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!

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