Skiing/snowboarding in scotland.

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  • Skiing/snowboarding in scotland.
  • Spin
    Member

    To get the most out (or indeed anything) of skiing in Scotland you need to be an opportunist.

    Don’t book in advance. Be flexible and wait for good conditions and a good forecast. If you do need to book in advance then have a plan B like taking your bikes or hillwalking or a whisky distillery tour.

    Given good nick any of the ‘resorts’ can give good skiing but here’s a few comments on each:

    Cairngorm – perhaps the most reliable snow with a good range of slopes but gets bonkers busy and uplift is unreliable which can lead to very long queues.
    Lecht – Limited but good for beginners.
    Glen Coe – Great variety of terrain but less reliable than some and not so good for beginners.
    Glen Shee – A wide range of slopes of different difficulties. Might be your best option.
    Nevis Range – Has been really limited due to poor snow cover in recent years but has the best views of all the areas in Scotland. Again, a bit limited for beginners.

    All this really depends on your abilities.

    And as a final note…hone your skills then buy or hire touring kit and get away from the pistes. This is where Scotland really starts to shine.

    JPR
    Member

    Will just chime in to say that when it’s good, it really is some very good skiing.

    TheDoctor
    Member

    For the same price or even cheaper than getting to and staying in Scotland you could get a weeks holiday in the French alps, with reliable snow and more choice!

    Premier Icon nickjb
    Subscriber

    You’ll get a lot more out of a trip abroad. It needn’t be expensive if you pick the right resort and time or go for a last minute deal. Bigger ski area, better weather and more consistent snow. Not knocking Scotland, I’ve had some good trips but I’d give it some more thought.

    julians
    Member

    A week in a decent ski resort in france would probably work out cheaper than a week in scotland, plus the skiing is ( a lot) better in france.

    We went to scotland for a long weekend skiing a few years ago. We waited for the forecast to be good, booked a hotel the day before then drove up. The weather was decent (ie blue skies), the snow was plentiful, but the runs (in glenshee) are very very short compared to france, and there are minimal chairlifts, mostly drag/button lifts. we had a good weekend, but its not a patch on france/switzerland/italy etc.

    France would be a much better bet.

    Spin
    Member

    I came back on to say keep an eye out for cheap packages abroad but I’ve been beaten to it!

    (didn’t want to hijack the skiing/boarding 2014 thread). My wife and I have just finished a load of skiing/boarding lessons at our local indoor slope. Really loved it and we both want to get outdoors this winter but on a budget, certainly not the sort of budget that would get us abroad. So we would really like to get over to Scotland for a few weeks tis winter.

    Any resident experts have any info – best places to go, to stay, costing, best time to go etc? Any info will be useful.

    Thanks all, great info. Have to say I am surprised that you think I could get a holiday abroad for a similar price for a week in Scotland (not that I am coming from a place of previous experience) but I reckon I could sort a week for the wife and I (in Fort William), 5 days skiing, equipment rental, accommodation for a week, fuel up there and back and food, meals out money etc for a grand. Could I get something abroad for similar sort of money?

    Premier Icon Bunnyhop
    Subscriber

    the last 3 seasons in some scottish resorts have been good. i had one of my best ever powder days in march 2011 at nevis range.

    skiing in scotland is very hit and miss. sometimes the snow up on top can be in fantastic condition but the lifts will be closed due to high winds.

    ice is also a problem at certain times.

    i do love the lovely british quaint queuing system, where everyone waits in line and there is no pushing in.

    as others have said go along and make other plans for the odd day when the weather could be against you. i love skiing in scotland because when the conditions are good, it really is lots of fun.

    Spin
    Member

    Packages tend to be for 6 days and don’t include passes so that is a variable. If you’re flexible on dates then you might be able to do it for not a lot more. I’m not clued up on cheap package deals as I’m a teacher and they don’t come my way!

    Where are you based? When I wrote my previous post I was thinking about weekends rather than week long trips en ecosse. If you’re thinking about a week then I’d say abroad would definately be a better experience for beginners regardless of conditions here.

