Slope Soaring at Stanage Edge

I was driving over Stanage Edge after Christmas and was intrigued by the spectacular skills of the paragliders in the low winter sunshine. So I stopped and grabbed a few shots until the cold was too much to continue.

Paragliders use ridge lift

The term slope soaring or ‘ridge lift’ (or ‘slope lift’) is created when wind strikes an obstacle, usually a mountain ridge or cliff, that is large and steep enough to deflect the wind upward. This is a point in case at Stanage Edge in the Peak District Derbyshire, not too far from Sheffield.

If the wind is strong enough, the ridge lift provides enough upward force for hang gliders, paragliders and birds to stay airborne for long periods or to travel great distances by ‘slope soaring’.

Slope Soaring at Stanage Edge
Slope Soaring at Stanage Edge

The first shots were taken with my 70 – 200mm Canon f4 lens with a x2 converter, making a 400mm f8 lens. This was mounted on a tripod and the image stabiliser turned on to get the shots rock steady with fluid pans. There was a great shot of the paraglider pilot high fiveing a climber on top of a huge rock, I was hooked and wanted more.

Taking a closer view

I decided to hike up onto the ridge and get some closer shots with different angles with my 24 – 105mm f4 Canon lens using my monopod. On the way over I spoke with the paraglider pilot Lawrie Noctor and he said he was going up again after getting warm. He was wearing a helmet mounted GoPro and I imagined I would be making an appearance in his later shots. Have a look at his GoPro footage below, it looks like the same day but I havn’t spotted myself yet.

This is Lawries aerial footage from his birds eye view of Stanage Edge

Although the weather was bright and sunny the wind chill factor on top of the windy cragg was biting my gloveless camera fingers, so I didn’t plan on staying too long. The extremely bright sun was low in a cloudless blue sky, casting long shadows over the giant boulders. Not my ideal filming conditions as I usually prefer a warm interior interview, but today I made an exeption.

Shooting Video and Stills

I took several stills using the high speed continuous shooting mode at 6 frames per second, just to make sure I captured some useful images. I left the camera set on the wide screen video setting at the aspect ratio of 16:9 as I prefer the panorama type images over the 4:3 ratio.

On the whole I am very happy with the footage that I grabbed in the 2.5 hours I was there. I am almost considering paragliding as a new hobby for 2017 as the guys made it look so easy and enjoyable. But maybe I’ll just stick to filming and editing in nice warm locations.

So glad I took time out to capture this spectacle! By the way the high five at the end is the real live audio as it happened. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did…

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