Winnats Pass!

Winnats Pass was formed millions of years ago by underground rivers carving their way through limestone beds.  Gradually, these rivers dug out huge caverns beneath the surface, thinning out the upper layers until eventually the ceiling collapsed - leaving a gorge of over a mile in length.

This area is ideal rock hunting ground - with caves containing Stalagmites and Stalagtites - in addition to bands of Blue John and other Flourspar deposits which are clearly visible in fine veins within the cave walls.

Here at the top of Winnats Pass, the start of the long drop into Castleton Village.  Anywhere along this stretch you will find fossils and minerals - although be aware, the sign is there for a reason.  Falling rocks cause a danger to passing walkers and motor vehicles, but they also provide the rock hunter with fresh material on a regular basis - without the need for scaling large steep rock faces.  Scour the scree around this area to find fossils and the ever present Blue John.

In the foreground of the picture below, you will see the loose - weather worn and spaced out blocks.  These are rich in Blue John and fossils - again - mainly marine life such as various brachiopod and trilobites.  Broken up by freeze thaw action over millions of years, these pieces of limestone are easily broken down with a small hammer and cold chisel - allowing inspection of internal materials.

Above - Winnats Pass gorge - easy pickings for any enthusiastic rock hound.

As you move down Winnats Pass towards the bottom before the cattle grid in the road, you will see the above cave opening on your left hand side.  This cave is open to anyone and goes deep into the hillside.  Inside, if you have a bright torch! you will find Blue John and various flowstone samples.  Take a rope with you - as you go deeper there are some large drops - bear in mind that the deeper you go, the more samples you will find, as not that many people venture beyond the initial opening.

As you look back up the gorge, you can see there is plenty of ground to cover, both on the slopes and even by the side of the road, this area is littered with Blue John, Cacium deposits and fossils.

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