- County: Staffordshire
- Nearest Town(s): Leek
- National Park: Peak District
- Difficulty: Medium
- Time: 1.5-3 hours
- Height: 506 m
- Map: OS Explorer OL24 The Peak District (OS Explorer Map)*
Where to Park
There is plenty of off road parking at the base of The Roaches, but this fills up really quickly at weekends with both walkers and climbers. This area can get busy, but in larger parts of the road there is no parking on the verges, so try to keep it in the bays.
The Walk Part 1 – Hen Cloud
Following a heavy lederhosen clad night on the German schnapps; courtesy of Munich airport duty free and Eurovision, it was decided a head clearing hike was in order.
The Roaches was selected as last time we had tried a forest fire had left it resembling the aftermath of a Daenerys tantrum, meaning that it was closed out to all but the fire crews. Coming back now, with a years worth of recovery, the evidence of the destruction is still massive and obvious. We have climbed at The Roaches many times and I love the area, just never realised that there was a trig pillar ripe for the bagging.
We had managed to snag parking at the first layby after the tea rooms. In our hazy state we had failed to actually bring the right OS map (OL24 for those more prepared than us), so just to make sure we didn’t miss out on the pillar we thought the best approach was to do a circular route taking in Hen Cloud and the full length of the Roaches.
From the car we headed over the cattle grid (for those that refuse to grow up ) or via the pedestrian gate (for those with a hangover) following the track up the hill and around to the right. After the bend there is a small path on the left, leading to a steep scramble up the face of the edge. For an easy route continue to follow the path into the woods then find a suitable footpath through the woods and up to the edge.
In our infinite wisdom we opted for the scramble, a great plan for us usually but one which lead to a green feeling for some. Nothing too technical for a scramble, but it is a steep uphill on gravel and mud, so you probably need to be fit and healthy for this route. Once at the top the view of both the Roaches themselves and the surrounding countryside is impressive, with Tittesworth Reservoir glistening in the sun off to the south west (or it would do in any actual sunshine).
The Walk Part 2- The Roaches
No trig point up here so across to the Roaches we headed. There is an obvious path across following the edge of Hen Cloud then down the gulley and back towards the Roaches. After crossing the sheep-filled field we took the right fork in the path. To get the views we went across the top rather than heading into the woods past the BMC hut. Walking up the back face of the hill showed the extent of the damage done by last years fire, which covers the majority of the heath land to the right. At some points it even stretches over the break to the woodland down the left edge. It does not however detract from the beauty of the walk.
Past the dark coloured Doxey Pool, the path continues across the top of the edge with great views both left and right. It was noticeably more windy up here given the exposure. Despite the limited sunshine and relatively mild ambient temperature we were all in windbreakers by this point. Our high-vis gear also made us of interest to the passing microlight, waving madly at us all. I guess even at height bright green and red are still obvious. Following another slight incline the trig pillar is obvious even from distance, and the 360 panoramic views at the top are beautiful even in the gloomy weather in which we visited.
View From The Pillar
The Roaches are a high point with little surrounding them of similar heights, so this spot offers some amazing panoramic views of the Peak and Tittesworth reservoir. With some of the fire damage from 2018 still pretty obvious the view when we visited wasn’t back to 100 percent, but it is still stunning. There are sufficient rocks around to stop, grab a picnic and enjoy the view. If you decide to stop have layers on hand because there is nothing to break the wind up there.
To come back down, we followed the cliff edge path until we found an obvious path dropping back down to the lower tier. We followed it through the boulder field and past the plaque carved into the rocks. This commemorates a visit from the Prince and Princess of Teck in 1872. For those, like me, who had zero clue where Teck is or was, it is in what is now known as the region of Baden-Wuttermberg in South West Germany. Interestingly this Princess would later go on to mother Victoria Mary of Teck, who is better known as Queen Mary, the wife of George V.
Just past this stone, but before passing through the drystone wall, there is a small but steep path down to the woods. The steps are cut into the stone, and previous experience has taught us that they get slippy when wet. These steps do, however, give a good view over the woodland boulder field. The path from here would appear to naturally head towards the BMC hut. Please note this is a private space for those renting the property. As such head down the hill to the gateway on the right and not through the wooden gate. To return back down to the road follow the wide gravel track to the left. Once you get past the boulders the road is obvious at the bottom of the hill.
All in all a great trip if you have a couple of hours to kill. If you ignore the Hens Cloud section it is a relatively simple walk, especially if you take the gentle approaches around the crag face. The panoramic views are great, but be prepared for a little wind (though the same can be said for a lot of high point trig pillars).
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