OS Grid ref:- SJ987656
Lud's Church, otherwise known as Ludchurch, is a deep, dank chasm in the White Peak, situated in an area known as the Black Forest, towards the southwest fringe of the Peak District National Park.
The impressive cleft was formed by a massive landslip of rock on the hillside forming a dog legged chasm over 100 yards in length and 20 yards high in places. Dripping grasses, mosses and ferns cling to the vertical sides of the atmospheric chasm, it remains cool even on warm days and is wreathed in myth and legend.
There are a number of theories as to how the chasm was so named, one of which presumes a Dark Age origin.
Due to the phenomenon that only occurs on Midsummers Day, when the sun's light penetrates deep into the chasm, Lud's Church was considered to be a sacred place by the Ancient Britons. Lud, or Nud as he is known to the Welsh, was a Celtic god. Lud's Church was also the inspiration for the 'Green Chapel' in the anonymous fifteenth century poem 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
In the medieval period, the Lollards, followers of the fifteenth century religious reformer, John Wycliffe, used the ravine as a secret place of worship to avoid persecution by the Catholic church. Lollard's were considered heretics and burned for their beliefs. Lud's Church may have been named after Walter de Ludank, or Lud Auk, who was captured attending a Lollard meeting there. Walter's daughter, Alice, was tragically shot during a raid on a religious service, her ghost is said to haunt the chasm. A wooden ship's figurehead depicting the ship Swythamley was placed in a high niche above the ravine by the local landowner Philip Brocklehurst, to commemorate Alice, it came to be known as 'Lady Lud'.
Lud's Church has been associated with other historical figures, there are legends that such diverse characters as Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and Bonnie Prince Charlie used it to find shelter!
A walk to Ludchurch from Gradbach
Distance -around 3 miles
Duration The walk itself takes about an hour
*Commencing at the public car park on the way to the hamlet of Gradbach, turn right on exiting the car park and continue to the Youth Hostel, once an old mill.
*Walk downstream from the youth hostel to cross Black Brook, a tributary of the Dane, via a narrow footbridge.
*Take the steep track through woodland to your right that leads uphill towards the vilage of Swythamley. On reaching the track halfway up the hill, turn right, following the sign for Lud's Church.
*Walk along the woodland track, passing the curious rock formation known as Castle Cliff Rock on the right, continue to follow the signposted track to to arrive at the ravine.
*Exit at the far end and follow the path back to entrance. Retrace your steps to return to Gradbach.
Follow the Country Code
*Be safe- plan ahead and follow any signs.
Protect plants and animals and take your litter home.
Keep dogs under close control
Leave gates and property as you found them