Lud's Church - a hidden gem in the Peak District

Lud’s Church

Lud’s Church - Credit: Nicola Thornley

Lud’s Church in the Back Forest, located in the Staffordshire section of the Peak District is a magnificent natural cleft in the rock that was caused by a landslide. 

Standing at 100m long, 15m high and 2m wide and covered in ferns and moss, it remains a cool, shaded spot whatever the season and exudes a magical. mystical aura. 

Over the years, many myths and legends have been created around this location;  The Lollards, followers of John Wycliffe, an early reformer, worshipped here in secret during the 15th century to avoid persecution for their beliefs, but others also believe that it was a hideout for the legendary Robin Hood. 

On a more supernatural note, many local people believed it was a dwelling place for benevolent spirits who would provide healing in exchange for gold, you can see remnants of this practice today with the felled logs embedded with coins of many denominations. 

Coins embedded into a tree trunk at Lud’s Church

Coins embedded into a tree trunk at Lud’s Church - Credit: Steve Johnson

Another theory that has gained traction in recent years is the one that Lud's Church and nearby Wetton Mill are settings in the Arthurian romantic poem; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the inspiration for the The Green Knight starring British actor Dev Patel in the lead role as Sir Gawain. 

In both the poem and the film, the pivotal, climactic scene takes place in the mysterious, hidden Green Chapel, it is Lud's Church that is thought to be the inspiration for this location, although filming for the movie almost entirely took place in Ireland. 

The poem was written in the 14th century, (around the same time Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales) and written in a North West Midland dialect of Middle English. Scholars believe many of the locations described were inspired by real life locations in the region. 

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Below is an excerpt from the description of Gawain’s journey to the Green Chapel for his showdown with the menacing Green Knight. 

‘The streams foamed and bubbled between their banks, dashing sparkling on the shores where they shelved downwards. Rugged and dangerous was the way through the woods, till it was time for the sun-rising'. 

How to get to Lud's Church 

You can incorporate a visit to Lud’s Church with a walk around The Roaches. There is a small car park at Roaches Gate, you head north through to Back Forest and to Lud’s Church and you can return back to the start via the Roaches. 

READ MORE: Peak District Walk - The Roaches and Lud's Church 

Alternatively, you can approach Lud’s Church via a much shorter trek from the north-east, by parking at the small car park at Gradbach and following the path adjacent to the River Dane in a westerly direction. If you prefer waterfalls, you can head a little further north to visit Three Shires Head.

You can find many more tips and suggestions for visiting Lud’s Church in our Derbyshire and Peak District walking group

Below are some of the fantastic photos uploaded by some of our group members. 

 Lud’s Church

Lud’s Church - Credit: Amanda J Osborne

 Lud’s Church

Lud’s Church - Credit: Ashley Rafferty

 Lud’s Church

Lud’s Church - Credit: Bernadette Hall

 Lud’s Church in snow

Lud’s Church in snow - Credit: Emma Whitbread

 Lud’s Church

Lud’s Church - Credit: Jeanette Watkins

Lud’s Church

Lud’s Church - Credit: Julie Marie

Lud’s Church

Lud’s Church - Credit: Lee Collyer

Lud's Church

Lud's Church - Credit: Josh Land

Lud's Church

Lud's Church - Credit: Michael Homes

Lud's Church

Lud's Church - Credit: Michelle Fiedler

Lud's Church

Lud's Church - Credit: Phillippa Gilbert

Lud's Church

Lud's Church - Credit: Rory Greenfield

Lud's Church

Lud's Church - Credit: Sarah Butt

Lud's Church

Lud's Church - Credit: Sarah Friel

Lud's Church

Lud's Church - Credit: Steve Johnson

Lud's Church

Lud's Church - Credit: Tracy Holt

Lud's Church

Lud's Church - Credit: Alan R Moorhouse