Things To Do

The Roaches and Lud’s Church: one of the most varied and scenic walks you’ll find near Manchester

Donkeys included, dogs optional but obviously ideal.

Harry Quick Harry Quick - 13th January 2024

Want to put that ‘New Year, new me’ promise to the test by swapping Manchester city centre for a scenic walk in the great outdoors? Cure those January blues with an expedition for all abilities right on your doorstep.

The Roaches and Lud’s Church circular in Allgreave, Cheshire has all bases covered for a perfect Peak District adventure and it’s only about an hour away in the car.

This 10km hike takes around three to four hours and features everything from rocky scrambles up to exposed ridges to green woodlands leading through mysterious caverns. Winter can be the perfect time to get out there as well, so dust off your boots, wrap up warm and set off on an adventure only an hour away from the town.

The easiest way to access the starting point is via car, parking at The Roaches Tea Rooms. A small stroll up the road will take you to the beginning of the footpath with the jagged crest of The Roaches ahead. The 550m rocky ascent is the first and arguably most difficult obstacle of the entire journey.

You’ll see walkers and climbers alike gearing up at the base of the first striking ridge. Its unique rock formations are notoriously admired by climbers and made famous by Salfordian mountaineer Don Whillans who trained on the very rocks.


Once you’ve scrambled up through the cracks of the landscape, you get to soak in the views of Leek and the nearby Tittesworth Reservoir and the rolling moorland of the Peaks. Dotted along the horizon are grazing sheep amongst self-sufficient farmhouses that have catered for the land for decades.

As you continue along the open ridge, the elements can be pretty relentless, especially on a fresh winter’s morning. Check the forecast before you head off but we’d consider a hat and gloves mandatory!


Following the trail north, you will pass a series of small pools, only applicable to swim at this time of year if you are brave enough — or slightly insane. The most famous is named ‘Doxey Pool’, which has a historic and mysterious reputation.

In folklore, some say the small body of water is bottomless and is home to a malignant mermaid otherwise called a ‘blue nymph’. The creature was reportedly sighted emerging out of the tarn in 1949 by a woman on her morning swim although the sighting could never be confirmed.

Sadly, we didn’t see any mermaids on our stroll, so for now we’re calling it mythical nonsense.


Around halfway through the walk, the well-trodden route will lead to a cross junction showing signposts for Lud’s Church, where the scenery gets even more dramatic. They say what goes up has to come down, and the trail towards this 15th-century cavern takes you so deep through the woods you step into another world.

The entrance to the gorge takes you into a rocky cavern plastered in moss and ferns. Lud’s Church itself lasts only around 100m but there are a variety of different routes to explore.

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The name derives from its use as a secret place of worship in the early 1400s for Lollards, a group of reformed Christians who were often persecuted for their beliefs. It is likely that the ‘Lud’ came from Walter de Lud Auk, who was captured at Lud’s Church during one of their meetings.

The circle back to the start begins as you exit the chasm with the latter half of the walk being much less physically demanding than the way there. Returning back to the cross junction, take the paved road which splits the face of Roaches Ridge to the left and the spanning views of the Reservoir to the right.

The leisurely downhill stroll should take around 40 minutes, passing more farmhouses, more sheep and on this occasion a few donkeys. Enough time before you get back to the car to decide which local pub to grab a roast on the way home. A rewarding end to a wholesome day.


If you’re looking for more scenic walking routes so close to Manchester that you can get there using public transport, we’ve got a load of great ones for you here:

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Featured Images — The Manc Group