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Inside The Outdoors

Skiing in Scotland- A Guide to Scottish Ski Resorts

27.02.2015 | Ski Hints & Tips

Scotland is home to five ski areas which are the only natural ski resorts in the UK. In recent years more investment in facilities and more predictable snow has seen them rival other ski resorts in Europe.

Glenshee Scotland

Glenshee

Ski season in Scotland generally runs from December to April and there is a ski resort in Scotland to suit first timers, intermediate skiers and the more advanced.

Glencoe

Glencoe is Scotland’s oldest and most famous ski centre and the home of the steepest black run in the UK!

There are 19 runs in total with courses for all levels of expertise and over 7 lifts to get you to the top. There is a large plateau which is great for nervous beginners to get started. The resort also has a snow cannon providing perfect powdery snow for those just getting to grips with skiing.

Although the Glencoe ski centre is the ideal place for beginners to learn, there are also some of the longest and steepest runs in Scotland for those who fancy something a bit more daring.

Best For: Families. The variety of runs means there are options for beginners and kids who want to take it slow and for more experienced skiers too. Equipment hire is also great value for money.

Lift Passes: A day’s lift pass during weekends and holidays for an adult will cost £32 and for a child you’ll be paying £20. Midweek an adults pass will cost £25 and a juniors is £18. Half day tickets and beginners passes are also available at a reduced rate.

Equipment Hire: Hiring of skis, boots and poles or snowboard boots and snowboards is available. For adults it’s £25 for the day and for a child it’s £20. You can also hire skis, boards, boots, poles and helmets individually from £5. Kids helmet hire is free.

Lessons: Group or private lessons are available. Group lessons cost £25 for adults and £20 for children. The cost of private lessons will vary depending on the numbers. One on one lessons are priced at around £40 an hour whilst a group of three will cost you £85 per hour.

Other Activities: Sledging and avalanche rescue training are also available in winter.

Accommodation: Around Glencoe and Ballachulish you are spoilt for choice with where to stay. There are many B&B’s, hotels farmhouses, caravan parks and a few hotels to choose from. Glencoe Mountain Resort also has a variety of micro-lodges, campervan hookups, and camping plots available.

Lecht Ski Centre

Lecht Ski Centre is located in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park and is one of the smaller ski centres in Scotland. With over 20km of skiing and snowboarding and a total of 18 runs there are still plenty of options for novice and intermediate skiers.

As well as the gentle beginners runs there are a number of blue and red pistes which provide more challenging runs with a black graded piste for the thrill seekers. Lecht ski centre also has some of the most consistent snow in Scotland.

Best For: Beginners. There are 18 runs, five of which are green graded- ideal for beginners. More worried about getting on and off ski lifts? The easy ‘Magic Carpet’ travellator is your best friend; simply step on to travel up to the top. They also offer a great value ski package for beginners.

Lift Passes: Lecht offers the cheapest ski passes for adults. A day’s lift pass will cost around £29 for an adult (although half day and limited area passes are also available for around £24), £25 for a student and £15 for a child.

Equipment Hire: Equipment hire for the day which includes skis, poles and ski boots is £20 for an adult, £20 for a junior (secondary school) and £12.50 for a child (primary school). Due to such high demand it is always best to book the equipment hire.

Lessons: Ski or snowboard lessons are available. A beginner’s package which includes your lift pass, chairlift, and a 2 hour lesson costs just £55 for adults, £50 for secondary school children and £45 for primary aged children.

Other Activities: A half-pipe and fun park are also available for freestyle snowboarders and skiers as is snow tubing when conditions allow. Tubing hire for one hour, including the uplift, is £15 for both adult and children.

Accommodation: Some of Scotland’s best B&B’s are located near the Lecht ski centre. There are also many guest houses and cottages available to really make it a trip to remember. Why not stay in a cosy little cottage and explore everything Scotland has to offer?

Cairngorm – Aviemore

The Cairngorms and their surrounding area is the perfect place to visit for outdoor enthusiasts. From rock climbing to white water rafting there is plenty to see and do for adrenaline junkies all year round. It’s also the perfect place for a ski holiday in Scotland.

With 30km of ski runs Cairngorm Mountain has a wide variety of pistes to suit all levels of skiing ability. The Cairngorm ski resort is also home to Scotland’s only funicular railway which provides spectacular views from the mountain top. During the winter months you can even ski down from the top.

Best for: Beginners to intermediates. Although there are runs to suit all abilities, there are more runs here which are better suited for beginners wanting to learn how to ski or snowboard in Scotland.

