The Roaches

Fantastic ridgeline views across the Staffordshire Moorlands


The Roaches


3.8 miles (6kms)

625ft (191m)

About the walk

Working-Class Revolution The jagged ridge of The Roaches is one of the most popular outdoor locations in the Peak District National Park. The name is a corruption of the French for rocks – roches. It was here on the gritstone crags that the 'working class revolution' in climbing took place in the 1950s. Manchester lads Joe Brown, a builder, and Don Whillans, a plumber, went on to become legends within the climbing fraternity by developing new rock-climbing techniques wearing gym shoes and using Joe's mother's discarded clothes line as a rope.

Natural Cave-dwelling

Look out for Rockhall Cottage, built into the rock and containing at least one room that is a natural cave. The cottage was a former gamekeeper's residence and is currently owned by the Peak District National Park. Restored in 1989, and now known as the Don Whillans Memorial Hut, the bothy can be booked through the British Mountaineering Council by small groups of climbers. Otherwise, you can glimpse the listed building from a distance.

Jenny Greenteeth and Doxeys Pool

Other less tangible legends surround this long outcrop, several of them attached to Doxey Pool. Locals speak in hushed voices of a young mermaid who lived in the pool but was captured by a group of men. If the stories are to be believed her ghost can still be heard singing through the mist. Lurking in the darkest depths of the pool is Jenny Greenteeth, a hideous monster with green skin, long hair and sharp teeth, who grabs the ankles of anyone unfortunate enough to get too close, dragging them to a watery grave. Another myth says the pool is bottomless and will never dry out. Sadly this myth was busted in the heatwave of 2018, when it did indeed dry out, leaving little but damp peat on its surface.

Walk directions

Descend the lane from the long parking lay-by below The Roaches. Turn left through the main gate into access land, by the interpretation panel at Roaches Gate. Follow the main path which gently rises to the southern end of the rocks. On the way there are a couple of tracks which lead left to Rock Hall, but ignore all side turns until you reach a crossing track. (Which leads to the top of the angular cliff wall of Hen Cloud on your right.)

Fork left onto this broad rocky track to begin the ascent onto The Roaches ridgeline. Take the next fork left onto a narrower sandy track leading between two distinct levels of rock crags on The Roaches. Go left through a pair of stone gateposts and continue right on a well-defined track. The path is flanked by rocks on the right and woodland to the left and below. Follow it under the rocks to a sandy T-junction.

Turn right and rise up a stepped path through a gap in the rocks to the ridgeline. Turn left and follow the ridge path, passing to the left of Doxey Pool. Look out for JRs viewpoint with its fabulous views as far as the North Wales hills on a very clear day. Its roughly halfway between Doxey Pool and the trig point.

From the trigpoint summit, descend on a sandy path through bouldery rocks. AS the outcrops fade, this becomes an easy going paved path. Continue past the Bearstone Rock, to join the road at Roach End.

Turn left down the road, pass through a gate and back to the start point.

Additional information

Rocky moorland paths, forest tracks and road

Moor and woodland

Access land, keep on lead

AA Leisure Map 7 Central Peak District

In lay-by on lane below The Roaches

None on route

Shortly after research of the latest update, this route was ravaged by wildfire. It is hoped that by publication the outstanding natural beauty of this area will have recovered to some degree, but it may take a few years to return to its former glory.

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Walking in safety

Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.

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About the area

Discover Staffordshire

It was Staffordshire that bore the brunt of the largest non-nuclear explosion of World War II, when a munitions dump at RAF Fauld went up in 1944. It was also the county’s regiment that once boasted within its ranks the most decorated NCO of World War I, in the person of William Coltman (1891-1974). Going back a little further, George Handel penned his world-famous masterpiece The Messiah on Staffordshire soil. During another chapter of Staffordshire history, the county was home to the first canals and the first factory in Britain, and it had front-row seats for the drama surrounding one of the most notorious murder trials of the 19th century, that of Doctor William Palmer.

In outline, Staffordshire looks not unlike the profile of a man giving Leicestershire a big kiss. The man’s forehead is arguably the best region for hillwalking, as it comprises a significant chunk of the Peak District. This area is characterised by lofty moors, deep dales and tremendous views of both. Further south are the six sprawling towns that make up Stoke-on-Trent, which historically have had such an impact on Staffordshire’s fortunes, not to mention its culture and countryside. This is pottery country, formerly at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution and the driving force behind a network of canals that still criss-cross the county.