A bank holiday weekend, at least in Englandshire, so guaranteed not to be flyable since the weekend forecast was for a mixture of rain and sun with the Monday forecast suggesting over-development with thundery showers. Still, a plan was hatched to meet at Witchie around 5.30 in the hope that the southerly winds would drop as the heat of the day subsided.
Email traffic was busy during the day with indications that Jamie, Stephen, Chris, Rob and me would be out. I arrived at the parking spot early around 4.30 to find a lonesome figure testing the air with a 1m square 'speed wing' so wandered across to meet Gerald, the newest member of WingBeat. The wind was on the hill, maybe a tad west, but blowing at 17 - 21mph so para-waiting seemed like a good idea, especially with the bank of cu'nims to the east. Tommy was next to arrive and tested the air - still too strong. Then Jamie and Chris arrived followed by Rob and, while the breeze was still top end discussions on the hill were about the start of the 'midgy' season, botanical cosmetics, raves and all manner of strange things that can't be mentioned here!!
Then a decision, the wind was easing and still from the south, so canopies were unfurled, Rob was first to test the air, quickly followed by Tommy - all seemed good but the wind was slightly off to the west so Tommy headed to the SW bowl, I took off and followed and soon we were all in the air. As a 'coaching club' we had all done the the right thing and left Gerald to sort himself out at takeoff - OK so maybe it's a while since we've had airtime but ground handling is good experience - at least that's what we said 2 hours later but he did have manage a wee flight.
The air was buoyant with broken thermals feeding into the bowl, Tommy decided to head off and try the ridge above Ettrick Bridge quickly followed by Rob with soft thermals working over the Peel Tower. I stayed and soared the SW face, pushing out and gaining height in the broken thermals as Jamie enjoyed his first real flights at Witchie. Rob returned from his trip to Ettrick Bridge with enough height to soar to be followed by Tommy who nearly made it back but had to kite up to take off again. Chris also thought he would try the Ettrick ridge so pushed out for an 'almost' out and return
Top landing for a break we watched as Stephen walked up the bowl, laid out and then had a gentle soar in front. Jamie decided it was time to 'steal' the Carrera and took off for a boat about in front of the hill - later to be heard saying the 'stall point' was hard to find!
We all took a final play in the breeze, Rob chasing Jamie trying to reclaim the Carrera, others just playing the front of the hill before we all pushed out to land back, or close to, the parked cars.
A few headed for a quick pint in ettrickbridge to finish the evening off.
A perfect end to the Bank Holiday weekend with a couple of hours snatched from the day, and Witchie proved it works.