2017/18 ski season branded “a disaster at CairnGorm and an even bigger disaster for the local economy”

As reported in this slot a couple of weeks ago, even though Scotland’s 2017/18 ski season was a dream – the best for five years in terms of the number of people who went skiing at the nation’s resorts – up at CairnGorm Mountain they still somehow managed to have a nightmare. While the folks at Glencoe, Glenshee, The Lecht and Nevis Range were all basking in the chilly aftermath of the Beast from the East and selling ski passes hand over (gloved) fist, CairnGorm saw its market share decline dramatically, from an average of 35 per cent over the last ten seasons to just 23.6 per cent – a drop of almost a third.

Outdoors 1
The Ptarmigan Bowl at CairnGorm Mountain ski resort, with Loch Morlich in the distance

CairnGorm Mountain loses market share in bumper year for Scottish skiing

A few weeks ago, regular readers may remember, this column had some fun with numbers – well, one number in particular: the “skier days” total recorded this year by Scotland’s five main ski centres, CairnGorm, Glencoe, Glenshee, The Lecht and Nevis Range. (One skier day is equivalent to one person buying a day pass or two people each buying a half-day pass.) As expected, the 2017/18 season turned out to be a much-needed good news story, the total of 247,139 skier days being the highest in five years and well above the ten year average, even if you discount the abysmal 2016/17 season as too pitiful to bother with.

Ticks are widespread across the UK, but southern England and the Scottish Highlands are among the highest risk areas (Photo: Shutterstock)

How to avoid tick bites this summer - and what to do if you find one

The summer season is a great time to make the most of the great outdoors, with hiking, camping and gardening all much easier and more enjoyable in warmer weather.

Alan Titchmarsh says that water companies waste more in leaks than green-fingered homeowners, Photo: Graham Stone/REX

Alan Titchmarsh blames companies for Britain’s water shortage

Television presenter Alan Titchmarsh has attacked water firms for blaming shortages on British gardeners.

UK 2
The new Folio Society edition of The South Polar Times

Dramatic increase in readership forecast for South Polar Times

It is a testament to our continuing fascination with the polar explorers of the early 20th century that so much of the literature they produced is still in print. Walk into your local bookshop – if you’re lucky enough to still have such a thing – and if you can’t actually find a copy of Scott’s journals or Shackleton’s South or Cherry-Garrard’s The Worst Journey in the World displayed on the shelves, you should have little difficulty ordering one. Chances are your only real problem will be deciding which of the various different editions to buy.

Jottnar gear is tested to destruction by a team of mountain professionals. Climber and skier Tom Coney, pictured in the Alps, is a recent recruit.

Interview: Marine turned businessman Tommy Kelly on taking climbing and skiing brand Jöttnar to the next level

It’s nearly five years now since I first interviewed Royal Marine-turned-businessman Tommy Kelly for The Scotsman. The former Stewart’s Melville and Napier University student had just started a company called Jöttnar, working in partnership with his friend and fellow Marine Steve Howarth – an experience he described as “building the plane while you’re flying it.” Their plan, cooked up while out on manoeuvres together in Arctic Norway in 2005, was to launch a range of high-end outdoors gear that would function more effectively than the MOD-issued kit they were wearing at the time, and which would appeal to people who – like them – took their climbing and ski mountaineering seriously.

Outdoors 1
Home-grown beetroot. Picture: Pixabay

Five best vegetables to plant in your garden right now

There's still time to get your vegetable seeds off to a flying start so that you can harvest your own crop in the autumn

Homes & Gardens
A puffling rescued (and later released into the wild) by the Scottish Seabird Centre. Picture: Scottish Seabird Centre

Five best wildlife spots to explore around Edinburgh and the Lothians

If you're wild about wildlife there's no need to drive miles in search of it, some extraordinary animals are lurking close to your doorstep
Chistine Whaller running the West Highland Way. Picture: Christine Whaller

The death of the mountain marathon in Scotland

Once a delight for ultra runners at home and abroad, the two famous mountain marathons in Scotland have recently died a quiet death

Kids petting the sheep at Gorgie City Farm. Picture: Gorgie City Farm

Seven free outdoor activities for children in Edinburgh and the Lothians

The long summer holidays are nearly here but what to do with the kids that doesn't involve spending pennies? Peel them away from their screens and get them outdoors to discover bearded dragons and snakelock anemones...
Thousands of animals will be competing in all manner of classes over the four-day event. Picture: SWNS

Royal Highland Show 2018: Everything you need to know

With massive crowds expected at the biggest country event of the year, Ilona Amos has the low-down on the Royal Highland Show, which opens this week

Travel 1

Most remote hostel in UK opens at Cape Wrath lighthouse

Perched atop a 300 foot cliff and a bombing range, the remotest hostel on mainland UK has opened its doors.

Perfect conditions for skiing (and snowboarding) at CairnGorm Mountain on 1 April 2018 PIC: Peter Jolly

Number crunching the Scottish ski industry’s best winter in five years

At about this time last year, James McIntosh, manager of the Lecht ski centre, gave me his views on the future of the Scottish ski industry.

Scotland's unique islands are popular with sea kayakers (Photo: Shutterstock)

9 Scottish islands you can kayak to

Enjoy an offshore adventure with one of these island expeditions.

Dun from Mullach Sgar, by Alex Boyd

New book from photographer Alex Boyd shows the real St Kilda

“St Kilda – you don’t exist. Your name is just a faint cry made by the birds that make their home on the high cliffs at the furthest edge of the United Kingdom, beyond the outermost of the Outer Hebrides.” So begins the memorable entry on St Kilda in Judith Schalansky’s Atlas of Remote Islands, subtitled “Fifty islands I have not visited and never will”. First published in German in 2009, replete with beautiful, retro-styled maps, the atlas was translated into English the following year and has been described as “gorgeous, lyrical and whimsical” by Time, and “utterly exquisite” by Robert MacFarlane. It even won Germany’s award for the Most Beautiful Book of the Year.

The beautiful Cullen beach in Nairn. Picture: Lucas Cullen.

Revealed: The four Scottish beaches named among the best in UK

FOUR Scottish beaches have been named on a list of best seaside destinations in the UK.

Outdoors 2
Bealach Na Ba is arguably the toughest hill climb for cyclists in Scotland (Photo: Shutterstock)

7 of the best cycling hill climbs in Scotland

Take your cycling to the next level with one of these hill climbs.

Picture: Macdonald Media

Glasgow Garden Festival lives on at Gourock garden centre

The Glasgow Garden Festival might have ended 30 years ago, but it lives on in a Scots garden centre.

Glasgow & Strathclyde
Jim McColl of The Beechgrove Garden is a hero to gardeners like Bill Jamieson, owner of two knackered pick axes (Picture: Kate Sutherland/BBC)

Bill Jamieson: The BBC and I have parted ways – with one exception

Forget Chelsea Flower Show’s cowpats and Monty Don’s perfect soil, The Beechgrove Garden is for real Scottish gardeners, says Bill Jamieson.

Opinion 4
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