icGC went to Portmoak, near Kinross in Scotland for the Winter Tour in 2005. We had four full days in Scotland, with two days either side for travelling up with three gliders: the Grob 2-seater, the Discus and the Skylark 2, a member’s glider who had leant it to the club for the week.
Portmoak is situated on the edge of Loch Leven and has two ridges, Bishop and Benarty. These are soarable in most wind directions, except southerlies. Unfortunately for two of the days that we were in Scotland, the fog was too bad to fly, but the other days were flyable, with one day being excellent and even wave set up on Benarty.
On the ground, a snowman and igloo were built and we trekked to the loch beach. We also went to Edinburgh for Hogmanay, where the fireworks were spectacular, as well as attempting the Lomand Arms pub quiz (we did dismally!). I think that most people gained from the expedition although the weather could have been better. There were many people at Portmoak who were talking about gliding all the time, and so even without realising it people picked up knowledge when on the ground too.
Everyone got to fly for at least 30 minutes in the Grob on the ridge – thanks to instructors Neil Goudie and Brian Birlison. Shaun and Sage flew the Skylark and Discus respectively for an hour or two each. A few members had flown on the ridges in Slovenia and so topped up their skills, but for our newer members this was their first opportunity to fly away from Lasham, and close to a hill. The first time you fly on a ridge is breathtaking, weaving in and out following the contours of the hill, often less than a wingspan away from the side of the hill. Hill walkers wave, and even sheep sometimes stop chewing long enough to gaze at the glider silently running the ridge. The first time you fly yourself on a ridge is so good – feeling where the lift is and how to run in and out of the bowls and cliffs of the ridge, edging closer to the hill, where the lift is strongest. I hope that everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did!