Look up the hill, you can see the winding and narrow road of Winnats Pass. This deep route runs between the two towering pinnacles of limestone on either side. The wind swirls and it’s no wonder that there is the legend of the pass being haunted by murdered two lovers.
When you head through Winnats Pass, it is difficult to imagine that this once would have been at the bottom of a tropical ocean. There are fossilised sea creatures in the limestone rocks which date back to 350 million years ago when this would have been a coral reef, the deep ravine forming when a large underground cave system collapsed. This cave system was created after melting glaciers wore away at the rock, allowing streams of water between the cracks as the limestone dissolved. These deepened the cracks and fissures, opening them up to create large caverns with thin roofs. When these collapsed, they formed steep sided valleys like the one here at Winnats Pass.
But the history of Winnats Pass doesn’t just end with the formation of the ravine. Instead there is much communal myth and speculation surrounding the eerie pass. In 1758, local couple Alan and Clara eloped to get married after their families strongly disapproved of their union. Once hailed as the ‘Gretna Green of England’, Alan and Clara headed to Peak Forest Chapel to marry in secret. On their way there, they stopped in Castleton and drew attention to themselves due to their fine clothes. When they headed through Winnats Pass, they were followed by five local miners who mugged and murdered the young couple before disposing of the bodies in a mine shaft where they were found a decade later.
Although the couple are now buried in the church in Castleton, it is said that their ghosts roam the pass, and screams at sundown are reportedly heard. But is this Alan and Clara, or just the swirling winds trapped in the ravine?