What to do at the Weekend:
Walk to Lud’s Church
On a bright, warm, and sunny Sunday, we headed to the Peak District to visit the fascinating Lud’s Church.
What we did at the weekend:
Lud’s Church Walk
Location: Gradbach, Staffordshire
Our rating: 8/10
What is Lud’s Church?
Set amongst the Back Forest of the South Western Peak District is an enigmatic hideaway that looks and feels like it is straight out of a fairytale.
Located quite literally on the border between Staffordshire and Cheshire, Lud’s church is a rocky chasm in the woods created by an ancient land slip.
This land slip created a gorge in the earth that is now approximately 18 metres deep and 100 metres long.
No one quite knows precisely when the landslip happened, but geologists’ estimates place it around 8000 years ago.
Or Was it the Devil?
Some local folklore suggests that the devil himself scraped his fingernail into the Earth’s crust and carved out Lud’s Church.
Obviously, both are equally plausible explanations 😉
Why is it called Lud’s Church?
Lud’s Church gets its name from a Christian religious group called the Lollards, who used the secluded location as their place of worship in the 15th century.
Today, it’s a moist, mossy, and mysterious and it looks like a temple to mother nature herself.
Absolutely beautiful, peaceful, and cool even on the sunniest of summer days.
Driving to Lud’s Church
As we mentioned, Lud’s Church is pretty much on the border of Staffordshire and Cheshire.
If you were to draw a triangle around Leek in Staffordshire, Buxton in Derbyshire, and Macclesfield in Cheshire, it would be almost perfectly in the middle.
(Check out the map at the top of the page).
The closest place and the starting point of the Lud’s Church walk, is the small village of Gradbach.
Gradbach is known for known for three features:
Lud’s Church Car Park
The Gradbach Car Park is your starting point.
It’s free to park in this car park, however it is very small. We would say that 25-30 cars would fill it completely.
If you want to park here, arrive as early as you can.
Luckily, the field next door is often open and facilitates parking for another (estimated) 50 cars.
There is a parking charge of £5 for the full day – this is where we parked.
Before Setting off on the Lud’s Church Walk
Before you set off, make sure you have packed enough water for the journey and have put your suncream on (if it’s a sunny day).
What Distance is the Lud’s Church Walk from Gradbach?
It’s approximately a 6km walk.
We walked from Gradbach car park to Lud’s Church and back again.
Be prepared to walk up some fairly steep hills
Walking Directions to Lud’s Church from Gradbach
For this post, we’re going to direct you from the Gradbach car park to Lud’s Church in 8 steps.
1. Turn Right out of the Car Park
With your back to the car park gate turn right and head straight ahead along the road.
As you continue along the road, you will eventually reach a hill with grass and heather with signs for the Gradbach Scout Camp and Gradbach Mill.
2. Walk towards Gradbach Mill
Head towards Gradbach Mill through a set of iron gates and two stone pillars.
You’ll walk down a steep hill and be able to see the B&B part of the mill at the bottom.
3. Heading Towards Riverside Cafe at Gradbach
At the bottom, you will pass a cute outdoor seating area marked with a sign indicating “Public Footpath”.
You might see a white milestone marking the border between Staffordshire and Cheshire in this area too.
Ahead is the Riverside Cafe at Gradbach and just before you get to the entrance, there is a set of steep looking steps to the left.
We’re going to walk up them.
4. Walk Past the Scout Camp
Next, you’ll head along a dirt path until you get to the end.
Proceed with caution as this can be narrow in places, so you might have to walk in single file.
You’ll eventually reach a wall stile marked with another “Public Footpath” sign.
Go over the stile and turn right towards the bridge. It’s got a fire risk sign and a yellow arrow on it.
Continue along the way, you’ll see the Scout Camp and River Dane on the right.
5. Up the Steep Hill
With the River Dane on the right, you will see two large trees ahead of you – at the base of a steep hill.
This is where we are going.
Be warned, the next bit is quite challenging for anyone who is terribly unfit (like Ben).
Head past the trees and up the hill, there will be some steps at the top.
Next, you’re heading up a stretch of incline towards the top of another hill.
6. See the Boulders on the Right
You know you’ve reached the end of this first incline when you reach a flat clearing with a large stack of rocks and boulders on the right.
Before you continue onto Lud’s Church, it’s well worth detouring to take a look at the fabulous view from the top of these boulders.
7. Follow the Yellow Arrow
Okay, now you’re going to walk up one final hill towards Lud’s Church.
With your back to the boulders, you will see a wooden sign post ahead.
Take the left turn up the hill.
Don’t worry, it’s not as long as the previous one!
8. Turn Right into Lud’s Church to finish the walk
After walking to the top of the hill, Lud’s Church is on the right.
It’s actually reasonably unassuming and potentially easy to miss! (in our view).
Pro-tip: On a warm day, stand in the entrance way of Lud’s Church to get a blast of refreshing cool air.
Definitely welcome after you just walked up all those steep hills!
One final climb up the rocks in the entrance way, and you are there.
Go explore, it was worth the effort to get there.
Pictures of Lud’s Church
Paddling in The River Dane
After exploring, we went back the way we came.
At the bottom of the steep hill section, you have easy access to a nice quiet stretch of the River Dane.
On one of the warmest weekends of the year, this looked pretty darn appealing.
So appealing in fact, we decided to go in for a dip.
Socks off, walking boots on.
We had the best time paddling in the gentle river water that turned out to be quite deep in places.
Coming up to Ben’s waist (he’s around 6 feet tall).
If you fancy doing the same thing, just a word of caution to be careful as the fiver bed is fairly uneven. There are some big rocks that can easily trip you up!
How Much Did our Trip to Lud’s Church Cost?
Practically nothing aside from the cost of parking and fuel.
What’s more, we both agreed that this was one of our favourite days out of the year.
It goes to show that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a brilliant time at the weekend.