45km+ of all-weather trails planned
Following a year-long feasibility study, NETCO has unveiled plans to build a “world-class” chairlift-serviced bike park in Aberdeenshire.
Yep, it could be the first mountain bike park in the UK to install a mechanical open-air chairlift, designed primarily for mountain bike users.
Durris Forest trail centre?
Durris Forest, situated between Stonehaven and Banchory, has been chosen as the spot for the trailhead.
The £10million trail network plans include cross-country singletracks, downhill runs, flow trails, natural enduro trails and a pump track. The proposed year-round facility will span some 256 hectares with more than 45km of purpose-build trails graded for all abilities.
Other activities mentioned include: dry slope skiing and snowboarding, ziplining, orienteering, toboggan runs, and tubing.
North East Trail Centre Organisation (NETCO) chairman Martin Byers said: “It’s the perfect time to launch our vision of a multi-adventure activity mountain bike park, which we firmly believe is greatly needed in Aberdeenshire.
“Our plans represent an opportunity to inspire more people to discover outdoor sports in a natural environment, bolster Scotland’s current mountain biking facilities strategy, create jobs and help bring sustained growth to our local economy.
“Durris is an excellent venue due in part to its convenient proximity to Aberdeen and surrounding towns. It’s rural but easily accessible from the A90 and new Western Peripheral route once opened. This really enhances the location’s potential to achieve our vision and attract people here from across Scotland, the UK and overseas.”
Plans feature an environmentally-friendly ‘hub’ building, boasting a restaurant, children’s play zone, education and corporate meeting rooms, wellbeing centre, bike shop, snow sports and bike rental, changing rooms, bike repairs and wash. Included is a 150-space car park and six-space large bus parking area. Accommodation for visitors in the form of glamping is proposed.
“Bikers will have quick access to the Cairn-Mon-Earn summit in an open double-seated chair. It will create the truly memorable fun and fast-paced downhill mountain bike experience that is expected of a modern day world-class facility,” Mr Byers concluded.
Let’s not get too carried away just yet though.
Mr Byers said that the group’s proposals are still in development: “NETCO is actively working with the local mountain bike community and public, during these initial planning stages, to find out what facilities everybody would like us to put forward within the overall proposals. We’re confident that the final plan will be regarded as world-class in terms of its design, construction and product offering.”
Now the group intends to apply for a community asset transfer (CAT) of land at Durris. Construction will be planned in phases, the first of which NETCO said would focus on building mountain biking trail networks and installing an uplift facility. Public consultations with the local community will take place early next year ahead of a formal planning application to Aberdeenshire council.
Our story from February this year…
A feasibility study is under way to assess the creation of a major new mountain biking trail centre in Aberdeenshire.
A group called the North East Trail Centre Organisation (NETCO) wants to “create the best trail centre in Scotland and put the North East on the map”. With this in mind they’ve funded and launched a feasibility study into doing just that.
The three potential sites shortlisted are Durris, Pitfichie, and Hill of Fare.
The essential thrust of this project is that although Scotland has a number of existing trail centres, there is something of a significant geographical gap. A gap that’s been highlighted by other organisations too (Scottish Cycling, Sportscotland, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland).
Current trail centres are gathered around the south and west of Scotland. There is a clear gap in the north east region of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. NETCO hopes to fill this gap with a “high quality, large national level trail centre”.
NETCO state: “our vision, the trail centre will address a significant geographic gap by providing Scotland’s third largest City with a network of 35km+ of all-weather multi-grade trails meeting the needs of all riders, from beginners to elite riders.”
Speaking to BBC Scotland, chairman of Netco, Martin Byers: “It’s a well-known fact that in the north east there’s a real gap in dedicated mountain bike facilities. You just do not find them in Aberdeenshire.
“We set up Netco to bring proper world class mountain bike facilities to the north east.”