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The Roaches

By: Nicholas Hobley, photos Niall Grimes
Country: England, Region: Staffordshire - Peak District, Town: Leek (Staffordshire)

The Roaches stands out as one of the best gritstone crags in the country and as such it holds a very special place in the heart of British climbers. Situated further south than most other outcrops, it is divided up into three distinct sectors: the sheltered and at times humid Lower Tier featured here, the more exposed, windy and imposing Upper Tier and finally the atmospheric and remote Skyline area.

Given the beauty of the crag, it is unsurprising that the list of first ascentionists reads like the Who's Who of British climbing: John Allen, Joe Brown, Nick Dixon, Gary Gibson, Pete Harding, Simon Nadin, Don Whillans and Johnny Woodward are just a select few of those who left their mark on these walls. They all helped produce classic routes ranging for easy cracks to extremely tenuous pebble-pulling slabs and lines such as Valkyrie VS 4c, Via Dolorosa VS 4c, The Sloth HVS 5a, Saul's Crack HVS 5a, Elegy E2 5c, Wings of Unreason E4 6a and Thin Air E5 6a are regarded as some of best and most popular in the country. Some routes are almost a hundred years old, yet regardless of the age, the proud Roaches will certainly continue to be a shrine for many generations to come.

GETTING THERE

From Leek drive north along the A53 towards Buxton, at Upper Hulme turn off left and continue along the road until the crag springs into view on the right. park in the lay-bys on the right.

THE CLIMBING

Gritstone climbing at its best: technical, balancy, powerful and pumpy all at the same time. The crag is suitable for families.

FOOD AND ACCOMODATION

Campsite with holiday cottages at The Roaches Tea Rooms, just opposite the crag.

NOTES

The Peak District
Squashed between the northern industrial cities Manchester and Sheffield, the Peak District has always been a haven of peace for those fleeing these massive industrial metropolis in search of solitude and untouched nature. Dotted within this rolling countryside are rugged gritstone outcrops, each unique, each with routes of almost all grades and danger levels. "God's own rock", as it is often described, can be so addictive that it is not uncommon to see climbers continuing even when it rains; saner wet weather alternatives include a visit to one of the numerous indoor climbing walls or an enormous mug of tea in a cafe.

Roaches Access Issues
Climbers are asked to take note of the following: Please keep to the established footpaths and try not to make short-cut across open moorland areas.
As a result of the Roaches popularity, parking has become a serious issue. Limited parking is available and climbers should aim to arrive early at weekends and bank holidays or go elsewhere. Do not block roadways, you will hinder emergency vehicles and you will be fined. Do not leave anything on show - thieves are active in the area For full information check out www.thebmc.co.uk


Photo: Tina Gardner on the crux of Yong HVD. Photo Niall Grimes

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The Roaches - Definitive Climbing Guide from the BMC to Routes and Bouldering on Staffordshire Grit by Niall Grimes, BMC


Western Grit - by Chris Craggs and Alan James, RockFax

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Details / crag
SECTORS AND ROUTES
BEAUTY

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BEST TIME OF YEAR

Spring and autumn. On clear winter days the friction is at its best, but beware of strong winds.

HEIGHT

25m

ROPE

2 half ropes.

GRADES

M - E7

ROCK

Gritstone

ORIENTATION

W

LINK

thebmc.co.uk

NUMBER OF ROUTES

87

PDF

The Roaches

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