The Roaches walks, enjoy these walks in the Roaches, Peak District

Written by Shayle Follows

Popular with hikers, rock climbers and people of all ages and abilities. Located in the Staffordshire Peak District of England, The Roaches is a rocky ridge above Leek and Tittesworth Reservoir, boasting fantastic views. This article covers the different Roaches walks you can enjoy in the Peak District.

The Roaches are a popular place for walking in the Peak District; the ridge and its rock formations rise to a steep 505m. The area used to be known as the French word for rocks ‘Roches’ roughly 100 years ago, so the name has evolved relatively recently. Since the 20th century, the Roaches has been loved by rock climbers practising their skills. From the top of the Roaches on a sunny, clear day, the views spread across Tittesworth Reservoir, Leek, and far beyond. Some roaches walking routes are suitable for children, and children’s climbing clubs take advantage of the boulders here. If it is a day out walking the Roaches, you are after we have you covered. This article covers the different Roaches walks you can enjoy in the Peak District.

Popular walking and climbing destination, the Roaches in Staffordshire.

Where to Park if you are walking the Roaches

There is a free layby for parking at the Roaches but be aware that it does get very busy here at peak times, so it’s a good idea to arrive early. Park in the marked bays in the laybys; if you park outside of these, you may be fined. To find the car park via sat nav, use postcode: ST13 8UA.

If you need to get there via public transport, a First Bus 118 Buxton-Hanley service serves Upper Hulme.

Roach End to Lud’s Church and Back Forest Ridge, a popular circular walking route in the Roaches.

1 – 2 hours | Approximately 5 km | Easy

This route takes you from Roach End to Lud’s Church, a moss-covered chasm full of history and is relatively easy to enjoy. This route is suitable for children depending on how far they can comfortably walk but not pushchairs. This route can get muddy and slippy in areas, so please wear appropriate footwear.

Lud's Church, the Roaches Walk
Lud’s Church, image from Tripadvisor.

Roach End to Lud’s Church and Back Forest Ridge, Route Details

From Roach End, you will make your way through the gap in the wall, then turn right to go over the stile. Following the wall on your right, you can continue down the path. Once you reach the bottom of the hill, head into the woodland, and you will see the sign posted for Lud’s church and Swythamley. The path through the woods is well established but can get wet and slippy in places. After 15 minutes of walking, you will reach a fork where you will take the left-hand fork signposted Lud’s Church. Ten minutes down this path is Lud’s Church. When you get to the sign stating ‘Danger concealed cliff edge’, keep straight on. Make sure to keep the Danger sign for about 20 metres on your right. Next, you will reach steep steps where you need to take great care. It can get very slippery and muddy at the foot of the steps. Keep right until you emerge onto the path and turn to the left.

Follow the bridleway to Castle Cliff Rocks

You will then follow this bridleway until you see Castle Cliff Rocks which gives excellent views of the valley. Continue on the bridleway at the signpost and continue straight on towards Swythamley. You will come to a tee junction where you will take the left path signposted Roach End. Keep going up the hill and onto the Ridge. The trail is very well-marked across the Ridge. To your left, you can see Shutlingsloe. In the distance, you will see the cars at Roach End; you are around 40 minutes from your starting point here. To the right and behind is Bosley Cloud. Along the Ridge, a rock outcrop looks like the Winking Man on Ramshaw.

You can find and follow the full route here.

Roaches Gate to Dains Mill and Hen Cloud, Circular Route

1 – 2 hours | Approximately 4 km | Easy

This circular route from Roaches gate to Dains Mill and Hen Cloud is an excellent option for a day out. You can extend this route by taking a short detour to the Bawdstone; a boulder balanced on three rocks between Hen Cloud and the Roaches. This route takes you past Rock Hall, a stone house in front of a cave, and a small tarn on the Roaches ridge named Doxey Pool which is reputed to be bottomless. This route is suitable for children depending on how far they can comfortably walk but not pushchairs. This route can get muddy and slippy in areas, so please wear appropriate footwear.

Dusk at Hen Cloud Rock, the Roaches Walk
Dusk at Hen Cloud Rock.

Roaches Gate to Dains Mill and Hen Cloud, Route Details

This route begins at Roaches Gate. Start this Roaches walk by taking the path just through the gate; head straight on until you reach a narrow gate in the wall on your right. Leave this gate and look for another entrance around 30 metres beyond it which you will then go through. On the field, walk towards the bottom left. (Here, you can extend your walk to the Bawdstone by going straight across the area to the gate in the wall, Bawdstone is about 50 yards to the left.

