Posted by: brigid benson | January 3, 2012

2012: Taking flight

Paragliders    Dee estuary    Thurstaston Cliffs 

January 2 2012 was a beautifully uplifting day; the wind was gusting and chilly but the sunshine was was strong and the skies were blue over the Dee estuary.  A favourite haunt is the boulder clay cliffs at Thurstaston, from here there are spectacular views across the Dee estuary to North Wales. And flying over the estuary, which is the border between England and Wales, you’ll often find paragliders.  Here are a few images, taken as ever on my camera phone,  of their graceful sport.

Measuring the wind

To measure wind strength and direction the paragliders put windsocks at the edge of the cliff, these also serve to alert horseriders on the beach below to the possibility of a giant kite with a dangling person launching overhead.

The cliffs look to the Clywidan range – a 35 kilometre chain of  protected hills in north east Wales  – and beyond them to Snowdonia. Gusts coming across the estuary are powered by their journey across the hills mountains and the paragliders keep an eye on the form of clouds over the mountains which reveals any  ominous changes in wind strength and direction.

The hot seat

The paragliding equipment is brilliantly packed into an ingenious backpack, rather like a giant camel hump that can be easily walked to the launch site. The chair is within the bag itself.

Preparing for take off

The paraglider is launched first on the cliff top and then the flyer turns to leave terra firma and whoosh up into the blue yonder.

Taking flight

Views along the estuary are magnificent; many of the flyers record their flight with cameras on the helmets to replay the adventure when they get home.

Safe landing

It is not unusual to land on the beach below, hence the warning windsocks for horses. Once safely down the flyers condense the great mass of their silky parachute-cum-kite and scramble up the cliff to start again.  I’ve not tried it myself but I am assured that it is addictive! It looks great, that’s for sure.

To visit, see Weekend 14 of 52 Weekends by the Sea

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