THIS is a wild and wonderful place with several paths which lead through the conifer woodland.

Here are squirrels and birds including owls and woodpeckers and lots of tall trees around which children can play in safety. This is truly a family day out with no fees involved. !

Although beacon Fell is only 873 feet (266 metres) above sea level its summit dominates the west Lancashire plain with Blackpool clearly visible on a good day, while to the east Bowland is laid out in all its splendour.

No wonder the hill has been used as one of a chain of beacon hills since the Bronze Age. By lighting fires on the summits vital signals could be transmitted with surprising speed, providing of course that it was not foggy. Beacon Fell was certainly made ready in 1588 when the Spanish Armada with its invasion force threatened England and also between 1795 and 1815 when Britain was threatened by Napoleon’s French forces.

During the war between 1939 and 1945 Fell House Farm stood on the site now occupied by the Visitors Centre. German air crew had this farm on their maps and used it as a navigation point on their way to bomb Liverpool and Manchester.

Conifers were planted from 1938 to 1959 to funnel water towards reservoirs which provided supplies to the Preston area.

Pass the cafe on the left and ascend a cobbled path to reach a carved stone head on the right. Throughout the woodlands area there have been a number of wooden statues with weird shapes and representing mythical animals. From the ugly stone head, bear left and the wide track changes from cobbles to flattened earth.

Approach a post on the left. Do not go straight ahead here but turn sharp right and climb sharply up into the conifers. Here is a hide and seek area for children and there are lots of cones in the ground. Some, but not all, have been partly eaten by grey squirrels. The intact cones can be decorated and make excellent (and free) Christmas decorations.

Approach the pond on the left. In the summer this can be covered in green duckweed, but in the spring it is worth looking out for frogs, toads and newts. Bear right at the pond and a path which can be muddy after rain. There is an alternative and dry route which winds its way in and out of the trees.

Approach another marker post.

To the left is the viewpoint at the summit of the fell and is reached via a boardwalk. From the view return to the marker post and go straight ahead. There is now a steep descent through an avenue of trees called Queens Grove.

Descend a set of easy to negotiate wooden steps and the car park and cafe can be seen through the trees.

Return to the starting point.