Cycling Winnats Pass.
This climb comes in at number 33 on Simon Warren’s list of the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs in Great Britain. Warren writes of this climb, “for sheer drama, nothing matches Winnats Pass, a winding road through a natural cleft, surrounded by towering, grass-covered limestone pinnacles” (100 Greatest Cycling Climbs).
Midway through this climb is a short but spectacular canyon. On the day we climbed Winnats Pass in August 2018, there were sheep grazing along the roadway in the shade of the steep hillside on the northern side of the road.
Winnats Pass has hosted the British National Hill Climb Championships in 1947 (Vic Clark), 1949 (Bob Maitland), 1953 (Roy Keughley), 1957 (Erick Wilson), 1959 (Gordon Rhodes), 1972 (John Granville Sydney) and 1977 (John Parker). Although Winnats Pass was the most popular site for the Championship from 1947 to 1977 (included seven times), it has not hosted the event since because a nearby road collapsed in a landslide, making Winnats too important for transport connections to close the road for a cycling event.
The climb begins just west of Castleton at the “Peak Cavern Peveril Castle” sign.
Start of climb.
Visit Peveril Castle while you are here for your climb. This is a ruined 11th-century castle overlooking the village of Castleton. The castle is one of England’s earliest Norman Fortresses built by Henry II in 1176. During your visit also consider tours of Peak Cavern and Speedwell Cavern.
Left and Center Photos: Englishheritage.org; Upper right: Speedwell Cavern Facebook;
Lower right: Peakcavern.com
The climb is 1.9 kilometers at a stout 11.1% average grade. The 450 meters just after bending right halfway through the midpoint canyon gets your attention at 16.5%.
1.3 km mark -- towards end of 16.5% 450 meters.
Steepest ½ Kilometer begins at 800 meters (16.3%)
The Winnats Pass climb begins just west of Castleton (population 642 in 2011) ,a village in the High Peak district of Derbyshire, England. Castleton was the location of one of the manors owned by William Perverel around the time of 1086. Another interesting historical location in the area is a medieval leper hospital, called the Hospital of Saint Mary in the Peak, which is thought to have been the village’s eastern boundary. In 1837, St. Edmund’s Norman church was restored from its 13th century ruins. Throughout the years, Castleton has also prospered as an area for lead mines (including Odin Mine, one of the oldest lead mines in England). Visitors to the area can tour four caverns created by mining: Peak Cavern, Blue John Cavern, Speedwell Cavern, and Treak Cliff Cavern (Castleton).
The climb is located in Peak District National Park, which is the UK’s oldest national park (established 1951):
“The Peak District is an upland area in England at the southern end of the Pennines. It is mostly in northern Derbyshire, but also includes parts of Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire. An area of great diversity, it is split into the northern Dark Peak, where most of the moorland is found and the geology is gritstone, the southern White Peak, where most of the population lives and the geology is mainly limestone, and the South West Peak, with landscapes similar to both the Dark and White Peaks.
With its proximity to the cities of Manchester, Stoke-on-Trent, Derby and Sheffield, and easy access by road and rail, it attracts millions of visitors every year” (Peak District)