The Roaches and Hen Cloud

The Roaches & Hen Cloud

A easy to moderate walk along the South West Peak gritstone escarpment of The Roaches after enjoying the views from its fascinating neighbour Hen Cloud. This route will take you pass the famous climbing hut at Rockhall Cottage, The Don Whillans Memorial Hut where you will see brave climbers hanging off rocks with fabulous names like The Valkyrie, The Swan and The Sloth. From Rockhall Cottage the route ascends Hen Cloud to experience its views. The rest of the walk involves a skyline walk along the top of The Roaches gritstone escarpment. There are wide open views all the way and many fascinating weathered gritstone boulders. On top of the escarpment you will pass by the eerie Doxey Pool, rumoured to be the home of a seductive mermaid by the name of Jenny Greenteeth who entices passers by into the dark deathly waters that are rumoured to be bottomless. A great easy to moderate walk with fine views and fascinating features. The route can be extended to include the unusual chasm of Lud's Church which lies just north of The Roaches.

Route Directions

  1. This walk starts from the plentiful road side parking spaces at grid reference SK004621. These parking spaces are situated on a minor road just a mile north west from the hamlet of Upper Hulme. You will find Upper Hulme just off the main A53 Buxton to Leek road. It is located just three miles north of Leek. Look out for the signs to Upper Hulme and Ye Olde Rock Inn.
  2. Turn off the main road on to the signposted road. If coming from the north you will pass Ye Olde Rock Inn. This road loops round back to the main road again, however half way along there is a road that heads down hill. You need to turn down this road into the picturesque hamlet. If you reach the main road again then you have missed the turning.
  3. Follow the road down hill until it bends round and crosses the River Churnet ford then passes the old factory where years ago a thriving silk industry existed. The road then narrows and ascends the other side of the valley. You will pass Hen Cloud on your right before reaching the many parking spaces.
  4. From the parking spaces pass through the wooden gate and turn right following the path east for a hundred metres then turn left and head north until you reach the fascinating building of Rockhall Cottage backed by huge gritstone boulder cliffs.
  5. Rockhall Cottage is a former game keepers cottage that is now used as a BMC rock climbers bothy, it was rebuilt in memory of Don Whillans who was a big part of the 1950's rock climbing revolution, a local born lad from the streets of Salford in Lancashire.
  6. The rocks here are famous in the rock climbing world and offer real challenges to even the most experienced, the best known of these rocks have fabulous names like The Valkyrie, The Sloth and The Swan.
  7. After appreciating Rockhall Cottage and watching brave climbers clinging from the rocks above it, head south again until you reach the path you left earlier. Turn left now and head up to the col between Hen Cloud and The Roaches.
  8. On the col there is a dry stone wall with a wooden gate. Turn right and pass through the wooden gate. Cross the field to another wooden gate in a dry stone wall and pass through that one too.
  9. An obvious footpath now ascends Hen Cloud to its raw rocky summit. Hen Cloud's summit at 410m above sea level stands quite alone and gives awesome views to the twinkling waters of the Tittesworth Reservoir to the south west and of course The Roaches to the north.
  10. Retrace your footsteps to descend Hen Cloud. Passing back through both wooden gates in their dry stone walls. After passing back through the second gate head slightly right in a northerly direction towards the southern end of The Roaches.
  11. After around eighty metres follow the path to the right which rounds the rocks above. The path will round the rocks then turn left heading north west then north along the skyline of the escarpment. There are also a few alternative scrambling options that can be taken to reach the skyline path, instead of rounding the back of the rocks.
  12. After around half a kilometre you will get excellent views back towards the rocks above Rockhall Cottage with Hen Cloud backing a superb photo opportunity. The terrain now behind the escarpment is deep heather moorland.
  13. Bizarre though it may sound, these heather moorlands were once home to Red-Necked Wallabies. For decades astounded walkers returned from a walk on The Roaches reporting sightings of what appeared to be Kangaroos.
  14. The Red-Necked Wallabies were introduced to the moorlands during the war when a local land owner died. His exotic animal collection including several Red-Necked Wallabies were released into the wild Peak District moorlands.
  15. Not only did they survive, they also thrived and a small colony lived on the perfect heather moorland environment for around fifty year. Unfortunately due to increased human activities, harsh cold winters and natural predators like foxes, the colony is now rumoured to be completely wiped out.
  16. Carry on along the skyline footpath along the top of the escarpment and you will eventually reach Doxey Pool. In good weather this can be a beautiful place, but in bad weather Doxey Pool takes on quite an eerie atmosphere.
  17. Doxey Pool is rumoured to be the home of a seductive mermaid by the name of Jenny Greenteeth who entices passers by into the dark deathly waters that are rumoured to be bottomless.
  18. From Doxey pool the path continues along the escarpment passing huge weathered gritstone boulders. The path eventually reaches the OS trig point pillar on the summit at the highest point on the Roaches at 505m above sea level.
  19. The huge Lovell Telescope at the Jodrell Bank Observatory can be seen to the north west and the surrounding heather moorlands are a purple wonder in summer months. To the north is the pyramid shaped Shutlingsloe and Shining Tor the highest point in Cheshire just beyond.
  20. After the OS trig point pillar on the summit, descend the path in a north westerly direction passing yet more impressive weather gritstone rocks. The path will drop down towards the tarmac road at Roach End just after it passes the Bearstone Rock on the left.
  21. At the road turn left. Pass through the gate by the side of the cattle grid then walk along the road for just under three kilometres to reach the starting point. On your long walk along the road take care as it is narrow and can be busy during summer months. The road gives great views up to the cliffs of the escarpment you have just walked the length of.
  22. For refreshments after the walk head back to the Ye Olde Rock Inn at Upper Hulme where they pride themselves on providing a friendly atmosphere for you to enjoy a relaxed drink and great home cooked food. There is a even a separate walkers bar where muddy boots are welcome.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer OL24 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 119 Map Click to buy Collins Ramblers Guide Peak District Click to buy Pathfinder Guides Peak District

GPS files for this walk

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.