When winds hit the slopes of hills, they can be diverted upwards and if a pilot can position himself in the right place, his glider will be lifted upwards with them. Ideally, you want the wind to be hitting the hill at right angles and if you can find a ridge that lies at right angles to the prevailing wind on any particular day, it’s possible to follow the ridge line, without losing any height and being continually carried upwards to about 500 or 600 feet above the crest of the hill.
Soaring along a ridge is also a great way of staying in a favourable position at a safe height, while you wait for a thermal to pass nearby. You can then transfer to the thermal and climb away from the ridge.
Many of the country’s larger gliding clubs are in the Midlands and the South. These tend to be “flatland” sites, where pilots rely on thermals to stay up. At Chipping, we are very fortunate in being a “ridge site”, where it’s possible to fly using ridge lift, even when the weather conditions don’t favour thermals.
The Chipping ridges sweep round in an arc, from Fairsnape, via Parlick and round to Totridge, allowing us to find useful ridge lift in most winds, from north westerlies, via southerlies to north easterlies.