Soaring above the South Downs

Published 19 April 2015

Paraglider in the South Downs, with Truleigh Hill in the background

In January I spent a few days in Manchester visiting relatives, especially one who was ill in hospital. And whilst there I took the opportunity to head out to the Peak District.

It was there, at the top of a snow covered Mam Tor, that I spotted two paragliders waiting for the wind. They made several abortive attempts to set sail, or whatever the official paragliding term for it is, before finally the gusts blew just enough to set them off soaring high above the Dark Peak.

Watching them glide down to the valley reminded me of walking the South Downs Way, where paragliders were a constant feature. The above photograph is from the South Downs. You can see Truleigh Hill and its transmitters in the background. Like setting off from Mam Tor, those paragliding got to do so with a truly spectacular backdrop.

Every time I see a paraglider gliding over the valley I have a twinge of jealously as what they’re doing, whilst also a shudder of fear as I contemplate whether I could actually do it myself. As the years go by I find that I am becoming, slowly but surely, more amenable to the idea. And every time it’s the views that are a big factor in it all.

But usually I shrug, and ruminate on the fact that I have an alternative. For those same views can easily be seen on foot.

Still, maybe one day…

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