Tuesday 26 June 2012

Microlight Round Britain Rally 2012

In reading this little report remember I'm not a Biggles type, I'm just the monkey with the camera and the map (usually upside down).

Well I'm going to give the game away from the start, we won !!!

Well won Silver !!! The results being as follows - the numerics being points after deduction of a handicap based on the microlight used to compete.

1st Marcus Furniss and Tim Walker 1609.59
2nd John Bradbury and Ian Shaw 1472.60
3rd Guy Gratton and Annabel Cook    792.08
1st Jon Hilton and David Gaskell 2343.75
2nd Alan Shufflebottom and Steve Dancaster     1601.12
3rd Les Wright and Graham Hall 1187.05
4th Fred Beeson and Adrian Slater 1107.14
5th Bill Scott and Roger Fouracre 1050
6th Grant Finney and Les Call 927.42
7th Phil Chapman and Laura Strain 590.91
Novice Gold
No novice gold
Novice Silver
1st Ian Lee 544.55
2nd Alan Cummings 409.09

Whats it all about  ? It's a race, well a rally, well a competition to fly round the country visiting/flying over as many predetermined turnpoints as possible -  these could be Whitby Pier, The Needles, a long list of disused airfields, lighthouses - or anything the judges can think up for pilots to safely navigate to. The directions are given to you in latitude and longitude.

What does the Silver award mean, well it means we had the aid of GPS or similar SatNav of the sky, Gold class means no such fancy toys - map !!!!

You fly between 8am and 7pm over 2 days and a final day 8am to 4pm with a GPS logging device logging your route and every movement second by second - on the final day if your late back your points get smashed to bits minute by minute.

Well looking at the opposition it was clear although I was with a cracking pilot Jon with his top bollocks plane we had no chance of winning. So us at Team Hilton thought we would a spiffing idea to compete in the true spirit of the rally, right round Britain !!!!!

 Microlight Round Britain Rally 2012

With the weather gods against the rally a good number of folk dropped out in fear of their life and to be honest flying is just not fun in crap weather, so a few more dropped out - at no point here am I knocking them - these guys and girls had paid good money to enter the rally and safety comes first.

Up or down ? The forecasts said simply "shite weather" so we flew south with the weather chasing us at every move.

Day one, remember this is light aircraft microlight flying , Manchester to Cheshire, North Wales to South Wales to Cornwall to Devon, Dorset and finally landing at Shoreham (Brighton).

Time for some pics.

Cerne Abbas Giant


The Needles



A walk to the B&B,  the weather now closing in on us with gale force winds for the night, thankfully the kind guys at Shoreham allowed us to squeeze the plane into the 1930s hanger.

Shoreham Airport


The weather quickly changed now having caught up with us !!!


Shoreham Airport

I awoke the morning after a few beers the night before, a 5am rise and left the building for a early morning walk around Shoreham, returning to our hostelry and locked out - so I awoke the grumpy pilot to be told I had snored all night and I was a ****.

Day two, found us making a dash for the airport in a lull in the wind and off we shot up the Kent Coast and on to Norfolk.

 Deal Pier

 Ashbourne Kent

We landed at Northrepps Airfield near Cromer. The good folk of Northrepps had been expecting guests, 121 planes for a fly in with BBQ and beer at the ready - sadly the weather gods had put an end to this. 

Cromer Lighthouse

Northrepps Airport - Cromer

Northrepps Airport - Cromer

Checking the weather we quickly left, it was chasing us again !

Northrepps Airport - Cromer

We continued our journey, North Yorkshire, Northumberland, finally Scotland. Radio contact with Wick Airport advised the weather was king at Wick and we pushed on to Kirkwall, Orkney.

 Humber Bridge





We landed at Kirkwall and the weather arrived as we did, resulting in us tucking the plane in behind a building and strapping the plane down for the night.


 Kirkwall Airport

We found our host for the night, Pat,  to be the queen of landladies, running us in to town for our supper and back to the airport the next morning for 8am (not forgetting the Full English Breakfast to die for).

 Kirkwall, Orkney


Day three finds us flying to North Ronaldsay, then down the west coast of Scotland for amazing views.








Into Cumbria at Millom, across to Garstang with views of local flooding - the weather we had escaped !!



The last turnpoint was Ince before a landing back at Barton, Manchester with a good half hour before the 4pm deadline.


Not the most flattering photo ever taken of me, totally knackered
Courtesy of Neil Warwick - big thanks.

Excitement seemed to build as word spread of our journey, as many of the pilots had had to retire from the rally or at least had been limited in flying time due to the  harsh weather conditions around the country. It would seem that luck had been on our side at that moment we said "south" and "round Britain".

Our final route round Britain from our GPS was bonkers !!!!

 The route we took, trail from our GPS logger

Then to our amazement we had won - well won Silver, but not to be sniffed at.

