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Peak District Towns and Villages: Luds Church

Villages around Lud's Church


Flash has the distinction of being the highest village in England, at 1514 feet above sea level and in winter it is frequently snow-bound.

The main part of the village clings to the hillside just below its brow, clustered around the church but there are many far-flung farms hereabouts, that focus predominantly on sheep farming on the sparsely populated local moorlands.

Flash Bar View
Flash Bar View
In olden times Flash was known as the resort of 'badgers' or hawkers who squatted on the open land here and travelled from fair to fair selling their wares. They were rough characters, like the landscape, and Flash had a reputation as a wild place where counterfeit money was made and outlawed practises were continued. Prize fighting was one such, which was still held at Flash for some years after it had been made illegal. The village's proximity to three county boundaries helped - when the police came, the ring was simply moved to another county!

Three Shire Heads
Three Shire Heads
The River Dane rises to the north west of Flash and there is some lovely scenery in the youthful Upper Dane valley. One particularly popular spot is Three Shire Heads, where the counties of Staffordshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire meet and there is a fine old packhorse bridge across the river at the point known as Panniers Pool. The area around is also notable for the weirdly shaped outcrops of gritstone which occur - Ball Stones, Gib Torr and Ball Stone Rock, for example.

Flash itself has a pub, the New Inn, but no other amenities. Pony trekking is available from Northfield Farm. Just outside the village at Flash Bar on the A53, there is Flash Bar stores - possibly the highest shop in England - and another pub, the Traveller's Rest.

Flash - 3 Shire Heads
0 - Flash - 3 Shire Heads
Axe Edge view down the Upper Dove valley
1 - Axe Edge view down the Upper Dove valley
Flash view
2 - Flash view
Flash - upper Dane valley
3 - Flash - upper Dane valley
Quarnford, near Flash
4 - Quarnford, near Flash


Gradbach is a tiny hamlet on the River Dane, and a well-known beauty spot which attracts many visitors. The hamlet is centred around a fine stone-built mill which was constructed in 1785 for the spinning of silk. Though the mill was water-powered and therefore cheap to run this was too remote a site for an enterprise like this to be commercially viable and the mill closed as early as 1885. It is now a Youth Hostel.

Besides the valley of the Dane, the attractions of the area are the fine moorland walks on the Back Forest and The Roaches and the unusual formation known as Lud's Church.

Shuttlingsloe from Allgreave
Shuttlingsloe from Allgreave
Allgreave is a tiny farming hamlet clustered around the A54 where it makes a steep descent to cross Clough Brook, below Wildboarclough. On the main road there is a pub called the the Rose and Crown.

Luds Church
0 - Luds Church
Flash - upper Dane valley
1 - Flash - upper Dane valley
2 - Gradbach
Gradbach Mill
3 - Gradbach Mill
Swythamley - the Hanging Stone
4 - Swythamley - the Hanging Stone
Shuttlingsloe and Wildboarclough from Allgreave
5 - Shuttlingsloe and Wildboarclough from Allgreave

Macclesfield Forest

Macclesfield Forest was once the centre of a Royal Forest created by the Norman conquerors for the purpose of hunting game such as deer, wild boar and wolves. This particular forest stretched from the modern Disley down to the River Dane, and was the preserve of the Earls of Chester. This has always been an isolated and sparsely populated area, and it still is. The parish register records many instances where people have died on the moors and their bodies have not been found for weeks.

View to Shining Tor
View to Shining Tor
The modern hamlet is centred around Forest Chapel situated in a hollow on the ridge between Langley to the west and the valley of Clough Brook to the east. The old approach was up a packhorse road known as Oven Lane, which was the original road from Macclesfield to Buxton, and on arrival at the Chapel a splendid view is revealed eastwards up to the Cat and Fiddle Inn, the second highest inn in Britain, bleaky situated on the crest of the ridge which separates Cheshire from Derbyshire.

An unusual tradition has survived here - that of 'rush-bearing'. In this ancient ceremony, which is performed every August (on the 12th or the nearest Sunday), rushes are taken and strewn across the floor of the church. The ceremony harks back to the times when carpets were rare and rushes were the usual floor-covering. Though Macclesfield Forest is the only place where the tradition survives, it is known to have been performed at Chapel-en-le-Frith, Glossop, Peak Forest, Whitwell and Ashover.

Below Forest Chapel is a pub called the Stanley Arms at the quaintly named 'Bottom of the Oven' - a reference to Oven Lane, which crosses Clough Brook here and starts to climb up again to the Cat and Fiddle. The Cat and Fiddle Inn was built in 1830, not long after the construction of the turnpike road which replaced Oven Lane, and is in a superb situation. On a good day the views from here and the nearby hill of Shining Tor stretch right across the Cheshire plain to North Wales.

