One of Scotland’s two West Coast ski areas Glencoe is just 74 miles north of Glasgow and maintains a big diehard following. It has done so for over two generations since the first chairlift was built there in 1961, and rightly so. It finds favour for its compact network of lifts which can access a decent variety of runs. There is skiing and boarding for all abilities, and the snowholding can be excellent, particularly early and late season when the West has enjoyed the best snowfall. It has 11 marked runs of which there are just a couple suitable for complete beginners. When there is snow back to car park level the centre can offer a reasonably serious vertical descent of 2600m. The centre’s midweek opening can be dependent on demand and prevailing snow conditions, and it is often just Thursday to Sunday opening unless it is peak season. Do check before leaving home. Situated off the main Glasgow to Fort William road the main ski area is remote with no base station accommodation. Nearest hotel is the Kings House hotel which also has bunk house style accommodation. It is about half a mile off the main road and over a mile from the ski centre car park. Otherwise there is accommodation well spread out through the area. Glencoe village is about 6 miles north of the centre and Bridge of Orchy is 12 miles to south. The area has some of the best winter climbing and ice- climbing. The proximity to Fort William and Nevis Range does lend itself to skiing or riding both centres on different days – staying in the likes of Onich which is half way between the two. There are several villages worth basing yourself in – Glencoe, Ballachulish, Onich to the north, and Bridge of Orchy and Dalmally to the south.
|Opens||Dec – April|
Glencoe’s 11 lifts link to run up the main face of Meall a Buirdh mountain. The main ski area is reached via a single seater access chair. Queues for this lift can be quite long both morning and late afternoon peak season, so do attempt to arrive early. This reaches the plateau area which is the main first timer’s area which is served by a poma lift which must also be used to access the main area. Early intermediates terrain is provided off the Cliffhanger chair which offers some simple descents, and a more direct route which is slightly harder. To the right of the Cliffhanger chair (looking up) is the Lower T bar, a drag lift which offers a couple of short red runs which have some some steeper pitches. The more advanced skiing is off the two parallel upper lifts – a button drag and another T bar. When only one of these is running then the queues can build up quite significantly. Both flanks off these upper lifts offer some of the best skiing and boarding in Scotland when the conditions are perfect. The Spring Run and Rannoch Glades are reasonably long reds with a decent gradient to them. Further out the Flypaper is reputedly the steepest pitch of any Scottish piste and it can be great when it is good, and open. Over recent seasons it has been closed for spells due to icy hard pack or a regular avalanche risk. The main basin runs – immediately beside the top lifts – are usually wide, open cruising pistes at the top, but narrow in to what often becomes a narrower, bumpier track in to the lift line. There are two main restaurants or cafes. At the base station is a 100 seater licensed restaurant which serves everything from the morning bacon roll to early evening snack meals. Sited at the top of the Plateau, adjacent to the Cliffhanger base station is another café, which serves mainly lunchtime snacks, cakes and pastries and hot and cold drinks. Ski and board hire is available at the base station but should be booked in advance and Glencoe have their own ski and snowboarding school.
|Accommodation & Apres Ski|
Apres ski is limited in Glencoe and the surrounding area, but that does not mean to say it isn’t good. The pubs and hotel/restaurants may often be miles from each other but that usually means making an evening of it. That said a week’s holiday with the objective of just skiing Glencoe would mean a fair bit of driving and limited choice. A week’s multi-activity holiday in the area with skiing or boarding thrown in is a different matter, if the outdoor life suits all group members. Eating out, again, usually means eating in the same place you are staying or driving to another nearby hotel or bar/restaurant. Bars in most of the villages and in between offer a choice of food. Typically accommodation ranges from the bigger hotels, such as those at Onich to the north of Ballachulish to lodge and climbers bunkhouses. There is also a reasonable complement of self catering cottages and chalets in the wider area.