Breadsall Cutting has been designated as a Local Nature reserve (LNR) and as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), as the cutting has a variety of wildlife habitats uncommon to disused railways and not found elsewhere on the edge of Derby. Grasslands in the reserve are similar to old unfertilised hay meadows and pastures which were once present in surrounding fields.
Because the railway ran through different geological conditions, grasslands of different characteristics have developed. The limestone ballast brought in to form the track bed has allowed plants to establish which are more commonly found in the White Peak area of the Peak District. Cowslips and Orchids are abundant. Dry, sunny banks support many insects. Anthills of the yellow ant can be found. The reserve is one of Derbyshire’s richest sites for butterflies and over 20 species have been recorded.
The small woodland in the centre of the reserve, beside the Ferriby Brook, has probably remained undisturbed for many centuries, and provides a lovely show of spring flowers. In the deep, damp cutting at the eastern end of the reserve there is dense wet woodland with many mosses, sedges and ferns. Guelder rose is abundant. Scrub provides nesting cover and winter food for a wide range of birds, particularly warblers. Although there is no public right of way through the reserve, visitors are welcome in the reserve. Please keep to the path.