The Aerial Photography of Ad Gefrin and Milfield

On Saturday we hosted an archaeology student from Durham University, Tom Brash, who was keen to do some aerial photography to support his dissertation on Yeavering. One of our tug drivers, who also studied at Durham, took Tom up in the SuperCub so he could photograph the sites of interest. 

The project is described by Tom:

The modern hamlet of Old Yeavering below Yeavering bell is named after an early medieval township. Originally called Ad Gefrin it was the royal seat of Edwin who was an exiled Anglo-Saxon nobleman, in AD 627 he returned to Yeavering and brought with him a Roman priest Paulinus. The chronicler Bede describes how Paulinus stayed at Gefrin for 26 days baptising the pagan locals in the nearby river Glen. Edwin was killed in battle by pagans, and after his death Gefrin was abandoned in favour of a new town at Milfield. Today all that remains of Edwin's royal palace at Yeavering and the town at Milfield are crop marks which can only be seen from the air. 

The Project
This project which will form  the core of my dissertation aims to gather as many of the aerial photographs of  Yeavering as possible then analyse and map all of the features that are visible. The crop marks  are most visible during long dry periods. The site was first discovered in the summer of 1949 when the strange marks were first seen from the air.

I am also using Near Infra-red photography which captures pictures beyond the visible spectrum and can reveal all sorts of interesting features. For more information on the site visit the Gefrin trusts website at:

This photograph was taken in 1949 by an inquisitive RAF pilot (above). This is a map of the buildings at Gefrin many of which can be seen from the air (below).

Some photographs from the flight.

Friday 15th November

Well, ...... only one flight but very interesting ! Your blogger and Barry Lytollis decided to have a mutual flight in the Ka21 as we were not sure if it was going to be worth getting our gliders out. There was some wavey looking cloud between the Tors & Cheviot so we asked George to tow us to the Tors. At the mouth of the valley I commented to Barry that, even with the little Pawnee, we were climbing quite fast and, in what seemed to be very smooth air. I spoke too soon because the climb rate decreased then became negative for a while. As we progressed up the valley it became increasing rough - with a capital R and we were both feeling sorry for George. The climb rate improved as we approached the Tors so we pulled off at 2000' and flew around the end of some cloud which seemed to project from the E end of the Tors. The vario flickered around zero but, as we moved further up the valley started to show a better rate of climb. Approaching the triangular wood the vario moved smoothly up until it was hard against the top stop and the altimeter was winding steadily upwards ! Wow !! We topped out at 5000' which was interesting because the Met had shown an inversion at that level. We explored out over Morebattle, we considered dropping downwind to S of Wooler but thought better of it because we had had calls from the site saying the wind was increasing and they had put the tug away ! Eventually we came back down the valley and then found a weak line of lift from Kilham nearly to Yetholm. Having tried that we decided to return to the site. Things looked OK from 1500' but, as we got lower, it became obvious that the wind had really picked up and the circuit and approach were wild. When we came to a stop Barry got out and suggested, because of the gusty wind, that I should stay in the glider. The gusts were so strong I felt the glider was almost lifting off so opened the airbrakes. The result was the wind blew the glider backwards over the ground !!!! Luckily the tractor was on hand and we made a hasty retrieve back to the hanger. Quite a flight.

On my way home I stopped to take the photo below. This was taken from near Bamburgh golf course and doesn't do justice to the spectaular sight of the clouds spilling over Cheviot & Hedgehope. Several people had stopped to look or photograph the scene.

Cheviot and Hedgehope wreathed in wave cloud

EuroFOX Week 2

The build continues:

Saturday 26th October

The low expectations for soaring opportunities, expressed by the pessimists at the morning briefing, were dispelled very quickly after a few flights. Although the conditions changed constantly, with large blue holes appearing and disappearing, the lift remained almost all day. A few pilots managed to get to over 10,000ft keeping an anxious eye out for the changing cloud cover and most flights were blessed with soaring opportunities.

