We agonised about going to the Peaks or staying here. Andy Wallis was a bit down on the Peaks due to possible spreadout, but here it was going to be windy. I didn’t mind, I was happy with another rest day after Slovenia. It was howling in the garden, but Martin was at Corndon and said it was top-end but flyable, so we ambled up at 11.30am, to see Martin getting high, but coming back forward. It seemed windy so we sat around for a bit and watched the Joint Services comp guys, who didn’t seem to have too many problems pushing forward. Martin, Kai, Geoff and the SW/Mid-Wales guys got off together and climbed out, but I missed my chance when I had to fix my speedbar and then fluffed a launch.

I was pretty resigned to the fact that they would all go miles together and I’d bimble along on my own and get nowhere. Once they were all gone there were only a couple of us left and the strong climbs that Martin talked about earlier had also disappeared. He did say that today was not a day for gliding… I waited for a while to let some better clouds develop and then had to top land once when I nearly went down, but eventually I step climbed my way to cloudbase slightly over the back of the hill. Two army guys followed me, but went over the back much lower than me, along with David McKenzie, on his first ever XC (well done!). As soon as I was high, Martin’s words came back to me and I decided that I could drift along in the 30km/h winds at base and make better progress than climbing/gliding, where the thermals would be broken and difficult to find if you got low. The army guys took a different track (their goal was Brecon), but we met again near Llandrindod Wells. The yellow one was finding lift and climbing well, but they were making really hard work of it, gliding until they were low and then having to find good cores to get back up to base. I’m sure they thought that I am rubbish at thermalling, but I was sticking to nice gentle 1m/s or less, so I could get maximum drift and by the time I was at base, then next cloud had formed and I had a short glide, where I would do my slow top-up, still drifting at 30km/h. I’m usually the one off on silly, pointless glides, so it was satisfying to see them go off on their final dash and bomb at Builth Wells, while I was at base, just sitting pretty. (Turns out they had to fly in that direction to get their turn point, so were forced to fly away from the clouds.)

I had my one tricky bit of the flight behind Builth, where I had a short bit of blue, and had to fly over a quarry to find the thermal, but I did, and was off again. By then I could see Brecon on my GPS and I thought if I can just get there, I’ll have done 80km and that would just be brilliant. So I set myself the goal of not landing before I got to the town. Once I got high near there, I spotted the sea and that was a huge motivator, but the Brecon Beacon mountains were in the way.

I dithered for a while, trying to decide if I really wanted to fly into the mountains with so much wind (the answer was ‘no!’) so I changed track a little and flew along the valley before the mountains, thinking that I would just extend my flight and land in a village at the end of the valley. On the way, I found a saddle I thought I could cross, with big flat moorland on top. If I bombed it would be a long walkout, but I thought it would be safe to cross there. I did a little wager with myself – if I got to base I would cross, if I didn’t then I wouldn’t. The thought of having the chance to fly to the beach was too tempting and I got to base halfway along the saddle. I topped up and was across the Becons!

I indulged myself in checking how far I had come by doing a Go To on the GPS and saw I had come 91km. I watched as my GPS ticked over the 100km and did my usual happy tears bit. My first 100km! Anywhere. I was still high and some way from the actual coast, so I decided to see if I could get the record, which is presently 125km, set by Judy Leden in 2004. I got to Neath and then headed to Swansea. I got to 120km, but then ran out of landing options. Houses as far as I could see and loads of industrial stuff and water to cross to get to the beach, I chickened out and landed in the last playing field for miles. I had pushed the distance a bit, so did a full speedbar approach just to avoid a road and get into the field. It was howling on the ground.

It’s not possible to describe how I felt, there are only a few occasions I think I have been so happy. Two young boys came to see if I was ok and I got them to help me pack up. I needed the assistance, it was so breezy. They pointed me in the direction of the local pub. I had landed in one of the less salubrious parts of Swansea (according to Dave Thompson, I was lucky to get out of there with my glider), but lots of people had seen me land and were asking questions and congratulating me. When I got to the pub someone bought me a drink and suddenly loads of people started arriving in cars, bikes, quads, on foot, saying their mates had called then to say some woman had flown from the border at Powys and they wanted to check that it was true. More free beers later, they called the local newspaper! Luckily I was gone by the time they sent a photographer round. Geoff picked me up, after a short flight. We got back at midnight.

There’s so many lessons I learnt in Slovenia and although I didn’t do well in the comp, everything that I did learn clicked into place today. And the most important thing to me was that for once, I didn’t make a mistake. You always make a mistake on a flight when you land before the end of the day or before you run out of land. I did neither yesterday. I landed at 6pm, after getting nearly to the beach. I missed out on the record, but I don’t mind. I flew the second longest flight any woman has done in the UK, and that’s enough of an achievement for me at present. And I did it nearly all on my own.

Thanks so much to everyone who sent congrats and good wishes. It really means a lot to me!

See photos of today.