If you are not detouring to Bawdstone or after your detour

Continue aiming towards the bottom left of the field to go through another gate and head towards the farm building. Follow the bank of the stream until it bends right, at the bend crossover, and turn right up the field. You will come across a gap in the wall and a signpost. From here, turn right, and Ramshaw rocks will be on your right. You will now be on a track you can follow for 10 minutes, then turn left at the next style. Do not go over it; you will go over a style 50-70 metres from that last style. Follow the track into the small valley and the path close to the stream. It can get very muddy here, so please take care. Walk for another 10 minutes until you reach the mill ponds, where you can follow the decked path around the mill. (The track down from the mill leads into Upper Hulme.)

After admiring the mill, head back through the 5-bar gate and follow the track to the left. Follow the trail for about 100m, then turn right into the woods before the cattle grid. At the top of this wooded path, you will go over a cattle grid, and you can carry on along this track until you see the Roaches and the cars where you began. You will see a path directly up Hen Cloud from here. You can go straight up this path, but it is steep or bare left to take the steadier course.

You can find and follow the full route here.

Countryfile’s The Roaches Walk, Circular Route

4 hours | 9.3 km | Moderate

We love giving this walk a go during late summer when the ridge is a sea of purple flowering heather. This 9 km walk is also a great way to spot Peak District wildlife and witness stunning views. For this walk, make sure to wear walking boots and take warm clothing with you for the exposed ridge of The Roaches.

Countryfile The Roaches Walk
Who will you spot along the way? Image from Tripadvisor.

Countryfile’s The Roaches Walk, Route Details

This walking route begins at The Roaches Tea Rooms; parking is available nearby. The Five Clouds and The Roaches will be in the distance on your right. Here you may spot birds such as red grouse, buzzards and sparrow hawks. Ahead is Royal Cottage. When you come to the road, cross over, and fork left along a grassy track for Clough Head. Turn left at the next lane, then right at the cattle grid. Head right to join a lane, and keep ahead on the Ridge path. You will pass through a gate, carry on for Lud’s Church and then head down a path that leads into the woods. Turn left for Lud’s Church and follow the track into a gritstone chasm. From Lud’s Church at the mouth of the gorge, turn right along a woodland path where you will see posts to a lane at Roach End. Next, you will cross the main route to reach The Roaches Ridge and its glorious views.

You can find and follow the full route here.

The Roaches Extended Circular Walking Route

5 hours | 17.9 km | Moderate

Fancy a longer route and more of a challenge? This 17.9-km circular trail is a great option and is considered a moderately challenging route. It’s a popular route for birdwatchers, mountain bikers and hikers.

Doxey Pool, the Roaches Walks
Doxey Pool, with its legend of a mysterious mermaid!

The Roaches Extended Circular Route, Route Details

The walk starts with you following the road from Upper Hulme towards the Roaches; it then takes you along the top of the rock face. The terrain will be uneven so take care. You will pass Doxey Pool, and the views from here are fantastic. We love this route because you have the option to cut it short and take part in as much as you feel like.

This route then follows a concession path to Hanging Stone. There is also a well-trodden footpath leading into Danebridge, bypassing the rock. Beyond the rock, the way takes you through a field and a woodland area to the village. There’s a pub to the left at the bottom of the bridge.

Stroll along the riverside

The walk from Danebridge is pretty straightforward and runs alongside the river. You get views of Shutlingsloe in the distance. Once you leave the riverside on the path, you will begin to ascend again. When you reach the road, you can choose to go back over the rocks the way you came or follow the road to the left and go around the back. Follow the route for a fair distance before turning right shortly after a cattle grid. You will begin to approach a farm and see a footpath that will take you through the fields to the side. Eventually, this path returns you, with Hen Cloud to your left and the Roaches on your right. You get back to the road on the same way you initially took to get up to the Roaches.

You can find and follow the full route here.

Need a refreshment? Visit The Roaches Tearooms

The Roaches Tea Rooms, Tea Rooms near the Roaches.
We bet you will fancy a cuppa! Image from Facebook.

The Roaches Tea Rooms is family-run and located on the hillside of the Roaches in the Peak District National Park at Upper Hulme, near Leek, Staffordshire. It’s an ideal spot to visit if you are visiting to walk the Roaches, as you can take a breather and enjoy the incredible views. They serve a selection of tea and coffee, homemade cakes, delicious meals and oatcakes! All food is freshly prepared and always features a selection of traditional homemade Daily Specials to tempt you.

You can find more information here.

Let us know if you have attempted any of the Roaches walking in the comments; which one is your favourite?

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