FOCUS ON LIMERSTONE

by Barney Barnes

Limerstone and Brighstone looking west from around 2000ftFor the views alone this could be my favourite site on the Island, but the consistent flying it offers make it top of the list. The Limerstone ridge takes wind from the West right round to South South-East and many of the best flights on the Island have started here. Innes Powell became the first paraglider (and footlaunch) pilot to fly to the mainland and he started on Limerstone.

The Brighstone part of the ridge works in any wind from south to west so it works regularly. In the mornings and evenings conditions are usually smooth but by 11am if there is any sun you can expect some thermal activity.

Thermals here can be strong but are usually fairly mellow as long as the wind is light. As soon as the wind strength picks up things get a little more interesting, especially if you head west along the ridge past the quarry and over the road on to Brighstone Down proper. I would recommend you didn't venture this way in anything over 12mph unless you are confident on your wing. If you go for it the rewards can be great and it's possible to continue towards the White Cliffs and Freshwater Bay if you can get enough height to cross the gap at Brook.

Flying at LimerstoneIf you're not feeling that adventurous the ridge in front of launch has plenty of regular thermals and heights of 400-800ft ato are common on reasonable days. Going over the back can be a bit of a windup because Brighstone Forest sits behind the ridge, but there are plenty of gaps where you can land if you loose the thermal. Mostly you go down well over the back and the football/cricket pitch at Calborne is a common landing field. If you find a second thermal the Island is your oyster and you can make Newport or the north coast on your next glide.

Fear of Landing

A lot of people who first fly Brighstone have a psychological problem with the fact that there is no official landing field at the bottom, a fence to cross soon after you launch and a bramble covered face to the ridge. Truth is when it's working none of these are a problem if you approach the site in the right frame of mind. You have to commit yourself and go for it and accept that you might go down and have a bit of a walk up the front (side landing is easy and legal).

Limerstone

Limerstone is at the eastern end of the ridge and takes a South to South Easterly wind but the best direction is SSE.

It's much the same as Brighstone apart from the big, big official landing field, no fences in front of launch and you have to be a bit unlucky to find a bramble bush. The disadvantage is its a bit small and half a dozen pilots on a reasonable day can be quite crowded.

Because it faces a little to the east the sun hits it earlier in the day so it's worth getting there early - 10.30 to 11am if there is enough wind to soar.

The east ridge runs towards Shorwell and is flyable but usually quite rough if it's strong enough to stay up. But most thermals come right up the face of the hill in front of launch and if you go over the back it is possible to skirt the edge of Brighstone forest. A second thermal here should get you to Yarmouth. A third thermal and you could be on your way to the mainland.