I drove to the Gibbet past verges full of pink and purple cornflowers, to find no one there but Mark and Annie with their tent under an umbrella. Launch itself was dotted with clover and big thistles, with a lot of butterflies enjoying them.
A big triangle was planned, and Hugh, Luke and Roger soon arrived. My own plan was, as usual, to try to get high and then to try to go somewhere. It had to wait while Hugh and Luke climbed out very slowly, as Mark bombed. But he got away, with Roger and a couple of others, a little while later.
For a while the wind disappeared, with the occasional cycles blowing from the west. I went to make myself some tea, during which time, of course, another gaggle climbed out. But my last big (by my standards) flight from Combe started after 2 pm, and I was hopeful that the same would happen again.
It did. Dickon punted off and started going up, and a few of us exploited his bravery. We began to climb, but I felt myself starting to blunder out of the thermal. Then Dickon, who had been exploring further west, came low over the back, found the core under me and allowed me to take it up to 5,900 feet - the hightest I've ever been in Britain.
He and a blue Delta eventually outclimbed me and set off downwind, but I caught them after a glide. Beyond Whitchurch, although climbs were plentiful and strong, I began to worry a bit about some of the clouds ahead. Given the forecast of possible thunderstorms in Sussex, I decided that today was not the day to fly there. Instead I decided to head north to where there was plenty of blue sky to escape to, with the vague idea of flying to Basingstoke to get the train back.
I flew close to Popham airfield - perfectly legal, but it was a bit busy, so I didn't want to thermal right over it. As I thermalled over Overton, I tried to work out if there was a station on the railway line at Quidhampton (there is). But I found very strong lift as I flew in a straight line upwind, making me glad of my decision to avoid the bigger, spreadier clouds.
I could see Newbury, which would mean a quicker journey back than Basingstoke… But I managed another couple of clouds upwind - could I get back to Combe for a triangle? I ran out of clouds and decided to try to glide downwing to Basingstoke after all, but hit big sink followed by a windy attempt at a low save.
I startled a hare as I landed in the baking hot middle of nowhere, despite all my clever transport plans. But Owen rank me from the Airworks van, and soon he, Chris and Ross picked me up and dropped me at Newbury station before going on to get Steve.
Roger was already at Newbury, and we went to Hungerford, where we were joined for dinner by Mark, Luke and Hugh, who'd all completed their record 110k triangle, as well as Annie and David Williams. What a nice day! And unusually my Oudie got it wrong - it said I'd done a 47k turnpoint flight, but this lovely league says it's 51.