Winnats Pass is a spectacular steep-sided limestone gorge in the Peak District of Derbyshire and forms part of the National Trust’s High Peak Estate. It gets its name from a corruption of “Windygates” and on a windy day, it is easy to see why. It is a long collapsed limestone cave system, created by melting glaciers wearing away the rock. The sides of the valley contain a number of potholes, the most famous of which, Speedwell Cavern, has its entrance at the foot of Winnats Pass, half a mile from Castleton. It can only be explored by an underground boat journey along an 800 metre canal. The National Trust tenant farmer manages and controls sheep grazing, so that rare plants get a better chance to flower and seed.
The road through Winnats Pass is the only road to the west of Castleton since the Mam Tor road, the A625, was closed in 1979. The Winnats Pass road is heavily used, but as it is very narrow and has a steep gradient, buses, coaches and any vehicle over 7.5 tonnes, are banned. Some local people believe that Winnats Pass is haunted by a young couple who were murdered there in 1758. They were eloping to Peak Forest Chapel, but five drunken miners in Castleton noticed their fine clothing and followed them to Winnats Pass, where they were murdered and their money stolen. Their bodies were found ten years later. Alan and Clara are buried in St. Edmund’s Church, Castleton. Some believe that their voices can be heard in Winnats Pass, or is it only the wind?