Overview of Ringstead

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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

Hang glider in-flight photo

Top landing approach in 2015

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.

Ringstead notice board by the track on the hill top

Notice board by the track on the hill top in 2017

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.

Looking south-east at Ringstead in 2017

Looking south-east in 2017

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.

Hang glider in-flight photo

Flying at Ringstead in 2015

The wooden building at left in the following photo is the one with the grey roof by my right elbow in the aerial view.

Wooden buildings, trees, and cliffs at Ringstead, Dorset, England in 2017

Wooden buildings, trees, and cliffs in 2017

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.

Sailing ship in Ringstead bay

Ship in the bay in May, 2017

The path to the beach is steep enough in places to have wooden steps added. In winter it tends to be slippery with mud.

Wooden bridge on the track from the hill to the beach at Ringstead

One of several wooden bridges on the track from the hill to the beach

This trail is great for your impromptu Vietnam War re-enacting.

Ringstead cliffs seen from ground level

Ringstead cliffs seen from ground level

The public path along the top of the cliff gets too close to the edge for comfort, in my opinion.

SkyWings, July 2015 cover photo

View along the cliff in 2015

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.

RAF Ringstead

The emergency bottom landing field is – or was in World War 2 – RAF Ringstead; a radar site.

RAF Ringstead radar bunker

Looking north past the radar bunker entrance in 2017

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.

Close-up of the Ringstead radar room notice in 2017

Close-up of the radar room notice in 2017

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:

Ringstead emergency bottom landing field in 2017

Ringstead emergency bottom landing field in 2017

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.

Hang glider on landing approach at Ringstead

“Ringstead approach control, request a ‘straight in’ on runway four-five.”

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…

Hang glider on landing approach at Ringstead

Unzipping the harness

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.

Hang glider rounding out at RAF Ringstead in 2017

Rounding out at RAF Ringstead in 2017

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.

Related (internal links)

Hang gliding

Hang gliding 2016 part 3 (Dukes of hazard)

Unexplained lift at Ringstead, August 8th, 2013