Following the usual review of all available weather sites a decision was made to head to the Moorfoots, at least that is where Fred was heading so I used flock instinct and followed!!. I arrived to find cars parked on the corner and one pilot walking up the closest slope but no one else around or in the air. It seemed breezy so I walked along the ridge to Torphichen Hill to find a number of folk sheltering well down the slope out of the breeze. As the breeze eased slightly (or Graham proved it was flyable by gliding across from the quarry) the small group launched whilst I was still setting up. After a pre flight check, I flicked the wing up and launched into lifty air conscious that some pilots were now settled high above the ridge whilst others were struggling to jump the gap. The air was 'interesting' but once settled in I played in some of the thermals conscious that I was drifting back with minimal height whilst turning back into wind gave a low forward speed with a fence line below me. Caution prevailed and I slowly pushed forward and made my way to the far end of the ridge, turned back and followed a yellow glider that was slowly climbing out, the only problem being I was in the sink cycle of the thermal so decided to slope land rather that make the downward glide to the ridge base!! By this time Fred had disappeared downwind on a venture.
After a short walk back up to a suitable take off I waited for a thermal cycle, took off and slowly climbed to ridge height whilst watching the yellow wing in the distance sink slowly to the base of the hill, for once I had made a good decision. Flying back along twards Torphichen hill I hit a couple of thermals, I turned in the first one but soon lost it, however I focussed more in the second one and climbed out until the Oudie kept squawking that I was in airspace at 3500ft. Luckily airspace had been opened to 4000ft so I ignored the squawking until 3900ft and then headed across toward Leithen water focussed on getting to Innerleithen or further (bad decision!). I was gliding in sink under full cloud cover along the south side of Leithen water very conscious that it had seemed 'thrashy' in the narrow valley as I drove up earlier. The only slight patch of sun I could see was on the north side of the valley probably past the limit of a glide meaning that any landing would have to be in the narrow valley in either leeside wind or an accelerated valley breeze. However ahead of me on the southside was a NW facing face so I decided to land half way up as close as possible then pack and walk up hoping to take off again and find a thermal if the sky recycled. (I had been watching the XAlps last week!!!!!!) Right decision, after a 3km walk up across peat, heather and grass tussocks I found a slope but no breeze or thermals, so, waiting for a gentle breeze I launched on the shallow slope below ridge height and started a glide down below ridge line. I did find slight lift in a leeside gully but not sufficient to gain height. Conscious that it was leeside and I was too low for comfort if I had a collapse I headed down the valley to increase height above the valley floor. Looking for landing sites ahead, and gliding at 50kph without bar, it was either valley floor (narrow!!), forest (no,) fields before Innerleithen (doubtful but possible and powerlines) or golf course. I did one 360 to check speed into wind (17kph), checked the pin flags at the golf course and landed perfectly on one of the fairways.
At the end of the day I had enjoyed minor XC (or XBorders) with legs of 9k, 21k and 6k but Fred will have a better story to tell.
Fred - I learned later from Przemek that Dudley had probably got the last useable thermal of the day. I had probably got the first after the wind speed had reduced to friendly . I decided to make a plan for a change and stick to it and do things all grownup. Fly up and down the whole length of the ridge a couple of times, wave to each other and gather a posse maybe, and then go to Innerleithen which between us we had set as goal for coffee and ice cream. So up went the glider and with about a hundred feet I’m off to the next hill to make room for others taking off. Plan? Sod that I’m climbing, through the Oudie lady saying ‘airspace warning airspace warning’ and me shouting back ‘Shush I’m busy’ and it’s 3700 and off downwind. Why do Oudie think you take more notice of a female voice? The sky is dark and full of cloud but the climb was slowish, so what next.I once read a book which said go for a sunny patch, but there’s only one and its cross wind. What the hell, but I arrive low and fret for a bit but then it’s slow and steady to base. Wow, the theory worked, this is not normal for me. Slow drift and I see Graham Saunders at the same sunny patch and reach for the ptt to say I got up from there, so keep at it, but for him scratching around kicking grass it’s probably not helpful to talk to someone at cloud base, so I point downwind and forget both friends and goal at Innerleithen. A couple of k’s and its back to base,and feeling good, but generally uneventful, well apart from me shouting at a voice activated gopo which worked fine under the duvet, and then I’m pointing at Gala thinking a town should work as referenced in previous mentioned book. It didn’t, that's more like theory as it applies to me, and I land on the Selkirk road out of Gala, nice big happy field.I eat my sandwiches in warm pale sunshine, surrounded by potato plants and sheep before a slow repack and the luxury of a good phone signal and a taxi back to my car to rest my sore knee. No X-Borders for me today.