Aberdeen is in a bit of limbo, with the oil and gas industry now in decline, it is needing to grow in other industries to get through what could be hard times ahead. Tourism is one obvious area to grow further, so the planned new bike park from Gravitate North East will help with drawing more people to the area from afar. What they are offering is a "world class mountain bike and adventure sports destination" situated on the western edge of Durris Forest. This is approximately 15miles from the city, where there are plenty of amenities including an international airport and hotels to stay in.
Aberdeenshire has many riding destinations like Scolty and Pitfichie. But it's only since there's been various enduro events held in the area by the Scottish Enduro Series and Doon Tha Brae Events that people out-with the area have realised how much riding potential there is there. But it lacks a bike park where people can enjoy family friendly recreation and the more serious rider can enjoy bigger features that aren't permitted on the natural trails. Not only that, changing rooms, toilets and showers are a few luxuries that come with riding at a bike park as well as a shop for spares (or just to treat yourself) and a cafe/restaurant for that all important coffee and cake!
What makes the project all the more exciting is the planned "family-friendly pursuits such as tobogganing, ziplining, climbing, bouldering, tree top rope courses, tubing, orienteering, forest play, stargazing and nature walks" so it doesn't only have to be a day out on the bike but it can be a proper adventure break away with the family! For 'Phase 2' of development they'll be adding a chairlift, a further luxury for bikers but also allows people to enjoy snow sports. "But it rarely snows" I hear you say. Well no fear for there will be hi-tech artificial surfaces as well as state of the art snow making machines so it'll be an all year, all season, playground for the adventurous!
So it's not just going to be another bike park, it's going to be much, much more. And I don't think it'll detract from the other existing riding hotspots in Aberdeenshire but compliment them. Aberdeenshire Trail Association (who I'll do a blog post on soon) have improved local natural trails massively so the area as a whole is growing when it comes to mountain biking and people will visit these other places in the area too I believe. I for one hadn't explored the area until my visit to see the Gravitate site last week and I'm itching to see more after hearing the locals rave about all the different sights!
A massive thanks goes out to Martin Kennedy for the quality photographs of our days riding and Richard Knox of sponsor EC-OG, a sub sea energy company, who came along to join us for the ride and of course Martin Byers for taking the time out to show me around the place and talk about the project. There are a lot of talented people involved in the project who are very passionate about it so it'll be exciting to see it progress and I can't wait to see it complete it's first phase. You can follow Gravitate North East on Instagram to keep up with developments and check out their website here.