I got a bit of a shock when we went skiing in Scotland earlier this month. I like to think I’m not a judgmental traveller, but there are some things I have fixed ideas about and skiing is clearly one of them. I’m used to skiing in the Alps, having some of the best skiing in the world on my doorstep, and having everything done in a tidy, Swiss way. Plus, I really, really like it to be sunny, and when you pick a random day in March, there’s a low chance of sun in Scotland. So I was inclined to be a bit snobbish about the skiing, but actually, given what they were starting with, the Glenshee resort put on a pretty good show.
Weather – clearly no one can control this, but it has a big impact on how enjoyable the day is. It was very windy when we went, not sunny but not raining either. Not a white-out, where you ski in clouds, but not super-enjoyable either.
Snow – there really wasn’t much snow! I realise it’s been a very warm winter, but honestly, I was a little shocked. The Glenshee team had managed the snow there was very well. While the areas off-piste were totally bare, the pistes that were open mostly had coverage, although we were scraping heather in places. I always worry that this will be particularly bad for the mountains.
Lifts – like skiing in the early ’90s! Glenshee is a low station, with a short drop from the highest peak (Glas Maol, 1068m) to the station (Glenshee, 650m). As a result, it makes sense to have mainly drag tows (button lifts and T-bars). At the larger Jura and Alpine resorts, chair lifts have been replacing these over the last couple decades, as they have much better throughput. Plus, due to the wind, the existing chair lifts were shut.
Runs – the runs are short and easy. We skied everything that was open, and I don’t think we skied a proper red. It’s a good choice for beginners and families, as it would be hard to get lost! That said, the runs weren’t very well connected – we seemed to have to hike at the top and bottom of each lift, often into a strong headwind.
Food – there is only one option, really, as it seems that all the canteens are run by the same team. It was a bit limited: think greasy spoon or chip shop menu. I had macaroni pie, which is macaroni and cheese in a proper pork pie style pastry case.
Cost – relatively cheap. I think we paid £20 for skis, boots, poles and a helmet (although they did, also, look like they were from the mid ’90s) and another £25 or so for a day’s ski pass.
Would I go back? Probably not. It was a 2h car drive from Edinburgh to Glenshee, not counting time spent picking up the rental kit. I don’t think it’s worth it. That said, if you do live in the area, it’s a great way to introduce people to skiing or snow boarding without the commitment of a full week’s holiday.