The Roaches, near Leek, Staffordshire. Photo: Peak District National Park Authority

The Roaches, near Leek, Staffordshire. Photo: Peak District National Park Authority

One of the Peak District’s most popular climbing venues could be put up for sale.

The sale of land at The Roaches in Staffordshire is one option being considered by the Peak District National Park Authority.

The authority said strict measures would be put in place to ensure continued access to The Roaches by climbers and walkers, banning shooting, and continuing the site’s conservation. Any potential buyer or partner would also be required to work with users to come up with a development plan.

The authority has placed adverts in estate and rural management trade magazines to see if there is any interest. Alternatives to the sell-off are also being considered, including a long-term lease or working with the park authority in management of the estate.

The 394ha (975-acre) site is protected by national and European laws and has been owned by the authority since 1980. The British Mountaineering Council leases Rockhall Cottage for use as a climbing hut. The authority says this arrangement will continue.

The gritstone crags host more than 700 routes, from beginners’ climbs up to E7 grade, making them a magnet for climbers from miles around. The estate also includes extensive moorland and woodland, most of which is Countryside and Rights of Way Act open access land.

Roger Clarke, lead member for asset management at the Peak District National Park Authority, said: “The Roaches is one of those iconic places that makes the national park so special and we want to keep it that way for future generations while delivering value for money for tax payers.

“We are looking to see whether there are other people and organisations who can help us deliver our objectives and bring resources to build on the significant improvements that have been made to the estate over the authority’s period of ownership. We also want to give local people more of a say in that process.

“We are putting guarantees in place as part of any agreement to ensure The Roaches remains a highly popular area for climbing and walking, as well as very important place for farming and encouraging wildlife, flowers and plants.”

Dave Turnbull, chief executive of the British Mountaineering Council, said: “The BMC has been closely involved with the Peak District National Park Authority on this and other ‘asset disposal’ issues over the past few years.

“We’re aware of several major land management organisations who might be interested in taking on this large estate and we are confident that future access for climbers will be assured under any new arrangement – the land is mapped as open country under CRoW anyway.

“Our lease on the Whillans Hut is also secure so even if the wider estate ends up with a different management regime, access to the hut will be secure.

“Climbers and walkers can be assured that the BMC is very much on the case with this iconic site.”

The authority said it had set up a similar arrangement with the National Trust and RSPB to take on a 15-year lease to manage its 25 sq km Eastern Moors estate, near Sheffield. It said any potential partner would receive no financial support from the national park and that field staff would need to be employed.

It has set a deadline of 30 July for expressions of interest.

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