The Roaches Walk and Lud's Church
The Roaches Walk to Lud’s Church offers something different to the other Peak District walks and is usually quieter than popular parts of the Dark Peaks in holiday periods. With an unusual sandstone landscape, timeless woodlands and breathtaking views, it is no wonder it has inspired many famous tales and British climbing legends.
If driving to the Roaches Walk trailhead, take the A53 from Buxton and turn off at Upper Hulme. Drive through Upper Hulme and the parking area will be less than 2.0km on your right, beneath Rockhall cottage.
|When to do|
Yes. Homestead Farm Campsite, Upper Hulme.
The Roaches Walk and Lud's Church
The Roaches Walk Description
The Roaches and Lud’s Church walk begins at the saddle between Hen Cloud and The Roaches. Walk to the start point from the suggested parking spot, (beneath Rock Hall Cottage) and cross the fence at the signposted stile. Continue in the direction of Hen Cloud and follow the wall uphill, keeping it on your right.
At a gate in this wall turn left and follow the trod across the field to another gate. Continue through this gate and onto a rocky track where you will begin a short uphill climb. Look out for nesting Peregrine Falcons on top of the crags.
At the crest of the climb, you will come to a set of stone gateposts. Pass through them and continue right along a well-defined track with rock faces to your right and woodland below on your left. Don’t forget to take in the views of Tittesworth Reservoir and Hen Cloud.
Continuing the Roaches Walk, your path will eventually veer left and continue uphill through a gap in a section of boulders. Once through the gap, turn left and continue uphill following the ridge to the Doxley Pool. It is best to take the left path around Doxley Pool and continue onwards to the short, stone trig point pillar (505m) and then down to Roach End.
At Roach End, you will come to a minor road. Cross straight over following the signpost to Lud’s Church and Danebridge. Go through a gap in the wall and over a stile. Make sure to take the right-hand fork of the path.
After a km or so of following this track (there is a wall to your left most of the way), you will come to a crossroad. Go straight ahead here, up onto a rocky outcrop and continue following the track signed to Gradbach. This path contours around to the right and then into Gradbach Wood. It can get quite muddy along this track in wet weather so be prepared.
This path leads you right past Lud’s Church, an impressive natural cleft in the bedrock that reaches 15m high and stretches into the hillside.
After leaving Lud’s Church, go back onto the main Gradbach wood path and follow it west in the direction of Roach End. This is an undulating path that runs parallel to—but well above—the Black Brook. Eventually, you will reach a paved path that climbs away from the brook and out of the woodland where you will emerge at Roach End.
From Roach End it is an easy downward amble along the tarmac road back to where you parked. Tittesworth reservoir will be in clear sight ahead of you.
Walking Route Highlights
The Roaches is an iconic Peak District destination, a rocky ridge that rises steeply to 505m, towering over the Tittesworth Reservoir. The name ‘Roaches’ comes from the French word ‘roches’, meaning ‘rocks’, and the Roaches’ distinctive crags have attracted hikers throughout the ages. Sculpted by the elements, these unusual rocks are the subjects of many ancient legends.
One of the most famous of these local legends is the sinister story of Doxley Pool, a small dark lake that sits in a hollow close to the top of the Roaches. According to local myth, the pool is inhabited by a fearsome water spirit, an evil mermaid named Jenny Greenteeth, who may trap unsuspecting hikers. Some still say that they can hear her singing through the mists that linger over the top of the ridge.
Although you’re unlikely to see a mermaid, the Roaches will fill you with a sense of eerie wonder and mystery. The strange and beautiful shapes created by the rocks have an otherworldly quality, making this a really special place for a day’s walk.
Lud’s Church is one of the highlights of this walk – an atmospheric, moss-covered chasm that hides plenty of secrets. The walls of the rock on either side stretch 18m up in the air, and are coated in sweet-smelling, vivid green moss. Lud’s Church offers the perfect contrast to the rocky, open ridge of the Roaches, and for a brief moment on your walk, will transport you to another world.
Lud’s Church boasts a fascinating history, and over the centuries it has sheltered religious dissidents and political outlaws. In the 15th century, the Lollard followers of John Wycliffe used the chasm as a hiding place and a secret place of worship, hoping to avoid religious persecution. According to local legend, Lud’s Church was also once used as a hideout by Robin Hood and his loyal follower, Friar Tuck. Another medieval myth even states that the chasm was created by the devil himself and represents the traces of his fingernail as he scraped his hand over the earth.
Lud’s Church stretches only for 100m, and constitutes only a brief moment on this glorious Peak District walk. However, we think it’s one of the most memorable parts of the trail, and a fascinating way to learn about the rich mythology of the Peaks.
If you’ve got the energy and want to extend the walk to the summit of Hen Cloud, don’t miss the Bawdstone. This enormous boulder is perched precariously on three rocks near to Hen Cloud and it is thought to have healing powers. Visitors should simply touch the stone, or crawl underneath it – a practice thought to get the devil off your back.
This impressive natural sight was once thought by local Christians to have pagan associations. As a result, they decided to paint it white each year, to ward off evil spirits. The practice has now stopped, but you may still find traces of paint on the Bawdstone. The views from Hen Cloud are some of the best in the region, offering a spectacular panorama that extends all the way to the neighboring counties.
On a sunny and calm day the top of the roaches makes for an exciting picnic spot. Not only can you bask on boulders and admire the panoramic views but also you can goggle at the climbers on the crags above you.
If you are feeling energetic consider extending your hike by a couple of km’s to include a summit of Hen Cloud.
Reward yourself at the Roaches Tea Room, which offers the best views of the valley. Try the Staffordshire Oatcakes or indulge in an English Cream Tea.
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