Winnats Pass (SW #33) Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

2.2
FIETS
1.2 mi
DISTANCE
672 ft
GAINED
11 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

INTRO

Cycling through the grass covered limestone walled pass is spectacular. This is one of the top must-do's of the 100 Greatest Britain Cycling Climbs. 
Average grade is 11.1%.  40% of the climb is at 10-15% and 24% is at 15-20%.  The steepest 500 meters is 16.3%.

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button.

Roadway:  Two lane road with no center line, in good condition and with no shoulder.

Traffic:  Moderate to heavy.

Parking:  On the side of the road or the car park just before the beginning of the climb (MapStreet View). 
Provisions:  There are several locations to get food and beverages in Castleton where the climb begins. 
Before heading out on any cycling adventure check out our Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip and use our interactive check list to ensure you don't forget anything.
This is #33 on the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, Britain and is one of 12 climbs in the Midlands section. Use the “Routes in Area” button on the menu bar above to see other bike climbs in the region.  

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.  See: Google Map Things to do in Castleton with Reviews.


ROUTE MAP

MEMBER RATING

Not Yet Rated
-
Road
-
Traffic
-
Scenery

CURRENT WEATHER

NEARBY CLIMBS (0) RADIAL PROXIMITY

FROM
No Climbs Found

MEMBER REVIEWS & COMMENTS

Let us know what you thought of this climb. Signup for our FREE membership to write a review or post a comment.
Already have an account?
ROUTE MAP
PROFILE TOOL

Climb Profile Not Found
CLIMB SUMMARY

panoramic view of Winnats Pass, green hills with stone outcropping, blue sky

Cycling Winnats Pass, England.

Ride 1.2 miles gaining 672’ at 11% average grade.

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).  When we asked Simon for a list of his 10 most epic bike climbs in England, Wales, Scotland, and the UK, he listed Winnats Pass as #1 England and #4 UK (after Bealach na Ba, Stwlan Dam, and Bwlch y Groes

Cycling Winnats Pass - photo collage, roadways lined with stone fences, green hilsides, sheep grazing along hillsides, sign for 20% grade and cattle grid, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner           

Climb summary by PJAMM Cycling’s Brad Butterfield (2018 and 2022):

Winnats Pass is Central England's not-so-good kept secret. The roads that trace the countryside are sure to be packed with cars, RVs, motorcycles, and of course fellow cyclists. Of my three weeks of travel through the UK, the Winnats Pass and surrounding Peaks National Park have been the most packed with fellow tourists - and for good reason too. Winnats Pass is an absolute must-ride while cycling in England.

Our climb starts at the intersection with the road that leads to the now defunct Odin mine - which for centuries was mined for lead, copper and zinc ore.

           

photo collage shows stone-lined country road surrounded by green pastureland

Ride between stone walls for 4/10ths of a mile up to Winnats Gorge.

The climb road is narrow, with no shoulder and almost certainly very heavy traffic. The road is barely wide enough for two cars to pass in most sections, and not wide enough in others. So, while cycling, cars will likely build up behind you and wait for their gap to pass. It makes for an interesting ride. What can’t be denied despite the heavy traffic, is the unbelievable canyon scenery that our road winds up.

sign for Cattle Grid, 20% grade

On the late June day in 2022 that I rode Winnats Pass, the sun was out and lighting up the fluorescent canyon grasses, creating a truly stellar spectacle for the short climb. As you bend right up the canyon you meet a cattle grid.

Cycling Winnats Pass - photo collage, straight and curved roadways leading through green hillsides and pastureland, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

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.

photo collage shows limestone gorge

This climb is all about the limestone gorge running 6/10ths of a mile beginning at mile 0.4.  

From here the gradients ease up to the finish point at an intersection with a main road. Parking can be found along some of the pull-outs on the highway that runs perpendicular to the finish point. Additionally, paid parking is available at the dirt lot near the base of the climb.

photo collage shows green hills with stellar rock formations along the climb, Winnats Gorge

Extraordinary rock formations in Winnats Gorge.

photo collage shows aerial drone view of Winnat's Gorge, road running parallel to rock formations

Aerial views of Winnats Gorge.

You can hike to the overlook of Winnats pass via Google 360° view.

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, it has not hosted the event since then because a nearby road collapsed in a landslide, making Winnats too important for transport connections to close the road for a cycling event.

road sign warns of: falling rock, 20% grade, low gear for 1 mile

While the climb has very steep sections (16.5% for a quarter-mile from 0.6 to 0.85) we did not experience any gradients reaching 20%.

The climb begins just west of Castleton at the “Peak Cavern Peveril Castle” sign.

Cycling Winnats Pass - photo collage, white building with sign for "Speedwell Cavern" at base of hillside, signs for Speedwell Cavern, bike parked against sign posted on stone fence saying "Peak Cavern Peveril Castle", ticket for Speedwell Cavern

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%.  

photo collage shows stunning views of rock formations, green hills, and gnarled trees

You can hike from the Speedwell Cavern parking lot 300 meters from start to overlook the canyon.

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).

national trust sign marking Winnats Pass; "no rock samples or plants may be taken"

This is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

There is evidence of sea creatures dating roughly 350 million years in and around the limestone gorge. Thus, the area has been designated an Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981.  There are over 4,100 such sites in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man.  

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).

Access to full Climb Summary requires a PJAMM Cycling PRO Membership!

It takes less than a minute to sign up & with your PRO membership you can:
  • Rate climbs, post comments and share your experiences on any of our climb pages
  • Create bucket lists of climbs & mark the dates you complete them
  • Weather data for all climbs - Start & Finish
  • Upload photos to your member page to customize your PJAMM Cycling experience
  • Utilize all of our interactive tools - Profile & Routes in Area
  • Download climb route .gpx files
Sign up for a PRO Membership

Already have an account? LOG IN HERE