Signs of Awakening.
Destination Aviemore. A great example of goal setting and collaborative flying. Don't know why I didn't make a declaration? Oh yes I do. Far too lazy to be bothered with such faff.
First decent flying day this month and it's a 5 Star day.
I'm trying hard to tell the difference between being retired and Stephen's version of employment. Lucky for me that he had this day, following his two week summer break, booked as a holiday?
What followed was a wingtip to wingtip adventure north from Tarmachan all the way to Speyside over the most stunning and remote terrain.
An unusually early start, saw Stephen and I sitting in the sun on Martin's veranda in Comrie while he did a convincing impersonation of a barista. Isn't life grand.
Goals for the day were discussed in the car. Heading north was Martin's response. No sign of fear of the boonies in his voice. Just point me in the right direction was Stephen's effort. Poor soul was exhausted from his Croatian cycling holiday, having just stepped off the plane late last night, with no time to look at a forecast.
The three weeks since I last defied Isaac Newton, had provided plenty of opportunity to consider options for today. I was keen to try a triangle, however, the latest forecast had not been favourable. South easterly at takeoff veering to south westerly by the time we get to Rannoch and strengthening south easterly by 4 o'clock. Let's carve the letter "C" and head to Aviemore, said the bold Bob. I omitted to mention the walk-out potential that we would be exposed to, in following this route. Best not to introduce a negative aspect at this point. Rannoch Moor, Ben Alder and Loch Ericht are not renowned for ease of access.
Much chat onTelegram and many folks heading to the Lawers range, so it was a surprise that we didn't come face to face with another soul on the way to launch on the Tarmachan ridge. Then out flashes Fred, straight into a thermal and now climbing like a rocket in front of us. Time to launch.
A sharpish climb out follows, with Stephen heading north at base and Martin and I risking a somewhat less sparkly altitude just to stay as a group. No obvious clouds to aim for and I'm immediately starting to regret my decision. Two minutes into the flight and I am already in survival mode. Aargh! Not to be outdone Peter(drone pilot) joins the low altitude fun.
Much mincing. We all converge on the ridge above Bridge of Balgie. A few beats and I find a good climb, allowing me to leave with some altitude. Stephen and Peter drift back with me, towards Loch Rannoch. We lose Martin at this point.
We dribble on, almost at Bridge of Gaur, but Peter is now low and in need of a climb. Alas it was not to be. Some consolation that he was in sight of the last possible car retrieve option for the next 50km. It still left him with a 40 mile trip back to his car.
Now back with altitude, Stephen joins me above Bridge of Gaur. Cirrus is closing in from the southwest and with no sign of cumulus to the north of us, we decide to take a more direct route, along the line of Loch Ericht. I was not feeling confident at this point, as the climbs were achingly slow and broken. I needn't have worried though, a couple of speculative glides/poor climbs later and ping I was at a base of 6000ft. I could see Steven to the west, also in a strong climb.
One more climb and we returned to civilisation or least the A9, just south of Dalwhinnie.
Goal now in our sights, but in need of an immediate climb, Stephen finds a nice one and we are back up again. We progress northwards either side of the valley of the A9, bimbling around the 3000ft mark. I join Stephen in another climb at Kingussie and as we approach base I radio to make him aware of the Polar bear and Tiger enclosures below us. Not a great landing option.
We get a buoyant glide and another climb that takes us all the way to Aviemore. On the transition we encounter Khalid, midway through an epic out and return flight along the line of the Laggan hills. A 7 hour monster of a flight that he and Jules had declared. Results awaited as I write.
Just after 5 o'clock and we arrive in Aviemore to be greeted by the seabreeze.
2 hours later and Martin arrives to retrieve us. We have a quick blether with the Aberdeen team and learn about the epic out and return flights.
Jules saves the best news till last. An update from Emma on Bren. Eyes now open. Hopefully the start of his awakening.