Chairlifts in Scotland

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  • Chairlifts in Scotland
  • Premier Icon The Pinkster

    While touring round the bumpy bits of Scotland couple of months ago I noticed that a number of ‘ski centres’ have now started using their chairlifts for MTBing in the summer.

    I know that Glen Coe has been spending some money building some trails exactly for this purpose but I also noticed that the lifts to the South of Braemar and just to the North (Lecht?) are also providing this facility.

    Has anyone here had any experience using these lifts, and if so are the trails from the top worth it?

    A few of us are thinking about spending a few days touring around making use of the lifts next year (perhaps hitting Lagan &/or Fort Bill as well) but I could do with making sure they’re worth it first.



    No lift served terrain at present. (Apart from a trial using the choo choo. IIRC this involved the mandatory hiring of CM gear, being guided and largely used a Piste Basher track to descend)

    Nevis Range

    Gondola serves WC DH course and Nevis Red. Circa 2000ft vertical. Quite good /enough to keep you entertained for a day.


    Chairlift serves DH course and a Red. DH is fairly natural / full on, the Red is much easier / littered with man made features (berms drop offs etc) Circa 1000ft vertical. Not ridden either.


    Charlift serves one course I guesstimate 750ft vertical. Was up a few weeks ago (under my own steam) Could best be described as a work in progress / low cost first effort. It didn’t look like anyone had been riding it recently, berms littered with brick sized rocks.


    Chairlift serves one or possibly two courses. Cant be much vertical – 500ft max I reckon. Info available on their website / Youtube.

    Don’t like to diss these places but it’s a bit of a mixed bag and I reckon you’d come away disappointed with a lift served road trip. Coe and Nevis combined with some natural stuff in between would make a good long weekend tho.

    Premier Icon stevomcd

    There are fairly strong rumours (head over to for the latest…) that Cairngorm are restoring the Ciste chairlift and that mountain bike uplift and new trails will be available from here.

    The funi has big restrictions on access from the top, so is legally a bit complicated for MTB use, which is a shame – this may be why the trial was guided etc. as TheBlackMount states. Could be over-come if there was a will to do so, I’m sure.

    Premier Icon Northwind

    Still want to get up to Glenshee and the Lecht… TBH they don’t look that inspiring but you never know.

    Glencoe’s new red is I think still a work in progress… I did the SDA round there a few weeks back, and tbh I’d kind of expected a machine-built, buff trailcentre red route with a lift. Nope! It’s a fab wee track, lovely rufty tufty feel to it, the exact opposite of manicured. I think it’d been hammered by weather when we visited, but that made it more interesting. FWIW I’d call it an easy dh trail rather than a red route but when it’s all dried out it could ride very differently. This isn’t a critism btw- I loved it. But I think not for everyone.

    Nevis Range is awesome. I bang on about it a bit tbh but it’s unmatched in the UK. The red route’s challenging and interesting, the worldcup route is doable by mere mortals on normal bikes- you’ve got to be decent, but if I can do it… The non-uplift stuff divides opinion but I really like it too. And though it’s in the middle of nowhere, and Fort William’s a pit, there’s fantastic riding all around it.

    Oh yeah and the gondola is much more civilised than the Glencoe chairs! I had a mare getting my bike on and off, more or less throwing it onto the hooks at full speed. (maybe it’s only like that on racedays?)

    Thanks for the review of the Glencoe Red Northwind, you’re spot on on a number of points and I wholly agree in its current state it is more of an easy DH, as weathering has taken it’s toll on the surfacing.

    Its certainly true it’s a work in progress (and nowhere near what I have visualized once complete) and feature wise far from machine built… I’ve slaved my summer away turning it from a grotty fireroad into it’s current state with nowt but sweat, natural materials I find on the hill and a power barrow, singlehandedly (save for one weekends much appreciated volunteer help (watch this space for more opportunities to take part))

    Amongst other things, there is also plans to open up the Cliffy lift (an experience in it’s own right!!) with an Alpine style descent on what is guaranteed to be the UK’s most scenic ridge ride.

