CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save public access at a Helsby wood are just one step away from success after a double funding boost.
The Friends of Harmers Wood needs to raise £32,000 to buy the 8.8-acre wood and secure public use.
And the group has now attracted a £16,000 Vale Royal Rural Recovery Fund grant and a £1,000 donation from Helsby Parish Council, with the prospect of more depending on the authority's future financial commitments.
It already has £5,000 from Cheshire County Council's Sandstone Ridge Econet Project in the bank and £1,500 in public pledges.
Campaigners are now waiting to hear the outcome of a crucial Heritage Lottery application, which could rake in as much as £40,000.
That bid was considered earlier this month by assessors.
If successful, it would not only cover the asking price, but also help fund plans to maintain the wood, already outlined in a business plan.
Paintballing and pistol-shooting companies were rumoured to be involved in a bidding war reaching nearly £60,000 after Cholmondeley put the site up for sale last summer.
Residents feared a private developer might enforce 'no public access' signs at the site, where Cholmondeley has never taken enforcement action.
But Cholmondeley agreed a £32,000 deal with the Friends of Harmers Wood and said its preference was to sell to the community.
Campaigner Maureen Parker believes a successful conclusion could now be near.
'We're quite confident we will get the money together now,' she said.
'Some of us might not be able to use the wood in five years time but we are doing this for future generations.'