Back to reserve map

Duckmanton Railway Cutting

The first reserve acquired by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust specifically for its geology

From ancient volcanic ash to coal formed in a lush tropical swamp and an internationally important Marine Band, this reserve has much to offer anyone with an interest in how our landscape has formed over millions of years.


This small nature reserve is recognised internationally because of the exposure of the Clay Cross/Vanderbeckei Marine Band. This is the defining point between the Middle and Lower coal measures, two points on the geological time scale. Marine Bands are important for dating other rocks of the time period. Thin layers of ancient volcanic ash also reveal that this landscape was periodically affected by volcanic eruptions.


Duckmanton also exposes sequences of Coal Measures - these layers were formed in the Carboniferous Period, about 300 million years ago. They contain many non-marine platn and bi-valve fossils.


On the sides of the cutting are areas of oak scrub and mixed deciduous woodland. Among the birds here are blue, great and willow tits and great spotted woodpeckers. Willow warblers visit during summer, and butterflies include speckled wood and small tortoiseshell.


Play Wild rating:

 Play Wild all year round.

To find out more about our Play Wild programme see here

Species and habitats

Grassland, Woodland

Nearby nature reserves

Carr Vale Flash
2 miles - Derbyshire Wildlife Trust
The Avenue Washlands
3 miles - Derbyshire Wildlife Trust
North Wingfield
4 miles - Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

West of Arkwright Town, between Chesterfield and Bolsover
Map reference
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
2.00 hectares
Permit required

Permit required for access, please contact the Trust. Paths through the reserve on both sides of the road are accessed by steep steps and stiles going down into the cutting - this is not ideal for those with mobility issues.
Walking information
Please note that rock exposures may be unstable - no unauthorised use of hammers or sample collecting.
There is limited parking at the entrance to the Arkwright Colliery Reclamation Site, just south of the site entrance.
Dogs must be on lead
Reserve manager
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01773 881188