Wednesday 18 September - Border Reiving at Hownam Law!
Strange how things happen but Tommy has always fancied a trip to Hownam Law and with no other plans we both decided to head towards the Border for a bit of a raid. I should explain that Hownam Law is listed as an NHPC site although it is planted well and truly NORTH of the English border so a bit of 'reiving' seemed in order!!.
Tommy tried to contact the farmer but to no avail and there was no answer at the door when we arrived just after lunch so we headed quietly up the farm track (quietly because there was a muscle bound bull in the field). We found a westerly face/bowl maybe a third of the way up the hill and sat and pondered the wind, 15 - 22mph, maybe a tad strong especially since there were signs of lenticular clouds to the west. Leaving the wings we wandered to the top of Hownam Law to take in the panoramic views into Englandshire and explore the hill fort, oh, and check the wind which was still 15 - 22mph. At least the wind was consistent so as we wandered back to the wings and decided it was time to fly, take off in a lull and see what happens! Tommy off first for a quick gander before slope landing, everything seems to be going up but fairly smooth. I'm next, pre flight check and I untwist a twisted riser, take off and go up only to find I'd actually twisted an un-twisted riser!!!, no problem but can't use the speed bar so back in to land and un-twist!!!!!!!!!!
What followed was perhaps an hour of gentle playing in lift which extended well out in front to the Kale water and round the entire bowl before we both landed in a freshly cut silage field, with some interesting power lines, before walking back up to the farm and thanking the farmer for an excellent first outing to Hownam.
Thursday 19 September - Mountbenger
Another sunny day, signs of an inversion and DaveH hinting the MB may work in the afternoon and that he had a tandem passenger lined up. Arrived on the west face to find Dave and passenger sat checking the wind strength and thinking it's too strong for tandem flights and there are time restrictions for his passenger. So down they head while I do some para-snoozing while waiting for the wind to ease and Dave to return with a single wing. Around 4.30 the wind seems to have eased (or at least dropped below 20) so we both set up for a committed launch. Dave's first attempt probably lacked full commitment as the wing curled over whereas mine was probably too committed as I took off vertically with a slight tip deflation! No issues though as the tip popped out and I went up in 'jiggly' air which eased as I pushed forward. A few circuits across the valley suggested the air was OK and Dave soon followed to enjoy the flying. Thermals seemed fairly active but there was an inversion clearly visible on the horizon so height gain was limited to around 2500ft before it became slightly lumpy. However it was another great day to 'make spaghetti' pushing out towards the other side of the valley and flying circuits along the ridge and bowl just playing with the wind. After an hour it was time to land back by the cars which was easier said than done since there was lift even 20ft above the ground requiring a little more concentration than usual to spot land. Dave won the prize by flaring in the layby, I'm sure he said he meant to do that!!………….another fun day.
Friday 20 September - Witchie Knowe
Things to do today so I had said I wouldn't be flying, but arrived home mid afternoon to find that Daves L & H and Stephen W had gone to Witchie on the promise of a southerly breeze what else could I do but join them. I arrived to find folk launching by the parked cars but only for short beats on the front of take off. The wind had a slight easterly element so I set up, waited for a slight thermal and took off for 2 or 3 beats before finding lift. Quick decision to head over to the SE bowl and see if it was working. Slope landing above the lower lip followed by a combination of kiting and walking took me to a suitable take off with the wind definitely stronger than the lower take-off. In comparison to the last couple of days the air was silky smooth with plenty of lift but limited height gain but enough for another hour of spaghetti flying. DaveH managed the transition to enjoy the flying before changing to the tandem for a top to bottom with his passenger whilst Stephen and Dave L stayed enjoying the lower face.
3 days, 3 sites.....and its late September in Scotland!!