Floodplain Project celebrates 10th Anniversary
The Long Preston Floodplain Project recently celebrated 10 years of existence with an event at The Plough, Wigglesworth, which brought together a wide range of interested groups – conservation bodies, local farmers and business owners, bird-watchers and many others. The celebration included the official opening of the new bird hide which has been built a short walk upriver from Cow Bridge.
The Project (formerly known as The Long Preston Wet Grassland Project) was launched in 2004 with the aim of improving the wildlife value of the Ribble floodplain between Settle, Long Preston and Wigglesworth. Lying between the Yorkshire Dales and the Forest of Bowland, the floodplain is a unique area which offers a very different experience from the surrounding upland areas. It is an ancient landscape with a rich history mainly because the floodplain has provided food and shelter for humans for thousands of years. It still floods today, providing habitats for many specialist species of flora and fauna.
The project area has a rich and fascinating story to tell about the landscape, history, farming past and present, and wildlife. Part of the floodplain is a nationally important Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of its rare fluvial (river) environment and importance for breeding wading bird species and rare flora.
Key aims of the project are to restore wetland habitats, to boost populations of existing wetland wildlife and to attract back species that have been lost.
Breeding Wading Birds
The floodplain is important for several species of breeding wading bird of conservation concern, such as snipe, lapwing, curlew, redshank and oystercatcher. These birds come to the floodplain in spring every year to nest and raise their young before leaving the floodplain, usually by late July, after their chicks have fledged. It is known that there are at least sixty pairs of breeding wading birds on the floodplain.
Access for Visitors
The project also aims to develop the potential of this fantastic natural resource for the local economy. This will improve the quality of existing access and facilities for people to enjoy and learn about the wildlife, grassland management and landscape history of the floodplain. There are two marked trails around the floodplain: The Long Preston Floodplain Trail which is 14km long and takes approx 6 hours, and the rather less demanding Wigglesworth Wader Walk (5km, time: 2 hours). Both walks are set out on the Trails Map, which you can view here, or download from the floodplain website.