The Winnats Pass Walk is considered one of the most iconic hikes in the Peak District. In this guide, I share an adventurous walk route to Winnats Pass, as well as all the essential info you’ll need before visiting.
Winnats Pass is a narrow valley in the Peak District surrounded by towering cliffs and limestone outcrops. You can drive or walk through the valley when travelling west from Castleton village. It makes for an epic-road trip but an even better hike.
This Winnats Pass Walk takes you up to the highest point of the pass and allows for some of the best views in all of the Peak District. It’s a fairly adventurous hike involving strenuous inclines and nerve-wracking drop-offs, but nothing most experienced hikers can’t handle.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about this beautiful Peak District walk. I’ll include how to get there, where to park, and the best time to visit so you’ll be well prepared for your Winnats Pass hike. Let’s get to it.
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Winnats Pass Walk at a Glance
Time: 2-3 hours
Winnats Pass Walk FAQs
Before I share my experience walking Winnats Pass, let’s cover some key information to help you plan accordingly.
How to Get There
Winnats Pass is located in the Hope Valley area of the Peak District. It’s just a few minutes west of Castleton, 5 miles southeast of Edale, and 2 miles south of Ladybower Reservoir. It’s also just a 30-minute drive from Sheffield.
While there are plenty of parking spots in Castleton Village, we parked at this spot at the foot of the Mam Tor trailhead. It’s free to park here and tends to get less busy than other car parks in Castleton. If you’d prefer a shorter walking route, you can also park here by Speedwell Cavern.
Getting here by public transport is also doable. The 272 bus runs between Sheffield and Castleton, and the 200 runs from Chapel-en-le-Frith via Winnats Pass. The closest railway station is in Edale.
Best Time to Visit
Despite being one of the most impressive mountain passes in the UK, Winnats Pass remains quite the hidden gem. We walked it twice during our visit – once for sunrise and once during the afternoon. Both times we only encountered 1 or 2 people along the route.
The same can’t be said for the road, though. It gets jam-packed driving through the pass, and since the road is so narrow, it can cause a bit of traffic. If you drive through it, keep as far over as you can to allow other vehicles to pass you.
I highly recommend the Winnats Pass walk for sunrise if you don’t mind the early start. Various viewpoints along the trail allow for some spectacular photos, and with very few cars on the road at this time, it’s the most peaceful time to experience it.
I would, however, avoid the Winnats Pass walk route during high winds, heavy rain, or poor visibility. The trail can be slippery, and there are steep-drop offs that could be fatal.
Winnats Pass Walk Difficulty
I have classified this hike as moderate in difficulty. It isn’t exactly a long hike at 7.1 km, and the incline is also quite manageable; however, some areas require a fair bit of scrambling.
For directions, I always recommend having a map to hand. You’ll find the odd sign along the route, but I wouldn’t want to rely on them. There are many trails in this area, which can be disorientating.
There are plenty of opportunities for those looking to up the intensity of their walk. You can include Cave Dale – another stunning Peak District walk. Or climb Mam Tor for epic views over Hope Valley.
You can also make this hike shorter and more accessible by parking at this car park by Speedwell Cavern and walking up onto the pass from there.
Winnats Pass Circular Walk Map
Other Things Worth Knowing
Dogs: The entirety of this trail is dog-friendly. Our 11-year-old Jack Russell/Chihuahua handled the route with no problems. However, there is livestock around, so please keep your dog on a lead.
Kids: This Winnats Pass walk route is probably ok for adventurous older children but unsuitable for younger kids.
Pushchair/Wheelchair Access: Unfortunately, this route is not accessible with a pushchair or wheelchair.
Footwear: Supportive footwear with a good grip is essential for this walk.
Weather: Be mindful that the weather can change quickly in the hills. Be prepared for all the seasons.
Facilities: There are pubs, toilets, picnic benches, and other facilities in Castleton.
Map: It’s always good to have a map handy should you get lost or lose the trail. We use All Trails for this purpose.
Hiking Essential Items
Check out our Hiking Must Haves Blog for a list of hiking essentials for each and every adventure. Alternatively, here are some essential items I recommend you have in preparation for your walk:
- Sturdy worn-in hiking boots
- Twin Skin Socks
- A waterproof hiking backpack
- A refillable water bottle
- A waterproof jacket
- Life straw
- Hiking snacks
- Blister plasters
- First aid kit
- Power bank
Here are some other essentials for your adventure:
Our Experience on this Winnats Pass Walk
Our first encounter with Winnats Pass was in our campervan when we drove through it to reach the Mam Tor trailhead. It wasn’t part of our original plan, but driving along the scenic pass, I knew we’d have to add a Winnats Pass hike to our itinerary.
We parked up, got on our hiking boots, and immediately went to explore. I mapped out a circular route to Winnats Pass which meant we could visit one of the Peak Districts Best Villages, Castleton, at the same time. It’s a great feeling when you can k!ll two birds with one stone.
After a short walk across a farmer’s field, we found ourselves on the eastern side of the pass. Two trails spear off at this point. One hugs the road at ground level, and the other is across the road and leads you up onto the cliff top.
It doesn’t matter which trail you choose. This Winnats Pass walking route includes both. But if you want to follow in our footsteps, we took the trail that goes up and over the pass.
It was a fairly steep climb ascending the trail, but anybody with a reasonable fitness level will manage it with no problems. The hairy part comes a bit later when you near the higher points of the cliff.
Once you reach the top, you are rewarded with some unbelievable views. This has got to be one of the most scenic roads in the UK, and viewing it all from above is quite a treat. Various viewpoints along the trail are perfect for a photo op but needless to say, please be careful.
By the time you reach the end of the pass, you are less than 3 km into your hike, but if you’re anything like us, you will spend quite a lot of time admiring the views and taking photos. You can now make your way into Castleton, but only after a tricky descent first.
The photos don’t give an accurate perspective of how steep this section is. I spent more time on my backside than my feet, but thankfully there was a rope to clamber onto. If I did this hike again, I’d probably do it in reverse, as I’d rather scramble up a hill than down it.
From there, it was an easy run into Castleton. We felt well deserving of a coffee and cake, which we prioritised before meandering around the village. There are a few things worth seeing in Castleton, such as Peveril Castle, Peak Cavern, and charming local shops. There are also plenty of pubs.
The route back to the parking area took us through Winnats Pass at the ground level. While the view from the top is unbeatable, it was still interesting to see it from a different perspective. I only didn’t enjoy being so close to the road, which got quite busy by the late afternoon.
The trail is quite deceiving in this section, as the incline is much steeper than it looks. My legs were burning as we advanced through the pass, and it didn’t help that an unexpected storm hit us out of nowhere. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the challenge and revelled in the beautiful views.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this hike. From the views to the terrain and the charm of Castleton village, it made for a memorable day in the Peak District. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Enjoy This Winnats Pass Walk!
I hope you enjoy this breathtaking location as much as we did. It’s one of the best Peak District viewpoints, in my opinion, and makes for a fabulous sunrise walk. Let me know what you think in the comments!
Stay adventurous and Happy travels.