The Roaches is a spectacular gritstone cliff, just four miles from Leek in Staffordshire, on the edge of the Staffordshire Moorlands. The rock faces attract climbers from all over the country, as there is a diversity of routes and difficulties. At weekends, the area, which extends to 975 acres, can become overcrowded and a parking space is hard to find. The name, “The Roaches” is derived from the French, “les roches” – meaning the rocks.
This prominent rocky ridge in the south-western Peak District National Park, rises steeply to 1657 feet. It consists of a gritstone escarpment, together with Ramshaw Rocks and Hen Cloud. Hen Cloud is a separate edge, which rises steeply from the ground below. The name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon, “Henge Clud”, meaning steep cliff. The Roaches themselves have a gentler approach and consist of a lower and upper tier, joined by a set of rock steps. In the lower edge is Rockhall Cottage, a mountaineering hut maintained by the British Mountaineering Council, in memory of Don Whillans, the renowned mountain climber. From the top of The Roaches, much of Cheshire and even views as far as North Wales, are visible on a clear day.
A strange feature used to be the sighting of wallabies. In the 1940s, a group of wallabies was released from a private zoo. They thrived until the 2000s, although alleged sightings have been made as recently as 2010. The area does not have many refreshment facilities, but there is a very popular tea room, the Roaches Tea Rooms, at Upper Hulme, which has views over Tittesworth Reservoir. The Red Lion Inn at Thorncliffe, near The Roaches, is a village pub over one hundred years old and from our personal experience, serves excellent food.