It's a strange time for us all at the moment, but it’s lovely to hear how much nature helps lift your spirits through lockdown. We know for many of you, our Ribble Estuary reserves are a big part of providing enjoyment and solace in the natural world.  

Before setting off, please read through the following update on the opening situation of the facilities at each of our Ribble Estuary sites, changes that may be in place to keep everyone safe, and how you can help protect vulnerable wildlife during your visit: 

Tiers - January 2021

Marshside is in Tier 3 - (Liverpool City Region)

Hesketh Out-Marsh is in Tier 4 - (West Lancashire Region)  

Please follow current guidance on travel between and within tiers.  


Car park is open, 8.30am-4pm, along with all the trails. However, we are unable to open the hides and toilet. 

You’ll notice we’ve made some changes to help keep you and our team safe:

  • When visiting us, please observe current guidance on social distancing and hygiene and follow all signage on-site 
  • Please be mindful of our limited car parking capacity, particularly on sunny days, and don't park on the road. Do consider visiting at less busy times or have an alternative destination in mind if we are full when you get here. 
  • RSPB members park for free - please place your membership card face down in your windscreen. Normal car parking charges apply for non-members. 

Hesketh Out Marsh 

Car park is open, along with the trails.

Please be mindful that it has limited capacity and can quickly become full in fine weather. Do consider visiting at less busy times or have an alternative destination in mind if we are full when you get here. On-site, please observe current guidance on social distancing and hygiene and follow all signage. 

Ribble Discovery Centre 

We remain closed to the public here because we’re having a makeover! Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we’re delighted that the Ribble Discovery Centre is being completely refurbished, along with other facilities and activities at Fairhaven Lake, as part of an exciting Fylde Council project. This means we are closed until March 2021. School and youth group bookings are being taken for April 2021 onwards. In the meantime, all our great products can be purchased from our other Lancashire store at the fabulous Leighton Moss or from our online shop. We will provide updates on this blog and social media (see links below) when we have more information. Thank you for your support and we’ll see you when our transformation is complete. 

Important to remember:

It is a crucial time of year for our wildlife, as we move into wintering season.  As part of the Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve - both Marshside and Hesketh Out Marsh are incredibly important sites for a huge number of birds. Nationally important populations of ducks and geese use the site, and are struggling to recover from some amazing journeys. Disturbing them in any way makes them expend energy they might not have, lessening their chance of survival.   

1. Keep a look out – with fewer visitors during lockdown, wildlife may be closer than usual. Tread cautiously on verges and paths.

2. Stick to the designated paths – you can easily disturb wildlife by veering off-route. Download a trail map for Marshside here and Hesketh Out Marsh here to see where the designated trails are.

3. Keep dogs on leads - loose dogs disturb flocks of feeding/resting birds. Please keep dogs on the tracks and close to heal. 

4. Back away – Please don't approach flocks of feeding or resting birds - even if they are on the track 

5.Report anti-social behaviour – if you see anything suspicious, such as evidence of wildlife crime, fly-tipping or uncontrolled fires, report this to the relevant emergency service. 

Thank you for your continued support and patience. It really means a great deal to us. Keep up to date with changes to our Ribble sites by subscribing to this blog and if you're on social media, by following us on Facebook and Twitter. Stay safe.