Glenshee ski resort
Although perhaps not the best known of Scotland’s five ski areas, Glenshee is in fact the largest in terms of the extent of the terrain and the number of lifts. The centre’s slopes, which have welcomed skiers since the 1930s, extend across three separate valleys.
Glenshee is located close to Braemar, home of the famous annual Highland Gathering each summer. The slopes stretch to Royal Deeside, past Balmoral Castle, the Queen’s Scottish retreat, and on towards Aberdeen.
As with all of the Scottish ski areas, Glenshee’s management do annual battle with the vagaries of British weather, some years having excellent, snowy winters and sometimes being plagued by warm weather that brings limited natural snowfall.
When conditions are good – and even when lacklustre but still open – the centre is very popular with a loyal fan base, aided a little by the fact that it is the closest of the centres to four of Scotland’s six cities: Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Stirling.
Despite the popularity of the slopes, there is no resort base at Glenshee and skiers tend to be day trippers, or stay in nearby villages, although a few stand-alone hotels closer to the centre are available.
Glenshee is located in the Grampians mountain range, within the Cairngorms National Park in the eastern Scottish Highlands. It is situated between Perth to the south, Aberdeen to the east, and Inverness to the north; on either side of the main A93 road from Perth to Aberdeen via Braemar.
On the slopes
Glenshee’s ski season normally takes place between December and April, subject to adequate snow cover. Depending on conditions, the centre may not be open every day so it is important to check ahead before visiting.
There are 40km (24 miles) of ski runs in Glenshee, with nearly three quarters of the runs rated easy blue or intermediate red. The ski area extends over the four peaks of Glas Maol, Meall Odhar, Cairnwell and Cairn Aosda.
There are beginners’ areas on both sides of the road, near the car parks, with about a dozen drag lifts serving the area. These green-graded runs are predominantly in the Sunnyside sector.
Intermediates can spread out across the three valleys with long reds beneath Glas Maol. There are wide runs in Thunderbowl and popular sheltered terrain over the back at Coire Fionn. Meanwhile, freestylers and snowboarders will enjoy the bumps, jumps and natural half-pipe of Meall Odhar.
There are two black classified runs, the steepest of which, The Tiger, is beneath the Cairnwell chair.
In recent seasons Glenshee has also built a reputation within the Scottish freestyle ski and board community, building terrain park and boarder cross features and also staging popular competitions and events.