Guide To The Best Ski Resorts In Scotland
Any time there's heavy snowfall in Scotland one thought runs through my head; book Friday afternoon off, load up the car and escape to the mountains.
I will always have a soft spot for Scotland, my mum is from there, and it provided me with my first taste of real snow. Since that first visit, I have been drawn back because of the low prices, easy backcountry access and lack of planning required for a visit. Further improvements in resort facilities, lifts and accommodation mean the skiing experience is not too far from small European destinations.
Here is our guide to the main Scottish resorts.
- 1,070 m Elevation
- 36 runs / 22 lifts
- Suits Intermediate
- Adult £30 / Junior £20 (full area day pass)
Located in the south of the Cairngorms, Glenshee is the largest ski area in Scotland with over 40km of pistes. The majority of the resort is a mixture of blue and red runs, and there is a nursery slope by the car park for beginners. Children as young as three can receive lessons at the various ski and snowboard schools or attend local race camps.
Apart from the many pistes, there is a terrain park, natural ¼ pipe and plenty of backcountry for you to explore. Variable snow conditions dictate the resorts opening times, although the snow is generally pretty good from December to April. You’ll find a range of accommodation to suit all budgets with some great deals to be had on last minute bookings.
- 1,108 m Elevation
- 20 runs / 8 lifts
- Suits beginner / intermediate
- Adult £32 / Junior £20 (full area day pass- weekend)
Lying on the west coast of Scotland just below Ben Nevis is Glencoe Resort on Meall a’Bhuiridh mountain. The main lift offers quick access to plenty of backcountry routes in the famous White Corries area. Before you head off-piste, you can practice your transceiver skills at the onsite BCA training zone or take some mountaineering / touring lessons. The lessons include ice axe/ crampon use, correct route choice and much more. If you prefer sticking to the pistes, you can also get coaching at the ski and snowboard school.
The snow depth peaked at 123cm in February last season, and the resort regularly holds Freeride World Tour qualifiers in the surrounding hills – a sure sign that there is consistently good snow.
After you finish for the day there is a campsite at the foot of the hill which houses micro lodges, camper vans or tents - if you are feeling brave. Otherwise, there are hotels, B& B’s and self-catered apartments in the surrounding area.
- 1097 m Elevation
- 31 runs / 11 lifts
- Suits Intermediate
- Adult £ 33.50/ Junior £20 (full area day pass)
One of Scotland’s most famous and popular ski destinations, CairnGorm Mountain is a quick ten-minute drive from Aviemore. The mountain is the 6th highest in Britain and mainly faces north, providing a good climate for snowy conditions. It is also assisted by five snow canons for better coverage at the start and end of the season.
The resort has a variety of runs for different abilities and includes a terrain park and a half pipe. At the bottom of the hill you will find a cross-country course that winds through Glenmore forest.
There is also a host of local guides to take you around the excellent backcountry, you can book lessons for Nordic skiing or attend one of the local ski schools to improve your technique.
You can stay at the foot of the mountain in the campsite or stay in nearby Aviemore. Aviemore is a lively town at night that provides frequent buses to and from the mountain. Another benefit of staying in Aviemore is that you can travel from London by train removing the stress of driving.
- 645 m Elevation
- 20 runs / 13 lifts
- Suits beginner / Intermediate
- Adult £30/ Junior £20 (full area day pass)
Set up in the 1970's Lecht has grown to become an understated yet much loved Scottish resort. The majority the resort’s runs are blues or reds with a singular black running from the peak to the base. Next to the car park there are several green runs and a magic carpet for toddlers. For more advanced skiers you can take a lap through the freestyle terrain park or test your speed on the timed slalom course
With Scotland’s weather so unpredictable it is worth checking if the A939 is open before setting off, as it often has to be closed. Thankfully that fickle weather is not a problem on the slopes of Beinn a’Chruinnich thanks to snowmaking facilities providing consistent coverage.
A warm bed for the night is about 10 minutes from the slopes with the usual range of options for accommodation. If want a bit more of an adventure you can stay overnight at the carpark in a motorhome, however, you should pack plenty of provisions in case of snowstorms.
Image source: summonedbyfells
- 1,190 m Elevation
- 35 runs / 12 lifts
- Suits Intermediate
- Adult £32 / Junior £20 (full area day pass)
Near the town of Fort William, the Nevis Range ski resort provides access to two faces of Aonach Mor and plenty of backcountry routes. Passage to the pistes is via Scotland's only mountain gondola, a fast ride that takes you up to 650m in a few minutes. From here you can warm up on the wide green and blue runs before heading on up to try some reds or venture off the side into the Coire Dubh freeride area. In addition to the pistes, the mountain boasts a terrain park, BCA transceiver practice area and sledging area.
TWhatever your ability there are some great ski schools available, as well as backcountry and freeride clinics over the peak winter periods. The resort is generally open from December to May depending on conditions and there is plenty of rental equipment available in-resort.
Accommodation can be found at a very reasonable price in Fort William at one of the bunkhouses / hostels or there are lodges and cottages to rent out if you want a bit more space. Food-wise you should try the local seafood if you can or enjoy the valley panorama and some home-style cooking at the Snowgoose mountainside restaurant.
If you are planning a trip to a Scottish resort and want to take advantage of the surrounding backcountry terrain, we have a range of essential backcountry equipment.
About the Author:
Pete Fletcher - Ski Tech & Outdoor Expert
Pete grew up hiking most of the trails in the Lake District before being introduced to skiing. A few decades later and you’re most likely to find him snowboarding, skateboarding or making a mean coffee.