Lud’s Church, The Roaches and Ramshaw rocks

by backpackingbongos

For a map of this route click here.

I had kept a beady eye on the weather forecast throughout the previous week and unfortunately it just got worse and worse.  My planned backpack to the Howgill fells went out of the window and a bit of last minute planning had myself and Rae heading out to the Roaches for a Sunday day walk instead.

With the exception of having bleary eyes it is almost a pleasure driving at 8.00am on a Sunday morning, the roads were pretty much deserted and progress to the ‘other side’ of the Peaks was swift.  The ‘other side’ of the Peaks being the area to the west that is furthest away from Nottingham.  There was only a couple of cars at the small car park in Gradbach as we arrived but after a ten minute faff it steadily started to fill up.  It looked like it may be a busy day on the hills.

10.2 miles with 660 metres ascent

We headed though the grounds of the nearby youth hostel, which looked like it was probably no longer inhabited by youth as the car park was filled with posh looking cars.  I would much rather pay a tenner extra and stay in a cosy b&b than sleep in a room with loads of farting snoring strangers, or pay nothing and pitch a tent in the wilds.  Each to their own I suppose.  Passing various signs advertising the hire of skittles / boules/ jenga for £3.50 (yes I kid you not) we eventually found the footpath and headed towards forest wood.  It started to rain so Rae was encouraged to put on her waterproof trousers which thankfully made it stop raining.  A scenic path climbed through the woods and came to a small outcrop of rock that is not marked on the map.  A great spot to spend ten minutes or so exploring its nooks and crannies.



The path changes direction and it would be fairly easy to pass by Lud’s church if you were not looking out for it.  A deep moss dripping chasm in the hillside that we managed to time so that we had it all to ourselves for ten minutes.  It is hard to do the scale of the place justice with a photo so you will all have to go and visit yourselves, it is worth it.


Shortly after climbing out of Lud’s church whilst walking through Gradbach wood we were passed by a human train.  I did not know that it was possible for so many people to be able to go out for a walk together.  It may have been an accident and lots of individuals may have been stuck behind one another, but we passed another group of about thirty people four hours later.  Maybe I am a miserable git but that seems even weirder to me than staying in a youth hostel.  Heaven forbid they may have been walking in a group of thirty and staying in a youth hostel (shudder).  I may start up the misanthropic hill walkers club and no one else is invited!

Anyway the walk through Gradbach wood is simply lovely and at one point mist descended through the trees making it very atmospheric.


The high level road that circles the Roaches is soon met and it is then a short simple climb to the trig point at their highest point at 505 metres.  The views however get better as you start descending a little to the south and the crags on the western side get bigger.  Although a popular walk this does not distract from the scenery which on a clear day can extend across the plains to Wales.


Rather than follow the main path we continued to the southern tip of the roaches where there are views down to the isolated craggy top of Hen cloud.  A narrow path then winds its way down through the rocks with a little easy scrambling if wanted.


Neither of us had climbed Hen Cloud before so we headed up the well worn path turning round for the views back towards the Roaches.


The summit is quickly reached and the top feels more airy than the main Roaches ridge.  Some of the cliffs are pretty big as well and it was less busy with climbers, possibly due to the higher grades of climbing.  The wind throughout the day had been pretty strong so we descended a short way and found an outcrop to hide behind to eat our lunch.



Our path down completely circled the hill and led us back under the South ridge of the Roaches at Well farm.  We could see the jagged outline of our next destination Ramshaw rocks on the horizon, one of the few remaining places in the Peaks I had yet to visit.  We took a circuitous route to avoid loosing too much height whilst the crowds of the last couple of hours were left behind.  Ramshaw rocks are an interesting place to visit with most of the rocks pointing at an angle towards the east.  Peering over the edge many of the crags are overhanging and you can see the chalk marks left by climbers, some of the climbing routes look pretty tough.


Descending to a lane we passed what may have been the same group of about 30 people all strung out in a line stretching to the horizon.  A letter must have been sent out to all members requesting that red woolly socks must be worn.

