Skiing Scotland: A Guide To Scottish Ski Resorts
Everything you need to know about skiing in Scotland, including a walkthrough of the various ski resorts.
Introduction To Skiing Scotland
The skiing on offer in Scotland has, arguably, never been better. You might have heard, for example, some rave reviews of the snow conditions in recent years. Factor this in with the notable improvement in facilities, and you've got yourself a recipe for ski holiday success. While the call of the European Alps is always going to be there, we think it's time to shine one enormous spotlight on Scottish ski resorts. Contrary to what Jon Snow, from Game of Thrones, has told you; you should definitely head north of "The Wall" this winter.
If you are contemplating going skiing in Scotland, perhaps you're worried that there just won't be enough snow to quench your powder addiction. Well, we're happy to report, this is where the Scottish ski resort at CairnGorm can step up and kick your concerns into a nearby trashcan. CairnGorm, you see, gets more snow than other Scottish resorts. More snow, over a longer period, means more skiing for you and your companions. Result!
CairnGorm has the largest number of season ticket holders for any ski resort in Scotland, so if you're looking to go somewhere that's been endorsed en-masse by large swathes of people; you're in luck. Throw the UK's highest funicular mountain railway, a whole heap of epic views, and an excellent piste-grooming team into the mix, and you've got yourself a Scottish ski resort that's worthy of your time and money.
After skiing your heart out, and soaking up some wonderful slope-side fun, you might want to grab some food at the Ptarmigan Restaurant (which is the highest restaurant in the UK and has panoramic views down to Loch Morlich and across to Ben Nevis). Down in Aviemore, The Old Bridge Inn is excellent if you're looking for beer, food, and live music. Another place worth checking out is The Ski-ing Doo Restaurant. In terms of affordable accommodation, we recommend booking yourself into the Aviemore Bunkhouse.
Those skiers and snowboarders looking to hire some equipment while in the area could stop at Loch Insh, or The Snowboard Asylum on Aviemore's main street (other hire places are available). The nearest airport and/or train station is Inverness, and an adult pass for one day's skiing will cost you £33.50. It's £20 for children. For more information on the resort, why not take a look at the CairnGorm Mountain website.
The snow at Glencoe might not be quite as reliable as it is at CairnGorm, but this brilliant Scottish ski resort has some of the most breathtaking natural terrain and scenery you will ever see. Due to the inconsistency of the snow, it's difficult to prepare a trip here too far in advance so you might be better off treating it as a spur-of-the-moment destination for when it really starts dumping down. For those who don't mind throwing a sickie from work, the weekday slopes are often completely deserted.
The slopes of Glencoe have got something for everyone. If you're new to snowboarding or skiing, the large plateau area here is the perfect place to pick up the basics. Improvements have been made to the beginner's area, and there is a snow cannon to ensure that some snow is always on show. The more experienced winter sports enthusiasts will probably want to chance their arm on the UK's steepest black run - Flypaper.
The Clachaig Inn, in the heart of Glencoe, offers award winning accommodation. With its first-rate hospitality, delicious food, excellent booze selection, and live music events; this place has got you covered. Alternatively, you could always spend your sleeping hours in one of the cosy micro-lodges situated at the Glencoe campsite. If camping isn't your cup of tea, the Bridge of Orchy Hotel has an excellent reputation and is dog friendly (ideal if you want to take Lassie on your Scottish skiing adventure).
If the finest cakes and hot chocolates in Glencoe are what you're after, pay a visit to The Plateau Café. If skiing and snowboarding equipment are what you need, there's a decent rental shop in the resort's main car park (Glencoe Equipment Hire). An off-peak day pass for adults costs £25, or £32 if you come at the weekend and/or during the school holidays. The nearest airport is Glasgow, and the nearest train station is Bridge of Orchy. For more information on this Scottish ski resort, pay a visit to the Glencoe mountain website.
Jaw-dropping scenery, challenging terrain, and exciting off-piste thrills; skiers who like adventure will love the Nevis Range Mountain Resort. Because of the easily-accessible backcountry stuff, avoiding the crowds here can be relatively straightforward. Access to the resort itself is made easier by the fact that the roads in and out are mostly coastal, and therefore not as prone to the snow-induced traffic jams you might find at other resorts.
