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Winnats Pass - The Coral Reef

A cache by The Imp Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 12/6/2008
In East Midlands, United Kingdom
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

Size: Size: not chosen (not chosen)

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Geocache Description:

An earthcache is a virtual cache designed to show and simply explain a geological feature, more details can be found at The coordinates are for a car park (payment required) although you can park at the bottom of the hill for free subject to space being available near N53.20.568 W001.47.251. In the summer parking may be more difficult due to the volume of tourists, so please plan the time of your visit carefully.

Winnats Pass is a SSSI (Site of Significant Scientific Interest) and therefore protected because of its spectacular geology. The hole of Winnats Pass is under management of The National Trusts High Peak & Longshaw Estate Office, to whom we thank for consenting to this earthcache.

Background: Winnats Pass is a narrow limestone gorge which is the only direct route from the west of Castleton in the Hope Valley towards the top of the limestone plateau above. It climbs 1300 feet up through a dale. The name Winnats is short for 'Windygates' and on a windy day you will see why it came by that name, for the wind seems to swirl around everywhere. Past generations believed Winnats Pass was a collapsed cave, however modern geologists have discovered a more complex and more ancient origin.

The valley was created by the action of water eating away at the limestone rock - water gradually dissolves the limestone and the streams tend to find their way underground by gradually enlarging the natural cracks and fissures in the rock. The formation of the Pass can be dated back over 300 million years ago to the time when it was a coral reef.

In time this reef was covered in mud and sand, which in time turned into shale and sandstone rock. The remains of the coral reef turned into limestone when millions of sea creatures were preserved as fossils. Eventually the reef was buried below some 3 km of rock, however as time moved on the earth movements lifted the rock and the wind and water slowly wore away the layers of sandstone and exposed the buried reef. The Ice Age put the finishing touches to the shape of the pass with a glacier. As it moved westerly , slowly thawing, torrents of water flowed, but as the ground was still frozen, the water could not penetrate and subsequently the shale was washed away.

There are numerous underground stream systems in this area and these created a large cave system beneath the edge of the cliff overlooking Castleton. The  valley contains a number of known pot-holes and Speedwell Cavern (one of the area's many show caves) has its entrance at the foot of Winnats Pass.

There are numerous footpaths around Winnats Pass and a short walk up the pass and down by another route is recommended.

If you are standing at the coordinates given, more information is available on the notice board. The fossils mentioned can be seen on the large rock behind you. please do not take any fossils away without the express permission of the National Trust. Thank you.

To claim this earth cache email us via the profile with the following information

1: The reefs at Winnats pass were created how many millions of years ago?

2: Name the fossils that can be found in the valley today?

Q's: 1&2 can be found at the coords.

3:  In the 18th Century, the Peak Forest was an area where any couple could get married day or night.  A young couple, Allen (sometimes refered to as Henry) and Clara,  were on their way there in 1758 via Winnats Pass; What happened to them (Research required i.e.: Internet ).

4: Also log a photo of yourself, with your GPS at the site. The photo must show the pass in the background. Night photos NOT accepted. (Please do not log photo until you receive confirmation your answers to question 1, 2 & 3 are correct. NOTE: Slightly Silly photo's keep us amused!!!) non approved photo's & claims of a find will be deleted!


The Imp is a Platinum Earthcache Master.

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Current Time:
Last Updated: on 11/17/2017 2:47:19 AM (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) (10:47 AM GMT)
Rendered From:Unknown
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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