Brigsteer - a soaring site or not?  

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Looking south over Brigsteer's shallow take off slope

About this article

Taken from posts made on the CSC forum in Dec 2008.
Authors: Kitt Rudd and Ed Cleasby. Both are local experts, Cumbrian pioneers and very experienced XC pilots.

Ed Cleasby

In the mid 80's we debated many times whether Brigsteer would work ...... the only take off we were allowed was the bump in the field followed by the long shallow slope to the trees. To cut a long story short it did ........... amazingly so. During that first summer (I think '86) we had lots of superb flying there; easy TO's .... good ridge soaring but above all good thermalling .... it often gave excellent evening flying as the trees released. For a time it was THE place to be. It also put one pilot in the trees!

Surprisingly it didn't seem too affected by sea breeze unlike nearby Farleton which was often a bitch after 1pm on a decent day. The downside initially was that base was never very high and that good solid thermal lured you over the back and then ........ disappeared; until it was realised that Kendal and the ground climbing up from it gave you the decent lead out you needed.

Between 86 and about 1990 it was good .... so good that we got the top fliers travelling to it for that big XC. Twice I was allowed to tag along; once with Pete Harvey (went on to become a national sailplane champion) and with Nick Pain who tried it in all weathers. My best efforts on a hangie were Appleby and some obscure valley east of it; on neither flight did I get much above 3500 and if you left Brigsteer with a few grand over TO you were doing well.

Then ......... for a while it fell out of favour; partly because hangies disappeared as a breed; partly because later we powered out of the bottom field and used that as a start point ..... the weather didn't seem as good either and the TO's could also be very stressful!

Over a period of years the fixed notam switched between Farleton and Brigsteer. Paragliders went through the same debate about the possibilties ..... then they just got better and pilots did and it was game on again.

North over Brigsteer
Looking north over the discontinuous rocky Brigsteer edge

I've had some amazing flights there ....... more good than bad; I've also been trashed, bounced and generally roughed up. After all these years I'm still wary of it ..... like the little girl .... when it's good it's very, very good and when it is bad it's horrid.

My own take on the place is ....... it doesn't like too much west of SW (over the trees); not too strong and plenty of sun. In some ways it's easier on a pg; the TO on a hg can end up a battle down the field to the tree line (they have got bigger!) and faith that the hidden ridge works then wing tipping through the trees to gain the main scar.

I love Whitestones ..... it's big; but XC seems pretty awful from there and I've only ever escaped the big down over the back once en-route fron Brigsteer to Tailbridge. Mostly I walk out from Cautley but I'm learning.

Brigsteer, despite its size offers much better opportunities and a better track. Kitt's the man ........ I think he has the first 25 miles programmed in.

Sorry to waffle on ......... got lots of early photos of pioneering the place. We reckoned it had all the ingredients to collect plenty of broken aluminium and bones ......... it never did, not a one so it can't be all bad.

Kitt Rudd

I agree with Ed's comments.

Yes it can be soared but really there are much better and less stressful locations for a simple soar, however if its thermic (and this site is very) then it is excellent and very easy to get away from.

It is unlike many of our bigger sites in that you have to glide out to the lift and if it is on a slow pulse release, the less experienced (as well as the experienced) may have some difficulty catching a much needed thermal before having to quickly decide where to land. So I agree with Ed with his little girl analogy. It can be deceptively simple to fly or disturbingly awkward.

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