Thinking of shelling out on an expensive winter sports trip to a pricey French or Swiss Alps resort this winter? Of course you are! But you might want to ask yourself why, when you can enjoy a swathe of winter sports right here in Scotland, with world-class conditions and increasingly excellent facilities offering a serious bang for your winter buck.
Scotland is home to a quintet of ski and snowboarding resorts that in recent years have boasted some of the finest conditions in Europe, with often an impressively long season lasting into the spring. Glencoe was the first ski centre in Scotland to set up a lift in 1956, and has 7 lifts and 19 runs today, and its renowned 'Fly Paper' is arguably the most challenging black run in the UK. The small, but perfectly formed Lecht 2090 boasts over 20 runs stretching over 20km, with seven blue runs for beginners, five more challenging reds and one seriously testing black downhill. There is also a half-pipe and fun park for snowboarders and freestyle skiers. Glenshee (www.ski-glenshee.co.uk) is the largest ski resort, spread across a massive 2,000 acres, with 21 lifts and tows, connecting 36 runs that snake for over 40km. And then there's the massive snow and ice plateau of the Cairngorms, set on the fringes of the finest Arctic wilderness in the UK, A mountain railway zips up to the Ptarmigan Restaurant, with 11 further lifts on hand. The drop between the funicular stations is over 400m, with the longest run 3.3km. There is a freestyle park too for those looking to perfect their skills.
The granddaddy of the Scottish ski resorts is the highly impressive Nevis Range, which has a gondola and numerous chairlifts on hand to whisk you up to the pistes, pushing right up to 1190m. There are green and blue runs right outside the gondola station and the adjacent restaurant, plus challenging black and red runs. Hop on a Sleeper train at night in London and you can be skiing here the next morning.
More winter fun awaits non-skiers with Cross-Country Skiing in the Clashindarroch Forest in Aberdeenshire. The Huntly Nordic and Outdoor Centre will sort you out if you are fit, brave and willing. There is also Dog Sledding at Cairngorm Sleddog Centre, with the dogs bashing you off around the Caledonian Forest that stretches away from the centre, and last – but certainly not least – one of Scotland’s most traditional sports: curling. It’s not exactly a massive participation sport here, but the World Curling Federation is based in Perth, and if you fancy trying your hand with the swirling granite curling stones they are a good place to start. You certainly can't go to go curling in the Alps!
Interested in finding out more ? Visit Scotland have a dedicated website for skiing and snowboarding.