OK, so we've been good so far and followed Covid restrictions and not been flying since 1 Jan, however Scottish restrictions allow exercise and travel up to 5 miles over the regional border provided you start and finish in the same place. 15 March brings high pressure and consistent NW winds and the Moorfoots parking is about 100m over the Borders border so, without any plans to meet others, it's time to see how rusty I am and if a winter wing service makes any difference.
Arriving at the parking there are already 2 or 3 folk in the air, midway down the ridge, adopting a seriouly socially distanced flight pattern. Walking to Torphichen it feels top end so the small socially distanced group of pilots walking in decide to decant down the hill ,sit and parawait, some with a wall built against the breeze and some trying to avoid a drag over the top. It still feels top end but then one of the pilots from the far end of the ridge comes in low and keeps soaring...so I go lower down the slope and take off followed by a couple of other pilots.
Soaring is good and wind speed is maybe 18 - 20kph in front of the hill, smooth as silk with the occasional small thermal coming through to play in. Taking the thermals to 200 to 300ft ATO I make sure to stay in front on the boundary fence and get used to the wing again, practising top or slope landings before a final flight, gaining some height, and heading back to land across the road by the cars. Maybe I didn't have 2 or 3 hours in the air but it was good to be out again.
The weather is still holding with high pressure and forecast light(ish) north westerly so it seems appropriate to head back to the socially distanced Moorfoots for a gentle fly and bit of a coaching session. Walking into Torphichen the the breeze feels lighter today, 2 or 3 folk are following at a distance so when we arrive we set up closer to the top and test the breeze. It feels good so it's time to cure the rustiness with gentle flights and top landings just to remove the cobwebs. G & R both get some airtime, G with some gentle encouragement, and cursing, as his high tech bluetooth PTT decides to show dominance!. Some decided to pack early and walk out whilst others took the option to fly back to the cars arriving before the walkers. Again a gentle afternoon of social distancing and exercise within the Covid guidelines.
You guessed - forecast still NW so back to the Moorfoots arriving around lunchtime but this time it feels much stronger than forecast! The 'sensible folk' decide to use the lower takoff by the road (or at least to parawait there) whilst mere mortals walk in to Torphichen via the lower track. Towards the base of the hill the wind is consistent at 30 - 35kph and this remains so even a third of the way up so it's definitely well ventilated here! Maybe the wave clouds in the west are a hint. Chatting in a socially distanced manner we decide to head back via the top track and, arriving a hill closer to the car parking, see a wing take off from above the road and gain height rapidly. It seems windy with gliders pointing into wind and slip sliding along the ridge continuing to gain height effortlessly. The breeze is still 30 - 35kph as we walk down to the quarry assuming it will be lighter just above the quarry road. A yellow Nova takes off in a 25kph breeze, gains height and soars gently upwards and east along the ridge before turning back. I follow 10 mins later, wind has dropped to 15kph and continues to fall, so I manage a skip along the quarry road trying to find lift but only managing to land below the road near the gate. DH on his blue wing simply manages a hop across two fences and the road. Interesting afternoon watching wave and wishing!
19/3/21 (Not the Moorfoots)
The forecast is changing so no Moorfoots today but there is a possibility of flying at Bridgend if it holds north east which means no requirement nip over the regional border. All the forecasts and soundings suggest low cloud but, arriving at St Mary's Loch in the early afternoon, there is a breeze on the water and cloud is well clear of the hill tops with hints of blue patches in the sky. I notice a car parked by the first gate and track so decide to head to the landing gate and walk up the steeper track to maintain social distancing and see Tim, in the distance, walking up . Arriving at the top the breeze feels on so a distant 'hi' before clipping in and going for a soar. The breeze is perfect with plenty of lift out front and gentle thermals punching through so time for a play. Tim follows on his aubergine wing and we both enjoy 30mins of smooth flight before top landing for a snack and await the arrival of the orange wing. However by now the breeze has eased to the point that forward launching may have to be practised (blame it on orange - we did). However, with just enough breeze to snatch a reverse, it's time for a very gentle and enjoyable top to bottom to finish the day - and video two perfect landings.
21/3/21 (Ever hopeful but it's the weekend)
Chat for the last couple of days has centred on Broughton (still in the Borders) but Sunday morning arrives and it looks and feels breezy. Meteo stations at Broughton and Tinto suggest westerly but top end plus!!. So a walk up Mountbenger seems in order as long as the hill is vacated by 4pm to allow sheep to be gathered on Monday. This was one of the days when a walk was good but all gliders, bar one, remained in the bags. Stopping below the top DT decided that his wing needed an airing and I think it's true to say that's exactly what it had. Some would say it was a perfect day for long XCs but in Covid times it's was a definite case of stay local. Suffice to say that the cobwebs were certainly shaken out of a multi-coloured wing and D showed his usual great piloting skills...his only comment after landing was along the lines of 'it felt a bit rock and roll'!!