ANARCHY reigns over a woodland haven for rare species because of poor funding and supervision, walkers say.
Little Budworth Country Park was once best known as a site of special scientific interest inhabited by rare species such as the green tiger beetle.
But regular users say that since the park warden retired last year, anti-social behaviour has been openly committed in public toilets while 4x4 vehicles and horses stray off designated tracks and churn up footpaths.
Michael Cookson, of Wettenhall, uses the park's woodland paths to train guide dogs, but says many people are being put off by what they find there.
'Sometimes there can be up to a dozen cars in the car park with unsavoury people sitting in them on their own.
'It puts off genuine leisure seekers - I know two ladies who won't walk here on their own anymore.'
Mr Cookson added that the problem stems from a lack of supervision and order around the park.
'We used to have a ranger here for years and if there were any problems he did something about it. He knew people who came regularly and if there were women on their own he would keep an eye out for them.'
Dog walker Geoffrey Cross, of Winsford, has called for the council to find a suitable replacement warden to make sure people respect each other's use of the park.
'We need to have someone who is able to deal with the people in the toilets and to stop horses and vehicles using footpaths,' he said.
'People drive up, park their horse boxes on embankments and put jumps over the footpaths for horses. 4x4s come right across the track cutting the path up and then it is not drying out, so it makes it very muddy.'
A spokesperson for site managers Cheshire County Council said: 'We are aware of the problems which are encountered at Little Budworth, as with all country parks and sites, and we're working with the police and countryside management service to find ways of managing them.
'The current problems are due to pressure on budgets over the last couple of years. When a full-time ranger could not be employed this year it has been necessary to bring in part-time ranger cover.
'These rangers have done their best but inevitably a part-time input cannot match the same level of cover and presence possible with a dedicated full-time ranger and the 2005/06 budget provides for alternative staffing arrangements.'