|Top of Ptarmigan Bowl
|Jill enjoys a warm drink at Cairngorm
Over the years i have done reviews on my favourite places for Skiing and Snowboarding. I would like
to share some of these.
SCOTLANDS SKI/SNOWBOARD AREAS.
Remember to check out the links below if you are planning a trip to any of the Scottish centres.
|Aviemore,Cairngorm. Call it what you want but|
this place is somewhere I always look forward
back too. Even after trips to Europe
or across the Atlantic there is always a special
feeling in my heart when you
drive up the A9
and into the heart of Speyside.
Aviemore first came to prominence in the 1970s
with the building
of the Aviemore centre which
included hotels, ice rink and a nightclub. The
design of the place left a lot to be
desired and as
the years went on and the tourists dried up the
area became a bit of an eyesore. But back then
it was not uncommon to see film stars and other
famous people sampling the delights of this
small highland town.
Its downfall started in the
1980s when ski holidays to Europe, especially
to Austria and Italy became much more
to your average working person. People who
would normally get their annual fix of skiing
Scotland started to abandon it in favour
of better resorts abroad.
But now as we have moved into a new millenium
Aviemore is working very hard to bounce back.
The old centre is being redeveloped and the
Mountain now has the
new funicular railway
which can whisk you up to just under the summit
of Cairngorm (5th highest mountain in U.K.)
a matter of minutes, where as previously the
old chairlifts were slow and very often closed
because of the
The ski/boarding area at Cairngorm is located
9 miles from Aviemore. It is a lovely drive up
slopes on a crisp, clear winter morning
( we do get some, honest!) passing Loch
Morlich where often the reflection
Cairngorm mountains paints a perfect picture
on the still waters of the Loch. The campsite
small tents pitched all year round
where the more hardy soles among us may
want to spend their nights. This is not
me as the Aviemore area has an abundance
of accomodation to suit all pockets from B&Bs
to good quality
hotels. My favourite place to
stay is in the Hilton Coylumbridge hotel a
mile or so outside Aviemore. During the
winter the hotel always has good offers going
on and the buffet breakfast is as good as you
will find anywhere,
just what is required for
a hard day on the slopes.
We continue our drive through the snow gates
road starts to wind and twist as it
climbs upwards coming to the first carpark
at Coire na Ciste. This is really
car park for weekends and other busy periods.
We soon arrive at the car park at the newly
Here you have the ticket office, equipment hire
shop and bar and Cafeteria. Once you are sorted
with your lift pass it is time to take a trip up
the mountain on the new funicular. Around 80
people can move up
and down in each carriage.
The only fault I have found is that it stops at
the mid station (Sheiling) then moves
stops again so that the downward carriage can
stop at the station. This only takes a few minutes
it is a pretty minor critisism.
The top Ptarmigan bowl is a snowsure basin
and an ideal beginners area where the
are gentle and very wide. Just off the top T-bar
you will find a couple of rails and kickers. The
terrain park was over on the Fiacaill ridge(not now)
where if snow conditions are good you will
to keep you occupied. From the
top of the mountain there is good sport heading
down the West wall into Coire na
snow permitting you can reach the first car park
and get back up via a chairlift.
The main Coire
Cas area has some fairly long
Intermediate runs as well as the White lady,
a run that is often mogulled ending up
Sheiling mid station.
Cairngorm is surpringly bigger than a lot
of people imagine and when conditions
good some pretty decent sport can be found,
but it is often windy with poor visibility and
the four seasons
in one day syndrom. It is an
ideal place to come for a few days during a
settled spell of weather. The Aviemore
offers plenty of other things to do such as
clay pigeon shooting, visiting a whisky
Distillery or walking
and climbing, fishing.
horse riding, mountain biking or just chilling
out in a local bar.
There are plenty
of hotels and bars in the village
For apres ski. Café Mambo is a new modern
place which does good food as
Cairngorm hotel. Mackenzies and the Winking owl
are also popular.
Aviemore is easily reached by road
and air (Inverness Airport) being about an hour
Easy to get to.
Good choice of places to stay.
Lots of runs in good snow conditions.
Unpredictable Scottish weather.
There are plenty of places to stay when you make a visit to Cairngorm.
In Aviemore there is a wide range of Accomodation from Campsites,Bunkhouses,B&Bs,Guest Houses to a good selection
Below are links to some of these places.
