The Dane is a fabulous, beautiful river, tumbling down from the moors which loom above its ancient, wooded valley. Hidden in those woods is the most incredible church in the Peak District, with many a tale to tell.
Rather than a building, Lud’s Church is a moss coated chasm. This trail explores the Church, the identity of the mysterious Lud and the site’s connection with the surrounding Dane Valley.
The river’s source is just three miles away on Axe Edge Moor. Over those three miles, half a dozen streams converge and flow into the river. The confluence we can see here, with a stream joining from the right, is a typical example.
At its source on the moor, the River Dane is about 500 metres above sea level. By the time it reaches here, the river has lost almost half of that height. The power gained from this great fall carves through the rock in narrow steep-sided ravines, known in these parts as ‘cloughs’. Typically, they have a ‘V-shape’ profile where the water has eroded through the rock.
Look at an OS map of this area and just around the corner and from the opposite direction you can pick out Robins Clough. Its blue waters plunge rapidly through tightly packed, brown contour lines to meet the Dane.
With all this added flow, it is from this point in its course that the Dane starts to look like something worthy of the title, River. Standing here on the bank you can really sense the kinetic power created from all these watery convergences. This natural source of energy did not go unnoticed by early industrialists, as we shall see at our next stop.
Head back to Lud’s Church car park then turn right onto the road. Follow the river downstream. Pass through the entrance to Gradbach Mill and continue along the tarmacked tracked to the buildings.
This trail was originally developed by Simon Corble for the Royal Geographical Society’s Discovering Britain.
Simon Corble is a theatre director, playwright and actor based in Derbyshire’s Peak District, is passionate about the countryside and discovering the hidden secrets of the natural world.