Tilton Railway Cutting is a little slice of ancient history – and beyond! A real-life Jurassic world (except with no dinosaurs), this reserve is managed as much for its geology as for it’s wildlife. 200 million years of history can be seen in the rock layers.

Location

Oakham Road, Tilton-on-the-Hill,
LE7 9DJ

OS Map Reference

SK 761055 (Sheet 141)
A static map of Tilton Railway Cutting

Know before you go

Size
3 hectares

Entry fee

Free

Parking information

There is parking for one vehicle at the entrance. Please park on Hyde Lodge Road as we consider the road next to the reserve dangerous for parking.

Access

The reserve lies to the south of the Tilton to Oakham road about 2 km east of the village of Tilton.

Please note that the cutting is accessed by steep steps at either end of the reserve. In winter and wet weather, wellingtons are essential.

Dogs

On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Always open

Best time to visit

Spring

About the reserve

Walking along Tilton Cutting is walking back in time – to the age of the dinosaurs and beyond. The cutting was dug in the 1870s for the railway from Melton Mowbray to Market Harborough, until 1965 when the line was closed. Now, the site is managed for both its wildlife and geological interest. We are working to make clear fresh exposures of rock, to make access to the cutting easier and safer, and to improve the area for wildlife.

As you walk along, you’ll notice how sheltered, protected and peaceful the cutting is. You’ll be able to hear a number of birds calling, especially in the spring, including great, coal and blue tits, willow warbler, robin and thrushes. Plants lining the cutting including cowslip, square-stemmed St John's-wort and a variety of grasses, sedges and rushes. Ferns on either side of the boardwalk include harts-tongue, male-fern, scaly male-fern and broad buckler fern. The sheltered conditions favour butterflies including brimstone, orange-tip and speckled wood.

The exposed rocks are marine sandstones, ironstones and clays of Liassic (lower Jurassic) age and are about 200 million years old. Several lengths of the west facing side of the cutting are kept open for study. Tilton Cutting is the 'type locality' for a number of fossil species, including brachipods, gastropods and ammonites and for rocks which demonstrate the so-called Tilton faunal sub-province. 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.

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

When visiting Tilton Cutting please be aware that vertical rock faces can be unstable and there is a risk of falling rocks. Visitors should keep to the path/boardwalk down the middle of the cutting away from the base of the rock faces. Geologists and parties wishing to study the fossils and geology of the site should obtain a permit from the Trust, undertake their own risk assessment and wear appropriate protective equipment. No hammering at the faces is permitted.