The photographs below sum up the changeable conditions experienced throughout the day:

Our EuroFOX has landed

Our EuroFOX kit arrived this week at Midlem.  Keep up to date with progress in the EuroFOX section. News and photos under the EuroFOX tab.

Monday 7th & Tuesday 8th October

Hopes for more good flying were realised on both Monday & Tuesday. Whilst on Monday the tows were rough the rewards made up for those few exciting minutes. By the end of the day there were several Gold and Diamond height claims pending. There were some problems with calibration charts being left at home and dealing with SLMG traces but we hope these will be resolved and succesful claims will result. A trip South was organised to get several Oxygen cylinders re-filled ! On Tuesday the wind moved slightly more to the West producing more wave but with it appearing a little further South. The longer tows slowed things down somewhat but were much smoother than Monday's. The wave also proved rather changeable. Every time you looked around the wave had moved. As a result the flight times and heights were more variable but there were still some great flights. An annual refresher flight taking 2h 45m and reaching 10,400' must be some kind of record !

Some of the visitors' trailers. What's in the box ?
This week has stood out, apart from the sheer number of visitors, by virtue of the variety of gliders including the very smart HpH Shark and the JS1 Revelation. Several  DG 800 SLMGs have demonstrated very impressive take offs and climbs - not at all what most people would think of as a normal motor glider take off but the sheer number of trailers defeats a normal camera lens. The rigging area, above, was full, along with the area behind the hangar and with gliders parked along the boundary to the South of the rigging area.

Wednesday and Thursday have been spolit by high winds and heavy showers but we hope we may get some more flying to end the week.

Sunday 6th October

A stranger to gliding might have wondered what was going on in the Clubhouse on Sunday morning -  the start of  Harrod's sale ? Free beer ? The club room was packed, with our next group of visitors, mainly from Sutton Bank and the Long Mynd. I' m sure we had more aircraft movements than Newcastle International Airport ! The tows were rough but by 1000' I'm sure we were in wave but pulling off at 2000' we were straight into 2 - 4 kts. The 2 seaters were all in action giving site / aero tow refresher flights which seemed to impress as they all went to between 7500' & 9500' with climb rates of 6 - 8 kts being reported. Meanwhile John Brown soared to well over 9000' to gain a comfortable Silver Height - congratulations John ! We await a final tally of the high flights but certainly there were some over 11,000' and the wave box was opened in anticipation. Hopefully the next few days will produce some more Milfield wave.

Gold 'C' in Spain

Well done to Helen Fraser, an instructor at the club, who did a 329km flight at 91kph in moderate Spanish weather dodging storms etc. to achieve a Gold 'C' in Feuntemilanos on Aug 15th in a Discus. 

Buckminster Flying Week

We will update this blog as the week goes on but it's been a good week so far. 

Sunday. After Saturday's wave, with the wind in the same direction we had expected a similar day on Sunday. But this is Milfield ! We had quite a low cloudbase but thermal streets stretching from horizon to horizon. Most of us tramped up and down fairly close to the site but one intrepid visitor flew nearly to Alnwick then ran downwind to Whiteadder reservoir in the Lammermuir Hills before returning to site, a trip of  around 140km.

Monday started with the same wind direction but rather scrubby clouds which, on the first launch, didn't produce any lift. We stopped for lunch but, suitably refreshed and chatting in the garden, we noticed the sky clearing in the valley. It was suggested, to one of our visitors with an SLMG that this was wave and he might like to go and test our suggestion. He duly took off and shortly was reporting 4 knots of lift. A rush then ensued with a further 9 gliders taking off. At the end of the day there were several postings on the National Height Ladder, best being just over 16,000'. When we were all finished sunset looked like this !

Tuesday looked similar with the duty instructor being greeted by this view from the Hurricane room.

Sadly, after 4 launches the gap closed but 3 of those lucky enough to launch reached around 9000'

Wednesday was spoiled by low cloud so no flying.

