Nene Valley Club Expedition to Eden Soaring 2017 May 6th to 12th by Roger Gate
Eden Soaring is based at Skelling Farm in the Eden Valley just outside Penrith. It is an amazingly beautiful place with the Lake District to the West and a huge long ridge to the East forming the edge of the Pennines.
So, one Saturday morning, we all met up and off we went up the A1 to Scotch Corner and then along the A66 to Penrith before branching off to the more narrow, stone-walled roads of Cumbria. The intrepid expedition was made up of Tony Walker, Richard Aylesbury, Steve Jarvis, Tim Ward, Michael Muir and myself. The only real problem was a flat tyre on my K6 trailer but with the help of Tim and Michael we got two new ones in Grantham, which was a good excuse to have a large breakfast at Waitrose.
All of us were safely up at Skelling Farm after lunch and went for the obligatory field walk. When I say obligatory, I mean obligatory. This is not a nice flat field with no obstacles. The track that runs across the Southern end has to be missed or it makes for a very rough landing, the deep gullies particularly in the western side must be avoided and on certain landing runs you need to understand the way the land rises and falls to adjust your round out. Also, your approach needs to be into a corner with a stone wall in front of you. You also need extra speed most days as the curl over from the trees and topography can be quite strong. Oh, and did I mention the stone wall half way down the field.
On Sunday we did our check flights and this was my first meeting with the CFI, John Castle, and his wife. John really has been the main reason that Eden Soaring has continued and is a great destination for clubs to go to on expeditions. He is an excellent instructor with a wealth of experience and knowledge who really knows how to make things work without sacrificing safety in what is a challenging environment.
So all we need now is a westerly so we can soar the ridge, something the previous visitors to the site keep telling me is absolutely thrilling and challenging. However, this was not to happen as we had a week of southerlies plus one northerly so it was to thermals we had to turn for our lift. Overall we did not do badly getting some reasonable soaring flights between us and I have to say that any soaring there gives you some fabulous views of the valley, the mountains and this time the Lake District in the distance. Tim got to transition from the Cirrus to the DG, so often had a massive grin on his face and Michael flew the Eden Soaring K8 once we had mastered the rigging. In fact I learnt a lot about rigging during the week and how the Spatz fits in its trailer.
On the lighter side, Tim, Michael and I stayed in a lovely modernised cottage near the site and “the instructors” in a 1970s-themed cottage complete with ducks on the wall and a video(?) recorder. Meals out are great as the local pubs are excellent and know how to feed you up. We also had a morning out to the local bikers haunt in the Pennines where the food portions are epic, the views go for miles and roads are fun.
On an afternoon off, Tim and I went to see Walcot range where Tim had actually trained years ago and the “instructors” took Michael on a shopping trip to Keswick. Tim and I were out for a while and when we returned we found our Chairman had been left at the cottage with no key and had therefore adopted his natural state in the back garden.
So would I go again? Absolutely, it is a challenging field to fly bringing new skills and experience, it has fabulous views and opportunities to go ridge flying and wave flying even if this time the weather did not play ball. The people are great and bent over backwards to make our trip a success. So yes, I would go again and would recommend it to anyone. See you all at Eden next year.
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Cambs, PE26 2PH
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The Nene Valley Gliding Club Ltd is registered in England with registration number 5193277 and its Registered Office is Marshal's Paddock, Ramsey Road, Upwood, Cambs, PE26 2PH