Camphill is a hill top site on the south-west corner of a plateau with three sides forming appreciable slopes to the North, West and South. The East side is cleft by a valley that runs down to join the Hope Valley (of telephone exchange fame) at Hathersage. The major slopes all produce good lift and hill soaring is available straight off the top of a launch in winds from northerly through west to southerly.
To the north of Camphill, as well as the Hope Valley, there is Edale Valley and the valleys containing the Ladybower, Derwent and Howden reservoirs. All have soarable slopes usable in one wind direction or another. Soaring these is not difficult and is fully described in the club’s Pilots Manual – as are the local landing fields which are not as small as is rumoured!
For the more experienced pilot the whole of the Peak District is open for exploration from Cromford in the south to Saddleworth Moors in the north, from Kinder Downfall in the west to Howden Moors in the east. Those who like to mark their prowess by the distance flown in one flight can fly over seventy kilometres within the Peak District..
From our airfield at Camphill we regard the area from North Yorkshire down to Cambridge in the south, and South Wales as our back yard for thermal cross countries. However thermal flying in the hilly country is very different from that over flatter terrain.
The hill slopes catch the sun’s rays earlier than the flatlands and correspondingly do so as the day ends so the thermal activity is often prolonged. There is frequently a breeze and often superimposed wave.
Flying at Camphill is characterised by a rich mixture of all three classical forms of soaring which is challenging, rewarding and endlessly fascinating. Because of the influence of the wind and hills the thermals often behave unpredictably, or so it seems.
Learning the way they behave and developing the skills to successfully soar them and use them as the stepping stones into the lee wave is one of the reasons why Camphill is one of the uniquely interesting and challenging gliding sites in England.
The prime wave generators are the flanks of the Pennines. However at a lower level each major hill produces some local wave which usually feeds into the main wave at some point where they are in phase with each other.
Camphill is so situated that our hill lift is nearly always in phase with the best waves that are generated in winds from southwest to northwest. Frequently a winch launch to 400ft or so is all it takes to start a flight that may take you to levels where oxygen is required and you can venture forth to join the pilots from Sutton Bank at Thirsk flying in wave over the North York Moors.
Our good climbs are made to the east where the cloud gaps tend to be bigger and the airspace more open. Although the best wave is in winds predominantly from the west, just as there is a soarable hill accessible from Camphill in any wind direction there is accessible wave in most wind directions as well.
You just may have to make a step to a local hill to find the way into it. Silver, gold and diamond heights are all to be had at Camphill within gliding range of the site, cloud cover notwithstanding. The height record for Camphill is 23,000ft. The only real limiting factor to high wave soaring over the Peak District is the presence of controlled airspace above and to the west, related to the Manchester CTA.
Our Glider Fleet
Puchacz two seat training gliders are made of glass fibre reinforced resin – a very strong and rugged material, used in the building of most modern gliders – whether they are designed for training or for high performance.
K13 training gliders are made of steel and wood, a well tried combination that has been used for many years. Ka18 and Ka8 – are wood and metal single seat gliders
At Camphill we have a number of dual control gliders. These are available almost every flying day for training. They are also used for trial flights.
The flying controls of these gliders are very easy to use. They enable anyone of any age or gender and most sizes to easily control the glider. The pedal controls are adjustable to suit leg length. There is a fully adjustable five-strap harness to keep you entirely secure in your seat. A large single wheel smoothes out landings.
In the cockpit, instruments give us important information like height, speed, and rate of climb or descent. All gliders are also fitted with radio to keep in touch with the ground and other gliders – mainly for safety reasons.
Each glider has a large Perspex canopy over the cockpit which, as well as keeping out the wind and weather, gives excellent all round visibility.
Single Seat Gliders
Once you are experienced enough to fly on your own you can fly the club’s single seat gliders. These are a little more sporty and manoeuvrable than the dual control gliders and are capable of being flown distances that will earn you gliding certificates and qualifications.