Lud's Church: A Portal to the Past

by Amy Johnson

Lud’s Church. An eerie yet naturally beautiful running and hiking hotspot in the Staffordshire part of the Peak District, possessing a mysterious and distinct aura that sets it apart from its counterparts. When visiting the Peaks, Lud’s Church is an infamous site that you simply cannot miss. A deep gorge that penetrates the Millstone Bedrock, Lud’s Church can be found situated deep in the Black Forest.

Tourists from around the world visit the National Park whilst seeking escape from the stress of everyday life, and to the clean country air and stunning landscapes that the Peak District offers. Its quiet solitude and remarkable landscapes proudly welcome an incredible 13 million tourists each year. Runners, hikers, and travellers from far and wide return to the park time and time again; but what makes Lud’s Church a memorable go-to for runners and hikers in particular?

A walker wanders through the steep-sided stone gorge of Lud's Church.Walking through Lud’s Church. Photograph credit: Amy Johnson 

The unique history of the gorge

Not only do the tall, encompassing chasm walls make Lud’s Church a popular natural attraction, but the history that surrounds the Staffordshire gorge makes it a unique spot in the Peak District.

Since the 1400s, Lud’s Church has kept the secrets of those who visited secured within its walls. During The Middle Ages, the chasm was a popular yet secluded spot that fearful Lollards utilised as a place of worship. Lollards were reforming Christians, whose beliefs did not align with those of the Roman Catholics at the time. 

In order to not be seen practising their religion and consequently being prosecuted for doing so, the Lollards hid in the gorge, and freely conducted their worships in private, making it a renowned site in British history, myth, and legend. The name itself has been said to derive from Walter De Ludank (or Walter De Lud-Auk) who was captured in the gorge during one of the meetings.

Today, Lud’s Church provides its visitors with an atmospheric route that is part of a protected and widely respected natural tourist attraction. It has become well-loved by explorers and hikers alike. 

Visitors can feel an immediate change in temperature as they enter the gorge, with the foreboding walls, mossy rocks, and surrounding forest encompassing you entirely. Although some associate the cool air as refreshing and somewhat calming, others have felt as though they have entered a place frozen in time. Sunlight finds it difficult to reach the bottom of the gorge, creating an overwhelming sense of scale as to how deep the chasm really is.

Running and hiking through Lud’s Church 

For runners and hikers wanting a challenge, Lud’s Church can be reached by taking on the infamous The Roaches hike, Gradbach, the River Dane. Each hike varies in length, however most are between 10-12.4km.

Most routes to Lud’s Church are moderately challenging, so be prepared to carry your hiking and running essentials with you in anticipation of your visit. The gorge itself is cooler than the surrounding woodland, so taking an extra layer with you may come of use.

For those aiming to trail run through the chasm, take extra caution as the muddy path and slippy, mossy rocks can be quite treacherous, especially during the cooler, winter months.

Amy Johnson

Digital Journalist

Amy Johnson is a writer who enjoys venturing in nature. Although passionate about fictional storytelling, Johnson has a background in content and blog writing, article writing, and environmental journalism. Find Amy on Instagram or read her sustainability blog.

Read more blogs by Amy Johnson

Originally published 14/11/22

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