wing?

What a wonderful sport we have….armchair views of the best scenery on this teeming planet, and all for free…..I just feel humbled at times like these…..

So the day finished for me halfway down the valley…..I tried to get around the corner but I seen the sign which said:

Only good flyers beyond this point!

No arguing with that….down in the field with the rest of the losers then?

Well done Paul Smith….a proper cross country flyer.

So why am I writing this?....Much ado about nothing?

All Rogan Josh?

I don’t think so, I only want to express my appreciation for another day doing what I like to do….I used to like doing something else as well, Just can’t remember what it was though…..So you don’t do a big cross country after all…..It’s not the end of the world is it?.....Learn to appreciate the flying for what its worth….That is the way that I look at it now…..

Let me leave you with the problem that has taxed my brain this week

Is the sea less cold at Cullercoats beach when the tide is out?

John 'Mad Dog' Miller


Just Ramblin Three? (Jim's Offering)

Another great days flying with great company, plenty of laughing and joking all the way.

The last laugh was had by Mad dog Miller as he watched us non-believers hike up the hill on a very sweaty afternoon, telling all who would listen it would work....and it did.

Another day older, another day wiser.

My first time on Clough Head and what a site! Fantastic!

Quote: John 'Mad Dog' Miller
I only want to express my appreciation for another day doing what I like to do….I used to like doing something else as well, Just can’t remember what it was though…..So you don’t do a big cross country after all…..It’s not the end of the world is it?.....Learn to appreciate the flying for what its worth….That is the way that I look at it now…..

How very true.... but, it would have been nice to all do the big XC too?

Alas the thermals were there, but smoother and weaker than I've flown in before... this is what they meant... experience...and you haven't got it....

Patience was required, technique and finnesse not cranking in a full on 360, gentle, flatter, with feeling. I realised too late though... your going down mate....

I saw Andrew and Dave land below as I was scratching low.

That sign on the fell, I saw it too, and my name was on it with a big arrow. I duly obeyed and spiralled down to land, learning from Alistairs post on his pennine pub tour.

This is my neck of the woods, there's not many pubs in the lakes I haven't frequented at on time or another, so if I was landing, it wasn't going to be next to any ice cream van...

Damb the metreage, the olc points, (whatever they are), I'm landing next to the two canny cumbrians in the closest field not 50 yards from the pub.My day was done, or was it...?

I was offerred a pint by the kind Brian Doub on arrival and, as I was about to accept gratefully, (and nominate him for the CSC pilot of the month), over his shoulder, I saw a vision of beauty...

Another 15 wings in the sunshine over Clough Head, climbing high, working better than when we were there.

Now, when your first thought is to climb back up that sweaty hill, instead of a cool pint of Theakstons finest, you know you're in too deep...only one thing for it.

I've got a book on hitch hiking somewhere, from my brother who thought it was hilarious that I disappeared to France climbing with a mate in the 6 weeks holidays, aged 15. (I told me mam I was camping in the Lakes!).

This book, it gives you a point for smiling, one more for a ruck sack, one for a brolly, minus one for sunglasses, tatoos, minus one for a porn tash, don't shoot the messenger John, I didn't write it.

You get about twenty points for being blonde, leggy and tanned for some reason?

Maximise your points and match your look with your driver it says. Not sure how many I got for my sweaty dishevelled state, drooling over the wings in the distance.

I crossed the road, putting on my interesting, but harmless look, with the puppy dog eyes and occasional wry smile. Sunglasses on, but raised on the forehead, I was going for windswept and interesting.

Peering behind the windscreens, trying to match the right look with the right driver...First car was a huge bloke with a handlebar tash and leather vest..where are those nut huggers when I need them? He slowed down but thought better of it! Old couple? responsible look. Nowt. Single bloke? Chest out, man's man, but not too over bearing, not too camp. He sped up looking a bit frightened. Single lass? Here we go, you're in here son, belly in, chest out. She looked a bit worried too.

I was disturbed by a couple watching me from the beer garden laughing, falling off their seat whilst holding onto their sides which were obviously splitting. Looking down, my top was poking out through my fly in my shorts, looking like I was flashing. Oh bugger, time to move.

I remembered advice from Jocky and others.. "Never leave the lift" they said "unless you have another lift to go to". I think thats how it went?

And since Andrew had his fantastic new Jeep in the capable hands of Dan en route, I hiked up the hill toward the layby.

After my initial disappointment of not getting a lift, doing my best hitching poses, flying poorly, impatient to catch up with others, leaving too low, cranking too hard, assuming I could top up, as and when, (I couldnt), I looked around. I was in good company, Andrew was there on his crispy new wing, cruelly dumped by the wind gods after gaining good height early doors, Dave Horne, always up there in the stack and Mad Dog himself of course. No shortage of banter here, good times.

Beaten again, this time by our fine story teller, jogging down the hill to the layby, sitting so close to Andrew you couldn't get a fag paper between them, the head on his shoulder was the final nail in my coffin. Counting the wings, looks like I'm walking here I thought, and there was already a tandem wing in there? No room at the Inn? Bad times!

John was in the Jeep in a flash, wing on his lap with a massive smile on his face, door shut...never seen him move so fast... I truly have much to learn...

