We’ve just had word that Nevis Range, the venue that hosts the annual Fort William downhill World Cup will hopefully reopen (with restrictions, obviously) for business and bike riding on July 15th, now that there have been some word on easing of restrictions in Scotland. (And, hidden in the press release is news of a new, Blue-graded trail due to open next year…)
Staff at the resort have been working to put new safety measures in place, including thermal screening, increased cleaning procedures and, of course, social distancing. Both foot passengers and cyclists using the Mountain Gondola will be asked to wear face coverings when it opens on July 15th.
The famous Endura-sponsored gondola will be open for bikes and riders, though you’ll have to travel up solo, unless you’re with a member of your household.
Chris O’Brien, Chief Executive at Nevis Range, said: “We have been working closely with the Scottish Government since the start of the lockdown, with advance notice of a re-opening date a top priority for us. We are understandably extremely pleased to be able to announce that Scottish Tourism Businesses will be able to reopen on 15 July. We have also been led to believe that the new guidance for Phase Three will specifically mention Gondolas and Chairlifts when it is published.
“However, I would stress that this official date is provisional and could change if there are any flare ups with the virus. As soon as Nevis Range is able to confirm an opening date, we’ll get that out over all of our social media platforms.
“Whilst an opening date is very good news, all of the challenges that we face will remain the same. The initial phase means we can open; the two metre social distancing rules will remain in place; eating in our restaurants will be possible but the two metre social distancing rules must be observed; and Mountain Gondola travel will be in singles or for groups of two or more that have travelled to Nevis Range together and customers will be asked to wear face coverings.”
“When we do open, due to the nature of the financial crisis that we find ourselves in, we will be operating on a Wednesday to Sunday basis, making exceptions around bank holidays, and we plan to carry on with this five-day week operation throughout the rest of the summer.
“Over the next few weeks, we will start to advertise Nevis Range products and bookings in conjunction with all of the new measures that the business will be taking to ensure our compliance with current guidelines.
Analysis of Nevis Range’s annual customer data suggests the centre attracts around 75% of its annual visitors between May and September – Mountain Biking, including The UK round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Tree Adventure, Coaches, Foreign Travel and UK Domestic Travel. However, in 2020 the overwhelming majority of this market has been unavailable due to the nature of the coronavirus restrictions.
And in addition to news about Nevis Range’s plans to reopen, here’s the news about that lift-accessed Blue Trail…
“Despite all of the challenges and tough decisions we are having to make as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is still a mood of cautious optimism amongst the team. Whilst many of our projects have been cancelled due to funding pressures and a catastrophic loss of revenue, we are continuing with our Blue Bike Track, a new blue graded, uplift accessible, trail and hope to have that open in May 2021.”
“As lockdown restrictions have eased, the company’s Trail Building team have been able to get back to work on this exciting new project which will be a massively attractive new addition to the resort’s extensive network of mountain bike trails. The cross-country trail will allow less confident riders to head higher up Aonach Mor and enjoy views as far as the Isle of Skye.”
With staff furloughed, normal mountain maintenance at Nevis Range did not take place this spring. The company have now planned two volunteer days to get the mountain ready to fully reopen. One will focus on the clean-up of the upper mountain after the snowsports season, whilst the other will work towards the reopening of the two existing uplift accessible mountain bike trails, Top Chief and the world-famous Nevis Range Downhill Track. The volunteer days are aimed at snowsports and mountain biking enthusiasts in the local community and each has had a fantastic response so far. Dates for these events will be announced as soon as possible. Anyone who is interested in getting involved is encouraged to get in touch with the Nevis Range team.
Chris O’Brien commented on the fantastic support Nevis Range has received from the local community for the volunteer days: “I am incredibly grateful to our fantastic community for all the support they have pledged to Nevis Range for our volunteer days, especially at a time that has been so challenging for the whole area. With their help we’ll rise above the difficulties that Covid-19 has presented and return to trading as quickly as possible.”
Check out www.nevisrange.co.uk for the up to date news before travelling.