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
    Subscriber

    You can absolutely go abroad for less than a grand. In my view Austria is the best for money and resorts (of the big four) and Andorra and Bulgaria can be cheap and very good. As stated , Scotland is great if you can drop everything and go when the conditions are great.

    piemonster
    Member

    To make skiing in Scotland worthwhile you really need to live within day trip distance. Much further than that, head to the Alps.

    FunkyDunc
    Member

    Please go abroad, I spent most of my childhood travelling up to Scotland to ski and race. I never had one week with weather and snow conditions as consistent as you will get in the alps.

    When its good it can be ok, but your limited by the vertical.

    It wont work out cheaper either.

    grum
    Member

    Thanks all, great info. Have to say I am surprised that you think I could get a holiday abroad for a similar price for a week in Scotland (not that I am coming from a place of previous experience) but I reckon I could sort a week for the wife and I (in Fort William), 5 days skiing, equipment rental, accommodation for a week, fuel up there and back and food, meals out money etc for a grand. Could I get something abroad for similar sort of money?

    Yup. The week after new year is often quite cheap. My wife and I went to Austria last year – paid £270 for flight, transfers and accommodation (B&B) in Mayrhofen, plus lift pass and eating out (great food) it was still under £500 each. Smaller resorts in Austria are cheaper still and plenty good enough for beginners.

    Pick a week then look for last minute deals on crystal ski/Thomson/igluski/ifyouski etc. Scotland can be good but as above you really need to live nearby.

    Spin
    Member

    When it’s good it is good

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    Easy by happycrenker, on Flickr[/img]

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    tower by happycrenker, on Flickr[/img]

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    For the same price or even cheaper than getting to and staying in Scotland you could get a weeks holiday in the French alps, with reliable snow and more choice!

    +1

    The resorts are tiny and very expensive as is local accommodation. Great if you live near by and can take the odd nice day off work, but for a week’s skiing I wouldn’t even consider it and just go to France / Italy etc.

    sweepy
    Member

    Its all been said, great when its at its best but you do need to live there.
    And its really frustrating when you can look out the door and see metres of powder, but you cant get to it.

    Same as FunkyDunc – spent most of my teens getting shotblasted with hail while clinging on to a poma at Cairngorms (was with LSRA). Was pretty shocked when I could see down the valley on my second season!

    It’s an experience but a different sport to the Alps. Some stunning last minute deals if you book 1-2 weeks out. Full board for under £400 but hire and passes will soon add up.

    Spin
    Member

    It’s interesting to see that there isn’t a Scottish Skiing Mafia on here (or at least not yet).

    If the OP had asked this question over on UK Climbing any suggestion that the Alps would better meet his needs would have been aggressively shot down by rabid supporters of Scottish skiing.

    Premier Icon hot_fiat
    Subscriber

    When it works, it’s truly amazing. But when it goes wrong, boy does it go wrong. See a Scottish ski trip more as an adventure tending towards a right of passage in your skiing history than a holiday.

    Glenshee jan 2010:

    you don’t have to go all the way to Scotland for real snow:

    Ski in England

    devs
    Member

    As others have said, when it’s good it can be great but it’s not at all like the alps. You can do it on a budget though and even camp/campervan it. I live close enough to Aviemore to pick and choose days so I get the best of it and still very rarely go here. Those saying that France is cheaper must be off their trolleys though or take all their food and drink with them. Personally a ski holiday is just that for me. A holiday. Ski hard, eat hard and drink hard and it costs a lot more over there.

    grum
    Member

    France can be cheap if you get a good deal on an all inclusive chalet. In general Austria is much better value though IMO (and better hospitality).

    moniex
    Member

    We did Switzerland February half term last year for a family of 4 for £1700 all in. This included travel (by car so ferry/tolls/fuel), accomodation (an Appartment), lift passes, food (we self cater, but go outlunchtimes) and spending money. We do have our own skis/boards.

    For two the travel would work out more expensive and you may as well fly.

    For next February (week before half term) we have booked an Appartment in morzine. Spacious and close to the lift/shops etc. works out about £130 per person.