A bit sheepish, I held back..last to arrive, last in...if theres room?

I needn't have worried tho, Andrew the true gentleman that he is, says haway in, room for one more. Top bloke, especially after giving us a lift up to the quarry again! Fantastic, much appreciated.

I heard from pilot of the day, Paul Smith, he was too high to see the sign, cruising to Grasmere cool as you like, on the same wing as mine... took off lower than us..., great flying in not easy conditions. Nice one mate. At least I'm not travelling home in a loser cruiser, one of us did okay and a long drive back to get the gen for next time.

Off up for another hour and a bit in the sun with Dave, flew to the top of the stack with Kitt, Fancy going along the ridge? Aye I says, and with that I saw a white blur disappear over the horizon. How fast? By the time I got there he sussed it had switched off and headed back, losing hardly any height at all. I came back having lost about 1200ft, scratching at the bottom of the cliff. When I'm big I want one of them.

Last one to leave the hill, I soaked up the view one last time, and headed for the landing field, where my Dales nomination for pilot of the month, Alex, gave me a lift to the Salutation in Threkeld. Paul was a picture, pint in hand, all smiles, great, this is going to be a good trip home, I got the gen...get high, stay high, easy really?

Jim Bittlestone


Just Ramblin Three? (Glenn's Offering)

This is written as an inexperienced pilot so please forgive.......

Ah sadly no trips to Cumbias hidden gems for a pint of Snecklifter for me.

The invisible silver thread tied me firmly to the bottom hill while it's winch operator was doing some testing on the reverse gear every now and then as evidenced by the 'unhappy' sounds coming from my vario. Occasionally he would nip off for a fag and a pee and leave me alone to contemplate the vista in 360 degrees. At one point he went for a Ginsters pastie and I continued skywards until he returned.

Maltby off, Brain off, Jim off, Dave Horne off, Ian H off too. Only me and enthusiastic Rob on the hill. He with 40 hours wanted me to be his wind dummy but I didn't want to be last so that's fine.

Being last on the hill is almost like being picked last for the rugby team at school where the only choice for the 2 team captains is the lad with the caliper and co ordination problems or you. Sparing myself the inevitable outcome I did the fastest DI ever and turned to face the wing just as the sea breeze we'd hoped for picked up. At least I could console myself with some ridge soaring if I got off I thought but thats second prize and I wanted a full lottery win.

A few beats of the face to reassure myself that my paramotor death risers weren't out to get me ,now I'm a mere slip of a lad after giving up the bacon sarnies, and I headed off down the ridge. Not too far like! Wouldn't want to upset anyone by climbing up the XC league far above my station. Anyway I'm the strong man off that league. I'm holding twenty odd other pilots up!

Within minutes I was off dancing with the dandylions in the smooth Cumbrian thermals. Round and round we go beep beep beep boop boop boop ah sh*t lost it. Relax relax relax after one of the tips deflates remembering my French experience then I slip back in beep beep beep beep. Straight ahead I see the mountains whose names I remain ignorant of but that's no barrier to the enjoyment of their dark shape and power. I see their peaks fall lower on my horizon before the aneroid tells electrons in the vario to make a sound and I'm up further again. Not too high , still below the Skygod CTA of which I'm yet to penetrate, but high enough not to see individual blades of grass.

A crowd has gathered to loiter. If this were the rules of the ground we'd be moved on by the Police but these are not the rules of the ground my boy these are the rules of the air. We congregate, different peoples, different backgrounds, different clans but all with one common purpose...

.....to fly! United in our cause.

I recently read that Knowledge is all well and good but realisation is knowledge put into practice and that is acheivement. I knew how to fly thermals but I hadn't realised that yet. I had tried in France but the evil faces of French thermals at 37C scared my wing tips and they tucked themselves in behind the rest of my duvet. My reactions were hardly lightening and I found myself in places I didn't want to be in. Those thoughts weighed heavy on my flying .I had trawled the internet searching for tips but one stood out most ...." when in lift turn". Doesn't matter which way it continued if you encounter even lift but turn. So I follwed the advice. Many times I turned the wrong way but I knew by the unhappy sounds booming from the vario I was wrong and exchanged brake positions for the happy sounds of Up.

Gazing out again over the shifting shadows cast by Cumulous I turned to face another direction accompanied by the sounds of up once again. How can a sound of constant frequency and duration sound like music ???

My hands now slipped between the brake handles and I assumed a positive position in the harness. Brian was right the stirrup wasn't right for thermalling and I ditched it. Turns were smoother and the thermals smoother still. Nice. Don't go too far back 'cause the old Bolero doesn't have the legs for an upwind sprint. An hour and 40 mins later a voice nagging in the back of my head was saying it's time to go. I decided on the farmers field and the £1 fine. Topping up with the odd thermal along the way I arrived over the landing field with planty of height to burn with a few spirals. Constant aspect approach buggered and couple of S turns wound off the altitude and I arrived in the corner of the field and then packed away my glider.

If I had a GPS that worked I could tell exactly how many times I went round and round and round again over the Cumbrian countryside. It was a lot.

So no trophies, records or pints of real ale but a good flight for me to set me back on the road to actually becoming a proper pilot.

Glenn Pringle


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