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Blueprint for 13m adventure sports Mecca in the Lothians
Wednesday, 18 January 2006





A £13.5 MILLION winter sports park is set to be built in the Lothians under plans to create a top adventure activity venue.

The massive project for an Alpine Activity Park would see the Midlothian Snowsports Centre transformed with a raft of new facilities.


Centre bosses want to sculpt the hillside to create the longest artificial ski bump run in the UK, along with a ski jump and landing area.

Skiers and snowboarders would benefit from a variety of jumps, as well as nursery teaching areas and uplift facilities. A toboggan track serviced by an upgraded chairlift is also part of the proposals.

Council chiefs have submitted an application for £10m of lottery funding to help bankroll their vision, entitled "Park on the Edge". It is hoped the attraction at Caerketton Hill - formerly known as Hillend Ski Slope - will become a Mecca for adventure sports enthusiasts and draw thousands of extra visitors.

More than 140,000 people already ski or snowboard each year at the site - Europe's largest dry slope - with an additional 220,000 visiting as spectators to walk in the country park, picnic or take a chairlift ride to the viewpoint.

An indoor ice climbing wall, complete with viewing gallery and curling rink, forms another part of the blueprint, as does an indoor skateboard and wheeled sport facility.

A series of graded mountain bike trails will be built as a year-round national training centre.

In addition, the project will attempt to build on the site's status as an access point to the Pentland Hills Regional Park by providing car parking, changing and refreshment areas for hillwalkers and chairlift sightseers.

It will also create a satellite park visitor centre to support the main visitor centre, planned at Flotterstone, a few miles away.

Midlothian recreation leader Councillor Bob Jenkins said: "This project would breathe new life into the site and offer a range of activities for the winter sports community. It will revitalise the area using inspirational design and state-of-the-art technology."

Centre manager Jo Mathieson said: "We already have excellent facilities for skiers and snowboarders, but we want to open that out and cater for other sports.

"People come from all over Britain to ski at the centre and we want that to be the case for other activities."

The changes would be bankrolled by the lottery cash along with £500,000 from the Sports Lottery Fund and a further £33m from other sources.

Tourist chiefs have also given an enthusiastic welcome to the news. Ben Carter, area director for VisitScotland Edinburgh and Lothians, said: "We welcome Midlothian Council's plans to expand and develop the facilities at Hillend. Adventure sports are becoming an increasingly important sector for tourism.

"VisitScotland aims to position Scotland as Europe's Adventure Capital and this would be a fantastic asset for our area and the rest of the country."

But AA policy chief Neil Greig sounded a warning about the impact that thousands of extra visitors would have on traffic in the area. He said no major development should be allowed to continue without considering those implications.

This article: http://news.scotsman.com/edinburgh.cfm?id=80102006

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