Four to Five-and-a-Half Miles
Easy paths and quiet lanes, but some boggy ground and steep climbs up to the rocks.
This walk takes in the fascinating small nature reserve at Goldsitch Moss and some classic Peak District rock formations.
There is no official car park at Goldsitch Moss but if you turn off the A53 opposite the former Royal Cottage Inn, (The pub sign is still displayed on the front elevation) down a very minor road, you will come to a square of hard-standing set back on left-hand side. This is at a map reference of 024645 on the OS White Peak Explorer, which should be an essential guide to the walk. Though it looks like it should be a car park, this is obviously a gateway to the moor for tractors, so take care not to block the entrance. If you are using public transport, then there are regular buses along the A53 between Leek and Buxton. Ask for “Royal Cottage”.
The walk starts by continuing along the minor road a short way until you discover a well-signed footpath over a stile off to your left that cuts through the coniferous woodland on the outskirts of the nature reserve. A great place to look for fungi in the autumn. Follow the well-trodden way, (carefully negotiating the boggy bits) and you are soon out of the trees and curving to the right across the moss towards the first in a series of impressive red sandstone rocks. This one is cubist in style and quite easy to clamber up, (though you are likely to see rock climbers doing it the hard way from the steep front side, as you approach). Views across to the peaks of Shuttlingsloe and Shining Tor are amazing. This is Peak District landscape at its finest, and yet these paths are never as busy as those further North.
Back on the footpath, the way is easily followed along the edge of the moorland at Blackbrook, and there are information boards telling you of some special species of plant to be found here, such as the Bog Myrtle and the Globe Flower, but the dominant scene is one of heather and bilberry, amongst which the red grouse will soon make its presence felt with calls of “Go back! Go Back!” Other birds you may encounter are snipe, (this is prime breeding ground for these small waders), the short eared owl and the Merlin, one of our rarest falcons.
Roughly half a mile’s walk from that first rock will find you descending slightly to arrive at an unlikely looking tea room, “Tisha’s” - set in an old farm cottage on your right. Worth a stop on your way back, perhaps, if it is open. It is all very homemade, and there is a pleasant sitting-out area looking across to the views.
Cross the road here, heading slightly to your left, and take up another footpath towards Ramshaw Ridge. Again, follow the well-trodden way as far as possible, though this is all open-access land, so it does not matter if you stray from the path some way. This is the most boggy section, but it does not last for long. The route is straight across the heather now, making a beeline for the ridge ahead. As you near the crest of the ridge, you see the A53 below, but already you will feel as if in another world.
The path hugs some green pasture on the left for a short while before leading you directly up to the first of the impressive Ramshaw Rocks. Just follow the ridge from here in any way you fancy, exploring these magnificent natural sculptures. Views both East and West, (to the back of The Roaches) are breath taking, but it is the foreground detail that is so interesting. Faces, animals and gargoyles will appear from every side, as you pick your way amongst the outcrops on this sheer escarpment. Sometimes the weather may conspire with the landscape to produce some truly eerie scenes, with the mist entwining around its magical forms. Don’t miss The Winking Man, set below the others, a head that is said to wink at drivers coming up from Leek on the A53.
Having explored fully, follow the ridge to the end to meet a minor road; turn right onto this and you are heading back towards the tearoom, about a mile away. The walking is very easy now, though uphill, along this quiet lane. A typical Peak District sight is encountered at one of the farms on your left – a huge barn door emblazoned with the slogan “It’s the Real Thing”; the recycled side of a van that once delivered Coke, perhaps?
When you reach the tearoom, and perhaps after some refreshment, you may decide to retrace your steps across the nature reserve, or for a longer walk, continue along the lane, bearing left and take two right turns after another mile, or so. This will bring you to the spectacular Gib Tor Rocks on your right, a great place for a picnic and more wonderful views.
Continue down the road to turn left, back along the lane past the start of the walk and the “car park”, or to the A53. The Winking Man pub is not far along the road towards Leek, serving good food and fine ales.