Arrived late because of work stuff, so I assumed the day was over. Lots of cars, no people (Dave H, Sean, Fred, Alex et. al.). The sky looked great, so I assumed everyone had buggered of XC. The wind was very light northerly so I walked up the Hill a bit to try and find a decent face and when I crossed over to rough knowe I saw all the gliders on the ground.
Conditions on the way up were very weak, but it seemed to be picking up a bit and going more westerly. I got the glider out and stepped straight into a thermal. It was a pretty easy climb out to base, except for a weak layer where I kept loosing it. Against all the odds I kept working rather than just buggering of down wind in the inevitable glide to the ground.
This was eventually rewarded with cloud base. The wind meter was showing 15Km/h so I thought I would drift with the cloud for a while circling in and out of the lift. After a while the lift started to get quite weak so it was decision time. To the left of Selkirk was sunshine and to the right, down wind, was shadow for 10 - 15Km before the first good cloud.
I initially tried staying in the sunshine, but it was sinky so I gave up on that and headed of with little hope of making the next climb. But as it turns out it was pretty neutral air and a I made the cloud a few hundred feet of the ground. The glider started to pull rapidly forwards and the next moment I was climbing strongly in a rowdy thermal.
Simultaneous to this there was a barrage of gunfire from the wood I was over which was loud and annoying, Back up to base and I was soon drifting along gently over the A68 and over the freshly harvested and ploughed fields. I was enjoying the view and the sunshine, and I reluctantly gave myself a kick to go a bit faster as I was aware it was late.
There was a really nice big cloud street away into the distance so it was pretty straightforward until the Cheviots. Again sunshine on the easy route along the road and nice big clouds over the wasteland of the Cheviots. In for a penny I thought and headed into the boonies. It was working well though and easy enough to cross. I was sort of following the glider. I would point it at one cloud, but it often had ideas of it's own and after crabbing sideways for a while, I just let it go where it wanted.
On the back of the Cheviots things got a bit slower. The sky was noticeably weaker and I assumed it was all over and was just messing about playing in the light thermals, but it was still working despite appearances. Not as straightforward though. Some of the bits looked and felt more like convergence than thermals and just flying backwards and forwards seemed to work best. Out in the flats the wind was very light and there seemed to be an inversion under 3000 feet. But you could sit all day just turning lazy circles half in half out of lift drifting along at 5 or 6Km/h. It was all a bit surreal.
After while my arms got tired so I just locked the brakes in the risers and used Jedi mind control to turn the glider. My Oudie was showing class A airspace downwind at Bulmer and I really had my heart on making it to the seaside so I turned the glider a bit north into the weak sea breeze and pushed the bar to maintain something close to trim.
There was a really pretty little town with a cove, harbour, obvious sign of pubs and a train station just ahead and I thought that will do. I was going to land on the shore, but the airspace alarm went of so I turned a bit north landed just outside what turned out to be Alnmouth. The I did a little dance and a stupid laugh. The Oudie showed just over 90Km and 4 hours from takeoff. After reassuring Fred and Sean that I was not in fact dead, I got the train back North to Berwick that evening and Amanda came and collected me from there.
Fred said it was a struggle on the hill. Strong wind and difficult to climb out. Which he eventually did two hours after me to base, when the day was past it's best. Sometimes you bite the bear, and sometimes, well he bites you.
pictures of the guys who were stuck on the hill.