The Roaches, Lud’s Church and Hen Cloud

Hello people and pooches. Joe the Cocker here again. My human decided to take us off to the Peak District for a hike in the hills. The weather forecast was in our favour, with mild temperatures and mostly dry, just an afternoon shower around 2PM. Our route would take us to Lud’s Church, The Roaches and, maybe, Hen Cloud, if we were up to it at the end of the circular route that he had planned. With butties, coffee and treats for him, and my food and treats plus plenty of water packed in the rucksack, off we went toward Leek. The area that we were to hike in is in the southern Peak District, in Staffordshire. It was just over an hour, sleeping in my new bed in the back of the car, to our parking spot by The Roaches. When we arrived, it was raining lightly but, there was some blue in the sky, so we didn’t need our waterproofs, just yet!

Tittesworth Reservoir

We had great views from the parking spot with The Roaches above us and Tittesworth Reservoir in the valley below. There were plenty of parking spaces in the layby’s along Roaches Road so, we parked by a footpath leading to Hen Cloud and The Roaches.

The Roaches
The Five Clouds

The first mile of our hike was along Roaches Road, heading north westerly, and then onto Clough Head Lane. It was an easy start to the walk as it was fairly flat with great scenery. The Five Clouds, gritstone outcrops in front of the Roaches was on our right as we wandered. As we passed a farmhouse on the hillside, we felt like we were being watched. Sure enough, three large hairy cows with scary pointed horns were staring at us. I was happy to be on the other side of the fence. I grabbed a quick slurp of water from an old stone trough that was being filled from a stream rushing down from the hills.

Who are you looking at?
Looking back toward Tittesworth
Stone trough

After about a mile we turned left off the road just past a cattle grid, that I had to be carried over. The grassy lane is not signposted but, is marked on the Ordnance Survey map of the area. The footpath followed a drystone wall until we joined a concrete farm lane. The lane had big cow patties every so often and I slipped in one. I nearly fell over and the big feller thought that it was so funny. My human said that I was a ‘lump’ as he had to lift me over a couple of stiles. He needs to take a look in the mirror. Cheek!

The green path
Farm track
The Ridge
Walking along The Ridge
Approaching the junction
Toward Lud’s Church

We turned off the track, uphill onto more open countryside, heading toward The Ridge. After a short while we reached The Ridge, which took us to a crossways of footpaths. We took the route pointing downhill toward Lud’s Church. After a fairly steep drop down a sandy path, we entered woodland called Forest Wood. Under paw the conditions changed dramatically as we entered the forest. It was oh so muddy. While my dad gingerly walked along the boards that were placed in the worst of the mud, I waded straight into it. There were a few sections of boardwalk but, the mud was my first choice.

Forest Wood

Suddenly, the sun appeared, and we had arrived at the entrance to Lud’s Church. It was a sharp drop down into the gorge but, as soon as we entered it, we realised that we had the place to ourselves. It was quiet, cool and very damp. The walls were coated in mosses, lichens and creepers. Overhead, trees have formed a cover to the gorge giving it a cave like feel. It really is a special place. It is a chasm in the gritstone, formed millions of years ago, during a shift in the land. The floor of the ravine is of deep mud with the odd section of boardwalk. I ran straight into the mud and my legs disappeared into the ooze. My dad just laughed at me. He is used to me being coated in mud so, it was no big deal anymore. The walls were up to 30 metres tall in places and the chasm runs for about 100 metres. There are a few tight squeezes off the main path where my human attempted to prise his gut through, without success.

Entrance to Lud’s Church
Lud’s Church
Lud’s Church
Lud’s Church
The muddy bit

It is an area with a long history and is linked with many legends and myths. It was used as a meeting point for the Lollards in 1370, a religious group of critics of the established church. They were outlawed by Henry IV who authorised their burning to death. The granddaughter of William de Ludauk, Alice, was shot and killed in a skirmish with Lancastrian soldiers during a service, while they apprehended Lollards. Her ghost is said to haunt the chasm to this day. It is also said to be the Green Chapel from the tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The Green Knight is said to be sleeping in the chasm. The haunting tales continue with the story of the Bosley Boggart who is said to terrorise visitors to the area. My dad said that he wouldn’t like to be there in the dark. Wimp!

