The Roaches Walk - A difficult but rewarding exercise

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

An experience shared by one of my clients. Sometimes it's interesting, also helpful to see what hiking is like from a female's point of view. At our Peak District Retreat, we will go on one of the exciting (might also be challenging) hikes in Peak District, to admire the nature and be inspired.

It was a crisp sunny day. The moment I woke up in the morning, I decided that it was a great day for a hike somewhere in the Peak District. My ideal route should be moderate to difficult, with desirable ascent and distance. 'The roaches and Lud's church' came high on the 'best Peak District Hikes' list. The particular route I picked was the one with longest distance (12.5 mile) and finished within 5hrs.

The starting point was Gradbach car park (SK17 0SU). Followed by a nice short walk passing Gradbach Hotel there was trails along River Dane going into the woods. I took steady pace for the first 4 miles, covering short distance in the woods with small ascent then onto farmland with far reaching views. I came to a gradual ascent of 240m for the next 2 miles, passing Lud's Church which I missed...I guess I was too focused on walking through the muddy trails amongst trees and I still tripped twice.

Coming out of the woodland trails started the most steep climb of this route, only 1 mile long but 150m gain, there I came, to Bearstone Rock. As I expected, the view was spectacular, especially when the sunlight was generously spreading over the rocks and the fields afar. At this point, I was a little tired but feeling elevated and peaceful at the same time, a moment closer to myself and the world, although there was nobody around. I often thought about the saying 'Finding Youself'. We've never needed to find ourselves, most of the time we just didn't realise that we've had ourselves all along.

It went all nice and smooth until 9th mile. I missed a few turns on the route and couldn't follow it anymore. I came off a hillside and decided that I needed to take a shortcut back to the route to finish it, as my phone was on 20% battery and I still got 4.5 mile to cover. I asked for direction back to Gradbach and took on farmland paths. I'm sure some of them were private lands and I had to climb over a few fences - a sincere apology to disturbed lambs from an ambitious yet inexperienced hiker. Yes I've done a few hikes by myself before, but this was the longest I've been on and first time that I came off route. I guess that feeling of 'being with myself' was lost then. I wanted to get back on route quickly but I was tired. I also ran out of water which made me anxious too. Eventually I did get back on route and I still had 3 mile to go. That 3 mile felt like the longest and hardest 3 mile I've ever walked, the fact that the last mile I had to put my feet between cow's footprints made me want to cry and shout.

After 5hrs 30min I got back into my car. The sun was setting and it got colder. My phone had 1% battery. Phew! My legs and feet hurt so much that I changed into my tracksuit bottoms and drove home in my fluffy unicorn slippers. For many people this wasn't even considered a difficult hike, but I believe we all need exercise and experience like this to reflect back on -- how our body and mind react to challenges, peace, total aloneness, openness and possibilities.

Below was my walking route, please ignore the parts where I had to turn back.


Distance: 13.4 mile (21.5km)

Time: 5hr 30min

Ascent: 513m

Starting Point: Gradbach Car Park, Near Leek (SK17 0SU)

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Matthew Knight Retreats

Stoke Rochford | Peak District | Athens

Tel: 07814031652 | Email: