Gazing out my window in a modest city in England, the sun’s rays are peaking out of the mist, the temperature is warm, and the expectation of me having some snow sports fun is approaching on zero. I sit here in absolute envy of our European cousins with their mountain ranges and winter sports resorts. What option do I have but to book myself onto a winter package holiday and hand over my hard earned cash for time on the slopes of Sauze d’Oulx.
This is however total nonsense. Around the winter months we need glance no further than the terrific Highlands of Scotland for our winter sports fun. We do not have to contact the airlines and schedule ourselves on a economical no frills airline to France, merely pack the boot and fill up with gas, tune in to some nice music on the radio and take a moment and enjoy the trip. You will find five snow sports resorts in Scotland, all offering impressive ski and snowboard conditions. The Nevis Range Ski Scotland resort situated near Fort William has ski and snowboarding up to 1190 metres (3,900 feet), with skiing levels from novices up to off-piste black runs suited to the masters amongst us. Not too far up the road is the Glencoe Mountain snow sports resort, with nineteen runs across seven lifts, which includes the steapest slopes in Scotland.
If you are interested in the largest skiing and snowboarding resort in Great Britain, then don’t look beyond the 2,000 acre, 36 runs Glenshee Ski Centre. With a base altitude of 2,132ft over 40km of pisted ski runs, this Aberdeenshire skiing resort has something for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, and includes eight green, thirteen blue, thirteen red, and two black runs. Size is not everything as I am sure you have all heard, and this is definitely never truer when talking about the Lecht 2090 skiing resort, established in Scotland’s major National Park set in the beauty of the Eastern Cairngorms in Aberdeenshire. Located 2090ft above sea level (hence its name), the Lecht 2090 snow sport resort is positioned over 20kms with eighteen pisted runs, including seven blue and five red. The Lecht 2090 has specialty amenities for the adventurous freestyle snowboarders. These include rails, box table-top and jumps, plus an on-site half pipe cutter. Last, but not least is the CairnGorm Mountain Ski Area, Aviemore, located at the scenic Cairngorms National Park. On this British resort you can savour phenomenal views across Aviemore, Strathspey and further afield in Scotland, so as you navigate down one of the 30km of pisted runs you can take in the well known views that Scotland boasts. The CairnGorm Mountain snow resort is particularly well suited to cross country skiing, and has great facilities for disability snowsports.
I could stop now and be satisfied with the winter sports facilities on my doorstep. I can shut down my cheap flight website and start powering up my Sat Nav, location Scotland. But before I go planning a trip to the Scottish Highlands, I should not forget about the fantastic indoor snow centres that are popping up all over the UK. There are six such indoor skiing and snowboarding centres in the UK, one in Braehead near Glasgow in Scotland, and one in Castleford, Manchester, Tamworth, Milton Keynes, and Hemel Hempstead in England. Most of these indoor ski centres are part of a larger facility that houses shops and restaurants, such as Xscape Castleford and the Chill Factore Manchester. These snow domes have huge 160 to 180 metre real snow slopes, with high tech machines forming snow showers every day so that there is always a fresh covering of snow on the slopes no matter what the temperature outside. This is a real advantage in the UK climate, and means we can all don our thermals and fall on our backsides even in the height of summer. At all of these indoor ski centres there are highly qualified instructors who can take you from novice to expert in both skiing and snowboarding, so whether you just need your fix of snow sports, or you want to pick up the basics before a skiing holiday in the Alps, there is something for you. In general there are several different lesson types available, so you can spend a full day at one of these huge snow centres to get fully up to speed as quickly as possible, or spread your training out over a few 1hr sessions at a more relaxed pace. As well as skiing and snowboarding there are lots of other activities on offer, such as ice skating, tobogganing, sledging, and even just plain and simple snow fun.
So, as I look out my window at the rays of sun warming the ground, I need not worry that my urge to hit the slopes will ruin my day; instead, I can simply head off to an indoor ski centre and book some time on the real snow slopes to perfect my skiing or snowboarding technique. Or, depending on the weather in the Scottish Highlands, I may even have the chance to get out in the fresh air and take in some of the most fantastic views in the world and test my skills on some real mountain slopes.