Hilton Coylumbridge Hotel
Aviemore Highland Resort.
More places to stay
|The Lecht 2090 - that is the official title for Scotlands newest and
smallest skiing/boarding centre.|
The Lecht has went from strength to strength over the last few years going against
the trend of other resorts most notably Glenshee/Glencoe where the company has now gone into recievership as a result of poor
snow conditions,less visitors and arguably poor management in recent years.
The Lecht has diversified and is no longer
just a place to go and ski and board. It is an all year round attraction where activities such as Quad biking,Devil and Fun
carts and Summer Tubing take place so keep money coming in to the company even when there is limited or no snow.
Lecht is located on the A939 between c*ckbridge and Tomintoul a road notorious for being closed by snow during the Winter
months. There are numerous occasions when the runs have lots of snow but visitors cant get there till the road is opened from
one end or the other. The last two winters have seen the lifts open here for a few days in October when the snows have arrived
early bringing hopes of a prosperous season but as is the norm up here in Scotland we will be back to Summer conditions or
washed away with rain a couple of days later.
The Lecht is helped by having a good website for its marketing and promotion
of its facilities and the 14 lifts give 20 km of mainly gentle beginner/early intermediate slopes with a maximum vertical
of just 660ft.
The Lecht is an ideal place for anyone wanting to learn to Snowboard or for people wanting to ride on real
snow for the first time. This is where i took my first lessons and the instructors are all pretty good with a few of them
coming from Australia or N.Z.
We did not hire our equipment at the centre but at one of the small villages on the way up
as in those days they did not have a great deal of rental equipment available but that was about 9 years ago so i would imagine
hire equipment will be a lot better now !
The centre has runs on both sides of the road which you access from the carpark.
There is a Chairlift (Snowy Owl) and about a dozen button tows all named after Scottish Birds. The runs are all quite short
but are all you need when learning and it is certainly much better than being on a dryslope. Also if snow conditions are good
they have a funpark and small pipe to keep you occupied.
The nearest place to stay is the little village of Tomintoul where
there are a couple of Hotels and Bars,but make sure you dont have to refuel your car here as it must have the most expensive
petrol in Britain. Have seen it as much as 20p/Litre more expensive than Aberdeen !
|Ideal place to learn or to spend a day if you are in the area.|
30 miles from Aviemore where more experienced riders will be better off.
Not a lot of challenge.
to Tomintoul road often closed after a good snowfall.
This is the newest area for wintersports in
and has been open for around 12
seasons. It is situated a couple of miles north
of Fort William in the shadow of
highest mountain Ben Nevis and on some
days there are spectacular views from the
summit of Aonach Mor
Carn Mor Dearg to the Ben itself.
From the car park at the base area you get
your lift ticket
and set off on the 6 seater
Gondola, protected from the elements and
head up to the Snowgoose lodge which has
a shop ,restaurant and bar. When snow
conditions are fine there is a fairly good
beginners area here with a few
lifts. You then access a chair followed by
quite a long T-bar then a Poma lift that
takes you to
the summit. The runs back
down are generally fairly wide and can
provide some good intermediate sport
a fairly good vertical drop.
Now to the good part! The most recent
addition to the area is the Braveheart chair
which allows access to some great Freeride
terrain in the back corries. This area is not
always open due to poor
snow or bad weather
but when conditions are good it is a mighty
fine place to be. On a good day you often
you are not really in Scotland. From the
summit of Aonach Mor it is quite a drop into
Coire Dubh and a lot of people
are put off
when they look down. This is quite steep
and challenging terrain and is great after a
dump. The only real downer
after a few hours fun in the back corries is
making your way back round to the Snowgoose
as it can often have patchy snow conditions
and can get quite flat in places, but it is worth
the effort. Also
from the summit it is possible
to drop of the back of the mountain into summit
gully where there is a long off-piste
flattens out as it comes back to the Braveheart
chair. It is advisable to do this with other
riders or with a guide as the drop in
can be heavily corniced (snow overhang) which
can break away and pose an avalanche
This area should only be accessed when the
conditions are good and you have the ability
to ride there.
If you are in any doubt – Ask!
The ski patrol can be found in a small hut at
the top of the summit poma tow.
Overall this area can provide some impressive
sport but the number of days you will experience
it is limited due
to the unpredictable weather. The
Gulfstream has a lot to answer for!
