The hills are alive with the sound of . . . lawyers. The commercial property anoraks at Edinburgh legal firm Tods Murray has completed a new lease agreement for Nevis Range Development Company plc with the Forestry Commission. The deal will see the expansion of the Mountain Experience on the mountain of Aonach Mor.
Developed in 1989 as Scotland's highest ski facility, Nevis Range has grown into a year-round 'mountain experience'. What started out as a long strip of land to accommodate Britain's only mountain gondola has become a year-round tourist attraction for sightseers, hikers and mountain bikers.
The new lease consolidates the changes to the lease structure over the past 20 years, clarifying the partnership between the owners, the Forestry Commission and Nevis Range, as responsible operators of the mountain bike trails.
In addition to building on the already successful gondola and biking facilities, the new lease adds to the range of year round activities with the construction of four high ropes courses, winding through the trees and ending in a river-crossing zip slide.
The new lease agreements now brings 51 hectares of beautiful mountain land within the management of Nevis Range and extend the bike and gondola lease until 2048, when Nevis Range has a right to extend it for another 30 years.
As a result, Nevis Range is hoping to attract 5 per cent more visitors next year and 10 per cent by 2012.
Katie Corrigan, of Tods Murray, which has acted for Nevis Range Development Company since the 1980s, said: "The new lease agreement is an endorsement of the success of Nevis Range as an outdoor destination. With built-in flexibility, the capacity to develop graded bike tracks based on difficulty and put in rope courses, the new agreement also marks the commitment on both sides to manage the land proactively, sensitively, and on a commercial basis."
Marian Austin, managing director of Nevis Range, said: "Nevis Range was originally conceived as a snow ski area and our leases reflected this, but over the years the centre has added more activities and become much more than that - a visitor attraction for gondola users, a winter climbing facility, a paragliding area, a world class mountain bike venue, and most recently we have opened high ropes courses for all ages.
"Every time something new happens we have had to amend our leases, so this time we went back to the beginning and with Tods Murray's help, re wrote the Lease from the Forestry Commission for the lower mountain. This incorporated a larger area to include a new bike track accessed by gondola and will allow more flexibility in terms of land use."