Scotland is preparing for the opening of the world’s first inland surf resort, an innovative, multi-million pound facility located in a former Edinburgh quarry

On the outskirts of Edinburgh the final phase of construction is underway on the transformation of the former Craigpark Quarry into a multi-million pound sports and visitor attraction.

When it opens in late summer 2024, Lost Shore Surf Resort will become the world’s first inland surf resort and the largest of its kind in Europe.

The project is the vision of Andy Hadden, a passionate surfer and former chartered surveyor whose belief in Scotland as a world-class surfing destination has, over the course of 10 years, turned a back-of-an-envelope idea into a physical reality at a cost of £55 million.

The Herald: Surfer and former chartered surveyor Andy Hadden, whose passion and vision
for the sport have finally led to the creation of the Lost Shore Surf Resort


Ahead of the opening, trials will be carried out on the state-of-the-art Wavegarden technology, developed in Spain’s Basque country, that will be used to generate anything from gentle ripples to giant rollers.

The guaranteed quality and frequency of these waves – up to 1,000 per hour – is, says Hadden, where lagoon surfing scores over nature, enabling beginners to learn faster and providing pros with fresh challenges.

The backers of Lost Shore Surf Resort, who include Goldman Sachs and the Scottish National Investment Bank, the latter of which has invested £26m, are counting on the project riding the growing wave of interest in surfing in Scotland, which, until now, has been the preserve of a small but dedicated group of enthusiasts who track wave and weather conditions and are willing to drop everything at a moment’s notice to follow the surf.

According to Hadden, the introduction in 2010 of a new generation of high-performance wetsuits, has been the key to their growing numbers. 

“These suits really do work. They’ll keep you surprisingly warm all year round, and people who try them for the first time are always amazed at the effect even in chilly waters’,” he says, pointing to the resort’s heated changing rooms as a preferable alternative to struggling in or out of a suit by the side of a car, adding. “That’s when you really feel the cold.”

These same wetsuits will be used to tempt surfers into the water at Lost Shore and Hadden predicts that as many as 140,000 people each year will take up the offer.

“Those are the numbers that use The Wave in Bristol, which is a smaller lagoon than ours.”

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The challenge for the operators in Edinburgh is that they will be opening during a cost-of-living crisis, when there is little money available for discretionary spending and with energy costs significantly higher than when the development was first proposed.

Lost Shore will be using renewable energy where possible and it has committed to paying higher green tariff for those parts of the operation that can not yet be supplied by renewable sources, but Hadden says the business model is sound and that the key to ensuring that visitors show up in sufficient numbers is by offering a world class experience.

“Over the past decade we’ve faced many challenges, including Brexit and the pandemic, so there never is a good time to start a business. The best guarantee of success is to ensure that the visitors experience something truly outstanding.”

As a chartered surveyor who spent much of his time working with companies that were struggling, Hadden’s insurance policy for Lost Shore is that it is three businesses in one.

Aside from surfing, the 60-acre country park surrounding the lagoon will contain a range of luxury lodges and pods, allowing it to profit from the significant lack of self-catering accommodation in and around Edinburgh; while there will also be a hub overlooking the cove, with a restaurant, food market, shops, surf school and wellness spa.

However ambitions for the project go far beyond numbers alone. 

Already the Lost Shore has appointed as its first ambassador the 11-year-old para surfing star, Jade Edward, and the project earlier made headlines when it sponsored the world’s first PhD into surf therapy, which was completed by Dr Jamie Marshall at Edinburgh Napier University.

“There is so much evidence now that surfing can improve both physical and mental health,” says Hadden.

“It’s why we funded the PhD and it’s why we are collaborating with Napier on pioneering research into the benefits of the sport.”

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That collaboration, called SurfLab, is a world first tie-up between formal education and a wave pool and research topics will include high performance surfing, disability surfing and the development of equipment. Hospitality and tourism will also be part of the mix and there will be a focus too on surf therapy, looking at ways in which surfing can help to improve health and wellbeing. Hadden says:

“Cold water immersion, physical exertion and the flow state achieved are all part of what makes surfing such a beneficial experience and we know that in some parts of the world GPs are now prescribing surfing for their patients. There is now a drive to persuade the NHS to do the same here.”

There will also be tie-ups with schools on STEM subjects and pupil visits to the site are already taking place.

“This isn’t just a box-ticking exercise,” says Hadden. “We are committed to making an impact on education and the curriculum.”

If Lost Shore Surf Resort delivers on its projections, then it will boost the Edinburgh economy by £11m per annum and create 100 direct jobs. Hadden notes: “It should also provide opportunities for more people to work within the industry, whether that’s through surf schools, wax manufacturers or other things connected with the sport, and when that happens then the benefits will be huge.”

The opening of Lost Shore Surf Resort will bring the number of artificial surfing lagoons around the world to seven, and some of these are now hosting top-level international competitions. 

It may have been unthinkable just a few years ago, but it now looks as if Edinburgh is going to join Sydney and Sao Paulo as one of the world’s top class surfing destinations.