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Winnats Pass In The Peak District – A Complete Guide

Winnats Pass in the Derbyshire Peak District is a stunning hill pass and limestone gorge. Here is a complete guide.

How To Get To Winnats Pass

Winnats Pass lies between the small towns of Hope and Sparrowpit, just west of the village of Castleton.

Most people’s first experience of Winnats Pass will be driving through the pass via the 5.8 mile long road.

On Foot

There are many different starting points to walk Winnats Pass.

One of the more popular, starting from Castleton, is a 5 mile (8km) Winnats Pass + Mam Tor walk.

(Pay-and-display parking is available in Castleton with tickets starting at £1.60 for 1 hour, up to £7 for 24 hours.)

You can also park at Speedwell Cavern Car Park, at the base of Winnats Pass, and follow one of the walking trails from there.

Car

Take the the A6187 out of Castleton towards Buxton. Turn left onto Arthurs way and you will reach the start of Winnats Pass in a few minutes.

Drive through the 5.8 mile Pass on Winnats Pass Road and take in the amazing views from your car. Or park at Speedwell Cavern Car Park, at the base of Winnats Pass, and take a walk from there.

Bus

Bus number 200 runs from Chapel-en-le-Frith to Castleton, via Winnats Pass.

Number 272 connects Sheffield to Castleton.

Train

The nearest railway station to Winnats Pass is Edale station.

Winnats Pass Entrance Fee

It is free to visit Winnats Pass.

Winnats Pass Opening Times

Winnats Pass is accessible all day, every day.

We would not recommend walking on the pass once it is getting dark.

Driving through the pass during icy weather is also not recommended.

Speedwell Cavern Winnats Pass Car Park In The Peak District
The car park at the bottom of Winnats Pass.

Best Time To Visit Winnats Pass

If driving through Winnats Pass, bear in mind that it is a busy road that links some of the main tourist attractions in the Peak District.

That said, you will want to drive slowly on this steep winding route to stay safe and take in the awesome scenery.

It is not advised to use the road during winter since its steep climbs get very dangerous when covered with ice.

Winnats Pass walks can get busy, especially during the Summer, at weekends and during school holidays. Therefore an early start is advisable if you want to miss the crowds.

Some parts of the Winnat Pass walks are quite tough and not recommended for young children.

Have a map of the area with you (you can download one on your phone) for if you you are unsure of which path to follow or want to change your route.

Comfortable walking shoes/boots are advised and layered clothing as the weather can be changeable.

Take some refreshments for when you stop to enjoy the views!

The closest public toilets are in Castleton and Hope.

Dogs are allowed on the walks, as long as they are kept on a lead.

What To Pack

Photography Camera

Tripod

Day Bag

Power Bank

Reusable Water Bottle

Sunscreen

Lightweight Rain Jacket

Winnats Pass In The Peak District
Make sure to pack plenty of snacks and water.

What To Expect At Winnats Pass

Winnats Pass is a winding hill and limestone gorge that offers stunning scenery. The name Winnats means ‘windy gates’ in reference to the winds that swirl through the pass. 

The valley, which is a site of Special Scientific Interest, used to be under a tropical sea. The limestone is full of fossils of sea creatures that lived there more than 350 million years ago.

Interestingly, the Pass was once thought to have originated as a large collapsed cave.

However, a more recent explanation is that it was a ravine between the coral reefs. While the valley was formed by erosion after changes in elevation due to tectonic activity. 

Legend has it that the Pass is haunted, after a young couple were murdered there by miners in the 18th century.

At the foot of the pass is Speedwell Cavern, a Karst cave accessed through a flooded lead mine, and a popular tourist attraction. (This is Castleton side of the Pass.)

Furthermore, Winnats Pass runs East to West and is therefore a great place for amazing sunrise photos. It might mean an early start but being there at the break of dawn is well worth the effort!

Winnats Pass In The Peak District
The view over looking the pass.
Winnats Pass In The Peak District
You’ll likely find some sheep at the top.
Winnats Pass In The Peak District
The air is a little fresher at the top too.