    So you would ad £100 flight, £70 transfer, £170 ish lift pass. You would be a little over with hire and spending money. You would get a lot more skiing and boarding done though!

    I have also seen some great coach deals to brides-les-bains (near maribel). We did consider this for just me and the hubby last Easter, but could not really justify another holiday. I have heard great things about this place, lower resort but 20 mins in the gondola and you are in maribel.

    HTH

    Simone

    shifter
    Member

    Those saying that France is cheaper must be off their trolleys

    Quite possibly, but Fevoured did say:

    So we would really like to get over to Scotland for a few weeks

    He’ll get more quality riding in one week in Europe than “a few weeks” in Scotland.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been up there for long weekends quite a few times and I enjoyed it but the slopes don’t compare very well.

    It’s nothing like the alps. On a good day it’s very memorable indeed. I cherish memories of one of those days at Glencoe. Pure off piste joy. Other times at other places its been rather naff.

    peterfile
    Member

    I’m in Glencoe/Cairngorms most weekends throughout winter.

    The ski stuff lives in the car and if the weather is good and the lifts are open then we’ll head up, but we never plan for it.

    It’s not that often that we’ll get up more than once or twice a month, the weather is just too hit or miss. Depends on how hardy you are though (and whether the lifts open obviously). I’ve had some of my very best and very worst days skiing in Scotland (sometimes within a day of each other!).

    As others have said, head elsewhere if you need to plan.

    vintagewino
    Member

    Living in Edinburgh the last 7 years I get between 2 and 8 days per season in Scotland. I have all my own gear and I’m ready to go at super short notice if the forecast looks good but I still get caught out sometimes and spend £30 on a lift ticket to ride around all day on slush in a cloud. Plus the petrol! It’s not cheap riding here and if you were coming up from south of the border for more than a weekend it’s going to be more cost effective going to Europe. Having said that, I concur with buzz-lightyear – a blue sky no wind powder day at Glencoe is a thing of pure joy…

    Premier Icon dmorts
    Subscriber

    +1 for Austria. France is pricey. Where do you live?

    agent007
    Member

    Despite around 15 trips to various parts of the Alps for snowboarding, had one of my best days boarding ever in Glencoe, Scotland 3 years ago. Stunning views, perfect powder and good snow cover all the way to the base station. Conditions in Scotland can be more challenging than the Alps though (due to mostly drag and T bar lifts, ice, narrow pistes, less than perfect piste grooming, etc) and when it’s cold in Scotland – it’s really properly cold. Never experienced cold like it in the Alps despite boarding in -23deg in France last year – Scotland felt colder.

    To get the most out of Scotland then I’d recommend improving for a week or two in the Alps (or similar) first. Soldeu would be my choice in Andorra. Some fantastic value half board late deals, great tuition from English tutors (if you need it), huge ski area that’s perfect for beginners/intermediates, modern lifts, and cheap beer (UK prices rather than 6-10 Euros for a beer in France).

    jamiep
    Member

    Jasna, Slovakia is dirt cheap and more lifts are being added each year

    dirtycrewdom
    Member

    Never made it to Scotland, although I do want to.

    If you’re beginners, go to Bulgaria or Andorra for the first couple of holidays. They are smaller resorts that you will grow out of so you may as well use them now. Also both a lot cheaper than france/austria/switzerland.

    grum
    Member

    Also both a lot cheaper than france/austria/switzerland.

    Andorra didn’t seem any cheaper than Austria when I was there. Austria is nowhere near the price of France/Switzerland, especially if you don’t go to one of the more famous resorts.

    dirtycrewdom
    Member

    Andorra didn’t seem any cheaper than Austria when I was there

    Really? Mental. My trip was….wow, I guess 15 years ago or so, (and here was me still thinking I’m a spring chicken) so I guess it’s got more expensive. I just assumed it would still be cheaper anyway due to being tax free.

    grum
    Member

    Beer and food etc was around UK prices, same as Austria. This was at Soldeu and Vallnord summer before last, compared to Mayrhofen and St Anton (maybe a bit more expensive) last winter, and St Johann in Tirol the year before.

