Credit: Jessica Northridge

Glasgow to Glencoe, scrap your alpine holiday and ski in Scotland!

By Donald Self

From skiing day trips from Glasgow to long weekends in the Cairngorms, Scotland has plenty to offer for both beginners and experts on the snowy slopes.

Skiing in Scotland can be truly world-class at its best. Unfortunately getting a day on the slopes with perfect conditions is rare, and instead skiing in Scotland can degenerate into sliding through sludgy muddy snow and ice, or rock-dodging in the rain. For this reason, knowing where to go and when is of utmost importance.

Glencoe, just under two hours away by car and accessible via the 915 bus to Uig in two hours and 45 minutes, is probably the best option for a day trip from Glasgow. With the mountain a north-facing bowl shape, Glencoe also offers some of the best and most consistent conditions for skiing in Scotland. Additionally, there is a good stock of rental gear available for those who don’t have their own kit. For expert skiers, Glencoe also offers some extremely technical and steep terrain, notably the flypaper run, a black run referred to as the most difficult route in Scotland. With a new cafe opened this season that looks out towards the majestic Buchaille Etive Mor and options for accommodation nearby for those looking to make a weekend of it, Glencoe has pretty much everything you need.

Nevis Range, another half an hour up the road from Glencoe, is situated on the impressive Aonach Mor with a peak of 1221 metres. For a day trip, it is a toss-up between here, Glencoe, and Glenshee.  Weather and snow conditions will be the deciding factor. There is a decent variety of piste runs at Nevis Range, more than enough for a full day of skiing or snowboarding. For more advanced skiers, Nevis Range boasts a great opportunity for some off-piste backcountry skiing with its back corries. Please note that anyone endeavouring to ski this terrain should be well aware of avalanche risks and follow the relevant guidance.

Glenshee, two hours by car in the other direction from Glencoe and Nevis Range, has a nice range of pistes. From invitingly easy to surprisingly steep, Glenshee offers perhaps the widest range of skiing in Scotland. Disability Snow Sport UK organises classes at Glenshee making it perhaps the best option for those less able. At the time of writing, in early January, Glenshee is the only resort in Scotland that is open for business. 

Cairngorm Mountain and the Lecht have a travel time of up to 3 hours from Glasgow taking away much of the appeal of a day trip. Between the two for a long weekend, Cairngorm will have more options for accommodation located near the town of Aviemore. However, both have a variety of piste slopes with the volume slightly larger in Aviemore. 

All the resorts in Scotland offer onsite ski and snowboard instruction from beginner level to refining technique for more competent skiers. Many of them offer student discounts to some extent but check the websites for the most up-to-date prices. Living in Glasgow we are well located to get out to the slopes with three resorts quite feasible for a day trip. If you don’t drive yourself, there are numerous Facebook groups for lift shares from Glasgow during the ski season. The GU Ski and Snowboard Club do an annual winter trip to the Alps before Christmas and during the new year will be running day and weekend trips to the Scottish mountains. With a yearly membership of £25, if you are keen to ski or snowboard during your time at university, this is a no-brainer.

Getting into skiing can be daunting not least because it can be notoriously expensive. However, as a student in Scotland, you have here a fantastic opportunity to ski some challenging and beautiful terrain right on your doorstep. There are many ways to mitigate costs, there is a huge second-hand kit market in Glasgow and with your own equipment and a season lift pass, you can bring down the cost of a day in the hills to something quite reasonable.

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