SKI season is about to begin in Scotland – Alison Campsie rounds up Scotland’s main indoor and outdoor slopes
Snow is falling across the peaks of Scotland and winter sports fans across the country have one eye on the forecast as preparations are made for the new season. We take a look at Scotland’s main ski and boarding destinations. With each resort offering lessons and equipment hire, there are few reasons not to wrap up, head to the hills and make an active day of it in some of Scotland’s most stunning surrounds.
One of the most beautiful - and sometimes challenging - places to ski in the UK with the north facing corries and slopes holding more snow for longer over the season. It has the highest number of season ticket holders of all the ranges in Scotland, so gets incredibly busy but the resort proudly boasts Scotland’s only funicular railway, meaning that visitors can move around the resort relatively quickly.
In late January, the Aviemore Dog Sled Rally arrives with over 200 teams of Siberian Huskies, Malamutes, Greenlands and cross-breeds competing in Europe’s biggest competition of its kind.
HOW TO GET THERE: Located a short distance from the main A9 Perth to Inverness route. It will take around three hours from both Edinburgh and Glasgow to get there by car.
COST: Day pass £35 for adults and £21 for juniors. Equipment hire, including skis, around £24. Clothing can be rented from £14.80 for adults.
Glenshee offers the most varied terrain for skiers and boarders with suitable terrain for snow sports fans of all levels.
Stretching over 2,000 acres, Glenshee covers four mountains and three valleys with visitors ferried across the resort by a selection of 21 lifts and tows.
Sudden changes in weather and conditions mean that a trip to Glenshee is usually arranged at the last minute, so keep your eye on web cams and forecasts. Great conditions can be found here right up to April.
HOW TO GET THERE: Located on the A93, you can reach Glenshee from the North East via Braemar and from the south via Perth and Blairgowrie. In the car it will take around 2 hours from Edinburgh and Glasgow and 1hr 45mins from Aberdeen.
COST: Adult pass £30/junior £20. Ski hire £22 for adults, £11 children. You can hire a ski suit from £12 a day.
Home to Scotland’s largest vertical descent - The Fly Paper - Glencoe has always been popular for the more hardened snow sports fan.
Its exhilarating terrain is set amongst incredible scenery with a friendly, relaxed atmosphere topping off Glencoe’s reputation as one of the best resort out there.
Conditions are of course variable but a trip here during the week and you could feel like you have the place to yourself, which would feel pretty amazing.
HOW TO GET THERE: Located on the A82, 26 miles south of Fort William and 23 miles north of Crianlarich.
The A82 from Dumbarton near Glasgow will carry you north all the way past Loch Lomond to Crianlarich, Tyndrum and finally over Rannoch Moor.
From the east, take the A84 from Perth or the A85 from Stirling.
COST: An adult weekend day pass will cost £32 or £20 for juniors. Beginners can hit the baby slopes for just £20. Skis and poles or snowboards hire is £25 or £20 for juniors. No clothing hire.
THE NEVIS RANGE
Ben Nevis is the stunning backdrop to Scotland’s newest ski range, which offers the highest skiing and boarding in the country.
The centre prides itself on challenging terrain and easy access to off-piste skiing.
The back terrain has been ranked amongst the best in Europe with the base of the snow sports area reached by the gondola, which transports visitors 650 metres up the Aonach Mor.
February and March are the best months for skiing here, when prevailing westerlies fill in the snow to the back bowls. Free ride clinics and back corrie workshops are a speciality here.
HOW TO GET THERE: On the A82, the Nevis Range sits just 7 miles north of Fort William on the mountain of Aonach Mor. Fort William well connected to Glasgow and Perth by train.
COST: A day pass is £32 for adults and £20 for children. Group lessons start from £28.50 and equipment is available for hire.
Set in the Cairngorms National Park, The Lecht is one of the smaller, quieter resorts with smaller pistes making it a favourite for families and beginners. Generally shorter runs and shorter queues allowing for more time on the slopes. People head to The Lecht to beat the crowds heading to other resorts.
The Lecht sits at the top of the pass between Tomintoul and Strathdon with 12 different lifts, including a 3 person chairlift and a magic carpet travelator. THe Lecht 2090, which sits 2090 ft above sea level, is a timed raceway for pros.
Good snow can last here until April.
HOW TO GET THERE: Around 3 hours 30 minutes from Edinburgh by car on the M90, A9 and A93. From the east, you’ll get from Aberdeen to the range in around 1 hour and 30 mins.
COST: A day pass is £30 for adults and £22 for juniors with equipment hire from £22, which can be arranged online.
SNOW FACTOR, BRAEHEAD, GLASGOW
If you want to get some snow skills before you head to the great outdoors, Snow Factor Glasgow offers up perfect conditions to learn and enjoy the slopes - without the weather.
Snow Factor is the longest indoor real snow slope in the UK and has a baby training area for beginners as well as the main run, all serviced by four ski lifts.
It also avoids those long drives north, with Snow Factor only 10 minutes from Glasgow city centre. All equipment can also be hired here so there is no excuse not to whet your appetite for the white stuff. There is also a Bavarian beer hall and restaurant where you can sit and enjoy the wintry atmosphere in the warm.
HOW TO GET THERE: Come off the M8 eastbound at Junction 26 or westbound at junction 25a. Buses also run from Buchanan Street station.
COST: At peak times, an hour will cost £26 for adults with four hours at £36. Junior prices start at £21 an hour although cheaper member rates are available.