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Gradbach, the Roaches and Luds Church

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Gradbach, the Roaches and Luds Church
Author: Marie Prime, Published: 14 Sep 2016 Walk rating : Rating:star0  Gradbach, the Roaches and Luds Church Walking Guidestar0  Gradbach, the Roaches and Luds Church Walking Guidestar0  Gradbach, the Roaches and Luds Church Walking Guidestar0  Gradbach, the Roaches and Luds Church Walking Guidestar0  Gradbach, the Roaches and Luds Church Walking Guide
Staffordshire, Moorlands
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Gradbach, the Roaches and Luds Church
Length: 6 miles,  Difficulty: boot  Gradbach, the Roaches and Luds Church Walking Guide boot  Gradbach, the Roaches and Luds Church Walking Guide boot  Gradbach, the Roaches and Luds Church Walking Guide
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A walk from the tiny Staffordshire hamlet of Gradbach (with its mill) and up over open moorland to the high ridge of the Roaches with its magnificent views. Also there is an option to visit the magical ravine of Luds Church. Gradbach is a small hamlet on the River Dane and is a well-known beauty spot from which visitors can gain access to the Roaches and Luds Church. There are a few buildings and a small car park from which we start the walk.

On the walk you will need to cross several stiles and negotiate a couple of short flights of stone steps, a river bridge and a few gates. The paths are easy to see but some areas can be boggy and are uneven with rocks and tree roots so a good pair of walking boots is recommended. There are no toilets along the route, the nearest are sited at the Titesworth Reservoir car park about seven miles away.

Gradbach can be approached through the village of Flash, (the highest village in England), which itself is just off the A53 between Buxton and Leek. Follow New Road into the village of Flash and, just past the church, follow the road round to the left signed to Gradbach youth hostel. Travel along this road for just less than 2 miles looking out for a sudden split in the road, keep left (signed to Gradbach scout camp) and the car park is a short distance on the right. The nearest postcode is for Gradbach Outdoor Adventure (the old mill), Gradbach, SK17 0SU - this is located approximately 200 metres up the road from the car park.

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Walk Sections

Start to Bridge
Start to Bridge

Start point: 53.1932 lat, -2.003 long
End point: 53.1891 lat, -2.0156 long

Exit the car park onto the lane and turn right, after approximately 200 metres bear right down the access road to the mill.

Gradbach Mill was built in 1730 but was almost completely destroyed by fire in 1785. The mill was reconstructed with a 38ft water wheel and was used for processing flax which is turned into the textile we know as linen. In the 1850s the mill changed use and became a silk mill, by 1880 it was sold and used as a saw mill but by 1900 the mill had closed and became derelict. The mill was used little after this until the YHA acquired it in 1978. It has recently undergone extensive renovation and is due to open in 2016 as an outdoor pursuits centre.

At the corner of the mill bear right then left at the green public footpath sign and follow the path up the stone steps. Go through the gate to follow the path with a fence on the right. Go through a squeezer stile on the right, the path soon widens and goes uphill. As the track bends sharp left, turn right through a squeezer stile and turn right down to cross the bridge.

Bridge to Stoned Path
Bridge to Stoned Path

Start point: 53.1891 lat, -2.0156 long
End point: 53.1814 lat, -2.0081 long

At the waymarker post turn left (signed to the Roaches), follow the path into the woods, the brook is on the left. At the next waymarker post continue in the direction of the Roaches climbing fairly steeply up through the woods. The path is uneven with rocks and tree roots and can be muddy. At the top you reach another waymarker post. Follow in the direction of the Roaches crossing the small stream (approx 0.5 miles from the bridge) and following the stoned path up hill. You soon emerge out onto the open heather covered moors, ignore any side paths but keep on up the hill. On reaching the top, where two walls meet, cross a wooden stile. Here is a great place to picnic with great views over Tittesworth Reservoir and an ice-cream van sits here during the summer at weekends.

Stoned Path to Waymarker Post
Stoned Path to Waymarker Post

Start point: 53.1814 lat, -2.0081 long
End point: 53.1842 lat, -2.0195 long

Turn immediate right to go through a gate, follow the grassy track with a wall on the left for approximately 0.5 miles to reach a waymarker post. Take the top path signed to Swythamley via ridge. Walk along the ridge to reach the next waymarker post and follow the direction of Swythamley and Danebridge.

Waymarker Post to Gate
Waymarker Post to Gate

Start point: 53.1842 lat, -2.0195 long
End point: 53.187 lat, -2.0349 long

Go through the gate and continue along the ridge for approximately 0.75 miles, going through a further small gate. The path becomes sunken and leads to a gate and a waymarker post. Turn right, away from the gate, signed Gradbach and Luds Church.

Gate to Castle Rocks
Gate to Castle Rocks

Start point: 53.187 lat, -2.0349 long
End point: 53.1889 lat, -2.0239 long

Follow the path which becomes sunken for approximately 0.5 miles. This leads you into the woodland and on to reach a further waymarker. The rocks on the left are known as castle rocks and are a great place to explore with a good view down the valley. At this point you can take an optional visit to Luds Church, an interesting and almost magical place that is well worth a visit.

To visit Luds Church follow the top path as indicated on the post and walk a short distance, the ravine entrance is unassuming and easily missed but is located on the right just beyond a wooden fence. (Take care in the ravine as, even during the summer, the floor can be muddy and slippery especially on the steps and wooden boardwalk.)

Luds Church is a rocky ravine with high rocky sides covered in grasses, mosses and ferns. Lots of myths and legends have been written about the ravine. This rocky cleft was created by a mass of sandstone slipping away from the slope of the hill. A poem which was written in the late 1300s is also thought to be set in Luds Church, it is about Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Gawain was a knight of the round table. According to legend a knight cloaked entirely in green gate-crashed on horseback a feast at Camelot and challenged the Knights of the Round Table. Sir Gawain accepted the challenge and beheaded the Green Knight. The Green Knight is said to have retrieved his head and laughingly challenged Sir Gawain to meet with him again, in a year's time, at the Green Chapel. Sir Gawain kept his rendezvous with the Green Knight resulting in that ghostly gentleman losing his head for a second time. In the 1950s Professor Ralph Elliot identified the green chapel as Luds Church.

Take time to explore and then return the same way back to the marker post.

Castle Rocks to Stone Steps
Castle Rocks to Stone Steps

Start point: 53.1889 lat, -2.0239 long
End point: 53.1886 lat, -2.0163 long

To continue, follow the lower path in the direction of Gradbach, down through the woods for approximately 0.25 miles. On reaching a further marker post, turn left down the stone steps (signed Gradbach).

Stone Steps to End
Stone Steps to End

Start point: 53.1886 lat, -2.0163 long
End point: 53.1931 lat, -2.003 long

Head towards (and around) a large tree, bearing right down to the footbridge you crossed on your outward journey. To return to the car park simply retrace your outward steps over the bridge, back over the stile on the left and on through the mill complex then turn left down the lane. You will come to the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 by the author mumnpets and may not be reproduced without permission.

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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