Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Roaches

Back in 2010 we watched the Secret Britain series on BBC with Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury and they featured a place called 'Lud Church' ever since it's been on our list of places to visit.  During the week we were planning where to go for a day out on Saturday and as our daughter was heading off to the Peak District with the Explorer Scouts for the weekend to take part in the annual Dove Trek, it gave us the idea to visit Lud Church and then go on and find Staffordshire's Highest cache.  So that was the plan..... but then we saw the weekend weather forecast and it was for heavy showers so we just hoped that the showers wouldn't be too heavy.
Gradbach Youth Hostel

After a 2 hour drive we arrived at the Gradbach Car Park and set off towards Lud Church.  On the way we passed Gradbach Youth Hostel, it was bustling with walkers and outdoor types.

Lud's Church is a deep chasm penetrating the Millstone Grit bedrock created by a massive landslip on the hillside above Gradbach in the Peak District National Park, Staffordshire.  It is located in a wood known as Back Forest, it is over 100 m long and 18 m deep.  Inside the church it is mossy and wet and noticeably much cooler than outside the church.

Inside Lud's Church
There are many legends connected with this area - Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and Bonny Prince Charlie have all hidden here from the authorities.  Another legend has it that Lud's church was named after a huntsman pursuing a deer on horseback and was led to the chasm.  He failed to see the danger but his horse Lud did, when the rider went too close the horse bucked and threw him to his death in the chasm. The legend also suggests that the huntsman still roams around the wood covered from head to toe in moss and is known as The Green Man.

We spent ages exploring and taking photos inside the church before heading back down to the car park.  A truly amazing place (Lud church not the car park!!).

We decided to relocate the car for our walk to Staffordshire's Highest Cache.  We were glad that we did because in the few miles that we drove the heavens opened and it chucked it down, then as soon as we arrived at the parking it stopped - how about that for timing?

Rock Hall Cottage
The path to the top passes Rockhall Cottage, it was built as a hunting lodge by Sir Philip Brocklehurst of Swythamley Hall, however originally there existed a cave dwelling known as Rock Hall at this location, this cave was occupied by an old crone called Bess Bowyer who lived to be nearly 100 years old.  The  Cottage is now owned by The British Mountaineering Council.  You can read more about the folklore connected with the cottage here.

Doxey Pool

The path takes you on a gentle climb up to the top path.  Along the path we passed a pool of water known as Doxey Pool.  There are two myths attached to this allegedly bottomless Pool.  According to one legend it is said to be the home of Jenny Greenteeth, a seductive mermaid who lures travellers to a watery grave.  Another legend says that Doxey Pool is named after the daughter of Bess Bowyer from the nearby Rock Hall Cave dwelling. It is said that Bess died of a broken heart when her daughter, a beautiful singer, was carried off by strange men one winter’s day.  The ghost, the ‘singing woman of the Roaches’ who walks the ridge on dark nights, is said to be the spirit of her daughter.

The Roaches

Really enjoyed the fabulous walk along The Roaches to the trigpoint and Staffordshire's Highest Cache, amazing views and scenery.  Then it was back along the top and back to the car.  A really fabulous walk which we would highly recommend......... and just by luck the rain held off until we got back to the car!

Amazing what you see on The Roaches!

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