• Creation of a world-class surf and leisure destination within a 23.4Ha 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 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 world’s most advanced technology.
The facility also aspires to be a high-performance hub for several associated water and land-based sports. 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 waves. Many 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 this consistency or frequency of surfable waves, as it was considered too cold by some. Radical improvements in wetsuit technology have changed everything, encouraging cold water surfing in relative comfort.
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. In a feature unique to the Cove, wave shape and size can be adjusted at the push of a button. 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 is perfectly suited to beginner and novice surfers.
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.
State of the art 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 extensive 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.
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. The design aims to maximise and increase fauna and flora biodiversity, increasing wildlife and pollination corridors by maintaining established habitats and making connections to newly created ones. Extant tree cover will be retained and will be supplemented by substantial areas of new woodland planting. 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.
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 runoff, prior to discharge into the Union Canal Corridor. The presence and expanse of the development have 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 open swales, permeable pavements Bioretention basins and positive drainage to capture and treat runoff from roads, roofs and other impermeable areas. Site SUDs will be integrated within the landscape proposals to enhance amenity, biodiversity, and habitat, whilst protecting and enhancing water quality. The attenuated flow can then be discharged through the existing SUDS pond on-site for final treatment if required.
The Country Park within which the Wavegarden® Cove sits will offer a range of activities which complement the main surf focus. The network of paths 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. The new network will also offer enhanced canal-side access to further encourage active travel to and around the site. 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. The more physical leisure interventions which require significant infrastructure are to be included within the wayfinding strategy, providing clear and legible pathways to alternative sources of adrenaline rush.