Monday, March 16, 2009

Up and Down Winnats Pass

We set out along the pavemented walk towards the entrance to Winnats Pass. The day was warm and clear; it was early so there weren't too many people around but we knew that it would get much busier, it is after all, one of Derbyshire's 'honeypots'.

As we passed the entrance to Speedwell Cavern the car park opposite was beginning to fill as families arrived to take one of the boats through the cavern. I remember a school trip here - too many years ago now to mention - part of a geography lesson, I think.

We carried on walking, by the footpath leading to Treak Cliff Cavern and into the pass. There is a road through it now as the old road towards Mam Tor was closed, due to a land slide, in 1974.

The atmosphere changed as soon as we entered; it seemed darker and cooler with the wind gusting towards us trying to push us back but we persevered.

The crows were 'cawing' to each other as they swooped and dived high up above our heads, the hardy hillside sheep bleating occasionally as they chewed at the sparse grass, sometimes standing almost vertically on the hillside and way up above a buzzard thermalling high in the sky. I have to confess that I didn't realise I had managed to catch the buzzard on the photo until I saw it later.

About halfway along the Pass we turned to take in the view behind us. How much further to go?

At the top now! So this is where the sheep gather! Behind us is Mam Tor, also known as the 'shivering mountain'. There were lots of walkers and climbers up there already. Little dots to the naked eye.

After taking in the views whilst having a rest and consuming our coffee and flapjacks it was time to return the way we had come. So much easier to walk now with the wind behind us and downhill all the way.

The craggy limestone rocks above are full of little cave like mine entrances and mining addits. The rocks are still rich with the famous Blue John and fossils like trilobites and brachiopods.

We stopped off at the Speedwell Cavern and went into the little shop to look at the Blue John and the fossils and found also a 'cabinet of curios' from a bygone age when the mines were still worked. The side-saddle in the middle case is said to have belonged to the ill-fated Clara who had run away to be married with her suitor Allan. The couple are said to have stopped at the village of Castleton for refreshment and directions to the 'runnaway church' at Peak Forest where they could be married without parental consent. They were attacked, robbed and murdered on their way through Winnats Pass - here is a link to the full, and very sad story.

Then it was time to head back towards Castleton where Peveril Castle nestles on the hill up above the pretty village.


  1. Amazing scenery! Thanks for taking me along with you ;-)

  2. Thanks for taking us on another really great walk. Good job you did too, it has reminded me to watch the railway walks programme, tonight I think it is! Helen x

  3. I love Castleton, but Like it during the week when its not so busy. Not been for ages, willhave to speak to the "driver" and see if we can't go.
    Rosie x

  4. Stunning photographs Rosie. You do go on some very beautiful and interesting walks. I am going to follow your link now to read the story about the runaways.

  5. The Winnats Pass is quite something isn't it? I've driven up it regularly over the last thiry odd years on my way over to my home county of Cheshire. Peveril Castle is worth climbing up to as well, the view from the top is lovely and the ruins of the castle are interesting too.

  6. Absolutley lovely, thank you x

  7. Every time I read one of your walking posts I resolve to do more walking. We have such beauty at our doorstep, thanks for reminding me.

  8. What a wonderful walk and commentary on the countryside! With all the walking you do you must be in excellent physical condition. Thanks for taking us along...sure did enjoy it!

    Can you tell me a little more about the boats and the cavern?

  9. Thanks everyone for you continued visits and kind comments, I really appreciate them:)

    Sal - glad you enjoyed the walk and scenery.

    Helen - hope you got to watch the programme:)

    Rosie - hope you can get to Castleton soon:)

    Simone - isn't it a sad story?

    Pamela - I know you love the rugged scenery.

    Rowan - yes, the castle is wonderful isn't it and so worth a visit - quite a climb up though!

    Rosie - glad you enjoyed the walk:)

    Valerie - yes we are so lucky to live close to so many wonderful places, aren't we?

    Teresa - I've put a link now to Speedwell Cavern - the boat takes people along the underground stream and through the cave.

  10. We love Castleton - its a favorite any time of the year. We often go camping out at Edale - the scenery is so stunning. I was once amazed to read that the girls who lived in Castleton, long ago, would walk over the hills to get to work in the mills at Edale - for 5 o'clock in the morning!! Everyday!! They don't make girls like they used to.

  11. Wow, your photos are marvelous, Rosie. They took my breath away! I certainly enjoyed the journey, Thanks.