Other worldly rock clefts, a dinosaur ridge line, Gun Hill and Hen Cloud; with descriptions and names like these the Roaches are a must-see and do
This rocky outcrop on the western edge of the Peak District is a favourite haunt of outdoor fans. Climbers cling to the gritstone rock, walkers yomp along its skyline ridge, fell runners leave trainer tracks in its soil, and cyclists admire its dinosaur backed ridgeline from a short distance away.
A short climb leads to the 3km ridge, which includes the standalone peak of Hen Cloud, one of the finest viewpoints in the national park.
A short, sharp climb will soon have your feet in the clouds, for a fairly level run with spectacular views in all directions.
There’s sand, peat and rock underfoot, and the going is typically pretty good, despite the occasional sizeable puddle. Local running club Mowcop Runners organises the Roaches Fell Race, which covers 15 miles and 3,700 feet of ascent – this year’s event takes place in November. mowcoprunner.com
As its name suggests (Roaches derived from Roches, the French for rocks), this is an excellent spot for climbing. The excellent grip on gritstone makes it a favourite for climbers, and routes up the wind-carved cliff face vary from “Moderate” to “Extremely Severe”, so there’s something for every level of climber. If you’re a beginner, a one-day introduction to rock climbing, including knots, basic rope work, movement and technique costs £130 with local instructor Rock and Ice, rockandice.net
Road cycle here
The Roaches rocky profile provides a handsome background to cycling routes around the western edge of the Peak District and the Staffordshire Moorland. Nearby Gun Hill seems to feature in the Stoke on Trent stage of every Tour of Britain, and is one of the most popular places for spectators to watch the race, while sportives criss-cross the shadows below the ridge. If you fancy an organised event, sign up for the Wiggle Peak District Punisher (ukcyclingevents.co.uk) or the Bostin Peaks Spring Sportive (bostinevents.com).
The rewards of spectacular views far outstrip the effort to reach the crest of the Roaches. Once you’re on the ridge, it’s easy going and as this is open access land you have the right to roam. Starting at Hen Cloud will involve a double climb, but it’s worth it. Walk north along the ridge, then continue to Lud’s Church, a giant otherworldly cleft in the rocks, where it’s possible to walk from one end to the other between towering cliff walls.
It takes a little navigation to find the concealed entrance, but it is waymarked.
Find your way around with Ordnance Survey Explorer OL24 White Peak Area.
Plan your trip
Replace lost calories with a well-earned snack or meal at the Roaches Tea Rooms in Upper Hulme
The Lazy Trout in Meerbrook is a lovely pub in which to kick-back and relax after a hard day on the gritstone (01538 300385). The Three Horseshoes Inn Country Hotel & Spa is ideally located close to the foot of the Roaches for a weekend’s activity, and B&B costs from £50pppn (3shoesinn.co.uk); while Ye Olde Rock Inn at Upper Hulme has a self-catering flat for four (yeolderockinn.org.uk).