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West Country Slope Sites

West Country Sites Site Rating
St Agnes Head, Cornwall (SW, NNE)
White Horse, Westbury, Wiltshire (W-N)
White Sheet, Mere, Wiltshire (SW,NW)
Click here for review Dodman Point, Cornwall (E-SW)
Click here for review Cherril White Horse, Calne, Wiltshire (N)
Click here for review Roundway, Devizes, Wiltshire (SW-NW)
Click here for review Black Hill, Nr Haytor Rock, Dartnoor (N-E)
Crook's Peak, Somerset (E-N)

St Agnes Head, Cornwall

This coastal site is situated about 7 miles north of Redruth overlooking the Bristol Channel. It is easy to get to, take the B3277 to St Agnes Head off the A30 at the Truro roundabout and follow your nose. it will cope with winds from SW to NNE. The landing area is really excellent with a carpet of short tufted gorse and heather, free from turbulence and in most places rocks. It falls down on one of my requirements that of being able reach the bottom (except by boat!). This is not such a problem as model flying generally takes place over the accessible part of the site and a 'mid-air' or structural failure normally results in the pieces being blown back on to the hill! Access and parking and hence security are excellent with the vehicles being parked some 40 - 50 yards behind the flying area.

For those wishing to spend a holiday or weekend exploring its charms local hostel facilities are again excellent. We parked our caravan at Beacon Cottage Farm less than a mile from the flying site. Adjacent to Beacon Cottage Farm there is a Caravan Club site. Cornwall is not a densely populated county so 'Aggie' does not get crowded even though there are three modelling clubs within a 10 mile radius. Incidentally the Redruth club have their annual club flying weekend the first weekend in August every year and is one that I try not to miss. There are a number of points to watch out for the most obvious one being access to the bottom is out of the question so always allow an extra few feet in case of a mishap!

Also this is an open access site in that anybody can use it, including hang gliders and para-gliders. Neither are a problem as there is plenty of space for all. The hang gliders launch from where we fly but as soon as they are safely airborne go off and fly the full length of the cliffs. Hang glider performance is such these days that given reasonable lift conditions they can fly at a safe altitude and not get in our way. Para-gliders however have less freedom so they must be watched more closely but generally there is not a problem. Take care when landing as the area is very popular with walkers. It is worth taking a 'reverse' peg board with you and a few spare pegs as the locals, who are incidentally great friends of mine, rely on word of mouth frequency control. Perhaps I can persuade the editor to publish a version of my carry around peg-board as a plan supplement! Hint hint.

Summary: St Agnes Head is a top flight premier league site that provides good clean lift in the merest of breezes that does not 'flatten off' as the wind-speed increases. In addition the lack of turbulence in the landing area makes it ideal for novice pilots.

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Westbury White Horse, Westbury Wilts.

This is another excellent site but nearer the bottom of the premier slope league than St Agnes Head. The Westbury White Horse can cope with winds from west to north with a bit of east. It was once a hill fort and has a trench running around the top which is handy to stand in out of the way of the wind. The hill / ridge is some 350 - 400 feet high with a gentle 'run-in' at the bottom and a 'humped' top. The site overlooks the flat plains of Wiltshire so other than a bit of turbulence generated by nearby trees and buildings the air is very smooth when flying. There is a cement works at the base of the ridge on the western end and if flying from this area the air is laced with the smell of sulphur. The site is again shared with hang gliders and para-gliders not to mention visiting full size gliders from nearby Keevil airfield. The full size gliders often appear frightenly low but I am sure this is an optical illusion due to their size. Another hazard is the pedestrians as the site is very popular with walkers. These can be both an hazard and a distraction, particularly on windy days! The site is also popular with kite flyers but these are not a problem as they operate some distance away from the flying area.

Summary: An excellent site, good clean lift, landing can be tricky due to the 'humped' top and landing in lift. Watch out for the other users, frequency control and over-flying other transmitters after an aborted landing approach. As a personal recommendation I will regularly drive a 100 miles to fly this slope.

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White Sheet, Mere Wilts.

The White Sheet is the home of the White Sheet club and is situated just off the A303 near Mere in Wiltshire. It is a collection of chalk hills rising above the Wiltshire plains. These slopes cover almost any wind direction from due south around to east in a clockwise direction although some sites are seldom used for a number of reasons so please check with the White Sheet club first. The two main sites are the SW bowl and the NW ridge. My favourite is the SW bowl and I regularly drive the 85 miles to visit it when the wind is right. The lift, when blowing directly into the bowl, is excellent but it can be a little turbulent in very strong winds due to the trees at the bottom of the slope. In light to medium winds it is brilliant for inverted low passes a few inches off the ground. It also has an excellent turbulent free landing area but beware of the wire fence, it has shredded the odd model in the past. If the wind is in the west to north quadrant I prefer to fly at Westbury White Horse some 18 miles away. This comment will no doubt alienate me with some of the White Horse flyers because they are justifiably proud of this excellent site but as you are probably aware my favourite tipple is small sport / fully aerobatic models and these require better lift conditions than F3B or large scale gliders which they tend to operate. Access once again is excellent with the flying site some 50 yards from where the cars are parked so security and carrying your clobber to the site is not a problem.

Summary: A very good site but in football league terms only at the top of division one. Frequency control is very good using a conventional peg board which is stored at the Red Lion pub at the entrance to the lane leading up to the site. A fluorescent red disc is displayed opposite the pub when model flying is in progress. Another plus is that there are no hang gliders or para-gliders to worry about. Well worth a visit.

