Leek is a former textile town dubbed ‘the Queen of the Staffordshire Moorlands’ and with good reason. With the Roaches rocky ridge, Lud’s Church, and Rudyard Lake right on its doorstep,
The town is in the perfect locality to some of the most scenic settings the Peak District can offer. A rich textile history remains visible throughout the town, particularly at the recently restored Brindley’s Mill which was not only pivotal to expansion in the area but was also one of the most influential mills during the industrial revolution.
Leek also boasts some fantastic family days out, including the terrific heritage railway line the Churnet Valley Railway, the small-scale Rudyard Railway, offering some fantastic views of Rudyard Lake, and the Peak Wildlife park, featuring an extensive selection of exotic animals.
The Roaches – One of the best Peak District ridges for climbers and hikers alike, the Roaches, located just above Leek and Tittesworth Reservoir, has a lot to offer. At its peak, the Roaches climbs 1,657 feet, which provides unbeatable and far-reaching views of Winter Hill, Lancashire, much of Cheshire, and, unbelievably, Snowdon in Wales. Carved by the wind, these unique rock formations have been a popular honeypot for climbers for years due to the diverse range of climbing terrain available. An attractive pool of water sits on top of the Roaches, known as Doxey Pool, and is said to be inhabited by mermaids. The Roaches is an extremely popular destination, particularly on weekends, so be prepared to meet many fellow hikers while adventuring.
Rudyard Lake – Rudyard lake was built in 1797 to supply the local canals, and even to this day still acts as a reservoir. It now also gets used recreationally, and is a hotbed for fishing, boating, and canoeing. Over two miles in length and surrounded by woodlands, the area is perfect for walks.
Lud’s Church – While exploring the vicinity of the Roaches it is worth visiting Lud’s Church – a completely mossy chasm that is full of history. 18 metres in depth, you are able to descend into the chasm by walking down stone steps which leads you to its 100-metre in length stretch along the bottom. The fact it’s entirely covered in moss makes for a completely unique experience and makes for a good hiding spot amongst the openness of the Roaches. It was originally used as a place of worship – hence the name – for those outlawed or banished by the church during the 15th century. Folklore also tells of Robin Hood, and outlaw characters like him, using this chasm as a hiding spot.
Brindley’s Mill & the James Brindley Museum – This recently restored 18th century corn mill is one of the few examples remaining of architectural feats made by industrial revolution key-player, James Brindley. Restored entirely to how it would have appeared in 1752, visitors can experience hearing the turning of the working water wheel and appreciate fully the genius of Brindley’s initiative. The mill building features a fun museum which helps complete the picture of what mill life was like back then.
Rudyard Railway –While visiting Rudyard Lake, especially when on a family day out, be sure to check out the Rudyard Railway line. Despite the line only being around 3 miles in length, the journey takes around 40 minutes, and offers some unique sights of the lake. The mini Victorian-styled train is sure to keep younger age groups entertained. The journey terminates lakeside, so you can get back to exploring the Rudyard Lake immediately afterwards. The Platform 2 café is open at the weekends and offers a wide range of refreshments and ice creams.
The Peak Wildlife Park – Located in Winkhill, Staffordshire, the Peak Wildlife park offers a wide range of unusual animals that visitors can get up close and personal with. With a focus on exotic birds, the safari also features meerkats, wallabies, zebras, and penguins. The park’s experienced zookeepers offer a one-on-one experience and demonstrate how each animal is taken care of. Feed penguins by hand, pet meerkats, or simply sit with ring-tailed lemurs in their enclosure, there is certainly plenty to keep all ages happy at the Peak Wildlife Park.
Churnet Valley Railway – A terrific day out for the family, Churnet Valley Railway provides a great way to take in the surrounding Leak countryside. The 10.5 miles track takes you from Cheddleton to the Leek Brook Junction, and passengers can take in the delightful sights of thick forests, nature parks, and the derelict Thomas Bolton Copperworks factory. There are options to stop and explore the railway stations along the way, and Cheddleston Station features a small museum which teaches visitors the history of the railway lines.