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The Roaches, Leek

The Roaches, north of Leek in the Staffordshire Moorlands is a place that cannot be described in words. when you first pull up in the layby at the foot of these rocks, you think, just another rock formation. Wrong!

Whilst the layby is quite long there were only a few parking spaces available and this was on a sunny day mid September. This probably suggested that parking would be a problem in the height of the season. However, off we went to base camp at the foot of the The Roaches.

The first thing you come across is Rockhall Cottage. Partly built into the overhanging rocks of The Roaches, Rockhall Cottage is now a well-appointed climbers' bothy, rebuilt in memory of Don Whillans, something of a cult figure from the 1950s "working-class revolution" in rock climbing. With the ammount of people about on this day we considered the possibility of having a refreshmnet outlet at Rockhall cottage but then remembered the Roaches Tea Room we passed on the drive up. On later investigation we found out that this building will hold 12 people in two rooms on alpine bunks. The hut has full cooking and dining facilities, hot and cold water, a drying room, showers and an electric fire and is available for hire.

Attracted to a group of would-be climbers we set off to the left where we found stone steps carved into to the rock face that took us to the Upper Tier. We weren't sure of the history of the steps but they were certainly welcome and whilst steep we didn't require ropes and grapling hooks. On the Upper Tier you experience something special. To the right are the imposing gritstone buttresses with their spectacular overhangs a popular playground for rock climbers and to the left is an area of mixed woodland. Despite the number of people, the silence was deafening.

The area around The Roaches was once occupied by an open air zoo. This resulted in a small colony of wallabies (small kangaroos) becoming established in the wooded areas below The Roaches, providing an unusual addition to the wildlife of the Peak District. These shy creatures appear to have been relatively common at one time, however a series of hard winters in the early 1980s seems to have reduced the population and it is doubtful if any still survive. We didn't see any today anyway.

Continuing along the woodland footpath we came to another flight of steps that would take us to the skyline. It was a clear day and magnificent views were in abundance-toward Hen Cloud and Ramshaw Rocks, Tittesworth Reservoir, Macclesfield, Leek and beyond. the walks from here wil take you to Gradbach , The Dane Valley and Lud's Church .

Look at our panoramic photographs to see for yourself.

Chris Sabian, Peak District View - 2006-09-18 17:24:57

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