Tilton Railway Cutting

Tilton Railway Cutting

Location and access

OS map ref: SK 761055 (Sheet 141)

The reserve lies off the Tilton to Oakham road about 2 km east of the village of Tilton. There is parking for one vehicle at the entrance. The road is dangerous so please park on the Marefield road (see map).

In winter and wet weather, wellingtons are essential.

We encourage visitors to use environmentally friendly forms of transport wherever possible. Most of our reserves are easily accessible by bicycle, with many close to the National Cycle Network. Please note that cycling is not permitted on the nature reserve itself.

Public transport - contact Traveline for further information www.traveline.org.uk or phone 0871 200 22 33.

Dogs are permitted on this nature reserve but only under strict control - able to bring to heel at all times.


The reserve is owned by the Trust. It covers 3.1 ha and is a Geological Site of Special Scientific Interest.

History, habitats & management

Tilton Cutting was dug in the 1870s for the railway from Melton Mowbray to Market Harborough. Trains passed through the cutting from 1879 until 1965 when the line was closed and the rails were lifted. Following closure, tall, dense scrub very quickly invaded the cutting, which was purchased by the Trust in 1983.

Habitats include scrub, tall herbs, rough grassland with ant hills, marsh and vertical rock outcrops.

Management of the cutting has three aims: to make fresh exposures of rock available for study, to make access and use of the cutting easier and safer, and to improve the habitats for wildlife. Several lengths of the west facing side of the cutting are kept open for study. The east facing side of the cutting is left unexposed as a long-term conservation measure. Scrub clearance, fencing and the creation of steps and safer paths are the other main tasks on the reserve.

Features of interest

Tilton Cutting is the 'type locality' for a number of fossil species (brachipods, gastropods and ammonites), and for rocks which demonstrate the so-called Tilton faunal sub-province.

The exposed rocks are marine sandstones, ironstones and clays of Liassic (lower Jurassic) age and are about 200 million years old. Fossils are plentiful, and may be studied in outcrop or collected from fallen blocks or spoil. The site is ideal for the teaching of geology at all levels, and is much used by schools and student groups. Hammering of the faces is not allowed.

The wildlife interest of the reserve includes a wide range of the more common small birds including great, coal and blue tits, willow warbler, robin and other members of the thrush family. The floor of the cutting supports a fairly rich flora including cowslip, square-stemmed St John's-wort and a variety of grasses, sedges and rushes.

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Live near here? Want to help out?

Why not join one of our teams of volunteers. We have regular work parties covering reserves in this area including Tilton Railway Cutting. For more information contact us.

Find out more about volunteering

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