Lud’s Church and The Roaches, England

4 minute read

I woke up this morning feeling the need for adventure.

And with the rise of the sun that came pouring through my bedroom window, I was up and out of the house.

The drive took me a little over an hour, and even during this early part of the morning the temperature was at a steady fifteen degrees.

My windows were rolled down, my Deezer playlist was on shuffle, and it was a joy to experience the Derbyshire countryside coming to life.

I woke up in need of an adventure, and so I went and found one.

The starting point for Lud’s Church and The Roaches is in a small village called Gradbach; located slap bang between Buxton and Macclesfield.

Parking is really quite limited and so your visit is best planned as early in the day as possible.

Like with almost every walk I’ve ever done, getting started is the hardest point. And with only a 1:25000 scale map to hand, I didn’t have much detail to work with.

But after a few minutes of walking and orienting myself by checking off landmarks and my positioning in relation to the River Dane, I was soon passing Gradbach Mill and on the public footpath towards Lud’s Church.

The route up through the woodland was beautiful and upon reaching one particular clearing there was a steeple of rocks that I was able to clamber upon. The views out and over Dane Valley was a sight to behold.

And just five minutes after this point, I reached the opening to Lud’s Church.

For anybody that doesn’t already know, Lud’s Church is a lush dark chasm that is hidden away inside the woods of the North Staffordshire countryside.

It’s said to have been formed following a landslide, and the place is also believed to have been used as a place of worship, dating back as far as the 1400’s.

And for me, the place certainly had a very particular atmosphere to it.

It could be quite easy to miss the opening in the rock face, but once you begin to venture inside the first thing you’ll notice is a sudden drop in temperature. There’s also a cold damp smell in the air, and if you’re able to get there early enough and avoid the crowds, there’s a feeling of peace and stillness that is welcoming to the wanderer’s mind.

At some 100 metres long and 18 metres deep, there’s a definite sense of other-worldliness while wandering within it.

I overhead a couple of people along the way talking about how it’s best known for resembling something out of Jurassic Park, but for me it was Indiana Jones and Uncharted that first sprang to mind.

As I climbed over boulders and shimmied my way between narrow openings in the rock faces, I couldn’t help but feel that I was satisfying my inner Nathan Drake with each jump, crouch, and climb.

At one point I found myself climbing upwards between two opposing rock faces that were less than a meter wide, before finding myself popping up inside the dense woodland. After climbing out and taking just a matter of steps, the opening was almost camouflaged.

It provided a true adventure, and after spending almost an hour exploring every twist, turn, and opening; I made my final ascent and left Lud’s Church behind me.

Check out this video that I took while finding my way through the narrows. And please forgive the heavy breathing – it was a hot day!

Feeling exhilarated, I continued through the woodland and followed a signpost that sent me off towards ‘the ridge’.

And the views from up here were wonderful, finding me, unsurprisingly, on a ridge that enjoyed impressive views on either side. This is where I joined the hiking trail of The Roaches.

It was a relatively steady walk that began in wide open areas before descending back down towards Gradbach. But this wasn’t before I got to enjoy the most serene woodland walk through Forest Wood.

Without doubt, the place that I feel most at peace is in forests and woodland. It’s energising. And today I was able to soak up the lush greenery whilst listening to nature’s sounds; birds singing, a woodpecker tap-tap-tapping, and Black Brook trickling its way through the valley, ready to meet the River Dane.

As I stood still and listened, the forest came to life and animals scurried across the path.

It was a little piece of heaven.

Check out this next video that I took while wandering along the pathway of Forest Wood

As an introvert, I need solitude every now and then. And this is no bad thing. I love people and conversation, but to an introvert these things eventually become exhausting.

Think of it like the battery life on a mobile phone. It begins at 100% and then inevitably begins to drain. The more that it’s used, the quicker it drains, and eventually the green bar turns red. Next is the 20% power warning, but once it reaches 10% the phone goes into low power mode; allowing only the bare essentials to keep functioning. Finally, there’s such little energy left that you have to switch it into airplane mode just to stop the thing from conking out altogether.

Well that’s what an introvert is like.

But the moment you allow us a little space and solitude, it’s like plugging the charger back into your phone. Soon enough the red bar turns back to green, functionality starts to resume, and then when the charge hits 100% you’ll get to experience optimal performance once again. This cycle continues, over and over.

For me, solitude in nature is my very own phone charger.

I’d begun the day feeling like even the mere sight of another human being was too much for me, but when I walked out of Forest Wood this morning, I felt rejuvenated, and I was saying hello to every single person that I walked past.

After stopping off at the local café for a steak pasty and coffee, I sat alongside the river and basked in the sunshine.

I’d discovered a true gem of a place, and it’s somewhere that I’ll be sure to return to in the future.

With a little over two hours of round-trip driving, plus around 90 minutes to 2 hours of walking (depending on how much you want to stop for photos and exploring), it’s perfect for a Sunday morning getaway.

Lud’s Church would also be a wonderful place for anybody that has children (1) with adventurous minds, because even as a grown man that has seen some pretty spectacular sights around the world, it really quenched my thirst for adventure. And I couldn’t help but reflect on how awesome it would’ve been to explore if I’d had my very own little Lossul’s in tow.

Lud’s Church and The Roaches gave me everything that I’d needed from today, and as I drove out of Gradbach and began my journey back towards Derbyshire, I felt fresh, I felt light, and I felt ready to take on the world again.

Check out this final video which captures the tranquil surroundings of Forest Wood and Black Brook


(1) But I’m including a very important caveat here that it would be an ambitious walk with kids. Some of the ascents and descents are steep, the rocks can be slippery, and it wouldn’t be suitable for really young children with little and unsteady legs. Exercise your own common-sense in this respect.

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Do you have any thoughts or opinions on anything you’ve just read? Do you have any similar places to recommend in the UK that offer an adventurous experience? Have you ever been to Lud’s Church and The Roaches? What was your experience like? And have you ever found a cool place that left you feeling like Indiana Jones, Nathan Drake, or Lara Croft? Please feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll begin a conversation.

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