Lud’s Church, the Roaches and Three Shire Heads
Wednesday, 21 February 2018
This meet started at the car park at Gradbach ready for a walk taking in Lud’s Church, The Roaches and Three Shires Head (sometimes known as Three Shire Heads).
The route took us down via Gradbach Mill following the River Dane into the Back Forest looking for the lower entrance to Lud’s Church. As some of the group missed this and we ended up walking up through the woods and finding the upper entrance. Lud’s Church is a chasm in the gritstone created by a landslip which has formed a unique and slightly eerie channel almost unseen from outside. One legend has it that the name “church” comes from its use as a secret worship spot by a sect called the Lollards who were persecuted for their religious beliefs in the early 15th Century. Other stories link the place with the much earlier Celtic God “Llud”.
We walked down into the chasm and explored for a while before exiting the same way and carrying on towards Bearstone Rock and up onto the Roaches. The mist had begun to settle in at this point giving the mysterious forms of the rocks another layer of atmosphere.
As we walked along the edge the sun slowly began to shine and the view over towards Tittesworth Reservoir slowly came into view.
Leaving the Roaches we descended towards Shaw House and along the road for a while before taking the path into Black Brook Nature Reserve. We found a nice sunny spot for lunch under the rocks before carrying on through the woods and some very, very boggy bits to join the road again at Gib Tor.
A few muddy fields later we found ourselves at firstly Adder’s Green and then emerged at Flash Bottom back onto the road.
A way up the road towards Wickens Clough the path is a little hard to find and the house owner’s whose garden it passes through has done nothing to help this! After finally deciphering the route we carried on up the hill towards a field of excitable horses before coming back to the road at Cross Side Farm.
We then followed the bridle path to the ford on the river below Axe Edge, a good opportunity to wash at least some of the mud off of our boots! Following the bridal path, we then met the road at Hawk’s Nest. We followed the road to Knotbury Farm and below Knotbury Common until we reached Three Shire Heads – a point on Axe Edge Moor where Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire meet on the River Dane. The crossing of the river is marked by a packhorse bridge which used to be used to carry silk from nearby Hollinsclough and Flash to markets in Macclesfield.
By now it was approaching sunset and our way took us along the Dane Valley Way initially along a well-gravelled track but then across some very, very muddy fields back to Gradbach.
Distance : 10 Miles
We started and finished at the at the Gradbach car park. At the time of the walk, the car park was free.
Click HERE for a GPX file of the route.