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New Cross Gate Cutting

A secluded area of woodland with small grassy glades, set on the broad slopes of a deep railway cutting, which supports 170 species of flowering plants

Brockley’s New Cross Gate Cutting is predominantly oak woodland with open glades of neutral and acid grassland in which reeds and tall herbs grow. Some flowers are locally rare, and the site contributes to one of London’s most important railway cuttings for wildlife, stretching southwards to Forest Hill.

The cutting was dug in 1838-39 and still bears the legacy of once being part of the old Great North Wood, and at times the route of the Croydon Canal, brickworks, and wartime allotments.

The site, also known as Brockley Nature Reserve, contributes to one of the most important railway cuttings for wildlife in London.


Species you can see at New Cross Gate Cutting

Birds: Kestrel, great spotted woodpecker, chiffchaff, jay, song thrush

Fungi: Fly agaricstinkhorndryad's saddle

Invertebrates: Stag beetle, speckled wood butterfly, comma butterfly.

Plants: Rosebay willowherb, Michaelmas-daisy, wood avens, lords-and-ladies, broad buckler-fern, hart's-tongue fern


History of New Cross Gate Cutting

A narrower cutting at this site was first cut in 1801-03, for the Croydon Canal. Laterit was widened as part of the Brighton Main Line that was built along the route. Thanks to its isolation the steep western side of the railway bank, since the 1960s, became a hugely important wooded wildlife site. In 1987 a deal was struck by the Trust with the former British Rail to manage the site, and this arrangement continues today with Network Rail.


Facilities at New Cross Gate Cutting

There are no facilities in the reserve. 


How to get to New Cross Gate Cutting

The reserve is halfway between New Cross Gate and Brockley rail stations, on the railway’s west side. The entrance is via a gate in Vesta Road.


Opening times for New Cross Gate Cutting

Although the site is not open on a regular basis, there are open days and monthly workdays. If you would like to volunteer on the site please email


New Cross Gate


Accessibility at New Cross Gate Cutting 

The entrance is wide but paths are narrow and there are steps. Footpaths are rough and sometimes steep, with a set of steep steps at the north end.


Status of New Cross Gate Cutting

Part of a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation


Get involved at New Cross Gate Cutting

Nearby nature reserves

Bellenden Road Nature Garden
2 miles - London Wildlife Trust
Centre for Wildlife Gardening
2 miles - London Wildlife Trust
Sydenham Hill Wood and Cox's Walk
3 miles - London Wildlife Trust

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Reserve information

Vesta Road
Map reference
Great for...
Best time to visit
Apr - Jul
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Opening Times
No regular opening hours, events and workdays held
3.00 hectares
Parking is available in surrounding streets.
Guide dogs only
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Tel: 020 7252 9186