Perfectly placed among the Peak District National Park’s dramatic craggy heights is the Roaches. Home to the famous Winking Man formation and a former wallaby herd. This spot possess not only movie-worthy scenes, but also something that all great walks should have.
My favourite starting point, and probably one of the most popular, comes from a turning just off the Leek to Buxton road (A53) full of beautifully dramatic views itself. Take the turning marked by a lovely teapot cut-out and follow the road past the tea room (more on that later), I promise you, you won’t be disappointed. Once you spot a large rock face (the bigger one) jutting out into the skyline, it is time to find your parking space. Just be sure to park within the parking lines, this road can be quite hard to pass when cars ignore this so please don’t be that annoying person!
Once you have found your spot and donned your walking clobber, you are off! Follow the road along until you find a gate on your right and the official wooden spike announcing the path to your right. You want to be following this on up the hill, bearing left to pass the rock house hut. when you reach this spot, you will probably hear one or two odd thuds. Local centres and climbing enthusiasts come here to practice free-climbing among some of the lower rocks, with ropes being pulled out for the cliff-faces, landing on their mats on the way down.
Passing through these tumbling rocky outcrops, you would be forgiven for thinking you had landed right in a Lord of the rings filmset. Walking here can look incredibly atmospheric during the colder months, particularly if you visit on a foggy day as we did recently! Once you have passed through here, it is time for your first mammoth set of stone ‘steps’ to reach the first peak. Technically, they are more like random pieces of rock in an upwards pattern, but you get the idea. Be sure to zip up your jacket before you head up, it can be extremely windy up here.
Turn left and follow the path along for some spectacular sights over the edge until you find yourself at another set of steps leading upwards. this is the first point of your walk along the ridge. Heading to the left on your ascent, you will find the perfect picnic or photo spot. Looking as if it is going to teeter off the edge of the cliff is a Flintstones-esque stone seat next to a plaque carved into the stone commemorating the visit of the Prince and Princess of Teck. The views are pretty darn good up here and you might even get joined by a herd of cows (yes you read that right). Don’t worry though, they won’t invade your space and rarely venture near the edge where the main path lies.
Keep heading forward along the trail from here and you won’t go far wrong. The path takes you alongside the ethereal Doxy Pool, rumoured to be inhabited by a water spirit, as well as tons of other naturally stunning sights. There is even a church believed to be the location of the Green Chapel from the famous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight tale. A plunging chasm in the rock, this section often gets extremely muddy, so pack footwear accordingly. Just remember to watch out for daylight, it can be pretty dangerous up there in the dark and you need to be able to find your way back!
Time your return right and you could be in luck for a spot of tea and a traditional local dish, Staffordshire Oatcakes at the beautiful Roaches Tea Room. Overlooking the spectacular countryside and beautifully comfortable after a long walk.
Staying in the area? Why not check out nearby Castleton for some spectacular walking trails and head along to my ‘walks‘ page for more inspiration for local wanderings. Heading to nearby Stoke? Check out my local guide here and check back soon for more.