It’s a dream of many British skiers that they will be able to be certain of a decent season of skiing without having to book a flight and pack their passport. But are mountain sports in the UK really something we can come to rely on? With only nine real resorts, it’s no wonder that Great Britain is overlooked as a major skiing destination. But with some seasonal success in recent years, there is a case to be made that things are looking up for UK skiers.
Scotland has five ski resorts, the most successful and acclaimed in the UK, and is already a minor skiing destination. Glencoe, Cairngorm and the Nevis Range offer a combined total of 80+ runs, spanning all difficulties when the weather is right, with enough accommodation and facilities to host peak demand.
The North of England can also provide some good skiing when the snow is falling. The weather of the 2012-13 season saw people scrambling to the slopes across the north of England, making national news. The best of the weather and the slopes was found on the Lake District. The seven slopes of Raise are the best of the lot, and feature a 360m tow lift, as well as the breath-taking views of England’s biggest national park.
2008 was another boom-year for the UK ski industry due to the heavy snow. The next surprisingly good season could strike at any time, and only the UK’s inhabitants will be properly placed to make the most of good weather. This article lists the best places to head to should this winter be a good one.
What Works Best
At the end of the day, the UK sits in waters too warm to produce good weather reliably anywhere other than the highlands of Scotland. However, once you accept this meteorological fact, there are many benefits to being a UK-based skier.
Firstly, when the weather is good, the UK is a lot quieter than the famous resorts of the continent. But here’s the best bit – even when the weather is good and it is busy, you are already so close to the skiing that you can simply choose the quieter times to ski. For example, if you were going to Switzerland with your family, you would probably have to book during in an hectic school holiday period, weeks in advance. But the UK, you can pop away for a sneaky weekend and avoid the crowds.
The UK also offers cheaper skiing than the continent. To take the Jewel in England’s crown, Raise, their £55 membership and season pass deal means that in 2013 you could have skied for less than a pound a day! Add to this the lack of air-fares and possibly even hotel costs, and you have a recipe for super-value skiing. There’s cheap kit to be found too. Check out retailers like High Octane to find some amazing prices and the best ski gear deals.
Furthermore, whether it’s Scotland or Cumbria, Britain’s ski resorts happen to lie in the same places that people are known for their unpretentious and warm hospitality – something that the French slopes haven’t got a reputation for.
The island weather of the UK will never be able reliably produce even the right temperatures, yet alone precipitation for UK ski resorts to become as successful as its Alpine or American rivals. This means that investment in infrastructure such as accommodation, entertainment, and snow-management equipment remains an unattractive prospect outside of Scotland. For that reason alone, outdoor skiing in the UK doesn’t look set to get much better any time soon. But with the recently opened Xscape slope in Castleford joining Tamworth’s Snowdome and Milton Keynes’ Snowzone, there is at least a somewhere for young Brits to learn before finding their feet on the real stuff. If you are wondering about just where you can ski in the UK, here is an amazing map showing all the UKs mountain sports centres.