Over the valleys to Caernarfon
It’s been some time since I updated this blog so, rather belatedly, I shall revisit my latest adventures.
Caernarfon Airport had become something of the Holy Grail. Several years ago, I had seen a photo of an airfield with a wind turbine right beside the runway and thought it had been photo shopped. Surely that couldn’t be so. When I realised it was actually in place, I had to visit and Caernarfon went on the list. The time had come, but if the skies were clear, the winds were too strong. We had planned that we could fly up towards Hawarden and track along the coast but our preference was to fly over the mountains. At last the weather looked good enough and we could set off.
My buddy was flying there and we tracked north of Shobdon over the Cambrian Mountains. The weather was beautiful with clear blue skies and the air was very calm. The scenery was stunning with distant higher mountains as a backdrop and dark blue lakes trapped in the green valleys.
We arrived at the coast overhead Llanbedr. That’s back on the list having recently reopened. More stunning views as we followed the coast northwards. Finally, we crossed the Lleyn Peninsula and made contact with Carnarfon. It was easy to spot and there indeed were the 2 large wind turbines right by the runway!
We were using 25 so would be well away from them. One aircraft was on final with a flex wing microlight on downwind. We could see both aircraft and joined crosswind dropping down to an early downwind to give the microlight plenty of room ahead of us. We reported downwind and heard another aircraft join the frequency and scanned around keeping a lookout but couldn’t see anything. We then heard the other aircraft call downwind and made the assumption that it was behind us. The circuit was quite low at 800ft AAL. We turned onto base and watched the microlight make its approach, all was clear for us to follow. Suddenly, at high 11 o’clock, an aircraft appeared and side slipped on a steep decent towards final. Realising that we had probably been tracking the same path with the other aircraft directly above us, the only thing my buddy could do was to climb and start the circuit again. Not what you want to do after a long flight. Round we went again without any further excitement… until we were about to land. The length of the runway is 932m but it looked rather shorter than that as we realised that the displaced threshold was set quite a long way up the tarmac (making it 727m).
All was well but after such an uneventful flight it had certainly made up for it in the last 10 minutes.
We refuelled, parked up and made our way past HM Coastguard to the very busy, but super-efficient, cafe. After the inevitable bacon bap, we wandered up the lane towards the coast and found a beautiful, almost deserted beach that stretched for miles. Surrounded by mountains (never did work out if we were actually looking at Snowden or not), blue sea and golden sands, it was perfect.
The time went far too quickly and it was my turn to fly back. The day had warmed up and there was little wind so I had to line up a bit further back in order to give the fully fuelled, sluggish Arrow enough of a run for take-off. The return flight was again quite uneventful with yet more fantastic views across the mountains.
Wales is certainly at the top of my list so far for the most stunning flying and picturesque airfields. One day though, I’ll carry out a comparison with Scotland!