The first big day of 2017 in Scotland - we seemed to have been waiting an age! The Aberdeen boys had stayed North but everyone else seemed to be at Dungaval in the Borders. It's always good to catch up with folk after the winter and to meet a few new faces on the hill.
Not a lot of time for socialising. Needed to get sorted for a 12 o'clock launch!
The first big decision of the day was whether to bring my Cayenne 5 or my Chili 4 - the new Chilli 4 is good but not quite as agile as the C5 and the wind was fresh. Bob advised on C5 and with hindsight I think he was right (although I think the Chili would have got me there! )
With a southerly component to the met wind and some convergence forecast on RASP we had dropped a pin in on the A1 between Berwick and Dunbar which also enabled a track which stuck, in the main, to the higher ground. FlySkyHy is great for on the hill declared goals and triangles with no need to programme lots of numbers - which to be honest Has always put me of making declarations in the past.
It was pretty soarable on the hill and cycles came through on cue at about 12. Brendan and Tom were already climbing when I launched but I wasn't far behind with Bob M Charlie and Psemek climbing below me.
I caught Tom at the second climb which was broken and weak. Brendan was already up and lost patience waiting for me and Tom as we were making hard work of it.
By the time we got up I could see Brendan had pushed south into the next valley and I could see the second gaggle had gone back to the hills more directly from Dungaval than we had.
Tom and I headed towards Broughton and took some broken climbs without getting back high - there seemed to be some sort of inversion at around 3,500 not sure when I realised that but it was hard getting through that band and back up to cloud.
I pushed south along the Broughton ridge and picked up a snotty leaside thermal at the tip of the ridge - Tom joined me but lost patience and pushed on toward Peebles low. He picked up something at the tail of the next ridge south and I came in high above him - it was weak and drifting fast. Tom went over the back and landed. I was still fighting and connected with the quarry ridge before Peebles to be joined by Charlie and then Bob.
There was lift around and we managed to stay up and the ridge came into cycle - again the climb was hard work and I pushed on before we got really high to the hills behind Peebles. Bob and Charlie joined me and we all took height, although Charlie less so than me and Bob.
I didn't see Charlie again after this and didn't get chance to thank him the his help on the quarry ridge!
Bob pushed deeper into the hills heading for the next big cloud while I stayed more forward conscious of the lower airspace back in deep. We joined back together after the next climb when Bob came back south. But for the next phase of the flight Bob was below me but flying well. He pushed on low at one point and found a boomer out of the middle of nowhere. I joined him but we couldn't take the climb all the way as we were now below class D at 3500. We scuttled out of there and found a beauty going to base. I shouted across to Bob who confirmed that we were out of airspace! Should we head to Dunbar I asked?
Bob now had the bit between his teeth and barred it away - not in the direction of Dunbar! Bob got a better line than me and stayed high. I was back down below the inversion and mincing while Bob disappeared heading to the right side of the cloud street we were under - not sure if he had Berwick in his mind?
By the time I was up I had lost Bob but I was on track for my goal with a cloud street in front of me.
The last 30 km or so was easy with cloud above and I stayed high just making sure I didn't drop below 3500 again!
I took my declared and continued on towards the coast to click over 100km open distance as well!
What a day out! Spring had sprung: -)