We were up and out the door at the ungodly hour of 4am to head over to Ragland in South East Wales to cross something big off the bucket list, to fly in a hot air balloon. 

I have my brother to thank for this truly unforgettable experience as he had initially booked it as a Christmas present two years back. Subsequently the pandemic and my moving abroad to Dubai meant that we never got the chance to actually do it until now. I can say that it was well worth the wait.

As you can imagine, flying in a hot air balloon is incredibly weather dependent and we happened to get very lucky on that front. The conditions and visibility on the day couldn’t have been more perfect. We had heard that balloon flights get cancelled all the time due to poor weather conditions and our flight would be the last for two weeks due to the way the forecasts were looking.  

The first thing on the agenda was to get the balloon prepared for the flight. It was pretty interesting to see the process and how much effort is required to get the thing off the ground. 

Finally it was time for take off. What I loved so much about this experience was how calming and peaceful it was. I have been up in helicopters and light aircraft before but flying in a hot air balloon was so different. Apart from the occasional roar of the burner, there was no noise. Also the slow and steady ascent made the whole thing feel so natural, like you really were at one with your surroundings. It really was such a unique and unforgettable experience. 

As I mentioned, flying in a hot air balloon is very weather dependent and this also includes the route of your flight. There is no real way to steer the balloon, except for up and down, so you literally go with the flow of the wind. 

Raglan Castle

We again got so lucky as the winds took us right over Raglan Castle, providing the most incredible aerial views of what is said to be the “grandest castle ever built by Welshmen ”. There were also the most beautiful sprawling views across the Brecon Beacons, with Pen y Fan and Sugar Loaf being two unmistakable landmarks on the horizon.

We were up in the air for around 45-minutes in total and when our captain spied a nice feld for us to land we began our descent. We braced for a rough landing as we had been warned in the safety induction this can sometimes be the case, however, it couldn’t be smoother and we hardly felt it.

Finally, to round things off, our lovely captain popped a bottle of champers and we toasted to a truly unforgettable experience. My brother had booked the tour through Bailey Balloons, which operates in various locations across the South West.

Be it for a special occasion or simply to cross it off your bucket list, I’d highly recommend experiencing a hot air balloon ride for yourself. 

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