Sharpenhoe Clappers

This is a tricky site to fly, being a very small shallow ridge. The site is owned by the National Trust and we are allowed to fly it subject to the terms of the Site Licence which specifies that it can only be flown by DHPC members who are BHPA members and therefore have £2M public liability insurance.

A copy of the Site Licence can be found here.

The site distance record is currently held by Hugh Miller with his incredible flight of  228.2km on 24/07/2014
The 2013 record was 178km when Hugh smashed the long standing site record of 98 miles (159km) set by Pete Roberts on a Hang-glider way back in 1998.

Other incredible flights include. Click the km to see details.
228.0km Mark Watts
205.5km211.4km  Guy Anderson
178.4km209.8km, 211.2km Hugh MIller
190.9km Kirsty Cameron
143.2km Helen Gant


Wind Direction: Northeast to East (45˚-90˚)
Best East-Northeast (60˚)

Height Top to Bottom: 210ft

Height Above Sea Level: Launch Field Top Fence – 500ft AMSL QNH


GPS Co-ordinates for the car park: TL 065 295 ( N51 57.253 W0 27.044 )

GPS Co-ordinates for the take-off: TL 068 299 ( N51 57.464 W0 26.750 )

Parking Top: Do not leave anything on view as there is a history of thefts from vehicles in this car park. Also, obviously, don’t leave things by the car while you take some kit to launch as the chances are it won’t be there when you get back.

Parking Bottom: Park in the layby just east of the turning up to the hill in order to keep the road clear.

Directions: Sharpenhoe Clappers are situated about six miles north of Luton on the A6, and a mile west of Barton-le-Clay. When in Barton take the turn to Sharpenhoe/Harlington and follow the road over the A6 bridge and turn left at the next main road. The car park is at the top of the hill on your left.

Site Rules

  • The site is for Dunstable members only. Strictly No visitors – as required by the National Trust site licence.
  • BHPA Pilot Rating : Pilot (P) and experienced X/C pilots only
  • No Club Pilot (CP) rated pilots at any time!
  • It’s only to be flown by pilots expecting to fly X/C. This is not a ridge soaring site
  • No taking off from the launch field when sheep are grazing in it
  • No top landing where sheep are grazing
  • No professional instruction allowed
  • No motorised flying equipment
  • The westerly face is NOT to be flown.
  • A maximum of 8 gliders can be rigged on the hill at any one time
  • Pilots new to the site should always be accompanied by other pilots who have flown the site many times before
  • Class D airspace is above the site at 3,500ft AMSL. Check your airmap.

Launch Areas
Most pilots’ reactions on seeing the launch point is disbelief. The ridge is extremely shallow and the small size makes you wonder if it’s flyable, but experience has shown it is possible. Its shouldn’t be regarded as a soaring ridge, more of a hill to start an XC flight from.
The best launch point is a small lump of ground in the middle of the launch field. Rig and set-up sensibly with regard to scrub and launch options suitable for the days conditions.
The silver birch to the right of launch is a good indicator of wind strength. It’s often soarable when there is little wind at the launch point. Spend a while assessing the site and conditions before you fly.
A good determined run is needed at launch because of its shallow slope and difficult surroundings. Treat it like a nil wind and maintain plenty of airspeed because of the turbulence behind the trees. Always turn left and tuck in as tight to the trees in the bowl as you dare.

Top Landing
The marked area has been agreed for use as a top landing area. This field behind take off is 50ft higher than the launch point. The main danger is overshooting into the barb wire fence at the front of the fieldas it starts to slope away. Make sure you have enough height and fly well back before setting up the approach for landing. Be aware that all fences marked by broken lines are topped with barbed wire.
Hang gliders are advised to take a crabbing approach to the top landing area to avoid the lee rotor from the hill.

Bottom Landing Area
The official bottom landing area is marked. To minimise crop damage try to land next to the Barton road. Beware of the power lines crossing the left of the landing field. It’s a difficult field to land in requiring a fair amount of landing skill. Should you overshoot and fly over the hedge row into the next field, land as close to the road a possible and de-rig in the official landing area close to the road. You can walk to the top via the public footpath from the lay-by. Hang gliders especially don’t land in the crop in the field below take off as you will cause untold damage dragging your glider out.

X/C Flights
Do not get caught in rotor near the west face if there is a strong easterly. A rough guide is never go behind the hill below 750ft ATO.
The height limit over the hill is 3500ft QNH but rises to 4500ft a few miles down wind. After Leighton Buzzard is Daventry CTA with a FL55 limit. To the south of Oxford is the AIAA with only Brize Norton CTA (Class D) to navigate around.  Lyneham is closed but the CTA (Class D) can be opened by NOTAM so check first. After that the distance record is yours. Fly with an up to date air map. Avoid Woburn Abbey and the wildlife park as you could get eaten by lions if you are forced to land here.

Mobile Telephones: In the event of emergency one person at the scene should take charge and delegate another person to call the emergency services and prevent multiple 999 calls of the same incident.

Nearest Hospital. The nearest with a casualty unit is Luton and Dunstable. Drive back to Barton le Clay and join the A6 to Luton. Continue along it for 6 miles into the town centre and follow signs for the A505 to Dunstable. Just over the M1 flyover (junction 11) the hospital is located on your right.

Freeflight on Dunstable Downs