Family walking on the beach during mud dipping event, Ribble Estuary, August 2012

The Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve

Ribble Coast and Wetlands

The Ribble is home to an impressive range of wildlife, with more than a quarter of a million migrating water birds feeding in and around the estuary. The marshes are home to thousands of nesting birds including gulls, terns and lapwings. 

On both sides of the estuary, the UK’s largest area of sand dunes host rare natterjack toads, sand lizards and rare insects. The colourful collection of plants is one of the most diverse found in the UK.

Behind the dunes and marshes, the mosses support declining farmland wildlife like corn buntings and brown hares. The area is also one of the UK’s strongholds for water voles.

Sadly, this rich diversity of wildlife is often only found in isolated pockets because habitats have become fragmented due to drainage and other human activity. 

Our aim is to work with like-minded people to restore and recreate a network of linked havens where wildlife is able to thrive and people can relax and enjoy nature.


PDF, 2.01Mb. Date: 29 July 2015

Futurescapes - The Ribble Estuary National Reserve

Explore the area

Find out what’s going on near this Futurescape, including places to visit, news and local events, plus how you can work or volunteer for us.

 Oystercatchers, Haematopus ostralegus, group taking flight, Leighton Moss RSPB reserve, Carnforth, Lancashire
Leighton Moss

Nearby reserves

Reserves and other protected areas are a key part of Futurescapes. They provide core areas for nature to thrive and eventually repopulate the surrounding landscapes. The key RSPB reserves within this Futurescape are:

Hesketh Out Marsh

This new saltmarsh reserve is a great place to admire the gathered pink-footed geese, wigeons, teals and other wildfowl in winter, along with big flocks of golden plovers, lapwings and black-tailed godwits. In spring the marshes come alive with the sight and sound of displaying waders, including avocets and lapwings. But as recently as 2006, the land had been used for growing crops.


There's something for everyone throughout the year at this delightful coastal reserve. In the spring you can see brown hares boxing in the fields, while in the early summer you'll be able to spot nesting birds like avocets and lapwings.

Fairhaven Lake Visitor Centre

Come to our visitor centre on the edge of Fairhaven Lake. It's the gateway to the north side of the Ribble Estuary - the most important single river estuary in the UK - which attracts more than 270,000 birds each year.

Ribble Estuary, Hesketh Out Marsh RSPB reserve, Lancashire, England. October 2006.
Hesketh Out Marsh
Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, flock in flight. Emmanuel Parish Church in the distant background. Ribble Estuary, Marshside RSPB reserve, Lancashire
Family walking on the beach during mud dipping event, Ribble Estuary
Ribble estuary

Our partners

Futurescapes is all about collaboration. There are many organisations and people involved in managing land in the Ribble Estuary National Reserve. Our challenge is working together to find ways of making more space for nature. To achieve this we’re working with:

Saving special places