Macclesfield Forest view to Cat & Fiddle
0 - Macclesfield Forest view to Cat & Fiddle
Goyt Valley - Shining Tor summit
1 - Goyt Valley - Shining Tor summit

Upper Hulme

Upper Hulme is a tiny hamlet clustered around a now redundant mill on the upper reaches of the River Churnet. The houses are built from the local sandstone, which is a beautiful rose colour, and the road through is the principal access to the fabulous Roaches and Hen Cloud as well as being close to Ramshaw Rocks to the north and Tittesworth Reservoir to the south so is a great place to base yourself for walking in this area. There is a popular pub, The Rock.

Roaches Upper Tier
0 - Roaches Upper Tier
Ramshaw Rocks
1 - Ramshaw Rocks
Hen Cloud
2 - Hen Cloud
Hen Cloud from Blackshaw moor
3 - Hen Cloud from Blackshaw moor
Ramshaw Rocks
4 - Ramshaw Rocks
Ramshaw Rocks
5 - Ramshaw Rocks
Roaches - Rock Cottage
6 - Roaches - Rock Cottage
Roaches - Lower Tier
7 - Roaches - Lower Tier
8 - Roaches
Roaches - Climbing on the Lower Tier
9 - Roaches - Climbing on the Lower Tier
Roaches Upper Tier Climbers
10 - Roaches Upper Tier Climbers
Roaches - climber on The Sloth
11 - Roaches - climber on The Sloth


Wildboarclough former Post Office
Wildboarclough former Post Office
Wildboarclough's claim to fame is as the place where the last wild boar in England was killed, allegedly. The village is now a quiet backwater in the upper reaches of Clough Brook, sandwiched between the uplands of the Macclesfield forest to the west and Danebower to east. It is a popular area with visitors at weekends. The large house of Crag Hall is the country seat of Lord Derby and there was once a carpet mill which used Clough Brook to power its machinery. The mill was largely demolished but the administration block remains, a fine building which once had the strange distinction of being the largest sub-post office in England. Below the mill the bridge over Clough Brook bears a commemorative plaque to the flash flood of 1989, which drowned a motorist in his car here.

On the road below the main village there is the Crag Inn, a pub which is much frequented by the walkers who come to ascend Shutlingsloe, the 'Matterhorn of Cheshire' - a shapely conical peak which rises steeply to the west of the village. Though Shutlingsloe looks impressive from the valley of Clough Brook, at 506 metres it's really little more than a pimple, but it provides a stiff climb to the summit and a great viewpoint.

Shuttlingsloe and Wildboarclough from Allgreave
0 - Shuttlingsloe and Wildboarclough from Allgreave
Shuttlingsloe from Wildboarclough
1 - Shuttlingsloe from Wildboarclough
Shuttlingsloe - view to The Roaches
2 - Shuttlingsloe - view to The Roaches
Wildboarclough - the former Post Office
3 - Wildboarclough - the former Post Office

Wincle & Danebridge & Swythamley

Wincle is an isolated farming community situated close to the River Dane in the south west of the Peak District. There is a fine church and down the hill at Danebridge there is a pub called the Ship Inn, close to the River Dane.

Cleulow Cross
Cleulow Cross
In a patch of woodland to the north of the village and just over the A54, lies Cleulow cross, a 9th century cross which is thought to be of Scandinavian craftsmanship. Nothing is known of its origin or purpose, but it may have been a boundary marker. Wincle is an excellent base from which to explore this area and to link up with the Gritstone Trail to the west.

Swythamley lies on the Staffordshire side of the River Dane. Swythamley Hall stands in a fine park and was originally a mediaeval hunting lodge belonging to the Abbey of Dieulacres. The hall was granted to the Traffords by Henry VIII in 1540 and became their home and that of their successors, the Brocklehursts. Unfortunately the original house burned down in 1813, so the modern building is a rebuilding dating from then. The Hall now belongs to the Hari Krishna sect.

Hanging Stone
Hanging Stone
The Brocklehursts had an adventurous history, and one of them accompanied Shackleton to the Antarctic. On the edge above Swythamley there is a famous landmark - the Hanging Stone - with a fine view over the surrounding countryside and bearing a plaque to Colonel Brocklehurst, who was killed in Burma in 1942. A game warden in the Sudan, he started a private zoo at Swythamley when he returned to Britain, and during the Second World War the animals were released into the countryside because there was no food for them. The wallabies from the zoo survived and bred around the Roaches until the late 1990s, and sightings of them have surprised many walkers and climbers over the years.

Swythamley has been convincingly identified as the castle of the Green Knight of the classic medieval poem "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" and nearby Lud's Church as the knight's 'Green Chapel'. This probably means that the unknown author was connected with Dieulacres Abbey in some way.

Cleulow Cross
0 - Cleulow Cross
Swythamley - the Hanging Stone
1 - Swythamley - the Hanging Stone
Shuttlingsloe and Wildboarclough from Allgreave
2 - Shuttlingsloe and Wildboarclough from Allgreave

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