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Dodman Point, Cornwall

Dodman Point is approximately 5 miles south west from Mevagissy on the south coast of Cornwall. It is not easy to get to and I would strongly advise taking an Ordnance Survey map with you (N0204 Landranger series). It is a finger of land jutting out into the sea some 3-400 feet high. Dodman Point is best for east and south west but close bu there is a long south east grassy ridge the hang gliders (and modellers) use. The lift is, as you would expect from this type of cliff site, excellent with the slightest breeze able to keep most models in the air. The landing area is also excellent being large pastureland fields. Very suitable for 1/4 and 1/3 scale models. The SE ridge is very similar with possibly an even bigger landing area. On the main ridges the model is launched from rising ground 30 yards or so inside the boundary fence so if things are not quite right the model can be dumped before flying over the 'difficult ' terrain. On the east ridge it is possible to retrieve errant models a long long way down the cliff slope. It is not a pleasant experience though as the slope is covered in four feet high brambles and bracken etc. If you do have to do it I recommend a hot bath laced with Tea Tree and Lavender oil to heal the wounds! Dodman Point itself faces due south and is about 100 yards wide and flyable but landing can be a bit of a problem as where you fly is not suitable for landing unless it is an EPP model (foamie)! There is however still the option of wandering back from the ridge and landing in the fields behind. On the right hand edge of the point there is a large monument erected, if my memory serves me right, by a religious sect. The down side of both locations is the walk to the site / car. For Dodman Point the car is parked in the 'village' (six or so houses). There is then a walk of a 1/4 mile or so to the ridges. For the south east ridge the 'gear is dumped where you fly and the car is then parked either end of the track as parking is not permitted in the unfenced field. There is a nominal honesty parking charge of 50p.

Summary: another excellent coastal site on a par with lift in the Premier League but not as accessible as St Agnes Head. Well worth a visit if on holiday in the area.

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Cherril White Horse - Calne Wiltshire.

The Cherril White horse is a northerly facing chalk bowl rising above the A4 east of Calne in Wiltshire. There is small hurricane savaged beech coppice on the easterly end and a potentially model grabbing obelisk on the western end. Parking is by the roadside with a 2-300 yard walk to the top that performs a 'Redex' style decoke to the arteries. Not coronary inducing but sufficient to say 'I should take more exercise'! Flying, when the wind is blowing due north straight into the bowl, is excellent good. The site still works when the wind is 15 to 20 degrees off to the east or west but due to the lack of 'funnelling' the lift is obviously not so good. Landing once again is best when the wind is due north as there is more than ample room behind the slope. The main obstacles when landing is the occasional grazing animal and the undulation of the terrain. It is very easy to land in a small gulley and dislodge a wing or tailplane.

Summary: a good club site for northerly winds and one that leaves feeling a little smug after climbing the hill. Well worth stopping for if you happen to be passing with a model in the car and the wind just happens to be in the right direction!

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Olivers Castle (Roundway) Nr Devizes

This site is situated a mile to the north off the A361 on the eastern outskirts of Devizes. If approaching from the east you turn right at the end of an old army camp by a caravan sales depot and follow the lane, keep to the right at the first junction and left at the fork in the road. If approaching from the west turn left a couple of hundred yards past the Wiltshire police headquarters and do the right left bit as before. The panoramic view of the Wiltshire countryside is very pleasant consequently it is 'well walked'. The walkers are not a problem as they pass behind you unlike Westbury where the walkers pass in front of you and can be a distraction. Roundway is where I did most of my 'baby sitting' when the children were growing up. Well it gave my wife a break and cured the children of any tendency towards agoraphobia! The site is quite can cope with winds from south west around to north west although either side of the point the lift is a bit patchy until it is established on either the SW or NW slopes. There is a nice flat landing area on the top with a couple of trees to help focus the mind at the critical stage i.e. just before the model hits! The site is not really suitable for large models that require a long glide in as it is quite small but for small sports models is ideal.

Summary: a very useful site for modellers living in the area or for those on holiday nearby. The only points to watch out for are the trees on landing and the sun in the summer evenings on the north slope.

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Black Hill, Nr Haytor Rock Dartmoor.

As I live in Devon I thought I better include one of my local sites otherwise someone might accuse me betraying other flyers haunts but keeping my own to myself! Black Hill can be found on Ordnance Survey Map 191 north of Bovey Tracy and south west of Manaton. The site is best approached from Bovey Tracy. Follow the signs for Haytor Rock and when you can see the rock after the 2 - 3 mile climb turn sharp right at some cottages and follow the road for about a mile. Black Hill is over you left shoulder. If you make contact with the cattle grid reverse up the road a hundred yards or so. It is not a very big hill, 250 to 300 feet and can only cope with winds from North to East. There is a bit of a climb to get to the top from the road and when the wind is from the east it is one of those hills that leaves you undecided as to where is the best place to fly from as the gradient slackens towards the summit. It is also a bit of a frustrating hill as quite often there can be a decent breeze but the lift is poor yet on other occasions there can only be a nominal breeze and yet the lift is excellent.

Summary: Ideal on balmy summer evenings for practising landing approaches and learning to fly towards yourself with 2 metre floaters. Again another site worth visiting if you are in the area.

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