Thursday looked as bad and the forecast gave little hope of flying but, as briefing commenced there appeared to be some signs of wave at the mouth of the valley. We had no sooner started to get the first gliders to the launch point when spots of rain were felt. They came and went and it was decided to 'give it a go'. Just as well ! Between 11am and 1pm we did 10 launches with the worst flight being a mere 1hour 10 minutes, getting to 6500' and the best reaching 11,500'. The last to land came down through rapidly deteriorating visibility and, shortly after everything was packed away it started to rain. Apart from around Milfield, and the Tweed valley between Kelso and Coldstream , it appeared that everywhere else was experiencing rain. A visitor en-route to Aboyne (mad fool !) almost decided to stay after experiencing our wave. He had to call at Portmoak on the way past but was dismayed, looking at their webcam to see rain and huge puddles.

Why would you go to Aboyne ?

Friday was dissapointing. We made a few launches in the morning but it got steadily more showery and we stopped for a long lunch. Later in the day it cleared allowing some further flights but, (as far as I know - I had to leave early) nothing significant. Our visitors left with most feeling they had had another good week at Milfield.

Saturday 28th September

A superb day at Milfield with a brilliant combination of sunshine, wave, happy visitors and a first solo for Trevor Parish. Trevor is a power pilot who has recently joined the club and has used his previous flying experience to good effect to progress quickly to solo in a glider.
Trevor making his first solo landing in a glider

Instructor Richard Abercrombie watching Trevor land

A happy Trevor being congratulated by Richard

Another of our solo pilots, Adam Wilson, had another good wave flight.  Adam achieved a two hour flight in wave the previous week to take a large step towards gaining his Bronze Cross-Country Endorsement.

Adam with the Alliance 

The sunshine and ideal conditions meant we had a full complement of visitors for Air Experience flights. Several were celebrating birthdays and one group enjoyed a very nice picnic lunch whilst their family members were in the air.

Happy Birthday!

The wave lasted all day with everyone having a good flight, including two professional flight crew from Poland, now based in Glasgow and Toronto, who came along in the afternoon and asked if they could fly. Katarzyna has recently gone solo in Canada and enjoyed the last flight of the day in wave with Richard. Karol had never flown in a glider and thoroughly enjoyed the flight with Ian Surley. It must have been quite a change for Karol to be shown how to fasten his seat belt!

All in all a wonderful day all round at the club. The views of Northumberland in the autumn are breathtaking and the conditions allowed everyone to enjoy their flights, whatever their goal.

Milfield from 4000ft in wave

Sunday 22nd September

Well - what a start to our first wave week ! Two Gold heights were claimed today (subject to confirmation) by our visitors from Peterborough and Spalding GC with Murray Spittal climbing to 13,995ft in his Discus 'B' and Ross Morriss beating him by a few feet to get to 14,086ft in his Astir CS.  Murray is on his second visit to Milfield and Ross is on his fourth. Congratulations to both pilots.

Ross Morriss with his Astir CS G-CKBD

Murray Spittal with his Discus 'B'  G-CFES

There were several other flights over 10,000' and quite a few between 7 - 10,000'. We started with bad news that our big Pawnee was u/s with a suspect crack in an undercarriage bracket. With the Cub still off line, but due back on Monday, we were left with only the little Pawnee. It coped very well and even managed to launch the DG1000!

We had a late start because the wind was too gusty at first but, by the time we re-briefed at 12noon, the wind had dropped sufficiently for launching to start. Off we went into wave ! There was a brief spell mid afternoon when the wave shifted and gave short flights for some but then it re-established and, as we closed the hangar doors, tired but happy, it was still evident in the sky. Congratulations to Kate Ashley who had her first solo wave flight and returned delighted !

A delighted Kate Ashley following her first solo wave flight. Congratulations !

The last few pilots waiting to launch into the wave.

