Tilton Railway Cutting

Tilton Railway Cutting

OS map ref: SK 761055 (Sheet 141)

Nearest post code LE7 9DG

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. Please park on Hyde Lodge Road as we consider the road next to the reserve dangerous for parking.    

Access - Please note that the cutting is accessed by steep steps at either end of the reserve.

In winter and wet weather, wellingtons are essential.

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.

When high winds and storms arise we advise that the public take extra care on the reserve.  Please be alert for fallen trees and branches and avoid visiting woods where possible.  If you spot wind or storm damage at an LRWT Nature Reserve, please contact us at info@lrwt.org.uk

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.info or phone 0871 200 22 33.

Dogs are permitted on this nature reserve but on short leads only.


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

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.

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.  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.

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.

Find out more about volunteering

Other nature reserves near here