The Cromford and High Peak Railway (C&HPR) was completed in 1831, to carry minerals and goods between the Cromford Canal at Cromford Wharf and the Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge. The first part of the line opened in 1830 and from the canal it climbed over a thousand feet in five miles (over 330 m in 8 km), through four inclines beginning with the 1 in 8 Sheep Pasture Incline.
A large stationary beam steam engine powered a pulley system to wind up the wagons attached to a chain or hemp rope coiled around the pulleys. The system worked well, but not without incidents. In 1888, a brake van broke loose from the train near the summit, as it gathered speed, reaching 140mph, it was unable to round the curve into High Peak Junction. It passed over both the canal and the double track railway line, and landed in a field. A catch pit was therefore installed near the bottom. This can still be seen from the A6 with a (more recent) wrecked wagon still in it.
Further up the incline is a small building complete with fireplace and bench, from where a workman had to lever the cable back onto the rollers where the track went around the bend.
At the top of the incline stand the remains of the engine house.
In December 2001, the Derwent Valley Mills in Derbyshire was inscribed on the World Heritage List. This international designation confirms the outstanding importance of the area as the birthplace of the factory system where in the 18th Century water power was successfully harnessed for textile production.
Find out more information about the history of Cromford Canal here
You can also find out what else there is to see and do along the Cromford Canal here