Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Surprise weather on Longstone moor, and Geoff Fuller, the potter!

This week we planned to go up onto Kinder Scout with a couple of friends ( )
but the forecast was really dire, so we decided to put it off. Sue & I decided to do a more local walk, over Longstone moor because, when we woke up, the sky was incredibly blue and clear!!! We cursed the weather man, and got ready to go. Following the pattern of the last week or two, by the time we'd got ready, it had started to cloud over and as we drove up to Monsal head, where we started the walk, the skies darkened and it started to rain. The sun was trying to get through, as you can see, but the rain made us jump back in the car to see if it would pass.
Incredibly, after one or two more false starts, it DID pass, and we set off in hope.
Now that Autumn is well over and we're into winter, there are very few leaves left, so wood walking is far more drab.
Still some nice fungi to 'spot' though.
These are birch brackets, or 'razor strop' fungi, so called as they say you can sharpen a cut-throat razor on it by 'stropping' it on the rough surface of the fungi.

As we gained height onto the beginning of Longstone moor, we looked back to Monsal Head.

This is the view as you top out on the moor. The sky still looks black, and we had our waterproof coats on but, touch wood, it hadn't rained again since we left the car. The wind was a cold & cutting westerly though, but the coats kept it at bay.

Again the sun tried and tried to pierce the heavy cloud, here it is picking out a farm in the distance.
Our first goal today was the Three Stags inn at Wardlow mires. One of our favourite pubs, it is PACKED with character. The main one is Geoff Fuller, the landlord. Although the pub is now only open at weekend, we decided to just take a look - and we were lucky! Geoff's other passion is pots and his work sells for quite respectable prices. Geoff saw us, and came to the door and invited us in. We felt really honoured, as he can be quite a private person. He showed us all around the old cow shed , which is now the pottery, and allowed me to take pictures.

Also, he went into the pub and brought us a pint of beer! This is Geoff with one of his bespoke beer mugs. You KNOW you're special if he makes one of these for you.

A close study of Geoff applying colouring 'slip' to the pot.

These are the various brushes he uses to get different effects with the slip.

A 'Three Stags' beer mug, ready to be fired.

One of his square plates, ready for the kiln. He says he loses about one in three of these when they are fired.

Pat is also a potter. Where Geoff has his own electric fired kiln, complete with a door. Poor old Pat has to make do with a home-made version!
It really looks unsafe to me, but what do I know? We were amazed to learn that Pat has to brick up the front every time she does a kiln of pots! It DID strike me there was no door to this Heath Robinson affair, but to have to go to all THAT trouble, it MUST be love!!

FIRE in the hole!
Thar she blows.
After the lovely tour, we took our glasses back into the closed bar. It gave me chance to take a couple of pictures. This is the bar, nothing fancy at all, dogs rule here.

The 'house beer' - deadly in pints at 8% gravity!!!
(Sorry the picture is a bit blurred - it wasn't the beer - honest!)

DON'T ask for lager in the Three Stags!

And here is the 'piece de resistance', this is a PETRIFIED CAT, which was found down an old mine shaft. If you look on top of the case, you can also see a petrified RAT.

All too soon, we had to leave to continue the walk. We crossed the road and entered Cressbrook dale.
A short way along the dale is this lump of limestone called 'Peter Stone'.
The dale was VERY flooded from recent rains, but passable.

Looking back along the dale, you can see how much water was in it.
The weather was still holding out for us though, and a glance up the steep dale side showed blue sky.

....but a look back showed the threat of rain.

"I know, let's sit and eat our lunch before we get to the top - we'll be more sheltered".
This was what Sue said, so we sat in a force ten westerly and ate our home made spicy pumpkin soup, caraway seed bread and Emmental cheese.
The views weren't bad though.

We continued, through the now leafless scrub, to the bottom of the dale.
We passed this amazing tree trunk, which had fallen across the path.
Look at the twists in the trunk. How did that happen?
We next reached Ravenstor cottages, usually inhabited by climbers for the crags opposite.
I am told that only one is permanently lived in, the rest are all holiday cottages.
Finally, we got to Water cum Jolly dale, where I KNEW the mill race would be in spate, and therefore good for pictures.
After this, it did start to spot with rain, but only a little, and we arrived back at the car reasonably dry, and VERY happy with our day.

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