Winnats Pass 1758 – 2021

I had intended to go to Castleton and research the ‘often told’ story of the murder of ‘Henry’and ‘Clara’ in Winnats Pass (near Castleton in the Peak District) in 1758. Essentially I couldn’t find their gravestones in St Edmunds Church (although further research this evening has pinpointed them), and I couldn’t gain clarity on where the barn might have been that they were murdered in (by 5 lead miners), or the cave where their bodies were disposed of. So not a great start. It’s an interesting story if only for the huge number of variations of the story as often happens.

St Edmunds in Castleton

I’ll tell that story another time.

As I was in Castleton anyway, I though that rather than waste the evening I would try and follow the ‘Guides Trod’. I had read somewhere several years ago that Guides used to take paying clients on a walk for dawn and sunset along a somewhat precarious trod under the Southern lip of Winnats Pass. I had seen the trod last weekend whilst scrambling Elbow and Matterhorn Ridges on the other side. My understanding was that the trod was guided from the uphill (West) end of the Pass, but I decided to try it from the East.

Elbow Ridge nearest the camera, with Matterhorn Ridge visible beyond
looking down

So began an hour of standing on 70 degree damp grass slopes over a 600ft drop trying to pick out a tiny trod that traversed. I started too high, back tracked, and found the line. It provides an amazing perspective on the pass and the surrounding features – the Hope Valley, Mam Tor, the Great Ridge.

Hope Valley with Win Hill in the distance

I made it along to the ‘big cave’ which turns out to be more of an overhang than a cave. I boiled some water and had my supper here. There wasn’t much of the traverse left after the cave.

‘big cave’

I made mental note that my insurers probably wouldn’t insure me to take clients across there, and I probably wouldn’t want to anyway. A lot of it is both very steep and very loose. The risk of kicking a stone off a 600ft drop on to a car in the Pass demands careful footwork.

I did spy some good places for photography and possibly a bivvy – so it was a useful recce, but the traverse was committing rather than fun !!

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