Land History

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.

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Ice and Meltwater

Until about 14,000 years ago much of the Yorkshire Dales and the Pennines were covered by a thick layer of ice which slowly flowed down the Ribble valley and south-east into the Aire valley. As the ice melted, huge volumes of water flowed in the same directions.

ice and meltwaterIn some places the ice carved deep valleys and sometimes laid down, or deposited, thick layers of fine silt or clay. Analysis of these layers for the Long Preston area shows that the deposits were laid at the bottom of a lake and not in a river. The lake was not deep but it filled the valley between Long Preston and Rathmell, up to the 130 metre contour line - as high as the railway line in fact. It stretched south from Settle to beyond Cow Bridge, and was probably blocked at Arnford Wood by a glacial moraine.

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