On the Washes: the water margin

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The kink in the Western bank between Earith and Sutton Gault is the ‘Gullet’ it’s a feature I can’t fly directly over, unless its blowing a gale, as it forms one corner of the approach to Meadowlands aerodrome. The Gullet is where the bank is diverted around a deep pool at the point where Tubb’s Drove meets the Old Bedford River, my guess is this was an important cattle watering hole prior to the creation of the Washes requiring access over the bank in summer.

The Gullet has 3 surviving supports for the experimental Hovertrain track which was built on the bank in 1973. Apart form the shed at Earith the 3 concrete piers are all that survives of the project.


The great days of wind and steam powered pumps are over. Gall Fen is drained by this modest installation.

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There was a real kick (20-25mph)  in the wind but the Easterly vector is rare event and I wanted to exploit it. Good soft kites for this kind of wind speed have been a problem and the KAPfoil 1.6 is the 3rd candidate on test. The Didak Explorer 1.6 does well but is fairly mobile, the ITW Ultrafoil 15 is a shocker and best yet is the KAPfoil 1.6 the only drawback being the effort of recovery, a tie off and walking down the line is the easiest method. Walking it up-wind is a real work out.


Best soft kite for Bft 5? KAPfoil 1.6. and the more tail the better.

Walking down wind with the camea before me, pinned to the sky by Ralf Beutnagel’s superb KAPfoil1.6 the joy of KAP is realised every time I look in the viewfinder. Provided I keep walking the line is slack. Shots are sharp and the mysterious wetlands are revealed. The Washes rustle in the breeze and all around birds wheel in flocks chattering and honking as they go.  The kite rides the clean flow silkily and with the wind at my back all is peaceful, my feet feather light on the bank as the kite takes the load.



About billboyheritagesurvey

Heritage worker
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4 Responses to On the Washes: the water margin

  1. Ramon says:

    What a nice recital, Bill. It’s almost poetry.

    I understand you are quite pleased with your KAPfoil. I need to know some more about this kite. Time for some studying on it.



    • Thanks for taking a look Ramon,

      At KAPiNed 2010 Ralf explained his design rationale for the KAPfoil. At that time he made it 8msq and it was an industrial effort to manage it. Stable yes, mobile no. Since then it’s been put into production by HQ and smaller sizes (3m and 5.5m) have appeared. 1.6 is the smallest they do.

      Compared to the delta (say PFK Nighthawk for Bft5) they are arm rippingly powerful, maintaining slack line means a walk down wind with it.

      I find the wear & tear on the high speed deltas worrying- my Trooper has the stitching worn away where the spreader spar rubs the wing, the soft kites wear differently: so far the KAPfoil is holding up but its early days yet.

      Bft 5 is a tough place for kites even Mike LeDucs DS approach has its limits, with serious heeling above 20mph.

      One day soon I’ll get the 3 soft Bft5 contenders in the sky at the same time….

      Hope your feet are dry,


  2. Ramon says:

    Feet are indeed dry here, no worries about that. Thanks for your ‘review’ on the new sparless flyers. Appearantly you fly your kites more often than I do – e.g. the Trooper I bought a couple of years ago is still in new state.

    I stopped using my Rhombus Power Sled about 1 year after my first KAP outing back in 2006 because of its tendency to collapse in bumpy winds. Eversince I’ve solely flown sparred kites. But maybe, maybe I’m gonna purchase a KAPfoil for the milder winds. Thinking of buying the 3.0…

    What d’you think, Bill?



    P.S. would’ve loved to attend your workshop, but too much salty H2O between us :0)

    • The KAPfoil is made by HQ nad they have used a heavy gauge fabric, it’s what they do: they make these things to last. The consequence of that is they (based on experience with their Prinzler Flowform 2.0) are poor in light wind. A 3.0 might do better in the light stuff but it will certainly need a tail- it’s designed to work with one.

      I can’t say much about the 3.0 as I’ve not flown it. I expect it has a powerfull pull.

      What I can say is wear and tear on the deltas takes its toll. My Trooper needs re-stititching at the spreader pockets, both of my 9′ Levis heel and my Nighthawk is in tatters on the trailing edge. I don’t think I’m hard on them just frequent. The R 8 is doing the best, probabaly because I only fly it in light stuff. The soft kites do better but are tricky to repair.

      The ‘Power sleds’ are not nice, flown once- never again, like you once that collapse has happened that’s enough.

      For the workshop I want the option of bundling everything onto the bike to ferry it back to the start for the next batch of folk to take the walk. The soft kites are best for that.

      Best not to make any big travel plans to catch me flying- the weather is fickle!


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