Plans unveiled for $4.3 million bike park in the mountains above Loch Ness.

Ride Ness plans to build 16 miles of purpose-built MTB trails and a downhill race track, with a year-round shuttle running to the top of the 1,100-foot descents.
Photo: Ride Ness

A new bike park named “Ride Ness” is proposed in the mountains above Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands, multiple sources report. Plans have been released for a $4.3 million (£3.4 million) world-class mountain bike park/trail centre to be built on the Glendoe Estate near Fort Augustus. The bike park would cover 700 acres, provide a vertical drop of 1,100 feet, and offer 16 miles (26km) of mountain bike trails, including a downhill race track. Ride Ness also plans to run a year-round shuttle to the top of the trails.

This ambitious plan contains so much more than mere singletrack trails. The park would include a dedicated coaching zone, jump line, and skills park. There will also be a bike shop on site with rental bikes and gear.

The plans call for landscaped picnic areas, kids trails and playground, walking trails, and even a campground for motorhomes.

A transformational bike park in northern Scotland

Ride Ness will be the first mountain bike trail system in the Fort Augustus area. With the new bike park located just a few pedal strokes from downtown, the addition of a world-class trail system will be a massive boon to the local community.

Currently, the closest mountain bike trails are located about 32 miles away in Fort William. While Fort William is home to the renowned World Cup downhill track and gnarly lift-served riding, there aren’t any true “trail centres” in northern Scotland. Most of the mountain biking in the Highlands consists of gnarly downhill runs or rugged backcountry trails dating back hundreds or thousands of years. All of the renowned purpose-built mountain bike trail centres of the caliber proposed here are currently located in southern Scotland, close to the major population centers. In that sense alone, Ride Ness will be transformational.

The people behind the project

Ride Ness is the brainchild of Andrew Vernon and Neil Campbell. Vernon’s family has owned the estate since the 1950s, and Campbell is a mountain biker and professional trail builder.

“Ride Ness has been carefully designed to complement Fort Augustus and the surrounding area,” said Vernon. “At the heart of our proposal is a world-class mountain bike trail centre, however our vision is to create a place for everyone to enjoy.

“We intend to create something truly special in the nature and diversity of our bike trails. Neil is designing our trails to suit all abilities and tastes in a progressive nature so that riders can easily progress their skills safely, whilst experts will find all of the challenge and excitement they could wish for.

“We envision Ride Ness supporting the local area, driving tourism and boosting the local economy. An important element of our vision is to create a destination that attracts visitors regardless of the season. This will allow us to provide secure, year-round jobs while promoting the businesses and attractions of the local area to our guests. Having secured widespread support, and carefully considered the views expressed to us, we are hopeful of a positive planning decision.”

Even though the bike park is planned on private land, it still needs to go through an approval process and be greenlighted by the Highland Council. If it is approved, Campbell plans to begin construction next year, with a planned opening in 2026.

However Ride Ness eventually comes together, we sure hope that they lean into Loch Ness Monster-themed trail names!