If you’re after an offbeat, original place to take the kids this summer, I definitely recommend Luds Church to the Roaches. A fairly easy hike for all ages, the walk takes you through a poetic inspired chasm and out onto the magnificent greens of the Peak District. Boasting views onto Staffordshire and beyond.
From the car park of Luds Church, follow the footpath down past the scouts hut. Go over the river towards a magnificent tree with twisted roots. The walk takes you round and past a large chunk of rocks that is great for a snack stop. We stopped to refuel, while the kids explored the landscape.
Turn a sharp left from here and follow the path. There will be a wooded area on your right and a slight drop to the left. This is where you need to be on your guard for the entrance to Luds Church. On your right, there is a gap in the trees and a marker stone on the ground to point the way. Turn into the crevice and climb up the rocks. The route will become clear, and careful navigation is required to drop down into the chasm. If there has been a lot of rain, this will be very boggy! There are (usually!) logs lying on the floor to aid your steps, so bring out the tightrope walker in you to tiptoe across to lesser muddy areas.
This is the only way through, but it’s great fun for the kids. After you shuffle your way across, hands green from holding onto moss covered walls, you will come out into the beauty of the ‘church’.
A massive landslip above Gradbach created this millstone grit chasm, deep in the Back Forest of the Peak District. Natural fauna covers the walls around you, creating a fairytale backdrop where little imaginations can run free. This area has been used many times in folklore and medieval history. It is thought to be the scene of a poem dating back to the 14th century. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a tale of chivlary and romanticism. It involves the Knights of the Round Table and King Arthur himself. Luds Church plays center stage to the end scene of the poem, where Sir Gawain is tested of his loyalty by chopping off his own head! Luds Church is also known to be a place of worship by 15th century heretics. They hid here whilst trying to hide from persecutors of their beliefs.
While trying to teach the children the history and folklore of the area, they climbed, investigated and made echoes, as children do. They oohed and ahhed as the remote location was made more prominent by the silence that surrounded us.
Luds Church to The Roaches
Satisfied that we had drunk in the essence of Luds Church, we went on toward the Roaches. The exit to Luds Church is straight through the chasm and up a small scramble of rocks. The footpath is signposted well and through the muddier areas there are walkways to save your boots from changing colour. We followed the walkway for half a mile, stopping momentarily to have a bite to eat and listen to the birds.
We have always come to The Roaches from the roadside so to see it from a new angle was exciting. I also didn’t know there was a trig point, so that was the aim of the day. We were using our new Adventure Checklist that I had printed out and laminated. The kids were eager to tick it off! The Roaches came in to view and excitement built up.
The weather had been really strange to us that day, we had gone from normal spring time weather, a bit of sunshine and a cool breeze. To a hail shower on the walk through the woods! Now, as we entered the climb up the Roaches, we saw snow! The boys took a few handfuls and threw them around, clearly enjoying themselves and getting caught up in the moment.
The wind picked up as we walked along the top of the rock formation, but the sky was clear and those views never disappoint. The skyline stretches out across Staffordshire, towards Leek and Titterstone reservoir. The kids love to make out the most obscure buildings and landscape features, with one always proclaiming to see our house!
We stumbled upon the beautiful white stone trig and the kids marked it off their checklist with glee. Sadly, the wind was becoming really strong and we were feeling a bit unsafe with Molly. She’s so light, she’d just blow away!
After a bit of a play among the natural sculptures and a feeling of ‘Picnic on Hanging Rock’, we headed back towards Gradbach. We decided to take a detour and followed the signs around Luds Church. We ended up following the River Dane back to the footbridge we had crossed earlier on. Overall, the journey took us 4 miles over 3 hours, plus a bit extra for snacks, water stops and toilet troubles! I will always love this area of the Peak District, and it’s heart warming to see the kids enjoy it so much too.
We have decided to make Luds Church to the Roaches the next route for our #hikerkidz walk in April 2019. If anybody would like to check it out with us, please let me know!
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The car park is located at ST13 8TA, which is free.