The Roaches, Lud's Church and Hen Cloud

It's been too long since I last walked in this area and Martin Rye's recent post on his excellent Summit and Valley blog gave me enough inspiration to put an overdue return to rights.

This is an easy 8.5 mile circular walk starting from one of the lay-by's in front of Rockhall Cottage. The weather forecast for last Friday was for high pressure, clear skies, no wind and cold temperatures, and so it turned out to be.  Climbing up through the front garden of Rockhall Cottage and on to the upper tier,  The Roaches is a typical Peak District ridge walk.  The air was clear, the views were extensive and the sun shone all day.  If there was a downside, I missed the 5-6" of snow that fell on the following day but that would almost certainly have meant that my car would have been snowbound for up to 24hrs (that has happened to me before in the Peak District!).

Lud's Church was very Harry Potter-ish with curtains of icicles hanging from the walls of the silent ravine.  Being there early meant that I had this interesting feature to myself and I watched as a shaft of sunlight pieced a hole in the rock and illuminated an area next to me.  There was something rather megalithic about watching this patch of sunlight grow in intensity and then gradually fade as the earth turned.

Leaving Gradbach Mill Youth Hostel behind me, the walk passed through a farm onto Goldsitch Moor and then through farmland.  It's rare that I need to resort to an OS 1:25000 map for route finding in the Peak District.  Most of the guide books are detailed enough and I never need anything more than the likes of Mark Richards or Frank Duerden's excellent route descriptions.  However, this seems to be one area where footpath signs and stiles are vague in places, if not missing completely.  I hesitate to blame anyone such as local landowners, but the area around Eleven Steps did cause a bit of head scratching at one point and it would have been too easy to stray from the route onto private land, something I prefer to avoid.

The temptation to sit on top of Hen Cloud to eat a late afternoon lunch was too great.  Despite the sub-zero temperature, it was good to sit in the sun and share my food with the ever-present flock of Jackdaws that perform their noisy aerobatics around the hill. It was good to be back.

A dead tree and Hen Cloud.  They could both tell a story....

Doxey's Pool on ice, looking toward Roach End.

There are plenty of rock formations to explore around Roach End.

Lud's Church icicles.

A patch of sunlight to remind me we're never still.

Goldsitch Moor.

The top of Hen Cloud is a place for quiet contemplation.

Rockhall Cottage and rising moon, in memory of Don Whillans.



Martin Rye said…
If you had walked with me it would have rained. Stunning photos and the ice on the pool makes it stand out so viviid.
Thanks, Martin. Rain, sun, snow,'s all part of the fun.
Alan Sloman said…
I don't know about "hard" light, but it looks like wonderfully intense light to me.

Looks bitterly cold but beautiful.
Steve Walton said…
Thanks, Alan. It was a glorious day! What a change a few hours brought with heavy snowfall.