Its YouTube Video number 11 and the fifth in the scary true stories series.
This is another long video but a great story. We did a lot of research trying to tie everything together but actually ended up more confused than when we started.
We also tried to mix 360 with normal video but it wasn’t as seamless as we hoped so we have gone back to normal video with a directors cut of the 360 clips in it.
The full script is below and get ready for the next one – its a stunning story of Murder, Red Shoes and Gibbets
Welcome to our look at the Dark History of Winnats Pass
This is our first joint video, which will probably the format going forward. I am Nigel Blythe
And I am Angela Blythe.
I do the research, and the visuals
and I do the ghosty bits.
If you are of a certain age, Angela is Esther Ranson, and I am Cyril Fletcher
To be honest, I have had this video for a while, and I have not been really sure about what I wanted to do with it
Let’s start with the version of the story as told in most guide books.
It is 1758, and two young lovers are in Castleton, and their names are Allan and Clara.
They are eloping and are trying to get to the Church of the Peak Forest, which in the day was a version of Gretna Green where you could be married any time of the day or night – no questions asked. Sadly the couple never made it this far to tie the knot.
From all accounts, the couple were in the Castle Inn in Castleton and one day decided it was time to make the 5-mile journey from Castleton to the Church via Winnats Pass.
Not much is known about the pair other than their names, but I believe they were both from Scotland. What does seem to be known is that they were both wealthy and indeed they must have looked wealthy enough to be targets for a bunch of ner do wells who decided to rob them on their journey.
At this point, I have seen the number of baddies range from 2 to 5, but as I have a deathbed confession, I am going with 5.
As they made their way to the pass, the couple were attacked, pulled from their horses and dragged quickly to an isolated barn.
In the barn, they were made to strip – I have read a story which explains why but I will leave that to your imagination. At one point during their ordeal, Allan begged the men for mercy, but it looks like mercy wasn’t forthcoming as this ended up in a struggle. Allan had his throat cut, and while he lay on the floor, bleeding out, Clara was hit with a pickaxe to her brain to stop her screams.
The bodies remained in the barn for two days while the horses and the belongings were divided up, the sum of 200 pounds is mentioned, which was a tidy sum in those days. The bodies were then buried with no clothes or means of identification
The five men then went about their business, and as there was no trace of a crime, they did not answer for their wicked deeds.
Well they did not answer to man and perhaps they might have wished they had
On Wednesday the 28 of January 1829, an article was published covering the deathbed confession of a James Ashton who at the time of the revelation was living, or more accurately dying slowly, in Edinburgh. He originally came from Castleton and confessed that he, Nicholas Cook, Thomas Hall, John Bradley and Francis Butler had met the couple, killed and buried them.
With his proceeds, Ashton bought horses to carry coal to Sheffield, but they all mysteriously died one after the other, leaving him penniless. Interestingly he is credited as saying that he was never alone on his journeys as he always had a beautiful woman with him, she rode with him on his horse.
Cook’s daughter seems to have caused a few tounges wagging by turning up at church in an expensive outfit, but at the time no one made the connection. One evening Cook went for a walk in Winnats Pass and was later found dead at the bottom of a precipice near to the murder location.
Thomas Hall went slowly mad, thinking he was being haunted or pursued by something and eventually hung himself.
John Bradley was walking one morning close to the place where the bodies were eventually discovered when a rock fell from the hill and killed him on the spot. There are some reports about how onlookers were shocked at this incident but no further details. I will leave it to your imagination as to whether the stone hit his head in the same place as the pickaxe did for Clara.
The final murderer, Francis Butler, was so tormented that he tried and failed to hang himself numerous times and eventually went mad and died a miserable death which wasn’t detailed.
The confessor seems to have died from an infection like gangrene as there was a description somewhere about a terrible stench coming from his body. It appears he was dying for ten weeks but finally died once the confession had been made.
So it’s a good story so far, and one that could be a great movie – a young couple murdered and the evil perpetrators are killed in various inventive ways by a vengeful spirit.
This spirit looks like it was still hanging about in the 1930s when I can find at least two stories in the newspapers about ghostly sightings and one ended in an all-night vigil on the top of Winnats pass by a group of ramblers. A shapeless form is reported to have floated alongside some walkers from Buxton uttering ghostly wails while pursuing them across the moor.
But as with most stories, the more you look into them, the stranger it gets, and reality is always stranger than fiction
The story from the 19th century concludes with some miners discovering the bodies while in the process of sinking an engine shaft in Winnats Pass. In an 1829 article, they mention that the bodies were found about 7 years earlier, so let’s all agree 1820 ish. The bodies were identified as the missing couple because the male skull was missing one of its front teeth, which matched the description of Allan from witnesses when he was alive.
The couple are meant to be buried in the Church of Saint Edmunds in Castleton, and this is a video of this lovely location. We usually like to end the video with some images of the grave to give the story some closure.
Then we did some more research
In the summer of 1921, they were doing some work on the Blue John Mines, and they found two skeletons which everyone decided was the bodies of Allen and Clara – somehow they all forgot that they had already found and buried two bodies about 100 years ago.
In a bizarre passage, the newspaper stories mention that the two grinning skulls where on display as an exhibition for the Sheffield Telegraph in Castleton. The remains were examined, and it was decided that they were about 150 years old. The authorities decided it was an open and shut case and closed further investigations and ordered the bodies to be buried in, yes you guessed it, the Church of Saint Edmund in Castleton.
So apart from the fact that I now have missed two or maybe four graves in the churchyard I am flummoxed about the final part of the mystery – is it just me or has someone made a mistake and we have at least one murder that needs to be investigated a little bit more. If anyone does know the location of the graves, please contact us as I really like some closure in my murder cases like we did with the Bill O Jacks murders
Maybe we should just accept that bodies appear twice from the same murder or perhaps more worryingly, 2 bodies are found every 100 years. If that is the case, we are probably due another discovery soon.
Anyway, we have time for a quick round-up of the other story I came across when looked around Winnats. When you come from the car park and walk up the pass, you see a cave over to your right. I thought it was a good place to shove my camera in as it’s stuck on the end of a big pole.
Now after research, it seems that this is probably the famous suicide cave were in 1927, two lovers killed themselves by taking poison.
A poor unfortunate rambler snuck into the cave to escape some rainy weather and was confronted by the deathly pale face of a young woman looking up at him. Unsurprisingly he decided he wasn’t bothered about getting wet and he ran down through the rain to the village to get help.
It seems that this was a death pact between a young girl called Majorie Stewart who was 17 and a married man of 26 by the name of Harry Fallows. The man was separated from his wife and child and was living in Moston in Manchester on the same street as the girl. It seems that the girl’s father forbade the man from seeing her and was quite shocked to receive a telegram from his daughter telling him that the two had gone away together. They had both drunk bottles of disinfectant and died from Lysol poisoning.
Their bodies are also buried in the churchyard
So that’s it for this trip – it’s been a bit of a saga, and we have found out a lot more than we probably wanted to about this pass. Dobby needs a drink and the girls are tired.
We haven’t even covered that it used to be a coral reef, is a special place of scientific interest, so you cant pick a flower or something, and in the 1800s there were reports of finding the remains of sabre tooth tigers
Here is a lovely trip up the pass for you to enjoy – if you liked the video, please click like or subscribe for more content.
Thanks for watching