Heading north past a tiny tea shop there are further interesting rock formations that remind me a bit of the Darmoor tors.  Newstones, Baldstones and Gib tor all rise from low moorland in quick succession.  Most of this landscape is within the Blackbank valley nature reserve, an area that requires a leisurely exploration.  However dusk was on its way (even though it was only 3.30pm) and dark clouds were gathering with a few spots of rain.  We were soon crossing the path below Gradbach hill and descending back to the car park just as darkness was falling.

Although a planned backpack was cancelled it was still good to get out for a day.  Even though the Peak district is very familiar I always forget how wild and rugged parts of it are.  The only downside for me is the amount of people out and about on a Sunday, you can see how it is the second most visited national park in the world.  I usually only visit on a Saturday if I go at a weekend, which for some reason is much quieter (the power of the shopping ‘experience’ and supermarkets?) but you need to grab those weather windows whenever possible.  I will definitely be visiting the Peaks more over the coming winter months.  Kinder in the snow, can’t wait!

14 Comments to “Lud’s Church, The Roaches and Ramshaw rocks”

  1. It really doesnt matter where you go. There is always something to see and the experience is always different.
    I like the shot of the tress is thin mist, very nice and that area of the Peak District is somewhere I havent tried. Looks really good and I know what you mean about a similarity to Dartmoor

  2. The Peak District! Visited once a few years ago, got navigationally-challenged on the Kinder plateau, AMAZING B&B just outside Edale and a great time was had by all. Must go back there sometime, I tend to neglect areas south of the border, no excuse really.

    Love the photos.

  3. I’ve spent many a weekend climbing on these rocks. The BPC had an annual jaunt in October walking from Buxton to the campsite below Hen Cloud and back via Flagg. I’ve done it three times now and nothing beats picking your way along the tops of the Roaches; the views and the sun going down late afternoon.

  4. Oh and Lud’s Church does need a visit – none of the pictures I’ve ever taken do it justice as you state.

  5. Dave you are right, you can visit the same place several times and the experience will always be different. The Roaches is a great place to visit when you are next up in that neck of the woods.

    Phil Kinder is one of the best places to really test navigation, really easy to get lost up there. It must be really easy to never go south of the border. If I lived ‘up north’ I would always be in the highlands!

    Baz I always meant to do that weekend but have never got around to it. As a member of the backpackers club I have been really rubbish and have only done one trip in 7 years! I must get more social with my hiking!
    Good luck with the TGO challenge and happy planning!

  6. I fear the Howgills would have suffered from a surfeit of bloggers, had you got up there! There are already accounts from both me and the Pie Man.
    That’s a lovely area you visited (my home patch – several blog entries about it) – the Ship Inn at Danebridge is a great spot for lunch on a winter’s day, and its summer beer festivals can cause havoc with the beer loving walker!

  7. Me again. Just looked at your route. Good, but the walk beside the Dane to Danebridge, then back up to the Hanging Stone (compulsory to ascend it) is also very good. Plenty of parking at the Roaches. The posh cars at the YHA would all have known each other, and the rooms are mainly quite small. ‘Rentahostel’ is an excellent way of assembling a group of friends with differing budgets, including families etc, for a reasonably priced weekend. Don’t expect fancy food, but they do have a reasonable bar at Gradbach. We find them excellent for reunions, especially if we can do our own catering.

  8. Martin I was going to contact Mike if I had gone to the Howgills as I noticed from his blog that he was going to be up there – the wind and rain on the Sat put me off though!
    The Danebridge / Hanging stone route looks good, one for another day. I sometimes find it difficult when planning a route to decide exactly where to go. You are very lucky to have that area as your home patch.

  9. keep me in the loop for the snowy kinder!

  10. No problem Rich I will give you a shout when planning it.

  11. That brings it all back, great pictures especialy considering the weather of late. I’ve never obtained a halfway decent photo of Lud’s Church yet.

    I remember the White Peak being notorious for meeting endless trains of people filing along field paths at weekends.

  12. Geoff I managed to get a brief window of good weather in all the mucky stuff we have been having. Lud’s church is a tricky one to photograph. The problem with all those endless trains of people is having to say hello to everyone!

  13. Being a miserable git is fine with me. It is a spot that I have not walked in a long time. There is some nice photos in the post as well. That was a good walk James. Kinder in the snow would be better 🙂

  14. I just want those hills to my self Martin! Kinder in the Snow is a walk that I want to do very very soon (if the wind and rain ever stops!).

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