Durris Forest adventure centre plans gather pace

The Gravitate North East team want to create a world-class adventure attraction.
The Gravitate North East team want to create a world-class adventure attraction.

A charity is stepping up plans for a £14 million outdoor adventure centre in Lower Deeside.

The North East Trail Centre Organisation (NETCO) has rebranded as Gravitate North East and launched a new fundraising campaign to help progress planning applications and asset transfer of land at Durris Forest.

More than £5,000 was raised in one night towards its target of £200,000.

The organisation hopes the relaunch will add impetus to establishing a world-class mountain bike park and adventure centre with snow sports.

Funds awarded by Aberdeenshire Council’s LEADER project and Scottish Cycling’s Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) initiative allowed the charity to create the new brand.

Martin Byers, Gravitate North East chairman, said: “The vision is to help transform Aberdeen City and Shire into a global adventure destination for mountain biking, alpine sports and outdoor pursuits by building an inclusive adventure hub for the community that offers a unique blend of world-class activities accessible to all.

“We’re developing an attraction at Durris Forest that will enliven the North-east by making it an even more exciting, adventurous and healthier place to live and visit all year round.”

An independent impact assessment was recently revised to include hosting major sporting events.

It estimates that the proposed outdoor recreation attraction could create around 80 local jobs, attract 120,0000 visitors a year and generate £2.6 million per year for the local economy.

Chris Foy, VisitAberdeenshire chairman, said: “The vision for the centre at Durris aligns very well with the overall strategy for tourism growth in the North-east.

“With stiff competition for the outdoor activity pound across Scotland, Aberdeenshire needs such bold initiatives to stand out on the national stage.”

Aberdeenshire Council’s head of economic development, Belinda Miller, said: “As a council and as an economic development service we have been happy to support the Gravitate North East concept and we’re excited about its future.

“This has the potential to provide something which will be well used by local communities, as well as appealing to the increased number of visitors local partners are working to encourage here.”

An application for planning permission in principle will be lodged with the council in 2019.

If approved, the 630-acre site would create a new outdoor adventure and events destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts of all abilities.

The centre could have more than 28 miles of purpose-built mountain bike trails, an alpine park for ski-ing and snowboarding, adventure pursuits such as climbing and tree top rope courses, and nature-inspired activities.