Main footpath
I found the mud!
The exit of Lud’s Church

We clambered out of Lud’s Church, as the rain started, into Forest Wood and turned sharp right to follow the footpath. The footpath was very muddy through the broadleaf woodland, with plenty of slippery tree roots, for approximately 1.5 miles. We reached a crossroads in the footpaths, where we decided to take a break, while my dad sat on a fallen tree trunk. The big feller ate his beef and mustard butties which, after one taste, I decided not to sit and beg for. Yuk! I ate my food and a little drink of water. I wasn’t thirsty because I had been taking a cheeky slurp from streams and puddles along the way. Just then, the rain really kicked in so, as we set off, my dad decided to put our waterproofs on. I think that he is out of practise in putting mine on, as it took ages and was a bit of a battle. His back was wet by this time and he threw his jacket on quickly. I think that he was in a mood. He can be so grumpy at times.

Forest Wood

The rain eased off a wee bit as we climbed uphill toward The Roaches. The footpath followed a wall on our left, with dense ferns on our right. It was a tight squeeze for my human as we passed through a gap in the wall at Roach End. We crossed the road to join the footpath to the Roaches as the rain, that wasn’t forecast, battered us as the wind blew in our faces. This was a midsummer day in England!

The rain had set in
Roaches End

The path started to level out as we reached the ridge walk along the top of The Roaches. The views were expansive. We could see Shutlingsloe pointing to the sky behind us and moorland all around with Tittesworth Reservoir in the distance. The gritstone outcrops were stunning with so many different shapes of wind carved rocks jutting over the edge of the ridge. My dad told me to keep an eye open for wallabies. Yes, wallabies. They escaped from a small zoo at Roaches Hall in the 1930’s and roamed free, breeding in the area for many years. It has been a few years since the last confirmed sighting, and they are believed to have died out.

The incline to The Roaches

A 3500 year old cremation urn, plus its contents, was discovered on the Roaches during a footpath excavation, suggesting that the area has been used by humans for some considerable time. We stopped for a few times while my dad took photographs. I stood next to him, waiting patiently, in the pouring rain. Soon, we came to the trig point at the highest point of The Roaches. More photographs. The rain finally stopped, and we could see over the edge of the sheer cliff faces, with conifers jutting out from their flat points, for miles around.

On the escarpment
Gritstone rocks
Still raining
More gritstone
The trig point
Heading toward Doxey Pool
Toward Tittesworth Reservoir
The Roaches

Further along the ridge we came to Doxey Pool, on the top of the escarpment. It is approximately 50 feet by 30 feet and said to be bottomless. A mermaid, or blue nymph, called Jenny Greenteeth is said to live in its waters. That didn’t frighten Joe the Cocker. I needed a drink so, I marched confidently into the pool. Fortunately, I am still here to tell the tale.

Jenny Greenteeth doesn’t frighten me!
Doxey Pool
No mermaid here!

We walked a little further until we started to drop down the southern end of the escarpment. We reached the bottom of the valley where we sat on a bench, while we had another snack. The weather was starting to look a bit menacing as we pondered whether to climb up to Hen Cloud, or to head back to the car. My dad said that while it wasn’t raining, we might as well go to the top of the hill. So, we did and halfway up the climb the heavens opened again. We didn’t hang around at the summit. We turned around, soaking wet and headed back the way that we had climbed the hill. At the bench where we sat earlier, we turned left and headed to Roach Lane, where we had parked.

Hen Cloud over the valley
Coming down off the Roaches
Hen Cloud
From Hen Cloud
Climbing hut
Lone tree

My dad had to get changed and put his rucksack in the boot, while I lay in my bed on the back seat of the car. I don’t know why he was rushing, as he was wet through already. A few more drops of rain couldn’t wet him any further. The weather forecasters had told porkies. It was the end of a fun hike. It was varied and we had been to a new area, for us. There had been plenty of mud so, I was in my element. The big feller loves his myths and legends so, he was in his element. Till next time!


15 thoughts on “The Roaches, Lud’s Church and Hen Cloud

  1. Hi Malcolm and Joe what exciting travels. Love the tongue twisting names of places… Just glad I’m not having to pronounce them quickly ha ha 😂.
    Typical of you Joe to love mud, never known a dog not to.
    Yesterday I walked 5.19 miles with a pug, I’m training him to walk on the right side as his owner has physical disability on the left. Also the pug does not like a harness so Weare working on that trying to make it fun.. We are winning a bit more each time we go out.
    Today I have a cocopoo you would think her a funny fluffy teddy Joe, but she would beat you in any race and distance.
    Enjoy your day, catch up soon. Karen 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Many years since I saw Lud’s Church, though I think of it often when I re-read The Green Knight. Good to see your grand pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

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