Monday, June 11, 2007

Over the gorms. At last!

For years I have been trying to fly over the Cairngorms in a paraglider. At first it was with good old thermal power. I would make the classic mistakes; take off too early/late in the day, fail to commit or choose the wrong take off site. Well with the addition of power I have less to work out and all I wanted was a clear day and/or high cloud base and little wind so I could make my return.
Last Wednesday was that day. I started in the Mountain Cafe in Aviemore looking out at blanket cloud which the forecast was adamant would clear. I probably shouldn't have accepted Colin's (the shop owner) offer of a second coffee as when I took off most of that cloud had already gone. With hindsight it would have made more interesting imagery but YOU try and resist a Mountain Cafe coffee!
Take off was not quite textbook as the wind whirled around as Sunlight burst upon the ground through the appearing holes but on second attempt I was away. The climb out to the mountains took me over Loch Morlich and the Ski area on Cairngorm. As I climbed the slopes the air was lifting gently so above summit height was soon achieved. I continued up to over 5,000ft where the air was cold but smooth and continued my tour down the Lairig Ghru where I enjoyed beautiful vistas of Ben Macdui, Braeriach Loch Avon and other landmarks within the range.
I circled round the back of Ben Macdui and over the back of cairngorm for my return then over to Loch Einich and Feshie. By the time I had returned to the valley the wind was starting to pick up and I landed in a stiff breeze which signified some big thermals in the mountains. My timing was spot-on. 300 photos in the bag, the only thing missing was another glider. Volunteers for the next trip (probably in winter) please get in touch!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I made a trip to the Western Isles last week. As sunset is after 10pm I made the ffort at the end of the working day to get into the Harris hills and take some shots. The sun had shone unencumbered all day but as I began to walk up some cloud started to develop over the mountains.

Not to be put off I kept going and after a walk up to my vantage point (approx 2,000ft up) it was a matter of waiting for the sun to clear the clouds. Unfortunately the wind was easterly and just blew the clouds in the direction of the setting sun. This shot was the only one where this mountain received any light. Not a classic but I cannot think of a better place to be on the island at that time. Certainly not the hotel bar!