    A pumptrack down at the carpark is also on the cards… in fact, I’d appreciate it if you pester Glencoe Mountain to make it happen, but don’t let them know I sent you 😉 (just mention something about you’d heard one was going to be built and asking when it will open 8) )


    Northwind and Big Mountain

    When you say easy down hill trail, can you give a comparison? I’ve been to the Alps and was fine, and can do most of the trails at inners, but something like the Matador or Fortwilliam (from what I’ve seen of it) would be a step beyond me I reckon.

    I’m maybe going up there on Friday, only bringing a trail bike (Enduro) and don’t want to get up there and not be able to ride the whole thing


    Premier Icon Northwind

    Oh you sly dog.

    It’s a crazy achievement so far tbh… Great to see it take shape. Hope I can make it up for a dig some time (just don’t clash with the GT trailfairies!)

    In some ways, I’ll be sorry to see it firm up more as I was loving its crazy evolving nature, the track I rode in my race run wasn’t the one I rode at 9.30. But that’s not really ideal 😉

    Premier Icon Northwind

    TPBiker, I’ve only done it the once so I’d take Bigmountainscotland’s word over mine, I don’t know if our day was typical.

    But in general… I was glad I took my downhill bike to race it, but I’d be perfectly happy to ride it on my little full suss or hardtail. Not the cross bike tho!

    At the risk of going all waffly… I reckon what made it feel a bit more in the downhill camp was the style of it. There’s a lot going on, and even though none of it’s massively hard, you’re always straight into the next thing without recovery, and always making decisions about line etc. So it’s complicated, rather than hard, maybe? This reminded me a lot of the alps, and also of the offmap enduro trails at innerleithen (though, no roots)

    It sounds like you’ll be fine, but, obviously would make sense to have a backup plan in case of weather.

    TPB, you’ll be fine; there’s nothing too taxing and you can take it easy for the 1st few runs and build your speed up over the course of the day; there’s no sections which require total commitment from the word go, but there is optional lines which you can work up to.

    I’d say it has elements of a bit of Chavannes in Les Gets, with some Caddon Bank from Inners thrown in, all sprinkled with a bit more texture in the form of rocks and all the trees removed for uninterrupted views of breathtaking scale and beauty.

    Ridden with caution, it assumes a technical character which is fine on a hardtail, ridden balls to the wall, it becomes more of a speedfest… although this helps skip over the worst of it, you need dual ply tyres and plenty of travel to soak up the thick n fast hits for those in between moments when you can’t unweight.

    Premier Icon The Pinkster

    Thanks to all of you for your comments. Will pass this on top the rest of the rabble now to see what they think.

    If we’re heading up to these sorts of area is there anywhere else any of you can recommend?


    Premier Icon Northwind

    Well… Glencoe isn’t far from Fort William obviously- the lifts are shut til spring now though. But you’ve still got the red world champs route (pretty good, but hard work), or any amount of natural riding in the area (west highland way sections, tour de ben nevis if you want a big ride, ciaran path- all nicely documented. No doubt tons more if you dig further). Laggan is within a fairly easy drive too if you want trail centres. (and it’s a nice drive up the loch!)

    Basing yourself out of the fort makes sense anyway as there’s actually civilisation of sorts there. Chip shops, pubs, b&bs, things to do when it rains. Though Glencoe has their excellent wee hobbithouses now if you just want somewhere to lay your head.

    Premier Icon The Pinkster

    Cheers Northwind that’s great.

    Not looking on heading up there until possibly May/June next year anyway so hopefully most of the snow will have cleared by then too. 😉


    thanks for the overview NW and Big M. Most appreciated. Sounds like it’ll be ideal for me, especially the no roots bit! As long as the weather holds up 🙂

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