Sunday 25th February - Escape to the hills

The fresh Easterly, Siberian blast, whilst not always good news at North Hill, can bring much excitement further up the M5 at Nympsfield where the cognoscente have been using Easterlies for years as a ticket to ride in the Welsh mountains. Whilst the Nympsfield maestro Trevor Stuart frequently performs by taking this downwind dash and ride with a magic wave climb to come home, the normal order of the day is a turbo slog to get back. 

Too many reflections - Wear a hat next time Phil (John Pursey)
With some cunning tactics, my Whatsapp correspondence with the turbo equipped but initially reticent Phil, broke down his negative thoughts about the cold and early mornings and got him to agree a Sunday trip to Nympsfield. The cunning had been to lure him in with thoughts of soaring the east facing cliffs from Dawlish to Babbacombe. Whilst initially attractive as a less early start and a previously untested location they became less attractive as the "untested location" part of the mix sank in. Perhaps Eric can brief us one day on the only apparently land-able field in the whole area and maybe the next windy easterly day...
Ridge soaring the hills (John Pursey)
Nick, the noble soul, readily agreed to provide transport and a 7:15am reveille at Hemyock meant a sensible 'on parade' time of around 10:30 on the BGGC grid.  The ever-friendly crew at Nympsfield soon had DD3 off on tow and since the marked inversion made visibility poor, caution meant a high tow and an engine test run such that arrival at the Malverns was high enough not to trouble the walkers. However, warming up to the ever beckoning slope lift and teasie thermals, a few low passes with lots of waving got the hill soaring spirit going. 
On the Malverns (John Pursey)
The Welsh hills were lost in the haze, but an Oudie driven departure track and engine run soon meant neither Malverns or Black Mountains could be seen. But, like magic, Hay Bluff and the run to Pandy appeared ahead and with the engine stowed the fun began. 

For those that haven't soared the eastern slopes of the Black Mountains then the only thing to say is you are "missing out"! As freshmen, Phil and I took a fairly cautious trip down towards the south from Hay Bluff, testing the line and the lie of the hills. I spoke with great authority with my entirely theoretical knowledge of the route gleaned from Trevor Stuart's SeeYou ladder trace replays and You Tube video from you know who. The maestro arrived as we headed south and duly showed us what can be done with balls of steel and years of experience. 

Phil may have the years but non-ferrous balls and with fears of monkeys in the cold was not to be lured and a more gentlemanly passage was made with alternate runs made by P1 and P2. A small foray up the valley from Abergavenny was about as brave as it got before the "iron topsail " was unfurled and we headed back, again reliant on an electronic track on a gadget. As a bright light test I can attest to the wonder of the Kobo compared to the Oudie in terms of readability. Not that it mattered because the Oudie simply said "map load error" for most of the day.

De-rig in daylight followed by a clubhouse beer and a catch up with Trevor and Dan Welch, brought a fine end to the day. For those who looked at Spot The Glider today (Monday) you would have seen Trevor, Dan and friends having yet more fun on the hills, this time with thermals to 5000' (and -10C outside air temp). Good old Russian air. - John Pursey