Lud’s Church Walk (2 Short Routes to this Alien-Like Hidden Gem!)

Lud’s Church is an other-worldly chasm in the Staffordshire countryside waiting to be explored. Tucked away in the woodland, you’ll need to be on foot to find this hidden gem.

In this guide, you’ll find 2 short and simple but totally enthralling Lud’s Church walk routes. Plus, there’s all the information you need for a fantastic trip out. Including, information on its mystical past, Ordnance Survey maps, directions and practical advice.


Inside Lud's Church, the narrow, moss-covered chasm is mysterious and other-worldly. As this Lud's Church Walk continues through the deep ravine you'll feel like you're on an alien planet!

Lud’s Church – What’s That?

This hidden gem is an 18-metre deep, 100-metre long, Y-shaped, moss-covered chasm. It was created by a landslip but has the feel of another planet entirely.

Particularly so, given Lud’s Church Peak District has its own microclimate: humid, wet and cool. This contrasts with the harsher weather typically seen out of the chasm in the Peak District and north of England. As such, you feel like you’ve been transported away from Earth instantly!

Full of small nooks and cranny’s in addition to the main walking route, it’s a great place for all the family to explore. So, if an other-worldly experience in the Peak District countryside sounds like your cup of tea, keep reading… In this guide, you’ll find out all about how to get there, where to park and what routes to take.

Where is Lud’s Church?

Lud’s Church is located on the western side of the Peak District National Park. Its position in the Staffordshire Peak District is around a 20- to 25-minute drive from Macclesfield, Congleton and Buxton. While the closest village is Gradbach.

Other popular landmarks around include The Roaches – a stunning ridgeline with cool rock formations – to the south and Hanging Stone to the north. As well as the 48-mile-long Dane Valley Way stretching from Buxton to Northwich alongside the River Dane.

The rolling hills of the Staffordshire Peak District. Walk along the path as it follows the drystone wall to Lud's Church.

How to get to Lud’s Church

Being located in the middle of the woodland, the only way to get to the chasm is to walk. The nearest Lud’s Church car parks are 1.5 km away either at Gradbach Car Park or on Hazelwood Road.

Unfortunately, there is no public transport that will get you anywhere close to the chasm, which is located around 7 miles from both Buxton and Leek.

Route 1: Lud’s Church Circular Walk (From the Roaches)

Distance: 2.1 miles/3.4 kilometres
Difficulty: Easy
Walking time: 1 hour

Start and endpoint: Hazelwood Road-Clough Head Lane

This short and simple Lud’s Church circular walk is easy to follow with good views of the Staffordshire countryside. And, with hardly any incline it makes for an easy walk, especially great for little ones. Make sure to download the GPX file below so you can keep on track!

Car Parking

The car parking for this route is on the side of Hazelwood Road – close to where it merges with Clough Head Lane, northwest of The Roaches.

There are no specific markers on any maps or satnav apps, so, you need to use the GPS coordinates: 53.177477, -2.007883. Save the location or copy the coordinates into your maps app. Additionally, make sure to check for any car parking restrictions as these can change at short notice.

Walk Start Point

Once you’ve parked on the road, head up the stone steps to the north. These stairs are sandwiched between two wooden signposts. You’ll need to squeeze through the small gap in the wall to reach the public footpath for the Lud’s Church walk start point on the other side.

Head right to reach Lud's Church and keep walking!

Lud’s Church Walking Route Directions from The Roaches

  • Pass through the gap in the wall on Hazelwood Road and then through the gate about 10 metres in front of you. Next, follow the path as it runs parallel to the drystone wall for 800 metres.
  • When the path splits, take the right-hand fork and continue for 300 metres. Turn right following the sign for Lud’s Church.
  • Turn left once you enter the wooded area and continue along the path, where there are a few plank bridges to keep you above the mud.
  • Follow the path as it drops steeply into the chasm, using steps in the rock. Spend some time exploring the 100-metre-long attraction and be sure to snap some photos of this alien planet-like hidden gem.
As you near Lud's Church the path becomes planked and there are signs pointing you in the right direction throughout the woodland. By now, this Lud's Church walk is almost half complete and you are coming up to the chasm.
  • To return, leave the chasm through the exit opposite where you entered. Then, turn right just out of the chasm and continue straight for 500 metres to where two paths merge.
  • Continue for another 700 metres, admiring Gradbach on your left across the Black Brock River. Next, take the right-hand path before turning right again after 100 metres.
  • Keep on this path as it emerges from the woodland and runs straight all the way back to the road and walk start point.

Click the link above to download the file for use in a GPS viewer. This way you’ll be able to track where you are on the route using your phone’s GPS – avoiding accidental detours and providing reassurance for less experienced countryside walkers! Once you’ve downloaded the GPX file above, install a GPX viewer app (Google PlayStore or iPhone App Store) and load the GPX file.

Zoe inside Lud's Church - at 18 metres deep and 100 metres long, it is no small landmark! The culmination of this Lud's Church walk - but not the end!

