Sparse though Britain's wintry snow showers may seem, we actually get more of the white stuff each December than many Franco Alpine destinations. Scotland, best known for her barren highlands and year-round bleak grey skies is home to Britain's ten highest natural peaks, many with a relative height in excess of 1000 metres. At 1,344 metres, Ben Nevis dwarfs all others in the Munro range and consequently, is home to one of Scotland's best loved ski resorts. With an average 40 days snowfall per annum, Welsh Snowdonia National Park boasts a surprising proliferation of ski resorts and off-piste tour operators, as does Cumbria in the far flung North West. As our winters draw colder and the prospect of an annual white Christmas ever the more common, slip on your salopettes and discover what Britain's own ski resorts have to offer.
The Nevis Range, Torlundy, Inverness-shire
Nestling amid the foothills of rugged Aonach Mor, The Nevis Range ski resort is quite possibly Scotland's best kept secret. It's also the home of Britain's only mountain gondola, which combines panoramic views with an effortless 650 metre climb to the best black runs in Scotland. With 12 lifts and a capacity of 9,600 per hour, you can be sure of minimal lift queues, coupled with easy access to the popular Snowgoose bowl red and blue runs. For beginners, there is a novice-intermediate slope located mere metres from the main station, along with six green and blue runs to choose from. Stop off for lunch with a view at the newly refurbished Snowgoose Mountain Restaurant, from which its possible to embark on a variety of guided high wire and climbing adventure tours. Holiday rentals in Inverness-shire.
Lecht, Strathdon, Aberdeenshire
The mountain pass linking Strathdon to Tomintoul has long been a prime location for ski enthusiasts and with the opening of Lecht 2090, became one of the UK's premier resorts for beginner to intermediate enjoyment. Situated amid the splendid peaks of the Eastern Cairngorms National Park, Lecht sits at just over 645 metres above sea level and offers year-round outdoor recreation, inclusive of skiing, tubing and 'Magic Carpet' rides aboard their brand new lift. Despite its promoted family friendly runs, Lecht does extend its facilities to the more seasoned skiier. There are three homologated black runs, of which two are primed for slalom racing, as well as a 3 Advanced Poma Tows and snow cannons for an optimised ski experience. Cottaes in Aberdeenshire.
Raise, Hellvelyn, Cumbria
Established in 1936, Raise remains one of Britain's oldest and best loved skiing centres. Recently improved with the installation of a button lift and the Millennium Station, it boasts a plethora of 1 km steep black runs, ideal for advanced snow drifters. Operated by the Lake District Ski Club, Raise draws attention for its challenging off-piste trails, with varied, demanding routes right down to the valley floor. Conditions are heavily dependent upon snowfall throughout the year, however Raise tends to enjoy a minimum 10-20 days per annum, even during the mildest of Decembers. Holiday rentals in Cumbria.
The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead, London
Marketed as the 'closest real snow to London', Hemel Hempstead's uber modern Snow Centre combines alpine conditions and fast slopes, with an education centre geared to developing championship level contenders for future Winter Olympic sports. With a 160 metre challenge slope, coupled with three beginner to intermediate routes, Snow Centre is easily the largest indoor ski resort of its kind, anywhere in Southern England. The main slope is reserved for skiiers above the Level 4 standard, capable of snowplough turns, parallel maneuvres and skiing blue runs over long terrain. Holiday appartments London.
What Ski spots do you hang out at?