Lying between the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland, the Long Preston floodplain is a unique wetland area – important for farming, rich in history and a priority habitat for wading birds and rare flora.

Part of the floodplain at Long Preston is a nationally important Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because the flat valley bottom and river features support unique wetland flora and fauna. With abundant wildlife at any time of year, some of the seasonal highlights on the floodplain include flocks of migrant birds resting awhile on their intrepid journey south, aeronautical acrobatics from displaying lapwings, the drumming of the snipe on a warm spring morning. All sights and sounds which remind us that this wet grassland is a haven for wildlife. 

Take a virtual tour of the Long Preston floodplain 

Explore the Long Preston floodplain and discover it’s wildlife and history with this unique birds-eye view of the area through the seasons. 

Take a virtual tour of the Long Preston floodplain

Protecting and enhancing the floodplain 

The Long Preston Floodplain Project (LPFP) was first started in 2004 to enhance the important wetland habitats of the Ribble floodplain between Long Preston and Settle. The project is a genuine collaboration - with landowners and organisations coming together to create a healthy floodplain that stores carbon and helps mitigate against the effects of a changing climate as well as supporting an abundance of plant and wildlife. 

In 2021 a grant from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund is helping us to build on the success of this longstanding partnership work through the Deeper Connections project. Working with farmers and the Ribble Rivers Trust the project will deliver vital small-scale conservation schemes that connect the mosaic of habitats in the floodplain area, providing nature-based solutions that make our communities and wildlife more resilient to climate change. The project will also help people to discover and protect this largely undiscovered landscape.  Through Deeper Connections we are working to:   

  • Create and restore 10 hectares of habitat, focusing on wildlife corridors. This includes 16 separate schemes that will regenerate riparian woodlands and hedgerows, protect wetlands and tributaries, and provide natural flood management.
  • Plant landscape trees to combat ash dieback.
  • Connect 8,000 people to nature in the area, including under-represented communities, through improved access and interpretation, volunteering and events.
  • Engage over 26 farmers in the project, highlighting how sustainable agriculture can contribute to effective environmental management.

Ribblesdale Farmers

Managing the wetland environment is essential to help create a healthy biodiversity-rich floodplain. We work with farmers to show how effective wetland management can provide financial returns as well as benefitting nature.  

In 2017 the Ribblesdale Farmers Group was set up to make the farmed landscape better for wildlife and farming, as well as helping to prevent flooding and improving water quality. The Group enables farmers and other organisations to collaborate to bring about environmental benefits that fit with land management objectives. 

The group members meet regularly to share knowledge and experience and work together to improve the sustainability of their farms and to look at natural flood management measures that they can implement on their land.

Wetland wildlife

The Long Preston floodplain area is of national importance for breeding wading birds.

The rough marshy grassland adjacent to the river Ribble which undergoes periodic flooding forms an ideal nesting habitat for waders, in particular snipe, redshank and curlew, while other areas are used by oystercatchers and lapwing. The meandering river produces steep sandy cliffs on the eroding banks, providing nesting sites for kingfisher, sand martin and goosander.

In winter, the floodplain is frequented by a variety of waterfowl and waders including whooper swan, wigeon, teal, water rail and dunlin. Other birds such as black-tailed godwit and ruff use the area on passage.

Find out more about birdlife on the floodplain 


Find out more about the floodplain

Visit the Long Preston Floodplain

With its beautiful scenery, abundance of wildlife and friendly local community the Long Preston area has lots to offer visitors, whether it’s a day out or you are planning a longer stay.

Get a birds-eye view of the floodplain

Explore the Long Preston floodplain through the seasons and discover it’s wildlife and history in our virtual tour.  

History of the Ribble floodplain landscape

What we see today on the Ribble floodplain is the result of natural processes modified by what people have been doing here for thousands of years.