“ Perthshire, Sotland. „
I think Glenshee probably provides the biggest ski area in Scotland, especially when there is enough snow to open the Glas Maol area. The resort itself is based on both sides of the A93, there is sunnyside to the opposite side of the road from the cafe and there's the cairnwell and Carn Aosda side. Sunnyside is definitely the easier choice for beginners or those folk who are finding their feet again, although it can become rather congested!
For the intermediate onwards, the cairnwell side offers some great fun with the tiger, bucharts and also the race tracks. Great fun if you're looking to blast straight down.
If you're looking for a bit of off piste action of just trying to get away from the crowds, head over to Meall Odhar and further on to Glas Maol. The crowds should be lesser over "the back" and on it's day it offers fantastic snow conditions with plenty of nice deep pockets of snow. There really is some cracking runs over this side, for the intermediate onwards you'll have much more fun skiing at Meall Odhar and if it's open Glas Maol.
Ticket price is in line with the other ski resorts in Scotland but Glenshee can get so busy during a holiday weekend or a weekend with decent snow. Make sure to get there early to save waiting in the lift pass queue!
Recently, due to the quite substantial amount of snow the Scottish Ski Resorts have received this year we have been taking our 2 kids, Kyle aged 15 and Erin aged 10 to Glenshee for some sledging fun.
Glenshee is the busiest ski resort in Scotland, probably because it is fairly easy to reach, when the roads are open, and is situated in quite close proximity to 3 of Scotland's cities, Dundee, Perth and Aberdeen. We live just outside Dundee and, although Glenshee is only about 40 miles from Dundee it takes us about 1 hour to drive there due to the narrow, winding country roads and if snowfall has been quite good, the roads can be quite busy too.
==A BIT ABOUT GLENSHEE==
Wild and romantic and steeped in myth and legend Glenshee or the Gaelic name, Gleann Shith, The Glen of the Fairies has something to offer everyone. Glenshee is situated right in the heart of Scotland.
The skiing section of Glenshee is formed over 3 valleys and 4 mountains, with the highest point being an impressive 3504ft. The highest public use road in Britain, the A93, runs through the glen at the dizzy height of 2132 feet above sea level. Home to Britain's largest ski lift system there are 21 lifts and 36 runs on offer for skiers and snowboarders of all capabilities, with an abundance of area for the modest sledger! In the centre of all activities is the licensed Base Café, which serves great tasting hot food and drinks, with no airs and graces, just lots of benches and tables for the exhausted, cold and wet snow adventurer to recharge their batteries. Also situated beside the café is a shop selling a huge range of skis, snowboards, sledges, inflatable sledges, clothing and accessories. It is here that you can also hire all the equipment and clothing needed for a day on the slopes, all professionally fitted by and experienced team of people. For the more advanced skier situated at the top of one of the slopes is the licensed Cairnwell Mountain Restaurant and nestled in the middle valley is the Meall Odhar Café, needless to say I have never managed to reach either of these yet, although do plan to one day!!
Nine miles north of Glenshee is the town of Braemar with hotels, B&Bs, restaurants and gift shops. This is also where the lowest ever temperature in Britain was recorded at a very chilly -27.2 C in both 1895 and 1982!
==HOW TO GET THERE==
Travelling from Dundee you will reach the towns of Coupar Angus and Blairgowrie first. The roads from Dundee to Blairgowrie are fairly decent country roads, but from Blairgowrie this is where you notice a change in the road structure, they become narrower, very winding and very up and down (just like a rollercoaster!). After Blairgowrie you will pass through the picturesque village of Bridge of Cally where you will find a notice board telling you how many ski runs are open in Glenshee and what the weather condition are like and if the roads are open. There is also a good-sized hotel situated here. You can also hire skis, snowboards and other equipment here
The next beautiful village you will come to is the Spittal of Glenshee, this is where the roads will be closed if weather conditions are severe. Here you will find The Spittal of Glenshee Hotel and bunkhouse. As you drive to this point you will probably be thinking to yourself, oh what beautiful scenery, how remote and picturesque, but where is the snow? This is what we felt the first couple of time we went. It's not until this point that it's almost like driving into another world, all of a sudden the snow just seems to appear, the temperature on the car starts to drop and the road starts to climb. It's amazing how much weather conditions can change by just taking a bend in the road!
