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Peak District Towns and Villages: Rudyard Lake

Villages around Rudyard Lake


Leek is the principal town of the Staffordshire Moorlands and the most important centre on the south western edge of the Peak District. It stands on a hill in a large bend in the River Churnet and is locally known as 'The Queen of the Moorlands'.

Churchyard cross
Churchyard cross
The town was mentioned in the Domesday Book as 'Lec' but there was certainly a settlement here well before that because the churchyard contains two crosses - one is in Mercian style but is damaged and can be dated to the 10th century while the other is a magnificent 11th century Norse style cross.

The Normans gave this area to the Earls of Chester and Ranulf the 6th earl founded Dieu la Cres abbey here in 1210. Until its dissolution in 1537 the abbey was the major economic and cultural centre of the area. The ruins lie across the Churnet 2km north of the town centre but there is now little to see of what must once have been a fine building.

Market square
Market square
Bonny Prince Charlie passed through in 1745 and Thomas Brindley (the builder of the Bridgewater Canal) built a water mill here in 1750 - this has been restored to working order and is now a fine museum.

In the late 18th and 19th centuries the town changed from a sleepy market town to a centre of silk weaving and several large mills were constructed, one of which can be seen looming above the road to Macclesfield. Leek boomed and the population multiplied during this time but nothing now remains of the silk industry in Leek.

The town still has a lively shopping centre and a market every Wednesday and is a good centre from which to explore the south and west of the Peak.

Leek - Nicholson Institute
0 - Leek - Nicholson Institute
Leek Butter Market
1 - Leek Butter Market
Leek Churchyard - Norse cross
2 - Leek Churchyard - Norse cross
Leek Parish church
3 - Leek Parish church
Leek street
4 - Leek street
Leek - Brindleys Mill
5 - Leek - Brindleys Mill


Rudyard Lake is not natural but was constructed in the late 18th century to provide water for the local canal system, especially the Caldon Canal, which links Leek and Stoke-on-Trent. Being high up meant that local groundwater was in minimal supply so the reservoir was built as a water head by damming the River Churnet high up.

Rudyard is a small village which grew up alongside Rudyard Lake, primarily fuelled by the area's popularity with local tourists during the Victorian period and the early 20th century. The tourists came here via the railway, which passed nearby and brought easy communications between here and Stoke and other cities.

There is a large hotel near the foot of the lake and a car park, visitor centre and sailing club.

The parents of the author Rudyard Kipling spent their honeymoon here and named their son after the place.

Rudyard Narrow Gauge Railway Station
0 - Rudyard Narrow Gauge Railway Station
Rudyard Lake
1 - Rudyard Lake

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