Swanage or bust!

The Long Mynd was the place to be on Saturday 15th May (Wayne Seeley flew 170km on his Omega 7!), but coming a close second was Batcombe (aka Telegraph Hill) in Dorset. The sky was looking epic as Nick, Mike and I drove down from Bath, and when we arrived shortly after 11am it seemed like a good proportion of the Avon Club was there too – Ken, Ben, Al, Graham, Paddy, Rob and Pete…

Nice looking sky…

I took off just after midday after declaring a goal at Durlston Country Park, just to the south of Swanage, and hung around nice and high with Guy Anderson (Condors) on a demo Trango XC waiting for a few others, and sure enough it didn’t take long for Ken and Mike to climb up and join us, so off we went.

Cerne Abbas

During my two previous xcs from Batcombe I’d failed to look out the Cerne Giant, but this time I was ready with my camera poised as I passed overhead!

40' from scrotum to tip so Mike tells me

From Cerne Abbas I went on a glide towards Piddletrenthide, however I could see Mike and Guy climbing about 1km away to the south so I turned south to join them.

Mike and Guy are out there somewhere!

I climbed to just under 4,000′ before it seemed to fizzle out, but I was then unsure where to head to next. There was a lot of shadow on the ground to the south but a bit more in the way of sun to the east, so I took a punt and headed for a gently sloping tree covered ridge south of Athelhampton and Tolpuddle. Mike and Nick (who had left the hill before us but had now joined up with us again) took a detour north over Puddletown to no avail, and then got low over Athelhampton. Mike managed to climb out but Nick passed low over a wedding at Althelhampton House and landed a mile later. He met a local farmer while walking out who told him in a broad Dorset accent that it was a gay wedding, and asked if he’d seen “any of those homosexuals“? Classic, but what a story it would have been if he had actually landed in it 🙂

Anyway, I digress… I had spotted some dust being kicked off by some quad bikes on the brow of the hill about 4km away and arrived with about 350′ to spare (700′ asl), and fortunately found a bit of a climb just past them. However it was weak and I lost it after only ten 360s and 300′ gained. But it was just enough to take me over Pallington Heath and Waddock where there were plenty of landing options, however I wasn’t giving up yet! I was at 1000′ asl but I desparately needed to find something fast. Some farm buildings to the SE of Waddock looked like my last chance and my luck was obviously in because at only 300′ above them I got a corker of a climb straight up to 4,700′!

I think that qualifies as a low save!

Someone was obviously looking out for me…

Nice and high again over Bovington Camp!

It then went a bit grey and cold as I got sucked into a cloud – even with big ears and speed bar I was still climbing, getting up to a maximum of 5,200′ just past Wool. I popped out after about eight minutes, and esentially had a lovely long 17km glide on a good line all the way to Swanage!

Sea breeze convergence

I couldn’t decide whether to head south to try and get into the sea breeze convergence, but I didn’t think it looked all that great…

Small Cu's in the sea breeze

But to the north it was very grey and cloudy so I wasn’t sure about that option either…

Not much sun on the ground to the north

So in the end I just pointed straight at Swanage and crossed my fingers! By the time I was passing Corfe Castle (still 8km from my declared goal at Durlston Park) I was down to 2,000′ and unless I found another climb it was looking increasingly unlikely that I’d make it. Unfortunately the sea breeze had well and truly kicked in and I wasn’t to get lucky a second time and I landed in the field just past the cricket club (where I later saw that Graham and Pete landed) about 1.5km away from my goal. So close yet so far! So 48km all in all, and yet another lovely flight from Batcombe!

I’ve got more photos on my flikr page here, and you can see my flight in the XC Player here.

My video has now finished uploading to YouTube – watch it at YouTube or below:

3 responses to “Swanage or bust!”

  1. Great Video and write up Tim. I will be watching the video again, as you have let out some of your flying secret skills 😉
    (Why not do a talk on the “dark art” of thermalling and how to find and stay in the 2nd one!)
    48km nice!

  2. Chris Williams Avatar
    Chris Williams

    Inspirational stuff Tim – thank you for sharing it. I know it looks easy, but can’t be. I’ve never seen the mystical sea breeze front before, only read about it – your photos show it perfectly. Just a question though – if it’s so good to cruise the sea breeze front, why didn’t you on this occasion?
    Chris (TVHGC)

    1. Thanks Chris… Re. the sea breeze front (SBF), I can’t speak from first hand experience about actually using one, but at 5:55 you can see that I’m heading towards the small cloud that’s forming beyond and to the left of the sea breeze cloud on the right. I’m still heading towards it at 6:26, but a little distance later at 6:36 there are no clouds at all except for a few small Cu’s much lower than me. At 6:45 I think you can see the SBF heading ENE towards Poole Harbour. Basically it was broken with big gaps between clouds and wasn’t really going in the direction i wanted to go in. By 7:10 you can see that there are no clouds to my right…

      In hindsight I shouldn’t have bothered about using big ears in the cloud 🙂 With another 500′ say, I probably would have made it all the way…

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