Roachside Cottage

Part of the living landscape of the Roaches

Peak District National Park - Upper Hulme, Nr Leek ST13 8UB

This week the sun has come out and the air temperature has zoomed upwards into the mid-30s. That's just too much for a Spaniel who's entire raison d'etre is to crash about in the heather and run full-tilt after any Grouse or Pheasant thus diturbed.

Hence, this morning, nice and early, we took our exercise in Back Forest and came back through Ludschurch Chasm.

Ludschurch is a deep, damp, chilly and eerie place, even on a blistering hot day. Aside from it's association with the "Lollards" and followers of Bishop John Wycliffe, it is also believed to be the setting for the final dramatic act in the Middle English epic story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. 

The writer of the story, who's name has been sadly lost to history, clearly spoke a dialect of Middle English which was local to this area and was quite probably one of the monks at Dieulacres Abbey (near Tittesworth Water). The descriptions of the countryside match places hereabouts he would have known well.

Don't take my word for it; no less a person than Professor Simon Armitage (our current Poet Laureate) has presented TV and radio programmes about it.

Scout just likes the smell and the cool damp atmosphere there!

Well, we're open for business again!

It's great to have the cottage back in use, bringing people into The Staffordshire Moorlands to see what a wonderful area it is for a holiday.

Now that visitors are allowed out into the countryside again after "Lockdown", places like The Roaches have been extraordinarily busy - it's been the same all across the Peak District. Despite the number of cars along the lanes and left blocking gateways, wander ten minutes off the road and you'll just encounter a few regular walkers & mountain bikers.

So, we're back to being busy, changeover days are even more frantic now that we have to follow our Covid 19 routines. But we don't mind being busy - it's "twiddling our thumbs in lockdown" we can't cope with!

Joe Brown died this week at the age of 89.
Joe and his climbing partner Don Whillans (after whom the Whillans Climbing hut, just above Roachside, is named) were two of the greatest rock climbers Britain produced in the Golden Age of  rock climbing. Their exploits in the 1950s and 60s took British climbing to a new, unprecedented level.

They were my childhood heroes - as important to climbing as Bobby Charlton was to football or Stirling Moss to motor racing. A "kid from Manchester's slums" Joe once described himself as.

Joe and Don were very much working class Manchester men, both with the characteristic, no nonsense, laconic humour and accent and absolutely synonymous with The Roaches. It was where they originally met and developed their individual skills.

In an age where climbing was very much a sport for University chaps & medical students, they upturned the world. I think that's why my climbing mates and I idolised them - they actually sounded like us and the people we knew. Joe could reputedly roll a cigarette with one hand, while clinging to the rock with the other, pondering the next move. I credit Joe with being influential in my taking up smoking when I was a teenager "wannabe" rock jockey!

Don went on to design serious mountaineering equipment (and die early through heavy smoking), Joe set up a climbing gear manufacturing company and chain of outdoor shops which still bear his name. Rest in peace Joe.

The photo shows Joe climbing on Hen Cloud

The dark tunnel of "lockdown" seems to have a small, dim light at the end.

We're working towards opening up Roachside Cottage again in ten days time and for the last few days we've been busy catching up on all those little jobs that didn't get done when we were confined to our home location through the spring. 

With another couple of days dry weather, we'll have the place all spick and span, but in the meantime, before such activity is curtailed by a full-on calendar of bookings, we had a day out on Rudyard in our kayak. 

There is nothing more relaxing than gliding over the still water with a damp Spaniel on your lap.....

Remember, if you're planning a stay at Roachside, kayaking is just one of the local attractions with Tittesworth Watersports Centre down in the valley below the cottage. Or, if you have your own boat, Rudyard Lake is only 15 minutes away.

It's probably needless to say, but Roachside Cottage is currently "mothballed" for the duration of the emergency measures to combat the current pandemic.

All bookings through April have been cancelled and we expect to have to cancel bookings in future months too, as the situation unfolds.

We will continue to monitor the situation and we will be led by the official Government advice and we will ensure that the cottage is maintained in tip-top condition, so that it's available just as soon as restrictions are lifted.

Let's all stay safe out there!

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