The fee to park at Rushmere Country Park is to rise to £3 from next month to cover the rising costs of running the woodland site.
Parking charges have remained at £2 per day at the park since it was opened in 2011, with funds raised from grants to develop the facilities available to visitors.
However today the Greensand Trust has confirmed to the LBO that the fee will rise to £3 from June 1.
The park aims to be self-funding and the Trust says parking fees contribute towards essential services such as the visitor centre, toilet facilities, play areas and play equipment, security, staff costs, cleaning, wildlife and environmental conservation, repairs and maintenance, woodland management, waste management and much more.
The charity, which operates the park on a not-for-profit basis, says it hopes visitors will understand and points out that savings can still be made by buying a £40 annual Greensand Pass (£45 if you choose the Gift Aid option which adds a donation towards the upkeep of the park.
Rushmere Country Park is the holder of a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence as a result of the high number of excellent reviews it receives via the website.
Gill Welham, Chief Executive of the Greensand Trust, said: “We hope our visitors will understand the need to increase the charge.
“The Trust has worked hard to raise funds and improve facilities since the park opened in 2011. During that time the running costs have increased and to ensure we conserve the site properly, we’ve had to take the difficult decision to pass on some of the cost to our visitors who can enjoy all the park has to offer for what is still great value.
“Regular visitors can still save money by buying a Greensand Pass – this also entitles holders to park at the entrance of Maulden Wood near Clophill at our head office, The Working Woodlands Centre.
“If you choose the Gift Aid option when buying a Greensand Pass the additional 25p per pound from the government helps us carry out our conservation work and look after this wonderful park.”
She pointed out that visitors can enjoy the park with its 400 hectares of woodland and heathland for a whole day for just the £3 fee.
Included in the fee are:
> An ‘access for all’ sculpture trail where visitors can search for fairies and have a photograph in the Giant’s Chair.
> Play areas, a giant slide and play spots around the site
> The heronry where you can watch herons raise their young in the Spring
> A network of walking, cycling and horse-riding trails
> Areas where dogs can be walked on and off the lead including a dog fun area specifically for our canine friends
> Access to the Visitor Centre, toilets, the deck, Tree Tops Café, Herons Hatch, meadow for picnics and Stockgrove Visitor Centre and cafe.
Rushmere Country Park was made possible through a joint venture between the Greensand Trust and Central Bedfordshire Council who jointly own the site, with the operational management delegated to the Trust.