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Devonshire Road Nature Reserve

Find out more about the Devonshire Road Nature Reserve. 

The nature reserve forms part of the Forest Hill to New Cross Gate railway cutting. This is a site of Metropolitan importance for nature conservation as it contains probably the finest example of a rail-side wildlife habitat in London. It is four kilometres long and over 200 metres wide at its widest points.

Opening times

The nature reserve is open on the last Sunday of every month, 2–5pm.

Visit the Devonshire Road Nature Reserve website to find out about events in the reserve.

The railway cutting

There are four nature reserves within the railway cutting. Devonshire Road and Garthorne Road Nature Reserves are managed by us, and one (New Cross Gate Cutting) is managed by London Wildlife Trust and one (Buckthorne Road) is managed by the local community. Licencing and security rules mean that public access can only be allowed under controlled conditions.

All four sites are locked unless staff or volunteers are there to open them.


 Devonshire Road Nature Reserve - Open Day 2012 

Recreational use

The site has a very active Friends Group. Regular workdays and events are held on the site. The Council and the Friends both run educational sessions throughout the year and the occasional guided walk.


The area behind the visitor centre is being landscaped as a garden. This will be used for demonstrations of organic and wildlife gardening, and will provide a pleasant place for visitors.

It will be particularly suitable for those unable to access the trails in the nature reserve.

There are also some low-disturbance ponds which are used by school groups for pond dipping. There are lots of frogs and smooth newts to be found here, and toads have been introduced as spawn.

Devonshire Road Nature Reserve - path to woods

Wildlife Garden 

The area at the top of the site is a wildlife garden with a number of ponds and raised beds. Of the 3 ponds on site, one is used for pond dipping while the other two are ‘low disturbance ponds’ .

There are a number of other notable features in the garden including log piles, bee hives, lynch gate structure (made by volunteer) and compost toilet! 

It will be particularly suitable for those unable to access the trails in the nature reserve. 


The oldest of the four sites  is Devonshire Road nature reserve, on the western side of the railway beside Devonshire Road in Forest Hill. 

Between 1809 and 1836 the site was crossed by the Croydon Canal and later between 1842-47 by the Croydon Atmospheric Railway. In 1979 the site was leased to Lewisham Council and later became our second nature reserve in 1981, in response to the concern of local residents over tree felling on the site by British Rail. We took up the cause, and British Rail agreed to lease the land to us as an educational nature reserve. 

The Friends Group was established in 1998 and they help managed the site on behalf of the Council. They hold a number of very popular events throughout the year. More information about these events can be found on the Friend’s website. 


Nature Conservation Officer