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Wetherlam behind Dave Robinson

Cumbrian mountains

Flying XC through the Cumbrian hills is a serious undertaking. Here are some reminders about the complex aerology and some other hazards too...

  • Fast changing and unpredictable conditions
  • Strong mountain thermals and wave. An apparently quiet day can produce very turbulent air
  • Much stronger wind over the tops and ridges
  • Clouds that are often close to, or below the tops
  • Sea breezes that come from different directions, causing complex airflows
  • Powerful convergence combined with lowering cloud
  • Steep rocky terrain generating strong rotors, bad mechanical turbulence and rough thermals
  • Big shaded slopes spawning katabatic downdrafts
  • Strong venturis at dips in ridges and passes
  • Very different valley winds from the flow at height
  • Marked shear layers in winter
  • Remote areas miles from any roads
  • Fewer safe landing areas than many parts of the UK
  • Many lakes and Cumbria has plenty of rain too


Some good experience and a long apprenticeship in the bigger hills is required to become a capable mountain XC pilot.

If you've not got many hours since qualifying as a Club Pilot, then any flight through the Cumbrian fells is probably better tackled later in your flying development.

Conditions and the pilot can make any XC completely different to that described in a flight report.

Be prepared to change plans as conditions demand and always have a 'Plan B'.

Contact us

If uncertain about your readiness or you've not flown in Cumbria before, please have a chat with our friendly coaches/sites officers. They will enjoy a natter as they are passionate about flying.

Glider and Crummock Water behind
Chris Scammell, Crummock Water and Mellbreak

Expert opinion

You may find opinions from expert pilots both on the Knowledge Base and on XC flight reports. Even the experts will sometimes disagree about the same thing. Bear that in mind. When flying XC you must make your own decisions to stay safe and have fun.

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