The park lies at the eastern end of Harrold
village but is actually within the parish boundaries of Odell. It
is a wonderful amenity shared by the people of North Bedfordshire,
and visited by people from far beyond the county boundaries.
It consists of an area of water meadows
and lakes adjacent to the River Great Ouse and was built on the
site of former sand and gravel workings. It has a total area of
58.7 hectares, including 12.3 hectares of water meadows and 45.1
hectares of lakes. At the Harrold entrance in Carlton Road there
is a visitor car park and a café (with the appropriate name of "Cafe
in the Park") and there are interpretative facilities within
A bridleway and public footpath cross the site
from west to east providing an attractive route from Harrold to
Horsefair Lane in Odell. In 2002 work was completed on the resurfacing
of the footpath around the northern shore of Grebe Lake.
Until the Second World War the site consisted
of open farmland, the southern parts of which were subject to fairly
regular flooding. After the war planning permission was given for
the extraction of sand and gravel. In accordance with the planning
permissions imposed, the site was restored as a series of lakes,
which rapidly acquired importance as wildlife habitats; a small
woodland was planted between Carlton Road and the gravel workings.
Work finished on the restoration of the lakes in 1980.
The farmland to the north and some of the woodland
was sold to a local farmer in 1981, and the rest of the site was
purchased by Bedfordshire County Council in March 1982. The Council
had already purchased the river meadows in 1979. The purpose of
the Country Park is to provide an area of informal recreation and
nature conservation. From 1982 to 1985 the Country Park was sympathetically
developed by the Arts and Recreation Department. Bridges were put
across watercourses and gates and stiles were erected, all to allow
access to areas of the park. In May 1986 work started on the Visitor
Centre, toilets and a new car park, and was completed by December.