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Roche Rock

Photographs taken 2011

Roche Rock is not pronounced the way you may think - as in the French way - but the more straightforward, Cornish way, as in "Roach" Rock. The roots of the name Roche do however come from the Norman French, as "roche" is French for "rock". The Cornish name for the place nearby was originally Tregarrek, meaning (Tre) homestead (garrek) of the rock. The chapel is medieval, dating back to around 1409.

The Chapel on the Rock

The chapel is dedicated to St Michael, as are many chapels and churches that are sited on hills or high places. Records show that the original dedication took place in 1409, so presumably not long after it was built. Its purpose is not certain, but the priest, who had the lower room in the chapel, is thought also to have been a hermit - not perhaps surprising given he chose to be a priest on top of a rock! The upper room was the chapel part that was used for worship, though this was not likely for huge congregations! It has also been surmised the chapel may have been a refuge or retreat for those who had contracted leprosy.

Roche Rock
The chapel on Roche Rock from the north-east

Roche Rock
A substantial amount remains of the chapel, though it has been a ruin for at least 250 years

Not perhaps a restful place up in the chapel today, so it is nice to see a more ground-level seat provided! Access to the chapel was - indeed still is - up a route round to the left in the photo below, and up to the left of the chapel. The main wall is east facing, and the steps up approach the entrance to the lower room (or cell, priest's or hermit's) just on the south side near the corner.

Roche Rock
View up to the chapel and Roche Rock

Roche Rock
Roche Rock lies along the granite spine of Cornwall, and other granite outcrops are evident nearby

Roche Rock
Looking directly at the east face of  the chapel, the access steps go up past the man in the white coat, and up
to where the mountaineering gent in the blue jumper is standing. The steps have now been replaced by iron ladders laid
over them, to enable access through a doorway into the lower room that has the small window opening.

Roche Rock by Mike Hancock
A less usual photograph taken from the north showing the main chapel - courtesy of Mike Hancock (Wikimedia Commons)
(it looks like there is an access route diagonally up the rock across this side, but this is not the case)

Roche Rock Climbing

It turns out the the Rock at Roche is an excellent climbing site. On the day we visited, this was certainly the case, and various routes were in use, with what looked like varying degrees of difficulty. Personally, I shall stick with steps, though with the climbing activities in progress, these were not really accessible during our time here. Next time perhaps!

Rock Cimbing at Roche Rock
Human Spider

Rock Cimbing at Roche Rock
Safety Ropes a necessity

Rock Cimbing at Roche Rock
North Face of Roche Rock - what looks like the main event

Rock Cimbing at Roche Rock
Leading the way up the crag

Rock Cimbing at Roche Rock
Not for the faint-hearted!

To see more details about climbing Roche Rock, see the UK Climbing website.

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