From Beach to Mountains – Day Two Padstow to Caernarfon! Capt. Paul White continues his memoirs of our UK trip 2019
DAY TWO –
After breakfast, TEAM 44 showed us all up by heading off for some exercise Matt took the opportunity to do his usual morning run and Lee headed for the beach (must be all that time he’s spent in Australia). We met up at Padstow Harbour and took the ferry across to Rock where after a glorious morning first thing it promptly started to rain! Some of the group started to walk up the hill to the helipad and got soaked whereas the rest of the team including myself took shelter in a closed café doorway until John Bray (the owner of Rock Helipad) kindly picked us up and took us to the top of the hill where we met up with the rest of the now rather damp team.
After a short delay waiting for the weather to ease. Some headed for Bodmin Airfield to refuel but then we all followed a similar route along the coastline; Tintagel, Bude, Hartland Point, Bideford, a quick flyby of Instow (where I had holidayed with my family the year previous), Ilfracombe then into Bristol’s airspace. Once at the Severn Bridge (joining England to Wales), we headed inland past Highgrove House (home to Prince Charles and Camilla) and into Kemble Aerodrome now known as Cotswold Airport for lunch. When I had visited previously, I had enjoyed a fabulous meal at their restaurant. Unfortunately, this time it was a little more rough and ready and lunch was burger and chips from a van as the roof had recently been blown off the restaurant! We sent word about the burger van to the others (which actually was rather nice) and we promptly set off for Wales.
Our route took us back to the Severn Bridge and across into Southern Wales and then we continued using the Southern coastline for guidance flying over Barry, Rhoose, Llantwit Major, Porthcawl and Port Talbot across to Swansea where we then headed Northbound to Caernarfon. The others followed a similar route except for Team G-FPEH one of our Cabri G2 who headed to Haverfordwest first as student Philip was determined to navigate via the UK coastline and from Castle to Castle and if there wasn’t a castle with a 10-mile radius then a stately home would do! Our trip was beginning to attract a few followers now…. I remember a fab video posted by Cardiff Heliport on Instagram who had spotted us in the R66.
“The Team in G-FPEH are machines!! They flew more than they slept!! Fantastic” – Capt. Matt Storey
Of course, whilst in Wales we couldn’t resist the chance to fly low level around the Machynlleth loop which was simply stunning and over the top of Snowdon. Snowdon was a quite challenging as the cloud base was dropping below the summit but a few of us were lucky and found a break in the cloud and managed to fly right over the top. As you can imagine the scenery was stunning and you get the feeling you’re on top of the world when you are at that sort of altitude. The Machynlleth loop was a highlight of the entire trip for a couple of pilots on the trip and I would definitely recommend a ‘fly-by’ if you get the chance.
On our way down the other side heading for Caernarfon Airport we got a fantastic birds eye view of Caernarfon Castle which is located right on the coast. Also which is definitely worthy of a diversion if you are ever in the area.
Once landed and obligatory group selfie taken, we made way to our accommodation for the night the historic Plas Dinas, which dates to the mid-seventh century. This former retreat of Lord Snowdon was full of wonderful family portraits and beautiful antiques. Over dinner in the rather grand Gun Room we relived our adventures so far with the whole team and planned the next stage of our trip Day 3 Caernarfon to Carlisle!
“The stand out moment of the trip for me was flying past Snowdon and coming though the valley, to see Caernarfon castle in the distance. Staying at Plas Dinas Hotel with dinner in the Gun Room that evening in such good company, was a perfect end to the day!” – Capt. Lee Smyth
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Capt White’s UK Trip Memoirs continue next week as our intrepid pilots head further North follow #helisontourrelived