The Winking Man – Leek, England - Atlas Obscura
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The Winking Man

A face-like natural rock formation so well known, a pub was named in its honor.  

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Hidden in the heart of England, resides a curious anthropomorphic rock formation that has garnered a certain level of fame. Protruding from the hillside, this colossal stone goliath is most commonly known as the Winking Man. However, to those more familiar with the formation it’s simply known as Winky.

With facial features sculpted by the elements, this charming character is part of Ramshaw Rocks in North Staffordshire. This mysterious Peak District beauty spot makes up part of the Roaches, a prominent rocky ridge situated above the Leek and Tittesworth Reservoir. Jutting out of the landscape in this atmospheric area, well known to walkers, climbers, and free-runners alike, the Winking Man looks out over the Leek to Buxton road.

Marking the south-western edge of the district, this face-like anomaly has an unexpected talent. True to his namesake the Winking Man gives a cheeky wink to passing motorists heading towards Buxton. As local legend has it, women fortunate enough to witness this unusual phenomenon may soon be hearing the pitter-patter of little feet. However, this so-called wink is simply a consequence of parallax. The “eye” only appears to wink due to a pinnacle of rock passing behind the face. 

Unfortunately, this amazing formation was the victim of vandalism during the 1970s. The pointed tip of his nose was removed by vandals, never to be seen again. Despite his disfiguration, this gigantic gentleman holds a special place in the hearts of locals.

Know Before You Go

Lay-by parking is available to the west of the rocks. Please arrive early to ensure a space.

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