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Case study

Wavegarden Scotland

Wavegarden® Scotland is to deliver a world-class inland surf destination with ancillary activities and associated accommodation, set within a dedicated country park.

Ratho, Edinburgh, Scotland
Green/blue Infrastructure, Masterplanning, Play and leisure, Parks
Tartan Leisure
23.7 ha

The Vision

Tartan Leisure propose to deliver Scotland’s first inland surf destination, Wavegarden® Scotland, within a dedicated country park. It aims to be a world-class facility using an innovative product called ‘The Cove’ delivered by Wavegarden®, that will produce a much higher frequency of waves; a much better quality of wave; more varieties of wave and; a much better overall surfing experience using newer technology than currently exists at Surf Snowdonia, Wales and Nland Surf Park, Texas. The facility also aspires to be a high-performance hub for a number of associated water and land based sports. The surrounding country park will be enhanced to provide a welcoming local greenspace for the community, increasing biodiversity, as well as to provide numerous jobs and opportunities to engage in outdoor activities on their doorstep.

Filipe Toledo at Wavegarden® Cove ©Pacotwo

Scottish cold water surfing

Cold water surfing in Scotland is a popular activity and is gaining a worldwide reputation for the quality of its cold water waves. Many of the top surfers regard Scotland’s North Shores and Islands as having some of the world’s greatest waves hosting world class competitions. The East Coast is also home to some of the most consistent small-wave spots in Europe, making it an ideal place to learn.

Until recently, however, Scotland was not revered for its consistency or frequency of surfable waves, as it was considered too cold, by some. Radical improvements in wetsuit technology has changed everything.


Wavegarden® Cove

A Wavegarden® is a unique, world-class, inland surfing environment which creates consistent surf conditions out of the ocean. Using patented Wavegarden® technology, the surf park delivers high quality, authentic waves creating ideal conditions for surfing and other surf sports. It is an attractive environment for all skill levels from beginners to professional surfers; however, a place to not only enjoy surfing but also a number of other associated leisure activities. A standard Wavegarden® Cove measures approximately 155 metres in length by 155 metres in width. However, the length and width can be varied to accommodate the requirements of particular sites.  The Cove is divided into different surfing zones to include the Reef zone in the central part of the cove designed for experienced surfers; and, the ‘Bays’ which are located at each edge of the cove, which are perfectly suited to beginner and novice surfers.

Wavegarden® Cove, 155m x 155m Surf Lake

Wavegarden Life

The proposal seeks to bring inland surfing to Scotland and develop a hub for sports, educational and activity experiences for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Strong links have been formed with local groups and businesses as well as national Olympic teams to ensure sustained positive social outcomes.

It is easier to learn to surf at Wavegarden® Scotland than in the ocean. Beginners experience a vastly accelerated rate of learning in a Wavegarden® Cove compared to the ocean. The predictability of the waves generated in the Bays, the length of rides, and the removal of other distractions allows beginners to focus on technique while enjoying closer supervision from surf coaching staff.  

Progression in surfing depends on practising; which is linked how regularly you surf and the number of waves you get to ride. Unlike other sports, surfing requires the right weather conditions being present, and for that to occur during daylight hours, at a time and place you are free to participate. At Wavegarden® Scotland these inconveniences are removed, allowing users to surf as regularly as they choose, at whatever time best suits them. Wavegarden® Scotland will also be the ideal laboratory to advance your surfing with instant feedback from instructors, and consistent and frequent waves. Camping pods and lodges provide accommodation for overnight stays, extending the experience and allowing for prolonged stays and holiday options.


The Site

The site selected is Craigpark Quarry, an uncontaminated former quarry site to the west of Ratho village in rural West Edinburgh. The quarry base is relatively flat, and the existing topography of the land creates a natural amphitheatre which not only provides character but also serves as protection from the prevailing winds. Steep cliffs lie to the west and north-west and provide a dramatic backdrop.  The site includes the Union Canal to the northern boundary and an established woodland wildlife corridor which largely runs the length of the northern boundary. 

A naturally formed Cove shape appears in the basin, allowing for the development to be largely contained on all sides by landform; both physically and visually. The topography affords for a variety of spaces, planting, and activities to occur without appearing forced.

Embedding features, boundaries and services within the topography to create a coherent and cohesive country park landscape allows the challenging site to be embraced as an asset, not controlled and suppressed as a constraint.  The topography has been moulded to form a variety of landscape features including windbreaks, viewing/pick-nicking platforms, seating nooks and accommodation terraces, bike skills tracks and SUDS elements.  All while maintaining the dramatic backdrops of the quarry cliff faces, made from the same process and geology as the features from which they are viewed.  This approach allows us to create a varied landscape experience, habitat biodiversity and accommodates for a wide variety of different user groups.  Retention of earth embankments is achieved by the extensive use of site-won armour stone.  The approach, in addition the aesthetic considerations noted above, offers a very low carbon footprint and reinforces the sense of place that is fundamental to the value of the country park.

View of Wavegarden Scotland Cove looking west from the eastern ridge