Yep, you read that correctly. Braw (beautiful for those in the know) Scotland is seen as many things (men in kilts/skirts, bagpipes, the Loch Ness Monster, red haired bonnie lasses, sheep offal disguised as a meal, excessive amounts of whiskey) but a skiing destination? This wee lass is very excited to let you know that you can officially add five outdoor ski resorts to the list! Jonesing for some of that white stuff, I grabbed a trusty lady babe and headed to Glenshee Ski Centre.
Glenshee Ski Centre is Scotland’s most accessible ski centre (their words not ours) and is located 84 miles/135 km from Edinburgh. This takes about 2ish hours in the car with no public transport available folks. Upside? It’s close enough to Edinburgh/Glasgow to do in a day, main roads link most of the drive and you’ve got plenty of time to work out the perfect pump up song. Parking is situated right at the bottom of the slope and was empty when we arrived. Apparently it fills up on weekends so skip the beauty routine (no one looks good after a day in the wind anyway) and haul behind if planning a Saturday/Sunday jaunt.
Day pass – 30 GBP
Ski/Board & Boots Hire – 17 GBP
Helmet Hire – 5 GBP
Ski Suit – 12 GBP
*Prices from the 2017/2018 ski season
Glenshee literally translates into ‘Glen of the Fairies’ in Gaelic so we expected spectacular views (and were not disappointed). Driving in with the sunrise (don’t be too impressed, this is the UK in winter so read 8:30 AM) we were greeted by a valley boasting snow, clouds, an empty parking lot and … not much else. Glenshee has a rental shop, a ski school, a ticket office (inside the rental shop), a base cafe and two on-piste cafes.
The resort itself is the largest in Scotland with 21 lifts/tows linking four mountains, 36 runs and 40 kms of pisted snow. Sadly when I was there high winds meant that only about half of this area was open as all Scotland ski resorts are of the exposed moonscape variety. Never fear! I buckled up my bindings and skated my wood plank (there is only one type of rental board available and I believe it is of the vintage 90’s variety) to the nearest … pommel. For those of us used to the heavily chairlifted North American and Australasian slopes high winds mean a plethora of T-bars and Pommels. Who knew those mid noughties D floor sessions with Usher telling us to ‘get low’ were actually preparation (don’t apply that to any of the other songs). Oh, and all of the lifts are self loading. I definitely did not hit myself repeatedly in the head while detaching a pommel.
A fresh dusting meant some off piste was in order with grass clumps as the perfect launch points. With low numbers on the slopes fresh cords could be caught most of the day and heading to the lifts felt like the VIP experience. Best run of the day was to the left off the Cairnwell Chairlift with some surprising short but steep pitch.
OK, I grant you that those across the channel will be having a bit of a chuckle at this. Scotland’s mountains are hills compared to the Alps but, as any short girl can attest too, good things come in small packages. The lack of hill rules (see my friend in a creek below), quaint facilities and quirky locals mean that this felt like a secret (and cheap) day out in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. This mountain is best for beginner and intermediate snow bunnies but offers a day of fun no matter your skill level. Ye cannae really ask for more. See you on the pommel (or next to it if you’re me)!