Lift passes: Lifts passes at Cairngorms are the most expensive of the Scottish ski resorts. A day lift pass will set you back £33.50 for an adult and £20 for a child. Senior (65 years+) and student (17 years and over in full time education) passes are however available for £24.50.

Equipment hire: Clothing and equipment hire is available, but a deposit is required for all hires. For skis, poles and boots or snowboard and boots for one day, it costs £24.25 for an adult and £17.70 for a child.

Lessons: Both group and private lessons are available, as well as beginner/improver packages. Package deals which include a 4 hour lesson lift pass and equipment hire is around £89 for an adult and £75 for a child. Don’t need the equipment hire? There are packages that only includes lessons and lift passes.

Other activities: A fully maintained freestyle park is available which includes rails, jumps and boxes for skiers and snowboarders to practice their skills.

Accommodation: There are many family owned hotels in the local area of Aviemore offering a warm welcome, real ales on tap and homemade food, perfect for relaxing after a tiring day on the slopes.

Glenshee

Glenshee is one of the largest ski resorts in Scotland and was host to the very first British Snowboarding Championship. With the largest ski lift system in Britain, the resort extends over three valleys and four mountains. There is a fantastic variety of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all experiences.

The resort has a total of 36 runs consisting of 10 green, 13 blue, 13 red, and 2 black making this a great resort to learn the basics and continue to improve right up to expert level. Due to high demand, it is always best to pre-book any equipment hire or lessons.

Best for: Everyone. The range of pistes means beginners won’t be intimidated and more experience skiers won’t be bored. First timers can learn on the nursery slopes whilst more advanced skiers can take on the more challenging runs.

Lift passes: Adult day passes cost £30 for the day whilst under 16’s will pay £20.

Beginner/multiple day/family passes are also available.

Equipment hire: Hiring of clothing and equipment is available but you must provide proof of identity. The basic skis, poles, snowboard and ski/snowboard boots cost just £15 for an adult per day and for a junior this is £7.50. This also includes insurance against breakage but does not include loss. Ski and snowboard servicing is also available at this resort, as well as binding and boot repairs.

Lessons: The two snowsports schools at Glenshee offer private and group tuition. Group lessons start from £22 per person for 1.5 hours whilst private tuition starts at £55 for one person, £75 for two, £85 for three and £95 for four people.

Other Activities: As well as downhill ski and snowboarding, ski touring is also accessible from the Glenshee ski area.

Accommodation: There is such a wide range of accommodation available from self-catering holiday cottages, to B&Bs, to log cabins and yurts. Why not venture outside of your usual holiday hotel and stay in an eco-pod?

Ben Nevis

The Nevis ski range is situated on Aonach Mor, the 8th highest Scottish mountain and is the newest ski resort in Scotland. It is well known to offer the best natural terrain in Scotland and some of the most challenging ski runs.

Nevis has over 20km of pistes, with 12 lifts. The network of 32 ski runs includes a number of green and blue runs for beginners as well as some more challenging black and red runs and off piste for the more experienced skiers.

It also is home to Britain’s only mountain gondola, which transports you effortlessly from the car park up to 2150ft in about 12 minutes. On this journey, if the weather is clear you can see the most breathtaking views of the Scottish Highlands and surrounding areas.

The Ben Nevis range however has some of the most unpredictable snow, so it’s always best to check a Nevis range snow report before committing to a day on the slopes.

Best for: Advanced/Expert. Nevis also has a wider selection of intermediate to advanced slopes than it does for beginners. Snow conditions at Nevis are unpredictable with beginner slopes at the lower part of the mountain more likely to suffer poor cover.

Lift pass: An adult day lift pass costs £31 with junior(7-17yrs)/senior passes costing £19 and children’s (5-6yrs) priced at just £7.

Equipment hire: For any equipment hire a deposit or driver’s license/passport is needed. For skis, poles, snowboards and ski/snowboard boots it costs £22 for an adult and £15.50 for a child.

Lessons: Group and private lessons are available. A 2 hour group session is priced at £27 and a 1 hour private session for 1-2 people is £37.

Packages are also available which include lift pass, equipment hire and a 2 hour lesson which is £68 for an adult or £54 for a child. Beginner packages are also available, but only for those who have never been skiing or snowboarding.

Other Activities: Sledging and snowshoeing are available if you fancy something different and freestylers can practice their moves at the terrain park. There are also avalanche awareness courses for those ready to hit the more advanced slopes.

Accommodation: The nearest town is Fort William where much of the accommodation can be found. From log houses and chalets to backpacker hostels there is something to suit all budgets.

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