Fairy Glen in Parbold saw a surge in visitors using it for exercise in 2020 - and the forest’s new-found appeal has been sustained ever since, with increasing numbers of people believed to be travelling from across Lancashire to take in the scenery.
However, the absence of a car park at the attraction - off the A5209 Sparrow Hill - has resulted in drivers leaving their vehicles in dangerous positions at the side of the road.
The busy route - which runs from the M6 through to the A59 at Burscough - was a 60mph zone along the section close to Fairy Glen until November last year.
The speed limit has since been reduced to 40mph as part of a long-planned change, but vehicles lining the road and straddling the kerb are still posing what Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport Charlie Edwards described as a “serious safety problem”.
The authority has now given the green light to a plan to introduce a “red route clearway” which will outlaw parking across the entire width of the highway - including verges.
Papers presented to the cabinet meeting at which the prohibition was approved reveal that there has been growing concern for the safety of passengers getting in and out of vehicles parked outside Fairy Glen, as well as for other road users.
County Cllr Edwards said that the red route measure was designed to “discourage inconsiderate parking, remove the potential damage that can occur on footways and verges and keep the route clear of potential visual obstruction due to parked cars”.
He also revealed how the authority would be ensuring that visitors stick to the rules - using a method which could be deployed elsewhere in Lancashire.
“With these red route clearways, we can enforce [them] by a camera car, where we have these available. A car just needs to drive down the road and [penalty charge notices] will be captured as part of the journey - so it's much more efficient and something we would be [looking] to implement further across the network in the future,” County Cllr Edwards added.
As part of a consultation into the proposal, carried out last year, an objection was raised about the potential for the new restriction to force Fairy Glen visitors to park on other roads surrounding the site, including Glenside, Sprodley Lane and Stoneygate Lane.
Highways officers said that if displaced parking is found to be causing a problem elsewhere, “additional restrictive measures” could be considered.
The clearway proposal was drawn up after consultation with Lancashire Police and West Lancashire Borough Council, which owns and operates Fairy Glen.