Thanks to John Moore for the organizing the rally, fellow competitors,my pilot Jon Hilton, all my friends for kind donations to Jon's favorite charity Clatterbridge Cancer 

Oh, better not forget the family for letting me take time out.

Monday 25 June 2012

Goodbye Steely Magnesite in Hartlepool

Well sad news, whilst after competing in the Round Britain Microlight Rally (more on that later) I must break the sad news that an old exploring site has the demo boys in.

Whilst on route to the Orkney Islands from Brighton I managed to snap these pics from the plane.

Steetley Magnesite - Hartlepool - June 2012

That hole on the left looked bloody deep I should add.

Steetley Magnesite - Hartlepool - June 2012 

The Chimney is to be dropped 29th July 2012.

Friday 15 June 2012

Urbex, it's the new.....

First off a quick link from the London Evening Standard, Bradley L. Garrett again, with an article for the masses who just don't get it.

On a mission with London's urban explorers

Just short of a few more pics, but all good, unlike this second story to be found in one of Northwest England's finest rags, Lancashire Telegraph.

Now I'm not a fan of the site 28 Days Later as its a big site, possibly the most well known Urbex site and thus attracts every idiot and his mates, metal thieves, vandals and most of all the lazy local hacks.

Before we move onto this little gem of classic urbex bashing reporting, I'd like to put on record I'm a fan of local journalism when its done right. As for 28 Days Later, I'm aware they have closed members accounts if any foul play/bad practices have been even hinted at.
Urban explorers criticised over tasteless Rossendale Hospital prank

Possibly bad taste, I don't really care to be honest, what I personally find in bad taste is that property developers buy up site after site of industrial heritage, listed buildings and then simply let them rot.  Many sites are left in such a state to the point that they have to be bulldozed despite what promises they made to everyone when the bought the place when pushing "big" plans thru local planning departments.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Eaton Hall, Cheshire

Every so often in the plane you see something special, to be honest I find it a privilege to cadge a lift at the best of times - but every so often you get to see something that is behind closed doors to riff raff like me.

There is so many places and up and down the UK you just can't fly for national security, your own safety from the commercial jets and MOD boys with their toys - but a lot of the country is open for exploration and is just open game.

We hadn't gone looking for this place, it was simply on a route and as we flew past we slammed the brakes on for a look.

Eaton Hall, this place is enormous and is owned by The Duke of Westminster, a rather wealthy chap, listed as the richest British citizen with his pockets bulging to the tune of £7.35 billion, this guy owns large parts of Mayfair and we are not taking board games here.

So lets have a quick nosy, one thing I didn't get a shot of was the railway line that runs round the gardens.

So starting with a poor picture, bit of reflection on this one, but I've always wanted my own obilisk and my own herd of deer.






Nice pool, bit of a long walk back to the house (top right).

 Eaton Hall, Cheshire

Eaton Hall, Cheshire

Eaton Hall, Cheshire

Eaton Hall, Cheshire

Bit big for me, with it being 10,872 acres (so it says on Wiki) the lawns must be a bugger to cut.

Until next time....

Monday 11 June 2012

More Training - Microlight Round Britain Rally 2012

 Microlight Round Britain Rally 2012

Well what can I say, the countdown has now begun.

With only 11 days until the start of the race, I return to Barton Airport to plot and fly a short route down the low level air corridor across into Cheshire and a short hop into North Wales - using only the map.

Pre-flight finds me folding maps (I get all the technical jobs) and staring at my pilot's iPad. The pilot, Jon, had spent hours plotting this on his little app - to date he is still insisting we fly the old fashioned way - no GPS, no iPad etc etc.

 Microlight Round Britain Rally 2012

With doubts in my mind over the mentality of doing it the "old fashioned way" I scroll thru the flurry of emails between the other competitors on subjects headings such as "t-shirt design", "stickers", "pre-competition breakfast".

My concerns consist of getting lost, distance to pub on landing (food you understand), fuel for the plane, weather - not just for flying but for the camping overnight and I could go on and on and on.

Anyway back to the route, out into the Scottish Islands looks interesting if not daunting.

 Microlight Round Britain Rally 2012

So a little selection of pictures from our little training route.

First off the closed airstrip of RAF Stretton, Cheshire.

 Raf Stretton

Oulton Park Racing Track

 Oulton Park, Cheshire

Oulton Park, Cheshire

Eaton Hall, Cheshire. Home of The Duke of Westminster.



Into Wales, a quarry just outside Wrexham.


And my love of wind turbines continues with this shot with a cluster above Denbigh.


Back to Barton, I find myself feeling a  little more confident, a view of the Trafford Centre on our final approach.

Trafford Centre, Manchester

We put the plane away for the day in the hanger and Jon directs me over to a fellow competitors transport for the competition.

Microlight Round Britain Rally 2012

So we leave for the day singing "Diamonds are Forever", which was totally the wrong song.


Now that is a brave chap !!!!  - good luck with that one (I suspect he may win).