Driving Through The Pass

If looking for a thrilling drive that will show you the beauty of the English rural landscape, then cruising the Winnats Pass Road is the right choice.

The narrow Pass twists, turns and climbs through a steep-sided valley, surrounded by towering limestone ridges and pinnacles.

(Due to the narrowness of the road and its steep slopes it is closed to coaches and vehicles over 7.5 tonnes in weight.)

The road to the summit averages over 10% with a large section of 28% near the top. This hilly 5.8 mile route through rock faces on each side and steep slopes that make a natural amphitheatre, is a breathtaking drive.

Winnats Pass Road regularly features in the Tour of the Peak cycle race each autumn and is also a favourite with motorcyclists.

At the foot of the pass is Speedwell Cavern, a Karst cave accessed through a flooded lead mine, and a popular tourist attraction. (This is Castleton side of the Pass.)

Winnats Pass In The Peak District
Driving through Winnats Pass in our campervan.
Winnats Pass In The Peak District
The road is very narrow so please give room.

Walking Up

There are many different starting points to walk Winnats Pass. One of the most popular, starting from Castleton, is a 5 mile (8km) Winnats Pass + Mam Tor walk.

This is quite a challenging walk that takes you above Winnats Pass but it is definitely worth the effort as it has some of the most amazing views. (Not recommended for young children.)

On the walk there is some rocky terrain, steep parts, gates and stiles and it can be muddy/slippery if it has rained. 

The hike up to Winnats Pass is particularly steep and you may need to use your hands to scramble up in some parts.

After walking along Winnats Pass, you descend down to the road then across and back uphill to the wonderful Mam Tor with even more stunning views. 

Alternatively, if parked in the car park at Speedwell Cavern at the base of Winnats Pass, you will find many walking trails from here that lead directly up and into the pass.

Another option if you’re really not that much of a hiker, is to park at the top and walk across the cattle grid for easy access!

That way, similarly to Baslow Edge, it’s more of a flat stroll than an uphill hike.

Winnats Pass In The Peak District
Our easy access point from the top of Winnats Pass.
Winnats Pass In The Peak District
The views from above the road.
Winnats Pass In The Peak District
Exploring as always.

Where To Stay In The Peak District

Luxury

Devonshire Arms at Beeley – Chatsworth

Devonshire Arms at Beeley is located on the Chatsworth Estate, which is owned by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. 

It is a 25-minute cross-country walk from Chatsworth House, and the property offers free WiFi in all areas and free on-site parking.

Each of the 18 individually designed bedrooms has an en-suite bathroom. Rooms are situated either in the main inn or the converted adjoining cottages.

Devonshire Arms at Beeley – Chatsworth has a relaxing and welcoming bar serving a selection of locally brewed ales, and wines from around the world. The restaurant serves produce that is locally sourced from the Chatsworth Estate.

This dog-friendly accommodation is 5.8 miles from Matlock and 9.7 miles from Chesterfield.

Mid-Budget

Ackroyd House

Set in just under 2 acres of private gardens, Ackroyd House is a 5-star country house located in Thurstonland, in the heart of Yorkshire countryside. It offers free WiFi and free private off road parking.

Rooms at the Ackroyd House feature en suite bathroom facilities, a large private seating area, a large flat TV and tea/coffee making facilities.

At Ackroyd House you will find a garden, barbecue facilities and a terrace. Other facilities offered at the property include an ironing service.

An array of activities can be enjoyed on site or in the surroundings, including cycling and hiking.

Budget

YHA Hartington Hall

Set in a grand 17th-century manor, this YHA offers cosy log fires and cooked meals. It is situated in Hartington, in the heart of the Peak District.

The majority of rooms at YHA Hartington Hall contain bunk beds. There is also a guest lounge, with Wi-Fi access and a games area, and laundry facilities are available on site.

The traditional restaurant serves full evening meals, and features exposed beams and original fireplaces. A breakfast buffet is served daily, and there is also a guest kitchen.

Hartington Hall YHA is set in beautiful grounds, just a 20-minute drive from historical Buxton. YHA has free parking, and the magnificent Chatsworth House Estate is a 25-minute drive away.

For more places to stay in the Peak District, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.

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