Lud's Church - natural rock cleft near Gradbach, Staffordshire, Peak District
Lud's Church is natural rock cleft near Gradbach, Staffordshire. It was once a worshipping place for Lollards and inspired the poem 'Gawain and the Green Knight'
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|Lud's Church is an immense natural cleft in the rock on the hillside above Gradbach, in a forest area known as the Black Forest. The feature has been formed by a landslip which has detached a large section of rock from the hillside, thus forming a cleft which is over 15 metres high in places and over 100 metres long, though usually only a couple of metres wide.|
Over the ages this place has offered shelter to all sorts of renegades and there is a tradition that Robin Hood used it. However, it is fairly certain that the Lollards (followers of John Wycliffe, an early church reformer, who were condemned as heretics) used it as a place of worship in the early 15th century, giving the place its current name. The church also acted as the model for the 'Green Chapel' in the classic mediaeval poem 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight', and the aura of mediaeval romance still seems to stick to it.
To reach it from Gradbach, park the car at the car-park and walk past the Youth Hostel and on downstream to cross a tributary of the Dane on a footbridge. Head uphill and then right, following a path towards Swythamley. At the top of the rise, turn sharp left to reach Lud's Church after a further 200 metres or so. Descend into the first chamber, which does not seem so impressive - the immediate thought is 'Is this all it is?'. Then follow the well-worn stone steps down into the main section, which immediately dispels any earlier sense of disappointment, for it is very tall and there is space for several hundred people here. It is possible to make an exit at the far end and follow a path back to the entrance.
Lud's Church Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
How to get there
Gradbach lies along a minor road which branches off the A54 Buxton - Congleton road at Allgreave. The other end of this road is at Flash, where it joins the A53 Leek - Buxton road. In Grandbach itself, follow the signs to the Youth Hostel. There is a small public car park.
When is it open?
Lud's Church is on access land.
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