What do you mean..."What's a catch pit?" It's a pit to catch stuff! More accurately, it's a pit to catch runaway wagons which have broken loose from the winch which was hauling them up the 1320 yard, 1:8 Cromford and Sheep Pasture Incline which was the very beginning of the Cromford and High Peak Railway.
When the railway first opened, this catch pit did not exist, but, on this double incline, runaway wagons could reach speeds of up to 120 miles per hour (193kph) and, in 1888, there was a rather spectacular accident here, involving a brake van loaded with gunpowder..! OOPS!!
Two years later, the catch pit was built and a railway employee given the stimulating job of working the points to divert each safely winched wagon around it.
If you click to view the picture large, you can just make out evidence that the pit did work!
...is the Sheep Pasture Engine House (1828), which controlled the winching from the top of the incline (gasp, deep breaths - should have walked up there more slowly!)
...are the mechanisms way down below the catch pit, which controlled that end of the winching process.
We didn't actually need to walk to the very top of the incline; our footpath back to Cromford branched off half way up. The view from the top was worth it though. Unfortunately, being a very dull day (will it, won't it, will it, won't it, will it, won't it ...rain?) the view on camera was just so many shades of blurry, greenish-grey! You'll have to use your imagination :p