Many of us at Wilderness Scotland grew up skiing in the Highlands and have since been lucky enough also to ski around the world, working ski seasons in places such as France, Canada and New Zealand.
Put simply, we wouldn’t compare skiing and snowboarding in Scotland with the Alps or North America. New Zealand and Norway perhaps, but certainly not the famous ski resorts of France, Switzerland or Canada.
Scotland offers a different experience and while the quality of the snow and skiing may be temporary, the wild magnificence of the Highlands in winter is permanent. To make the most of skiing here, you need to combine opportunism with knowledge. On any given day, conditions across the country in terms of snow cover, snow quality and weather can vary enormously. Having the insider knowledge and experience of where to ski both in terms of resort and while on the mountain is essential to maximise your time on the slopes. You’ll gain this insight from your Ski Host.
In terms of terrain, there is something on offer for all levels of skiing. If you’re looking to make your first turns on ski or board, then Scotland offers an accessible and cost-effective way to learn before progressing to larger resorts further afield. For the more advanced, Scotland offers some truly amazing side-country and back-country skiing away from the lifts through some of the most spectacular landscapes in Europe. If you’re prepared to ski off-piste or ski-tour, you may be surprised at just what is possible. If you find yourself somewhere between the two, looking to cruise long easy pistes, Scotland isn’t ideal since the amount of runs available is limited. That being said, on a good day at Glenshee (Scotland’s largest ski area), there are 36 runs spread across three valleys, offering 40km of piste skiing and a real sense of travel as you traverse the ski area.
The weather in a Scottish winter is unpredictable and while the weather can sometimes be challenging there are many days of blue skies and sunshine which provide perfect overhead conditions for winter activities. In less ideal weather, having good clothing and equipment makes a huge difference and means that you can still enjoy yourself – the conditions simply become part of the experience rather than dominating it.
If the conditions mean skiing is not possible then spending your day hiking, mountain biking or just relaxing in the Scottish Highlands is a pretty great plan B. However, if the conditions are good you can have your best ever days on skis. We wouldn’t be anywhere else.
Knowing where the best conditions are and how to make the most of your day, is essential to enjoying the Scottish ski experience. On each trip, one of the Wilderness Team will take care of all the details, including transport in what can sometimes be tricky driving conditions, to make sure you maximise your time in the Highlands. In considering a ski trip to Scotland you might think whether such a service is necessary. However, we guarantee that the local knowledge of your Ski Host will massively improve your experience and means you don’t need to worry about the details and logistics and instead spend more time having fun with your family and friends.
For each day, your Ski Host will have evaluated the conditions and weather to determine where the best place is to ski. They will have organised all the necessary lift passes, ski hire (if required) and other equipment. Each day they will deliver you by (winter-equipped) private vehicle to the mountain right where you need to be, helping to bypass parking and lift queues. Once you are done for the day call your Ski Host anytime and they will be there to pick you up right at the base of the slopes. Moreover, if you’re looking for a locals’ guide to the mountain many of our Ski Hosts are ski instructors and guides who will be very happy to ski with you for the day.
In the event of weather not allowing you to ski, your Ski Host will be there to organise alternative activities either outdoors or indoors throughout the Highlands. Options include guided low-level hiking or an intro to winter skills in the higher hills, guided mountain biking or self-guided canoeing. Alternatively, you may want to pamper yourself with a day-spa experience, visit a historic site, enjoy a mini sightseeing tour with your guide or visit a local distillery for a tour and tasting.