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Case study

Wavegarden Scotland

The Wavegarden® Scotland development is a world-class destination for surfing, accommodation and leisure. Wavegarden Scotland exists to give people the opportunity to get active, get involved and have fun in an inspirational, world-class facility, set within a dedicated country park. It provides an inclusive environment that enriches the health and wellbeing of its visitors, enhancing Scotland’s sporting infrastructure and advancing the country’s leisure and tourism industry.

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

The Vision

  • Creation of a world-class surf and leisure destination within a 23.7Ha Country park to the west of Edinburgh.
  • A place to learn, to play, pursue adrenalin rush, to hone skills and to compete.  A place to nurture talent within the unique landscape and country park setting.
  • Preserve, conserve and enhance the landscape, both in flora and fauna, providing improved ecological value and biodiversity through long term management of the park.
  • Provide a country park destination of local and national interest.  Easily accessible, safe and attractive.
  • Create a Wavegarden® Cove facility which is a world-class destination for water-based leisure – surfing, paddle boarding and open water swimming for example.

Tartan Leisure Ltd propose to deliver Scotland’s first inland surf destination, Wavegarden® Scotland, within a dedicated country park. It is an innovative product called ‘The Cove’ delivered by Wavegarden®, that will produce a much higher frequency of waves; a better quality of wave; more varieties of wave and; a better overall surfing experience using the latest technology. 

The surrounding country park is designed to provide a context and setting for the international destination as well as a welcoming local greenspace for the community.



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, encouraging cold water surfing in relative comfort.

Scottish cold-water surfing maps
Design + Technology

Wavegarden® Cove

A Wavegarden® is a unique, world-class, inland surfing environment which creates consistent surf conditions. 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. 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 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 programmes to ensure sustained diverse positive social outcomes.  This, together with the Edinburgh International Climbing Centre on the opposite side of the Union Canal, will create a centre of performance sporting excellence. 

It is easier to learn to surf in a Wavegarden® Cove than in the ocean as 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 staff. 

Progression in surfing depends on practising; which is linked to how regularly you surf and the number of waves you get to ride. More than most other sports, surfing requires the right weather conditions being present, at a time and place you are free to participate. At Wavegarden® Scotland these inconveniences are removed, allowing users to surf regularly, at whatever time best suits them. 

Camping pods and lodges provide accommodation for overnight stays, extending the experience and allowing for prolonged stays and holiday options. They will also host elite athletes for extended stays and training camps.



Transformation of a Quarry

 The site is Craigpark Quarry, an uncontaminated former quarry 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 Union Canal lies to the North within an established woodland wildlife corridor, largely running the length of the northern boundary. 

The formed basin, allows 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 in symbiosis with natural processes and systems. 

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/picnic platforms, seating nooks and accommodation terraces, bike skills tracks and SUDS elements, all while maintaining the dramatic backdrops of the quarry cliff faces. 

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 use of site-won armour stone.  The approach, in addition to 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. 

Render Studio Site Overview
Render Studio View Looking North East
Biodiversity Strategy

Habitat Creation

Aiming to create landscapes that will be healthy, nature rich and resilient to climate change, the objectives include the creation of meadows, gorse/heather land, woodland, aquatic/marginal habitats and reinforcing existing woodland corridors. Strategic landmark tree planting is located at key nodes and entrances within the site allowing for orientation. This 4th dimension design is critical when considering a project of this size and significance and has been addressed by reducing landscape maintenance requirements and mowing regimes; leaving some areas to grow naturally, allowing grassland to thrive; and mowing walkways through areas of long grass so they can still be explored and enjoyed. The successional establishment of the proposed habitat and landscape typologies has been considered and linked across the entire site.  This offers the best possible balance of resource conscious management, re-population of habitat pyramids and the operational requirements of Wavegarden® Scotland.


Water Management

Sustainable Systems

The formed basin features in the base of the quarry along with an existing SUDS basin that drains from the adjacent housing development receives site run off, prior to discharge into the Union Canal Corridor. The presence and expanse of the development has informed the location and orientation of The Cove.

The finished site levels will, where possible, follow the existing site form, with the site generally sloping centrally from higher elevations along the north and eastern boundaries, to a low point located centrally within the site. Treatment of surface water runoff is provided by using dry swales and permeable paving to capture and treat runoff from roads, roofs and other impermeable areas. The attenuated flow can then be discharged through the existing SUDS pond on site for final treatment if required.

Sustainable Urban Drainage Strategy
Health and Wellbeing

Alternative Activities

The Country Park within which the Wavegarden® Cove sits will offer a range of activities which complement the main surf focus. The network of parks which cut through, around and across the park provides a hierarchy of routes defined by width and surface materials. Paths will be suitable for a number of varied leisure activities including biking, running and walking. These varied routes and activities will be mapped out and signed through a wayfinding system to encourage users to follow dedicated paths and networks over degrees of difficulty and distance. 

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