Scotland: Ski, ride year-round in these high lands
Scotland has year-round skiing thanks to a combination of five conventional ski areas, an indoor snow centre and a dozen dry ski slopes.
The five conventional ski areas are all in the north of the country in the Grampian mountains, known worldwide as The Highlands.
Scottish ski resorts
Cairngorm is Scotland's best-known ski area with a reputation as one of the most beautiful and challenging ski destinations in the UK. Cairngorm is also home to Scotland's only funicular railway which takes passengers up to the country's highest restaurant, shop, mountain exhibition and viewing terrace. There are 12 lifts, including the funicular train, serving the seven green runs, six blue, eight red and one black. The longest run stretches two miles. There is also a snowpark for freestyle fans and a sledging park for families. Cairngorm is 10 miles east of the lively village of Aviemore, just off the main A9 route between Perth and Inverness. It can be reached by train from most parts of the UK, including an overnight sleeper train from London, or by flying to Inverness.
Nevis Range has skiing up to 1190 metres (3900ft) on the mountain of Aonach Mor. This is Scotland's newest and most modern ski area, located next to Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis. Lifts include a quad chair and six-person gondola. Situated around the top of the gondola, close to the Snowgoose restaurant, is the area for beginners, including a range of green and blue runs. Further up the mountain is an extensive network of red and black runs, as well as the acclaimed Boardwise Snowpark. Here you'll also find the imposing off-piste of the Back Corries with steep runs to challenge even the most experienced of skiers. The nearest town is Fort William where much of the accommodation and après-ski facilities are based. Fort William can also be reached by train, again including an overnight sleeper option from the south. Some choose drive up from Glasgow.
Glencoe is Scotland's original ski centre dating back to 1956. It has an awesome location at the South end of a valley. The resort began life as a weekend haunt for dedicated skiers and has become increasingly popular in recent years among more daredevil skiers and riders. It is one run in particular called the Fly Paper - the steepest black run in Britain - that offers the biggest appeal. In total Glencoe has seven lifts serving its runs: four green, five blue, six red and one black. A wide variety of accommodation is available locally. Glencoe is a popular day trip destination for Glaswegians.
The Lecht has some of the most consistent snow in Scotland, largey due to heavy investment in snowmaking technology. Situated some 637m (2090ft) above sea level, The Lecht occupies a stunning location in the eastern Cairngorms and is accessed from one of the most scenic roads in Scotland, the A939. It is largely composed of parallel roadside drag lifts and a chairlift imported from French resort Le Grand Bornand. There are 12 miles of terrain split into 18 runs: seven blue, five red, five green, and a black racing piste, with timing and slalom poles. The Lecht is also snowtubing and, when conditions allow, a half-pipe and snowpark. The Lecht recently opened a new £1m base lodge with all facilities. The nearest hotel is in Corgarff. The Lecht is reached by road from Inverness or Aberdeen in about 75 minutes in good weather.
Glenshee offers more lifts and terrain than any other UK ski centre. It extends 40 kilometres across four mountains and three valleys. Its 36 runs are served by 21 lifts and the longest run, Glas Maol, stretches two kilometres. At the base of the ski centre you'll find a cafe, ski hire shop and ski school. Located close to Braemar and the Queen's summer residence of Balmoral. The resort is popular day trip for people living in Edinburgh.
Scotland offers a good choice of indoor and dry ski slopes: SNO!zone's Braehead, Midlothian Snowsports Centre, Pontmonthill Ski Centre, Aberdeen Snowsports Centre, Firpark Ski Centre, Bearsden Ski Club, Glasgow Ski and Snowboard Centre and Newmilns Ski Centre.