The Back Corries at the Nevis Range are legendary in Scotland. The off-piste Coire Dubh, in particular, is a real stunner. Although it's easily hiked lift-accessed terrain, those skiers looking to go off-piste here should know how to ski well and consult a local expert on the changeable conditions before taking the plunge. Freeride clinics and workshops are on offer for those who want some pointers on how to ski these gnarly Scottish mountains.
In terms of places to stay in the area, the Torlundy House Bed and Breakfast is perfectly situated between Fort William (aka the outdoor capital of the UK) and Ben Nevis (highest peak in the UK). The Pinemartin Cafe and Bar, situated on the Nevis Range at the base of Aonach Mor, serves a selection of hot and cold snacks, as well as main meals, specials, and coffee/tea. Hit them up if you're in the mood for some delicious cakes. The Ben Nevis Inn and Bunkhouse, located in Fort William, is worth a "butcher's" if you've got yourself a hankering for somewhere that combines tasty grub, proper ale, and affordable beds.
For skiing and snowboarding rental needs, drop into Nevis Range equipment hire and get yourself sorted. The nearest airports to the Nevis Range are Inverness or Glasgow, and the nearest train station is Fort William. A day pass for the entire Nevis Range area is £32 for adults, £25.50 for students, and £20 for juniors/seniors. If you've read all this and still have some questions, hop on over to the Nevis Range website.
Glenshee Ski Centre
Glenshee has a lot going for it - literally. It's spread over a large area, and really mixes it up in terms of the varied terrain it offers skiers and snowboarders. There's a truly impressive 22 lifts and 36 runs at this Scottish ski resort and an amazingly diverse selection of slopes to enjoy. Go to Gleenshee when conditions are at their finest, and you certainly won't be bored.
Those in the know, when it comes to skiing in Scotland, will tell you to keep a keen eye on the weather forecasts and ski resort webcams. Glenshee, like Glencoe, can be absolutely superb if you're willing to drop everything and make a last-minute trip there. If you want to plan ahead, and don't like an impromptu adventure, the best days at Glenshee usually happen in January. The run known as Glas Maol is widely considered to be the best piste in the UK.
The human body, unfortunately, has its limitations so at some point you're going to need to stop skiing and actually get some sleep. The Gulabin Lodge, while we're on the subject of beds, is ideally located for outdoor enthusiasts and offers a variety of affordable self-catered accommodation. If you're looking for surroundings that are a little more regal and kingly, the Dalmunzie Castle Hotel is the place to be. For an excellent combination of bedrooms, beer, and food; The Strathardle Inn is just a 25 minutes drive from the ski centre.
The Glenshee Ski Centre equipment hire service can be booked online prior to travel, and will deal with all of your gear rental needs for a very reasonable price. The nearest airport is Aberdeen, and the nearest train station is Perth. Day passes for Glenshee are £30 for adults, and £20 for juniors/seniors. A five day pass for adults is £120, and £80 for juniors/seniors. For more information on this particular Scottish ski resort, visit the Glenshee Ski Centre website.
The Lecht Ski Centre
The Lecht Ski Centre might be a smaller Scottish skiing resort than the big-time players like Glenshee and CairnGorm, but that doesn't mean you should dismiss it out of hand. Lecht's small and quiet vibes, combined with its much shorter slopes, make it an ideal Scottish skiing destination for families with young children. If the short runs idea has got you running in the other direction, you should know that Lecht's lack of queues means you'll be surprised by how much slope time you can rack up here.
Lecht is situated within the Cairngorms National Park so its pistes are surrounded by some of the loveliest scenery in Scotland. Because of Lecht's size, and it's lack of popularity in mainstream skiing circles, it's a great place to go if you want to beat the crowds. Even on weekends, and in school holidays, it'll usually be a lot less busy than CairnGorm - which drags huge numbers of people in from all over the place. Sleepy? The Glentorets Bed and Breakfast will put you right.
The nearest transport hubs to Lecht are Aberdeen and Aviemore. Adult day passes for the full area are £30, junior day passes are £20, and child day passes are £15. Equipment hire is on offer at the main ski lodge. For more details regarding this idyllic Scottish ski centre, or to check out its webcam, scooter on over now to the Lecht 2090 website.
For more information on skiing Scotland, check out the Visit Scotland website.