The Roaches - a short circular walk

The Roaches are a dominant feature of the North Staffordshire landscape and this walk provides a perfect introduction to this rugged area. An integral part of the Peak District National Park, this gritstone edge has superb views over the surrounding area.

Technical sheet
No. 293090
A Leekfrith walk posted on 04/07/16 by Walking Britain. Update : 01/06/21
Calculated time Calculated time: 2h35[?]
Distance Distance : 4.43mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 630ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 627ft
Highest point Highest point : 1637ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 1056ft
Easy Difficulty : Easy
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Peak District
Location Location : Leekfrith
Starting point Starting point : N 53.15423° / W 1.99217°
Download : -


To reach the start leave the A53 Leek to Buxton road at Upper Hulme and follow the narrow lane that runs roughly northwest parallel to the Roaches. Parking is permitted on the roadside although there have been periods when a park and ride system has been in operation (check with the tourist office in Leek for up-to-date information). Ideally you need to park as near as possible to grid ref. SK006618 (opposite the pass between Hen Cloud and The Roaches) adjacent to the footpath sign on the north side of the lane. If this is not possible then alternative parking along the lane will have to be used and on busy days this soon gets full.

(D/A) After parking follow the footpath and climb steadily to the pass. You reach a cross path linking Hen Cloud to the right with the Roaches on your left. Turn left and cross the grass to reach another path junction on the opposite of a wall (grid ref. SK006621). Turn right onto this path as it shadows the wall on your right. The path is easy to follow in the early stages although some careful navigation is required in the latter stages to bring you out onto a tamac lane (grid ref. SK012632).

(1) Turn left and follow this quiet lane enjoying views to the right that include the village of Flash (the highest village in Staffordshire), the North Staffordshire Moors, parts of Derbyshire and some of the high ground of Cheshire including Shutlingsloe (affectionately known as the Cheshire Matterhorn). Stay on the lane for just over 2 kilometres until you reach Roach End (grid ref. SJ995644).

(2) Leave the lane and turn left onto the partially flagged path that leads up to the Roaches. The going is easy and you soon are able to enjoy a wide panorama across Staffordshire and parts of lowland Cheshire.

Continue on the main path to reach the trig point from where you are able to enjoy the widest panorama of the walk. Having enjoyed the view continue southeast descending slowly across the moor. To your left are the gritstone crags that offer some excellent climbing. You may even see the odd head suddenly appear over a crag as a climber eases himself off his route on to level ground.

In places there is a choice of path. The choice is yours as they all eventually lead back to the pass visited in the early stages of the walk. Reaching the wall (grid ref. SK006621) turn right and follow the path back to the lane where you have parked (D/A).

Waypoints :
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 1056ft
1 : mi 1.02 - alt. 1234ft - Turn left
2 : mi 2.53 - alt. 1352ft - Roach End : turn left
D/A : mi 4.43 - alt. 1060ft

Useful Information

The Roaches are one of the dominant features of the North Staffordshire landscape especially those travelling between Leek and Buxton across the moors. A jagged escarpment of gritstone the edge offers superb views across north Staffordshire, glimpses of Derbyshire and a long distance view of the Cheshire plain. This walk offers an excellent introduction to the area so choose your day carefully and make sure the weather does not spoil those views.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

Opinions and comments


Global average : 4/5
Number of opinions : 4
Description quality : 4/5
Routemap quality : 3.75/5
Walk interest : 4.25/5

Admin hiker
on Tue 01 Jun 2021 10:56:46 CEST

Sorry for the inconvenience. I have replaced 'col' by 'pass', which should be clearer !

