Overview of Ringstead
Ringstead, on the coast of Dorset, England, provides excellent cliff soaring conditions for hang gliders (in strong winds) and paragliders (lighter winds). However, it is potentially dangerous and you need to become familiar with the club site guide and associated rules before flying there.
Therefore, although this page contains some flying information, it should not be used as a flying site guide, but more as a sight-seeing guide.
It contains photos I took on the ground and in the air specifically for this page and some additional flying photos that already appear on other pages.
View from the top
This view takes in the take off hill (some distance inland from the cliff, which is out of view) and the public parking area with the top landing field (nearest the camera) separated from the car park by a hedge.
The notice in the following close-up is visible at lower left in the top landing approach photo.
From the public car park at the top of the hill you can hike downhill along a partly forested trail to the beach or you can go straight ahead to the cliff top.
The building on the right in the middle distance is the farm house surrounded by a rectangular hedge at upper right in the following photo.
The wooden building at left in the following photo is the one with the grey roof by my right elbow in the aerial view.
The navy helicopter base on Portland island, visible some miles off shore, was closed some years ago, but ships and boats of all kinds – sometimes including warships – can often be seen in the bay.
The path to the beach is steep enough in places to have wooden steps added. In winter it tends to be slippery with mud.
This trail is great for your impromptu Vietnam War re-enacting.
The public path along the top of the cliff gets too close to the edge for comfort, in my opinion.
When the wind takes on a more southerly direction, you can fly to Lulworth Cove and beyond. However, emergency landing options are either limited or nonexistent for much of the route.
The emergency bottom landing field is – or was in World War 2 – RAF Ringstead; a radar site.
The radar room is locked, but a sign near the entrance includes a diagram and some explanation. In this photo, vehicles parked on the hill top, from where we launch, are visible in the distance.
After photographing the radar bunker and its notice, I turned to face north-west along the field and took the following photo of the hang glider emergency bottom landing field:
The field slopes slightly away from you – you always land in the direction the camera is looking – but I never heard of anyone running out of room. Here are some photos of an approach and landing after I failed to obtain enough height to safely test the lift at the cliffs without risking a beach landing, which you must avoid if possible.
The WAAF in the bunker, a clone of Susannah York in the 1968 film The Battle of Britain, cleared me for the requested landing. Or so I imagined…
If you are unfamiliar with hang gliding equipment, even with the harness unzipped (by pulling a chord) I am held in securely with leg loops and a chest strap all with strong buckles.
I landed where the darker grass clumps can be discerned in the photo taken from my ground camera. (About where I placed my copyright notice.) They are less than a third the way along the field.
There is no parking anywhere near this field, incidentally. Landing here involves a great deal of hang glider carrying as well as possibly a £5 fee for using the car park near the caravan village.