Route 2: Lud’s Church Walk from Gradbach

Distance: 2.1 miles/3.3 kilometres
Difficulty: Easy
Walking time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Start and endpoint: Gradbach Car Park

Enjoy this short but simple Gradbach walk to one of the Peak District’s best hidden gems. This Lud’s Church short walk is a similar distance to the one above that starts near the Roaches. However, this walk includes a total of 109 metres of elevation. As such, it’s slightly more difficult – especially for younger children and people with mobility problems or limitations.

Lud’s Church Parking in Gradbach

Take advantage of the free parking at Gradbach Car Park. Although, there are only about 20 spaces and it does get full early on weekends and in the summer months. Unfortunately, Gradbach is a tiny village and there isn’t any alternative parking around

Lud’s Church Short Walk Start Point and Directions

  • From Gradbach Car Park, turn right onto Gradbach Mill Lane and follow the road until you reach Gradbach Mill. Before you reach the river, turn right onto the footpath that passes The Farmhouse and the cafe.
  • Keep on the path until it reaches a T-junction, here you should turn right and then continue straight over where another path crosses. As you enter the wooded area, the route to Lud’s Church Peak District is well-signposted and easy to follow.
  • The path climbs uphill to the main attraction, looping back on itself before you need to turn right off of the trail and into Lud’s Church Macclesfield. You’ll enter at the bottom of the Y-shape, with the two channels to explore at the far end.
  • After exploring the small nooks and feeling the humidity of the deep chasm, make sure you exit back out the same way you enter. As there are two other entrances/exits, this is particularly important.
  • Now, simply retrace your steps and follow the signs back to Gradbach, passing the mill along the way. The cafe is open all week during the summer months or weekends only in the other months, perfect for a post-walk treat!

Looking up at The Roaches - this can be an additional walk after completing the Lud's Church Walk.

BONUS ROUTE: Combine A Walk to The Roaches and Lud’s Church Peak District

From the start and endpoint of the first Lud’s Church walk in this guide (from Hazelwood Road), you can create a figure-8 route of The Roaches and Lud’s Church.

Adding on visiting The Roaches is quite a bit longer (almost 6 km) and requires a lot more uphill walking (over 150 metres of elevation gain), so make sure you’re prepared. However, it does offer some spectacular views over the rolling hills of the Peak District National Park and nearby landmarks such as Tittesworth Reservoir.

The route that also takes in The Roaches is shown below with the marker the same start/endpoint as the circular Lud’s Church walking route described above. I recommend walking in an anti-clockwise direction, this way you walk along the road first and then save the best views from the top of the Roaches to last! And, that also means you don’t finish with a long uphill walk – because no one wants that!

This detailed guide to The Roaches Walk will give you all the information you need for spectacular viewpoints and rock formations!

Like a scene from an alien planet - the tall, green, rocky walls add to the charm of the chasm. Walking through this feels other-worldly but also very thrilling!

Lud’s Church History

Lud’s Church Peak District has a long and mysterious history, with perhaps as much folklore as fact in some accounts. For it is not how the place came to be that is the focus of speculation. But rather by who and for what it has been used for in the years since.

If you’ve made it this far you’ll have realised by now that one of the most interesting facts is that it’s not a church! Well, at least not a church in the typical sense of a building, altar or cross. The chasm is thought to have become a place of worship for those persecuted for their beliefs or outcast by society.

While no one can know for sure, Robin Hood (and his merry men) are thought to have visited Lud’s Church Macclesfield over 600 years ago. Additionally, the chasm is believed to have been the inspiration for The Green Chapel in the medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Is Lud’s Church haunted?

I didn’t see any ghosts when I was there, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any…

FAQs

Is Lud’s Church Dog Friendly?

Yes, dogs are allowed inside the chasm and the walk through the woods is great for four-legged friends.

Is Lud’s Church a Hard Walk?

The shortest and most direct routes to Lud’s Church are easy, even for the most inexperienced countryside walker. The 2-mile return route from Hazelwood Road, near The Roaches, is flatter and easier. However, the average person will still manage fine on the uphill route from Gradbach.

How Long is LUD’S CHURCH Walk?

From the nearest car parking areas, the most direct routes are about 1.5 km – just under 1 mile – each way. Of course, if you want to add other places to your walk such as The Roaches or Hanging Stone then there are longer routes available.

Where do you Park to Walk to Lud’s Church?

The nearest Lud’s Church car parks are at Gradbach Car Park or roadside parking on Hazelwood Road (where it meets Clough Head Lane, northwest of The Roaches). Both are free of charge.


Do you have any questions or want any more information? If so, drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you!

Information is correct as of November 2022 but is subject to change in future.


Other Peak District Walks You May Be Interested In…

THE ROACHES: Walk Route & Full Guide for Panoramic Views

SHINING TOR: Straight and Circular Walking Route Guides

CHROME HILL: 3 Routes to the Spectacular Summit Views

THOR’S CAVE: 4 Circular Route Options From Wetton

LATHKILL DALE: 6-Mile Waterfall Walk

PADLEY GORGE: 4-Mile Route via Millstone Edge

THREE SHIRES HEAD: 4 Route Options from Gradbach & Wildboarclough

HARTINGTON: 5.3-Mile Walk in the Peak District Countryside

MAM TOR: The Only 2 Routes You Need to Know (Straight & Circular)

LADYBOWER RESERVOIR: 6-Mile Circular Route including Derwent Dam Viewpoint


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