Aurélie - Community manager.

on Mon 31 May 2021 18:41:44 CEST

Global average : 3.33 / 5

Date of walk : 30/05/21
Description quality : Good
Routemap quality : Disappointing
Walk interest : Good

Sorry couldn’t get the starting point of the walk according to the walk description. Didn’t understand what col meant! So did our own walk! The place is beautiful and the weather was excellent! Found parking easily as well.

on Mon 18 Mar 2019 11:41:36 CET

Global average : 3.67 / 5

Date of walk : 24/02/19
Description quality : Good
Routemap quality : Good
Walk interest : Average

We did the walk in reverse, i.e. out along the Roaches ridge and back along the road. The weather was a bit hazy, but warm for February so the rocks were busy with climbers. The walk along the ridge is the best bit, the road is easier, but not so enjoyable.
Directions were easy to follow, even in reverse as the path is quite well defined. There is an opportunity to cut a corner off at the first/last section of road by following a public footpath. We took exactly two hours.
Note that at the moment walkers are being asked to keep off fire-damaged areas.

on Mon 28 Jan 2019 09:44:49 CET

Global average : 4 / 5

Date of walk : 28/01/19
Description quality : Average
Routemap quality : Good
Walk interest : Very good

it was a good walk - we cut it short owing to mud mist and tiredness - some bits were a bit steeper than expected - but still enjoyable - the walk was said to be 6 miles - but we did 6 miles and turned around at roaches end - so maybe if we had gone to lud s church it would have been longer than predicted but not sure?

thanks for the map etc - v good


on Mon 02 Jul 2018 23:08:45 CEST

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 02/07/18
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

A nice walk, I found it easy to follow without having to check the map. I went on an overcast day which made it quite comfortable, I can imagine it could be very hot on a sunny day as the walk is exposed the whole way.

Other walks in the area

distance 6.84mi Vertical gain +1181ft Vertical drop -1171ft Durée 4h10 Average Average
Starting point Starting point in Leekfrith - Staffordshire

The Roaches are a popular place to walk offering dramatic views in this part of North Staffordshire. This walk includes Lud's Church a deep chasm that has some interesting historical connections.

distance 6.88mi Vertical gain +804ft Vertical drop -823ft Durée 3h50 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in Leekfrith - Staffordshire

This is a beautiful walk along The Roaches providing beautiful views from both sides of the ridge.

distance 7.03mi Vertical gain +1060ft Vertical drop -1037ft Durée 4h10 Average Average
Starting point Starting point in Leekfrith - Staffordshire

This North Staffordshire walk starts from Tittesworth Reservoir and climbs onto the Roaches, a popular rocky escarpment in the Peak District National Park. The return includes the summit of Hen Cloud before crossing typical Staffordshire countryside.

distance 8.17mi Vertical gain +1217ft Vertical drop -1198ft Durée 4h50 Average Average
Starting point Starting point in Quarnford - Staffordshire

A Peak District walk that includes counties - Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire. The route uses a mixture of paths, tracks and minor roads and also includes a section of the Dane Valley Way.

distance 4.23mi Vertical gain +610ft Vertical drop -574ft Durée 2h30 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in Macclesfield Forest and Wildboarclough - Cheshire

This Peak District walk explores the quieter side of the Staffordshire Roaches visiting the rocky cleft of Lud's Church before exploring the moorland and woodland of Back Forest. The views into Cheshire are excellent. Route finding is fine provided you take care when descending from Roach End.

distance 9.65mi Vertical gain +1063ft Vertical drop -1060ft Durée 5h20 Average Average
Starting point Starting point in Macclesfield Forest and Wildboarclough - Cheshire

An exploration of northern Staffordshire that is rarely walked.

distance 5.44mi Vertical gain +699ft Vertical drop -623ft Durée 3h05 Average Average
Starting point Starting point in Macclesfield Forest and Wildboarclough - Cheshire

A Staffordshire walk that explores the valleys and high ground to the west of the Roaches.

Three Shires Head and Knotbury from Gradbach
distance 6.96mi Vertical gain +692ft Vertical drop -686ft Durée 3h50 Average Average
Starting point Starting point in Macclesfield Forest and Wildboarclough - Cheshire

A Peak District walk full of interest that visits Staffordshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire. The route is generally easy to follow and the highlights are the packhorse bridges at Three Shires Head, the quarries at Danebower and some excellent panoramas.

For more walks, use our search engine.

The GPS track and description are the property of the author.