Saturday 14th September

Despite a rather slow start, today gave another great day's flying. Following the briefing the sky went from blue to overdeveloped in a very short time, but then settled down and improved as the day went on. With 32 launches, George, Ken and Bill were kept busy in the tugs and with several Air Experience flights, as well as training flights, the instructors were also hard at work. Ground crews did sterling service too. Mike Smith's Skylark was rigged, the Alliance, after suffering what appeared to be a rather hard landing during a training flight, was de-rigged and inspected. Thankfully there had been no damage so it was re-rigged and flown again ! Meanwhile Malcolm Parkes's PIK was rigged after being in the workshop. 

Pawnee G-ATFR - Waiting to move on to the line watching G-CTUG taking off with the two seater

Pawnee G-ATFR - The view ahead -  lining up for a tow

Pawnee G-ATFR - The view behind - Mike Smith's Skylark ready to have the rope attached

The good conditions allowed Geoff Forster to go to Duns and back twice so he thought he would complete a 100km task by going to Rothbury. Just short of Rothbury he turned around to see the cloud street which had taken him South had vanished ! Setting off back home he realised he wasn't going to make it and so landed out just near Ewart. Whilst the glider could be clearly seen from the back road it took a major cross-country expedition to reach it. Another hardy ground crew of 5 plus Geoff had the glider de-rigged and in its trailer in much less time than it took to get back out of the field ! Who said the single seater hangar would save us rigging ?

Take a deep breath lads, those are BIG wings !

Sunday 8th September

We all know that, at this time of year, visiting birds head South. At Milfield today a rather special, and very large, bird took to the air to head off. Returning from an expedition to Scotland, Mike Bird and Ed Downham had driven down from Aboyne with their glider an EB28, call sign 13. Derived from an ASH25 it's a self launcher of 28m span ! Their intention was to set off, on what promised to be a good day, and head for the London Gliding Club at Dunstable ! Judging by conditions over the day we supect they made it - or at least got a long way South.

Steve Marriott wonders what the wife would think if he bought one !

Droopy wings but, once airborne (quickly) very impressive !
Perhaps gives a better impression of how big and droopy those wings are.
So, excitement but, as we watched them climb away towards the first cumulus to the South, the realisation that the conditions looked good sank in. As we only had one tug pilot available the launch rate was frustratingly slow but, with cloudbase between 4 & 5000', there were many good soaring flights. Ken Sangster managed over 4 hours while Bill Stephen went to Jedburgh, returned then went to Kelso and back. Meanwhile John Brown, in the club's Astir, got a lovely view of the BBMF Lancaster as it cruised passed the site. Your correspondent added to his castle portfolio when he realised that the Etal turnpoint on the local triangle also boasted a castle. He and Steve Marriott, following multiple 'Olympic' triangles at Buckminster, carried on at home by going around the local triangle twice and 3 times respectively. All in all a great day !

Etal turnpoint centre (T junction) and castle, upper right

Buckminster Expedition

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A hardy crew made the trip South in the hope of getting some good thermal flying. We weren't dissapointed ! Some strong lift (and matching sink !!) and super visibility helped.

The averager (showing 6.4) had been reading 7.8 - honest !

Looking out towards The Wash
Tuesday :
Well, disappointment, it wasn't as good as we had hoped. Whilst the Nationals at Bicester were doing 500kms and a lady pilot set a 400km speed record further South, we struggled to complete any mammoth tasks. Having said that, the total flight times and distances were impressive by Milfield standards. Richard Abercrombie went for a romp in the Duo Discus with Les Merritt and covered around 230km. Bill Stephen declared a 300km task but some high overcast made him cut the task short so, again, around 230km. Barry Lytollis covered a 120km task and Andy Bardgett & Steve Marriott have both have been pounding the local 'Olympic' triangle (Andy leads 3 : 2) and visiting Newark. Len & Ron both had decent flights in the Vega and Derek tried out his new Mosquito managing some good soaring.

Logger trace from Richard's flight
Gaggle flying
Wednesday :
Signs of wave ! That's not what we came for ! There is some high cloud which looks as though it will kill the thermals so some keen folk are going to have winch refreshers. Derek says 'tomorrow is going to be good' Alastair Fish and Bill Stephen got checked out on the winch and Richard Abercrombie made a start on his meanwhile Steve Marriott had the longest flight of the day, 49 minutes.

