Road running between limestone cliffs
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Winnats Pass, also known simply as Winnats, is a hill pass and limestone gorge in the Peak District of Derbyshire, England. The name is a corruption of “wind gates”, a reflection of the strong, howling winds channeled through the pass. Winnats lies west of the village of Castleton, in the National Trust’s High Peak Estate and the High Peak borough of Derbyshire,[1] 25 km (16 mi) from Sheffield, 45 km (28 mi) from Manchester.

At the foot of the pass is the entrance to Speedwell Cavern, a karst caveThe most common type of cave, formed by the solution of carboniferous rocks by the action of rainwater. accessed via a flooded lead mine, and a popular tourist attraction.[2]

Geological formation

The limestone rocks forming the sides of the pass were laid down during the Carboniferous period, between 337 and 311 million years ago. It was once believed that Winnets Pass was formed by the collapse of a cave system, but it is now thought that the rocks were once reefs in a shallow marine environment, and that the present-day pass was a natural canyon through those reefs that gradually filled with sediment, which was removed by glacial action during the ice age.[3]


Hieracium naviense is a species of hawkweed found only at Winnats Pass. It is a native perennial plant, first discovered growing on limestone outcrops in 1966.[4]


A local legend is that Winnats Pass is haunted by a young couple, Alan and Clara, whose screams can reportedly be heard at sunset. They eloped in 1758, but were robbed and murdered by drunken lead miners as they headed through the pass on their way to Peak Forest Chapel to be married. The miners hid their bodies in a mine shaft, where they were discovered ten years later, and are now buried in the church at Castleton.[5]



British Geological Survey. Spooky Geology. 31 Oct. 2022,
Davidson, Lucy. Winnats Pass. 31 Mar. 2022,
Derbyshire County Council. Winnats Pass: A Tropical and Haunting Road. 29 May 2018,
Mills, J. N. “A New Species of Hieracium in Derbyshire.” Watsonia, vol. 7, no. 1, 1968, pp. 40–42,
Speedwell Caverns. Welcome to Speedwell Cavern.

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