Plans lodged for Scotland’s first purpose-built bike park

Plans lodged for Scotland’s first purpose-built bike park

A planning application for Scotland’s first purpose-built bike park has been submitted to The Highland Council.

If approved, the Ride Ness development on Glendoe Estate near Fort Augustus will signify a £3.4 million investment in Scotland and the local economy, establishing a new outdoor destination at the heart of the Highlands.

Ride Ness is the brainchild of Andrew Vernon and Neil Campbell. Andrew’s, family have owned Glendoe Estate since the 1950s and Neil is a lifelong mountain biker and trail builder from Beauly.

A five-minute walk from Fort Augustus and located by the shores of Loch Ness, the development represents years of planning, consultation and development and has been painstakingly designed to make the most of its unrivalled surroundings.

Set across 700 acres and with a vertical drop of over 1,100 feet, Ride Ness will include 26 kilometres of trails graded blue to black, as well as a downhill racetrack. Descents of two to five kilometres starting from a single trailhead will be easily accessed by a dedicated year-round uplift service. At the heart of the park will be a dedicated coaching zone and skills area, including a jump line, for riders to hone their skills. A bike shop will be located on-site, allowing visitors to hire and demo equipment.

Taking a holistic approach in its design, the project team has considered how Ride Ness can be an outdoor haven, providing a top-tier experience for all its visitors throughout the year. As custodians of this iconic landscape for three generations, thought has been given to the sustainability of each element of the development. The development will complement an existing woodland creation scheme designed to enhance biodiversity, creating new habitats for wildlife while adding diversity to the trails.

Landscaped picnic areas and a café showcasing fresh local produce has been incorporated into designs, an adventure playground and mini off-road driving experience will also be on offer for children. Marked walks will allow visitors to take in the dramatic Scottish scenery, whilst wild swimmers and paddle boarders can use Ride Ness as a hub to discover the wider area.

As well as accommodating day visitors and locals, Ride Ness has been thoughtfully crafted to cater to longer stays. The plans encompass designated areas for motorhomes, along with inviting Shepherd’s Huts tailored to accommodate outdoor enthusiasts and families looking for a cosy retreat. The aim is to inspire visitors to extend their stay, supporting local businesses and stimulating tourism.

The project team, which includes lifelong mountain bike track designer, Neil Campbell, and local building contractor Alasdair Fraser from Invergarry, submitted the planning application following consultation, which saw widespread support for the proposals from across the community.

The application will now be reviewed and determined by Highland Council. If approved, the timeline for the development is for the build to begin next year, targeting a 2026 opening date.

Ride Ness founder, Andrew Vernon, said: “Ride Ness has been carefully designed to complement Fort Augustus and the surrounding area. At the heart of our proposal is a world-class mountain bike trail centre, however our vision is to create a place for everyone to enjoy.

“We intend to create something truly special in the nature and diversity of our bike trails. Neil is designing our trails to suit all abilities and tastes in a progressive nature so that riders can easily progress their skills safely, whilst experts will find all of the challenge and excitement they could wish for.

“We have carefully developed a mixed-use masterplan that includes a high-quality food offer with the very best onsite facilities to allow visitors to take full advantage of Ride Ness and its stunning surrounds.

“We envision Ride Ness supporting the local area, driving tourism and boosting the local economy. An important element of our vision is to create a destination that attracts visitors regardless of the season. This will allow us to provide secure, year-round jobs while promoting the businesses and attractions of the local area to our guests. Having secured widespread support, and carefully considered the views expressed to us, we are hopeful of a positive planning decision.”

Share icon
Share this article: