Built in 1862, Rock Hall Cottage was originally the residence of the Roaches estate gamekeeper, and the last keeper to have lived here is thought to have raised a family of 12 children in this small dwelling. When the estate was sold off, the hut spent a few years in private ownership; lived in by a couple who desired peace, quiet and an escape from the negative aspects of daily modern life. However, the property began to fall into disrepair and in the 1990s a joint venture between the Peak Park Board and the British Mountaineering Council saw the it being converted into a climbing hut which can be hired out to any members of the BMC.
The renovation of the hut was spearheaded by the Don Whillans Memorial Fund. Don Whillans (18 May 1933 – 4 August 1985) was an English rock climber from Salford in Lancashire (now Greater Manchester); a working class lad who changed the nature of the sport from a pastime enjoyed by only the wealthy elite, to an activity loved by people of all backgrounds.
Climbing was a natural progression from his childhood pastime of walking the Pennines, and mountaineering followed on from his abilities as a climber; including a number of expeditions with, the better known, Chris Bonnington (with whom he was considered an equal in terms of climbing technical ability).
The Roaches was one of his favoured climbing spots and the route he particularly enjoyed was The Sloth; an overhang on the Upper Tier of the rocky outcrop, above and to the left of Rock Hall cottage. It was whilst climbing here that he met his wife, Audrey, who opened the hut in 2003.
It was in Rock Hall Cottage that Mark and his friends were staying. What a view to wake up to each day!