Bumpy as hell all the way - managed to keep under all the airspace ok - Sandown deserted - pleasant surprise when Al landed and a pleasant evening on the sea front with good meal and Hobgoblin on tap!!
Sandown - Old Sarum
A late start - short trip via the Needles - spectacular views then through the Solent gap at 1500' over the forest - porridge stirring stuff all the way. Seat belts required to remain in aircraft.
Old Sarum - Farway Common - Bodmin - Lands End - Eaglescott
Over the Compton Abbas Giant - then later the Eden project. Just before Lands End we saw 2 massive basking sharks just off the beach - about 20' long. Lands End was a challenge on take-off with 20mph + winds. Up to N Devon for the night.
First big water crossing - Bristol Channel - just west of Cardiff airspace - they had an infringer - wasn't me but as I was close and at same level as they were reporting they got me to descend immediate and squawk - soon after they apologised and I was able to continue - the infringer stopped take-offs and arrivals at Cardiff for a while. Pembrey near Swansea inside a danger area but all clear - bit of a rip off with £10 landing fee and no food or fuel - only tea coffee. On up the welsh coast, great views, Snowdonia cloud covered so kept to the coast for a great landing at Caernarfon then followed one of the guys who was a local up the Menai Straits - low level then east towards Liverpool - across the bay with a service from Liverpool then skirt around Blackpool into our night stop where my eldest, Trevor, turned up with food, beer and did a fuel run.
St Michaels - Kirkbride- East Fortune - Dundee – Peterhead
Another long day - coasted the Lake District passing close to Sellafield - keeping under the 1500' cloud base, across to the east coast over the mountains - skud run under the cloud at 2000' keeping clear - just - of the 2000' + peaks - we had a get out to the west if we needed it but there were few land out options. East Fortune near Edinburgh was nice then a run north across the Firth of Forth took us through Leuchars MATZ and a hand over to Dundee 'international' where we joined downwind over the water with full ATC in class D airspace and cleared to land on the massive runway - high speed taxi to clear, some guy with red bats waving at me who parked me up to a large bus jet and soon joined by a Fly-Bee passenger turboprop. Lunch, refuel, on to Peterhead via Class D transit of Aberdeen who routed us to avoid the helicopters in and outbound from/to the rigs. Peterhead - east of Inverness - was a heliport - the welcome was fantastic, good food, beer - all foc.!!!
Peterhead – Knockbain Farm - Glenforsa
Fogged in until midday - we go west past Inverness with a basic service - looked at Culbokie but it was very thermic on approach and trees were causing hellish rotor so we opted for Knockbain Farm instead - still awkward with the first 100m steep uphill and the remaining 300m downhill. A rest there, weather checked but Wick was still fog bound so John OG was not on the cards so we opted for the Great Glen - straight down Loch Ness - awesome - we started low level then the cloud was breaking so we went to 7000' with Ben Nevis as a backdrop!! Turn right at the end to route up to Plockton, the last loch, Loch Eil was another skud run under a lowering cloudbase and on emerging over the sea we turned north as far as Mallaig but everything disappeared in front , vis down to zero so we turned tail and headed for Glenforsa on Mull.
Stuck with the weather - rain, midges but at least it was alongside the hotel where we could get a shower, food, booze at watch the footy. Airfield operator chucked the car keys at us so we could get our own fuel - we could rent the car for £20 day if we wanted.
Glenforsa – Bute – Strathaven
Escape from Glenforsa - sounds like a film - it was a bit dramatic - take-off between the squalls - we knew the weather to the south was better but how to get there. We wanted to see Tobermoray anyway so we circumnavigated the island anti-clockwise - this bought us around the squalls and there was a gap - not a lot but enough - we could see the clear weather beyond as so it was to be - cliffs to the left, sea 400' below, cloud immediately above and to the right. Clench a bit and we were through, no land-outs here on land or sea so climb as much as we could and head for Bute. Lovely island with a nice grass strip - middle of nowhere but then again not a lot on Bute anyway. Onward through the Glasgow/Prestwick low level corridor with a service from Scottish. Into Strathaven (pronounced Straven) - made a big mess of landing attempt and the go round but got away with it - just - second attempt was peachy. Hotel - a real treat - the Strathaven guys were great, they hung around while we secured the aircraft and ran us into town, shower, curry, booze, bed - breakfast and the hotel ran us back to the airfield - great.
Strathaven - Eshott- Beverley- Boston
Last of the Scottish hills as we cross our path of what seemed like an age ago near Galashiels. The east coast beckoned and we soon had Holy Island in sight - magnificent sights as we circled then headed south past Bamburgh Castle. Into Eshott for fuel then south again , with a service then handover from Newcastle to Durham then on to Whitby, Scarborough - cliff top level with blue skies - warm at last. Into Beverley for a cuppa then familiar ground once again over the Humber straight to Boston. Overnight in the mobile home and a great meal in Merrimans - impressed the other crew who will be coming back - thanks to all who made them welcome and to Al for cooking breakfast.
Last leg Boston - Weybourne - Sutton Meadows
Always fancied Weybourne - The Muckleburgh Collection/ museum near Cromer. Wind dictated the short runway towards the cliff!!! Difficult approach over a hill with trees - one of my better ones I am pleased to say but once down the wind got up to 18knots across the runway - didn't fancy that with a cliff at the end too, so we waited it out. We escaped about 7pm as the wind veered and abated slightly and ran to Sutton Meadows over Marham. Last night - party - beer - food (no women though).
Sutton Meadows -
An early morning smoooooth flight back to base. All packed up and home by 11am - Smiley
The UK has become a smaller place for me - I learnt an awful lot and met some great people too. Thanks also the support from home - much appreciated guys.