Lud’s Church walk (circular 5.4km): NOT from Gradbach

As you descend into the rocky depths of Lud’s Church, it feels like you’ve entered another world, away from the typical green rolling dales and farming land of the Peak District. Parents – this Lud’s Church walk is your opportunity to release your inner Indiana Jones… in Staffordshire. Created by a giant land-slip, this deep, moss-covered chasm is full of history and myths and makes for a fantastic family walk.

Lud’s Church is 18 metres deep and 100 metres long. Somehow trees have found a home on the dark, narrow cliff face and reach up for the light. And even though there is no steeple in site, it was used as a secret place for worship for people who would have otherwise been prosecuted in the fifteenth century. It’s also believed that Robin Hood and Friar Tuck once used it as a hiding place from the authorities.

If you are planning a visit to the National Park, please arrive early or late in the day to avoid crowds, and respect social distancing. Please also take all litter home with you, don’t bring BBQs and park your car in designated parking areas.

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Make sure you check out our essential items for a Peak District family walk, as well as our top tips for hiking with kids!

Lud’s Church walk map

On all Peak District family walks it’s a good idea to have an Ordnance Survey paper map with you, even if you have your phone on you. For this walk you need the OS Explorer Active Map OL24 (White Peak). It’s also a good opportunity to show young kids the map features and get them started with map reading.

Need to know


TYPE OF WALK: A circular walk, rocky in places. Not suitable for pushchairs.

PARKING: Gradbach parking is where most people park to visit Lud’s Church. However, at weekends and holidays, this parking gets full very quickly and you must plan on arriving early (before 9am). Alternatively, this walk starts from this road side parking, which is free. Click here for Google Maps location on your phone. Post code is ST13 8UQ. Although we still urge you to get there early.

WALK HIGHLIGHTS: Lud’s Church, and stunning views over to the Roaches.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE:  Without kids this is a 1.5 hour walk. But we took a good 3 hours as there were blackberries to pick and eat, sticks to play with, and adventures in the deep chasm that is Lud’s Church.

TOTAL ASCENT: 222 metres

PUBLIC TOILETS: There are no toilet facilities on this walk. But there is often an ice-cream van (which accepts cards!) at the start and end point of this walk.

Lud's Church alternative parking

The route

Most visitors park at Gradbach car park and follow the 2.2km route to Lud’s Church and back (4.4km total). However, this route gets very busy on weekends and holidays, and the car park is often full by 9:30am (it’s also a good starting point for the Three Shires Head walk). Plus this route is mainly through woodland, and we always prefer a bit of variety on our walks with little ones.

This circular Lud’s Church walk begins at this road side parking near to the Roaches and quickly descends into forest to reach Lud’s Church. It then leads you back up on a gradual ascent with fantastic views over the Staffordshire countryside.

1. Follow the bridal track downwards for 100 metres. On the left you will see a squeeze stile. Breathe in as you squeeze through the stile.

Lud's Church walk
Lud's Church walk

2. Continue the rocky path downwards in to the forest until you meet a junction.

3. Follow the sign to the left towards Lud’s Church. In season, there are lots of blackberries to be found along here. This section is relatively flat.

Lud's Church walk

4. After 1.2km you will reach another sign to Lud’s Church. Take this left footpath for 50 metres until the next sign.

Lud's Church walk
Lud's Church walk

5. At this next sign, take a right and follow the yellow markers along the boardwalks for 100 metres until you reach the top of Lud’s Church on your right.

Lud's Church walk

6. Descend into the chasm. It’s steep and rocky in places, and in wet weather it can be slippy, so take your time. You will notice is suddenly becomes much darker.

Lud's Church walk

7. It’s a 100 meter walk through Lud’s Church, but allow time to explore. Seeing the trees cling on at the top is fascinating, and our boys found little hiding places in the rocks.

Lud's Church walk

8. As you venture out of Lud’s Church, take the turning to the left and follow this path for 300 metres until you reach another sign. To the right leads on to Gradbach car park, but you continue straight on.

9. After a 300 metres, the landscape opens out to the more recognisable Peak District farming landscape. Keep going for another 500 metres until you reach a junction on your left, signposted ‘The Roaches’.

10. Follow this path up and along the hill tops. It can get very windy up here, but the scenery is fantastic and such a contrast to the woodland and chasm of Lud’s Church below. Keep following this path straight ahead (towards The Roaches) back to the starting point. From the junction back to the start point is 2.2 km.

11. Once you’re back again at the start point, the ice-cream van is hopefully waiting for you! And a bonus is that if you don’t have cash on you, he does take cards (well he did last time we visited).

12. If little legs are still feeling strong, you may want to continue on the path straight ahead that leads up to The Roaches. The views are fantastic, but perhaps an excuse to return another day.

Peak District Kids is a free online resource. If you enjoyed this walk, you can show your support by buying me a coffee. Thanks so much!

Want more ideas for family walks?
Check out our Best Family Walks in the Peak District
or come and join our friendly Peak District Kids Facebook Group

You may also like to read:
Solomon’s Temple walk near Buxton (1.8km)
Three Shires Head walk (6.2km)
Padley Gorge walk (2.7km)

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