The town of Fort William is a good place
with a wide range of accomodation ranging from
good value B&Bs to good quality Hotels. The
has a good selection of bars and places
to eat as well as numerous outdoor shops.
It is well worth having a few
days at Nevis Range
then a day at Glencoe on the way home.
In the summer the Gondola can be used to take
the mountain bike up to allow access to the
runs which have been built for national
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|Glenshee is situated on the A93 between the towns of Blairgowrie to the south and Braemar to the north.It is easy
to reach from Scotlands major cities although the road can be closed for a while after a major snowfall (if were lucky).Glenshee
is sometimes referred to as Scotlands "Trois Vallees"but the only comparison being that it is situated in three
valleys and covers four mountains.|
On arrival at Glenshee you have ample parking areas beside the main road.(be careful
when crossing it as there is often fast moving traffic).The ticket office,ski schools,hire shop,and cafe are all nearby.Lift
passes for this season cost £19.50 for a day.Glenshee has this countrys largest lift system with 25 lifts as well as
the largest area. You have slopes on both sides of the road.On the Cairnwell (3059ft) side there is access to the "Tiger
" run which is usually mogulled and is quite steep but provides reasonably challenging sport when conditions are good.
During the week the slopes are not usually to busy but if there has been a fresh fall of snow and the weather is settled then
it seems that a lot of people must pull "sickies" from work and head out from the cities.
The best part of
the area is on the other side of the road.Head up to Glas Maol (3504ft) via a number of lifts and easy/shortish runs.We have
had a lot of good fun up here in recent years after a dump of snow and if you get up early enough you will be able to make
fresh tracks but it is normally skied/boarded out in a couple of hours.There is some good natural terrain here and attempts
at fun parks happen every now and again but a lot of work has to go into this and it normally only lasts a day or so.
area has 3 restaurants,one at base station and one on either side. The one on the Cairnwell side gives you a good view of
the surrounding area.
Glenshee is a place for day trippers rather than for anything much longer.There is no slopeside
accomodation and most people will stay in Braemar or Blairgowrie. A place we stay every now and again is Dalmunzie house hotel
ten minutes drive south from Glenshee.It is not cheap but it is a nice place to go for a treat.It even has its own golf course
although you dont want to be seeing any green in the winter!
Glenshee does not hold the snow as well as Cairngorm or
Nevis range and is usually closed at end of season a few weeks before the other two.Winds also effect the uplift here like
all the Scottish centres but it is further east and the strong westerly winds maybe dont batter Glenshee so hard!
|A fairly large area,lots of lifts.|
In good conditions a lot of fun can be had.
Easy to get to.
place for beginners/intermediates.
|Scottish unpredictable weather.|
If you come here with an open mind and not expecting too much you may just encounter
good conditions and have a great time.
GLENSHEE SKI CENTRE
|Glencoe. The name has so much history attached to it and is a most
beautiful of places. Driving up onto Rannoch moor always inspires me for a great days Boarding as you look up to the head
of the glen to Scotlands best mountain, the impressive Buichaille Etive Mor. (In my humble opinion).|
When you arrive at
the base area you find a log cabin Restaurant,ticket office as well as the hire shop. Access to the slopes is via a chairlift
which takes you to the plateau ,this is a good beginners area when snow cover permits. Up here you will find a café with toilets
but it does not sell alcohol so if you want a pint at lunchtime it will mean a trip back down to the base area. The top runs
are accessed from two drag lifts after a short trip on a single seat chair (Cliffhanger). Scotlands steepest piste the Flypaper
is fairly Challenging but not very long.
On a good clear day with good snow cover a lot of fun can be had at Glencoe,
there is plenty of natural bumps and gullies to make up for no snowpark. On rare occasions it is possible to ride from top
drag lift all the way back to the carpark. Midweek can be very quiet especially late in season when conditions can be surprisingly
good. This is a great place to come for a couple of days if you can get away from work at short notice when you know the weather
looks settled. Glencoe is less than an hours drive away from Nevis Range just north of Fort William and staying here is the
best option if you want to combine the two.
Glencoe is not the biggest, nor does it have the best lifts or facilities in
Scotland but it remains my
favourite. Try it out sometime but come midweek!
|The weak points of Glencoe are the usual ones you expect from a
wintersports area in the UK. Unpredictable weather and snow conditions and it is also a drive to nearest places to eat or
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Glencoe Mountain Resort
The Kingshouse Hotel
|Glencoe Piste Map.