From Aberdeen the journey is slightly longer and takes approximately 1 ½ hours passing through the Royal Deeside town of Ballater.
==WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT IN THE WINTER==
Once you reach the ski resort you will find 2 very large parking areas, which is usually ample space but again, if there has been a good amount of snowfall, they can be very busy and also very treacherous, with many a car getting stuck, but not to worry there are always plenty people willing to help push you out again! There is always a wonderful hive of activity in Glenshee with children and adults of all ages having a great time.
When visiting Glenshee during the snow season you should always go very well prepared taking plenty or warm waterproof clothing and a dry change of clothes as well. The weather can change very, very quickly and it is always better to be safe than sorry!
==WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT IN THE SUMMER==
During the summer months Glenshee is still a hive of activity, maybe not as much as when the snow is there, but still busy nevertheless. Many outdoor pursuits are offered against the stunning backdrop of the mountains. Pursuits such as hill-walking, horse riding, stalking, shooting, mountain biking and fishing. There is also a hang-gliding school open in Glenshee during summer months and an 18 hole golf course in Braemar.
For the hill-walker there are a number of munros and corbetts to choose from. (A munro is a Scottish mountain over 3000ft and a Corbett is a Scottish mountain over 2500ft.)
With all these super activities to choose from, what more could the outdoor lover ask for!
The Spittal of Glenshee Hotel offers a good base for the area and being only 8 minutes drive from the ski slopes is great for giving you a whole day out on the slopes! The hotel has 48 rooms, 8 of which are family rooms and are all en suite. There is also a bunkhouse, which can accommodate up to 18 people. Braemar, also being fairly close to hand offers 5 or 6 hotels with a number of guesthouses and B&Bs.
There is so much to offer in this area a visit to Glenshee is a must!
© lel1969 February 2008
First thing, lets be clear that the three stars awarded to Glenshee are really three and a half – A good rating if you consider I ski mostly abroad. I recently paid my first winter visit to Glenshee and in many respects was pleasantly surprised. It certainly compared very favourably with Aviemore, a place I’ve skied at a number of times, and think return trips to Glenshee are almost a certainty. It does have bad points too, but we’ll cover them in a bit. The first thing you’ll need access to if you’re to make any sense of my tour of the slopes is a piste map. There is one at http://www.snowboardingscotland.net/res_mapglenshee.html As they boast proudly on the Glenshee piste map and website – 3 Valleys, 4 Mountains. While the subject of the official website is about, it’s at www.ski-glenshee.co.uk, but it isn’t very good. The piste map is still under construction, for starters, but it does have a comprehensive pricing guide. The second thing you’ll need, if unfamiliar with piste maps, is a key. Black – Difficult runs Red – Intermediate runs Blue – Easy runs Green – Beginners runs Yellow – Tows These classifications are European and are reflected in how Europeans rate their skiers as well. Brits often don’t understand their position in this hierarchy. To make the transition from beginner to being a low end intermediate skier – One who can tackle reds with a degree of competence, requires on average 6 weeks of skiing under the belt. The top map represents the ski area to East of the A93. This road, connecting Braemar in the North, to Blairgowrie in the South bisects the area. The area to the East houses two and a half of the valleys and two of the mountains, and has the superior skiing to my mind. Farthest east, and most challenging in this area, is Coire Fionn, in the shadows of Glas Maol
and Meall Odhar. It offers what appear on the map to be a number of blue and red runs. In fact there is one nice confidence building red – No. 23 on the map, well groomed on the day - and loads of off piste. The off piste area was a mix of hard ice and thick powder that kept me entertained, but I wouldn’t like to be up there on a quiet day if the weather turned. On the West Side of Meall Odhar are a number of short but interesting reds (19-21) and the Meall Odhar café. A basic affair, they have decent coffee and Donuts though and the toilet is accessible from the outside – very handy. Opposite these reds are some rather short and uninteresting greens to the East of the Sunnyside tows. Sunnyside runs down to the dividing A93 road and offers some nice greens and blues for beginners (11-14). On the main road are the car parking, shop, ticket office etc. To the West of the road are the Cairnwell and Carn Aosda, two big hills with the skiing coming down the ridge that