Thursday :
Warnings of thunderstorms. Derek says 'tomorrow is going to be good' - again ! Meanwhile Jules 'Dark Horse' Sutton revealed that he had snuck around the 'Olympic triangle several times ! Your correspondent manage to scrape around 2 TPs at very low level before slumping back to site.

Friday :

A fresh breeze across the strip proved interesting and, with it being the last day for most, encouraged some brave folk to fly. Just to maintain standards, Steve Marriott landed out ! Alastair Fish, who took off some time later, flew overhead at 3500' on his way around the Olympic triangle and wondered 'How on earth did Steve manage to land there ?' Meanwhile your correspondent & Richard Abercrombie arrived as retrieve crew and thought exactly the same. Steve had landed in a cut field which was full of large round bales. I suggested to Richard that, when we reached the glider, we would probably see a clear strip between the bales - but no, it looked like a minefield ! Steve explained that, when he selected the field about a third had not been baled so he landed in that part of the field. But the contractor, probably on a fixed price, simply continued baling around the glider, finishing just as the retrieve crew arrived !!

So, the end of a good week. Plenty of flying, good company and far too much to eat and drink !

Milfield 18th August

Strong winds and numerous showers made for a poor gliding day but we managed two flights before a protracted lunch break.

After lunch it wasn't any better and we were about to pack up for the day when Tim and Phil decided, after much debate, that there was wave over Wooler.  One very bumpy tow later they pulled off and indeed found some wave.  Sadly it was short lived and they soon made their way back to the field, had an interesting approach and landing and promptly returned G-FEVS to the hangar. Phil reflected that less debate and an earlier launch would probably have been more successful!  

Tim and Phil getting ready to go wave hunting

Wave over Wooler?

Tug Pilot not impressed with the weather ahead!

Saturday 10th August

Not great day for the pundits and only one enthusiastic single seater pilot took a launch.  However, our pre-solo pilots took advantage of the conditions to further their training and even managed some soaring!  We also had a number of visitors who thoroughly enjoyed their experiences.

Visitor being briefed prior to their Air Experience Flight

Standard Cirrus being preparing for launch

Pilot and Instructor returning from a training flight

Sunday 4th August

"Never rule out wave" How often do we say that ? Well it was said at today's briefing although there was no obvious signs of it. It looked thermic both to the North and South but there was a noticeable lack of thermals over the site. Your correspondent took a tow out over the high ground to the West of Wooler and, although there appeared to be good lift around it wasn't over the high ground ! Beating a hasty retreat to Wooler confirmed that the thermals were working but no contact was made with wave. However, after a foray down towards Alnwick, which gave a photo opportunity at Old Bewick Hill Fort (right), the return to Wooler paid off with a steady climb to just over 8300'. Russell Young made a valiant effort to make contact, reaching 4,400' during his 56 minute flight, sadly just missing out on his Bronze hour. Next time !

Wave Caps at 8000'

Great North Fly In 2013

The club had arranged to support the GNFI by taking our K21 and big Pawnee down to Eshott for both days. Sadly the weather intervened on Saturday so early Sunday morning Richard Abercrombie and Derek Ward in the K21 were towed down to Eshott by Bill Stephens. The glider and tug were then on display for the day before heading home in the afternoon.

The K21 and Pawnee both generated a lot of interest at the GNFI and we look forward to attending again next year. Well done to Richard, Bill and Derek for their support of a very worth cause.

More pics of the GNFI our Facebook page.

Bill lining up the tug
Richard and Derek ready to go
Passing Milfield Village
Overhead Eshott

Landing at Eshott (Photos by Graham Rendall)

The hard bit! (Photo by James Fairweather)
G-CTUG on display (Photo by Aaron Dodds)

More G-CTUG  (Photo by James Fairweather)

Heading Home (Photo by Graham Rendall)