    Premier Icon Beagleboy
    Subscriber

    Hey Fervouredimage

    I’ve pretty much given up on Snowboarding in Scotland, the infrastructure is shonky, expensive and the snow unreliable. Oh, and I live near Stirling, two hours drive away from the main ‘resorts’.

    Here’s where I spend my money…Bansko in Bulgaria

    1.Return flights from Manchester (including extra allowance for my snowboard) £250
    2.Return transfer from Sofia to Bansko £30
    3.Six day lease of a two bedroom apartment, five minutes walk away from the gondola that takes you up the mountain, £218 shared between four of us which works out at £54 each.
    4.Six day lift pass £126

    So this season’s holiday is going to cost about £460, added to that of course is food and drink but a two course meal and four beers averaged about £6 last time.

    Finally, the resort is perfect for beginners, and really good for snowboarding. Have a look at the first week in February and I’ll even buy you a beer mate. 😉

    Premier Icon davieg
    Subscriber

    I am based in Glasgow where I used to average 2-3 trips a year on the slopes and a week in the alps if I was lucky. Now with a busy life and child, I have not been out at all in the last two seasons.

    As everyone is suggesting (even us Scots), go abroad. A week abroad with reliable snow and weather and better lift system will really cement your skills. Then come back to Scotland with skills and experience and you will enjoy it even more.

    +1 for Soldeau. I had been to France once before but did not really have the skills to make the most of it. Soldeau was where my boarding really clicked for the first time. If you can pick your week (avoid half-term), prices should be better and meet your budget.

    Andorra or Bulgaria could be better shouts for your first time or think about smaller resorts in the Alps. The large linked up resorts e.g. 3 Vallees, Portes Du Soliel etc are great but can be more expensive. If you can get a deal go, but get a local pass rather than the full area, as you may not have the skills to get round it and justify it.

    HTH

    Premier Icon dmorts
    Subscriber

    Is there anything in Scotland similar to Treble Cone in New Zealand? I now live in Edinburgh so am keen to give the slopes a go this winter

    Essentially I learnt to snowboard in New Zealand while living in Wanaka for a snow season on a year out. Treble Cone and Cardrona were my resorts of choice. Since returning home I’ve had a few trips to the Alps but find most of the runs pretty sanitised compared to Treble Cone. It has black runs that go down chutes, forming natural half pipes which are a lot of fun. There was loads of off piste stuff within the avalanche controlled area too. I’ve not found anything like that in Europe, or if there is it’s roped off. The good thing about the Alps though is the runs are way longer

    Spin
    Member

    Is there anything in Scotland similar to Treble Cone in New Zealand?

    Do you mean is there anywhere that the lifts access interesting terrain rather than just wide pistes?

    If that’s what you mean then only Glen Coe or Aonach Mor fit the bill.

    As for the alps being sanitised and roped off, most folks make an informed decision and then duck under the ropes (or not).

    grum
    Member

    Essentially I learnt to snowboard in New Zealand while living in Wanaka for a snow season on a year out. Treble Cone and Cardrona were my resorts of choice. Since returning home I’ve had a few trips to the Alps but find most of the runs pretty sanitised compared to Treble Cone. It has black runs that go down chutes, forming natural half pipes which are a lot of fun. There was loads of off piste stuff within the avalanche controlled area too. I’ve not found anything like that in Europe, or if there is it’s roped off. The good thing about the Alps though is the runs are way longer

    In St Anton/Zurs there’s quite a lot of unpisted ski routes that are still ‘in bounds’. Zell am Ziller near Mayrhofen had lots of easily accessible off piste without ducking any ropes as well.

    vintagewino
    Member

    2nd Spin’s vote for the Coe if you want natural interesting features. a lot of glencoe is proper steep and there is plenty to jump off (as long as you can see where you are going). Chamonix is the other obvious euro alternative for in-bounds off piste (I’ve not been to St Anton but heard good things).

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