links them. On the first day here I went to the top of the Bunny Run, a horribly flat green. After trudging along BR for a bit with 40mph gusts coming off the ridge, taking lots of drifting snow with it, I found a marked red, the Slalom. Started off down the said run, but it was in appalling condition for a “piste” One side of this narrow run was thick powder, the other solid ice. Not my idea of a piste and one of things that I marked Glenshee down on. Following this I headed up No 7 in Butcharts Coire. At the top I was again alone – the tops of the pomas (Draglifts) are all unmanned – but this time in a white out. I think that the Lift Company displays a frightening lack of responsibility on this issue, especially considering some of the pistes are also very badly marked. After a few minutes I found a couple of other people who didn’t know where they were and we picked our way down the hill together. I didn’t mention it
earlier but I’ve walked most of these ridges and peaks in autumn, so am familiar with the terrain. If this hadn’t been the case I’d have found this experience pretty terrifying. I also take issue with the term “Lift Company”. Drag Lift Company would be more appropriate, as I only saw one Chair lift actually running, and it kept breaking down. Runs 1 (The famous “Tiger”) 2 and 8 were all closed while I was here, a pity because they looked the most interesting in the West area. After skiing down the un-pisted section of Butcharts (No.7) several times in very low visibility I began to quite enjoy it though. The West side of the road isn’t so interesting in my opinion, even though I didn’t get to try out the two bigger runs. There is another café on this hill, offering a fine selection of pies – Mince, Steak, Macaroni cheese and Cheese and Bean. The Italians just can’t compete with this variety and quality of Mountain cuisine! The lift pass structure and pricing can all be found on the website, but an interesting option I went for was a half day pass from 8:00 – 12:30 for £13.50. Pretty good value I thought, seen as I got up to the car park for 8:00. I didn’t hire my skies from Glenshee itself. There is a place in the centre of Braemar called Victoria Hall that houses the Braemar ski school, who also do hires. Telephone bookings on 07768517829 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. They have a selection of Head Carvers and were very friendly and helpful. The reason I hired skis in Braemar is that I stayed there, in the Fife Arms Hotel, Tel 01339741644. This is a huge old hotel with a big lively bar offering something resembling apres-ski, and a nice lounge area. A single room with en-suite and breakfast cost me £24.50. The reason I stayed in Braemar was it’s handy for Aberdeen, being only 60 miles away, and 9 miles from the slopes. It's not exactly lively
though. The Chip Shop opens three nights a week and cooks to order - get the drift. If you’re coming up from England, flying to Aberdeen on Easyjet then driving out to Braemar or Ballater (A bit livelier, but 24 miles from the slopes) has to be an option to consider. I couldn't find any info on buses, and was told at the Hotel that there aren't any. I'd be surprised if this was true though - but who can tell. Well that’s about that. I was mightily impressed with the Glenshee area, my only misgivings being that it looked all too easy to get in trouble if you weren’t fairly experienced or sensible. Definitely better than Aviemore or the Lecht skiing wise, if you’re in the region in the right season I’d give it a try.
Glenshee The Glenshee range is 101 miles to the North East of Glasgow. It is the biggest range in Scotland and my personal favourite because of its variety of slopes and runs. It is spread over four mountains with the base camp in the middle. There are 40k of runs and 26 lifts. The tickets available cover all requirements with season tickets, all day, half day, beginners area only etc. A full day pass was £18.00 for 99/00 season. Lessons, equipment hire, cafes etc are available of course. My favourite run ? Meall Odhar. The most challenging is undoubtedly The Tiger. A special board area is also available there as well ( the best in Scotland ). There is a web site that gives conditions and up to date information on all of Scotland’s’ slopes at www.ski.scotland.net Drawbacks ? Skiing in Scotland can sometimes be for the brave and strong depending on the weather and if you are used to perfect white pistes and blue sky skiing, you may feel short-changed. Unfortunately, the lack of real height ( the highest point is only 3400ft ) and the vagaries of the Scottish weather can sometimes mean that you are out in sleet and grey snow. Good conditions are a bonus to be savoured not expected. Please do not have expectations of huge ranges like the French or Italian Alps with 10k runs, the longest is 3k. Set them at the right level and you will be pleasantly surprised not disappointed.