Make no mistake; this is not a reference to the variable snow surety that has affected Scotland over the last few years. Ask any local or regular of Scotland’s five resorts – if the conditions hit just right, Scotland offers the best skiing you can find anywhere in the world.

Scotland’s five resorts are spread across the central Highlands, from Ben Nevis in the west to the north-eastern Cairngorms. Whilst all are comparatively small compared to the behemoths of the Alps, they all offer a good variety of terrain for all skill-levels and include some brilliant off-piste areas if the conditions are good.

In addition, the lower, rolling nature of Scottish mountains opens a vast amount of terrain for backcountry touring. This is especially true of the Cairngorms National Park, where the three resorts in the region offer a huge range of back bowls and untouched terrain. Aviemore and Cairngorm Mountain is home to the Scottish National Outdoor Centre at Glenmore Lodge, providing instruction on a range of mountain activities in both winter and summer.

Even though the snow conditions can be variable, the outdoor pedigree of the central highlands remains unmatched almost anywhere in the world. Bring your hiking or mountaineering gear and get lost in the stunning beauty of one of Britain’s most incredible regions!

Situated to close to the town of Aviemore and home to the Scottish National Outdoor Training Centre at Glenmore Lodge, Aviemore and Cairngorm Mountain is a hub for Scottish and British outdoor activities.

Cairngorm Mountain is Scotland’s favourite resort, with a well-developed surface lift system opening up two bowls (or “corries”, from the Scots Gaelic word “coire”) with a wide variety of terrain available for all abilities.

The Day Lodge at the base offers a café, shop, hire facilities and public facilities. The funicular railway, operating in both summer and winter, has re-opened following a massive multi-million pound redevelopment over the last few years, greatly increasing capacity.

Variable snow conditions are supplement by a good snow-cannon system in place at the resort’s base, meaning the lower nursery slopes are always open through the winter for those looking to start or tune-up their skiing experience!

Cairngorm Mountain can act as an access point to the entire Cairngorm plateau, opening up touring opportunities for those that like to go uphill as well as down. 

Regular trains and buses run from all over Scotland – and indeed the UK – to Aviemore, a bustling highland town. From here, regular buses or a taxi takes you the 10 miles to the resort base

Ski Club Resorts: Cairngorm Mountain Cairngorm Mountain Website

In the shadow of Britain’s tallest mountain lies one of Scotland’s largest resorts, Nevis Range. Easily accessible from Fort William and Scotland’s west coast, Nevis Range offers a great variety of terrain and some of Scotland’s best off-piste in the famous Back Corries.

The resort base offers equipment rental and ticket offices, with a cable car taking you up to the snowline, where the Snowgoose Restaurant offers a café, facilities and a first aid post. One of the better lift systems, including chairlifts, takes you to the summit, where the vista across Fort William, Loch Linnhe and the Great Glen to Loch Lochy is superb.

From the summit, it’s easy to head east and find the Back Corries. These are a series of gullies and itinerary routes that open up into a huge bowl, where conditions are such that you can regularly find some of the best powder in Scotland. Owing to its proximity to the Atlantic coast and its exposure perched high on the Nevis plateau, conditions can be variable, with strong winds and poor visibility threatening to shut the top of the mountain. Check out Nevis Range’s website for details on snow, weather, and any adverse conditions expected.

Trains and buses run from all over Scotland – and indeed the UK – to Fort William, a bustling highland town. From here, regular buses or a taxi takes you the 10 miles to the resort base


Lying in the famous Glen Coe valley just south of Fort William, close to the formidable Rannoch Moor, Glencoe Mountain Resort acts as a gateway to the highlands for a range of outdoor activities year-round.

With a dry slope at the resort base, Glencoe can offer skiing year-round. For the truly hardy, camping pitches and micro-huts make up for the distance to town – Glencoe or Bridge of Orchy villages are about 13 miles away in each direction, Fort William 30 miles distant.

The resort base offers plenty of parking and a café, kit hire and public facilities. There are then two more “bases” on the hill itself, with the Plateau Café next to the sledging and transceiver parks and hosting a first aid post as well as public facilities.

On the hill, there is a good variety of terrain but geared towards beginners, with plenty of blues and greens down the west side of the main basin and onto the plateau in the middle of the hill. If the conditions are good and the snow cannons have been allowed to do their job, access is available right to the base. The eastern side of the basin offers some brilliant tougher stuff, with Flypaper being one of the best steep runs in Scotland. From the summit of Meall a’Bhuiridh you can reach Dragon Bowl to the west, offering an adventure for even serious skiers – be warned, it is a considerable hike back up once you’re in!

The base café has re-opened for the 2023/24 season after being gutted by fire in December 2019, a welcome return for visitors all year round.

Glencoe Mountain is comparatively isolated, with few public transport options available. It is a reasonably easy 3-hr drive from Glasgow, or around 45 minutes from Fort William, the nearest major town.

Nestled in the southern edge of the Cairngorm Mountains National Park, Glenshee Ski and Snowboard Centre is Scotland’s largest resort, covering two faces either side of the A93 at Cairnwell Pass, part of an historic network of 18th century military roads and now the highest A-road in the UK.

The western face, serving Butchart’s Coire (from which we take the word “corrie”, or bowl) offers a fantastic range of terrain from the summit at Carn Aosda all the way down to the resort base. The ridge leading to the Cairnwell summit on the southwestern boundary provides access to some classic bowl lines through Thunderbowl and back to the base, as well as opening up the bowl to the west.

To the east, a network of surface lifts takes you up and over into Coire Fionn Bowl, where the Glas Maol poma takes you up close to the summit of Glas Maol, the highest mountain in the local area. The West Wall area presents a good challenge to experienced skiers, with a tricky drop-in over the cornice to get back to the Coire Fionn and Glas Maol chairs, and the face of Coire Fionn a gentler experience into a gully and back to the same lifts. Glas Maol run itself is considered one of the best runs in Scotland.

Both sides of the resort offer public facilities and a café on the mountain, at the focus point of Butchart’s Coire on the western side and at the base of Cainlochain lift on the eastern. The resort base itself offers public facilities, a café, ski school, and a hire shop – note that hire kit has to be booked 48hrs in advance due to high demand!

Glencoe Mountain is comparatively isolated, with no public transport options available. Most major Scottish cities can be reached in between two and three hours by road. The A93 which serves the resort is subject to delays and closure during winter weather; plan ahead and drive carefully!

Lying alongside the A939 road in the north-eastern Cairngorms, The Lecht is the smallest of the Scotland’s five alpine resorts. However, its proximity to the towns of Aberdeenshire and Moray make it a useful resort for many, and it is able to offer better snow surety than some others.

The resort occupies two faces either side of the A939 Lecht Road between Cockbridge and Tonitoul – infamous for being closed in the winter due to the snow, modern clearing techniques and changes in weather patterns means access is far more reliable in all conditions.

The southwestern face is the resort’s main skiing area, reaching from the Harrier chair on the summit of Beinn a’ Chruinnich and running along the ridgeline heading southwards to the Eagle 1 & 2 lifts. Terrain variety is good for a small resort, with plenty of blues towards this southern end and a handful of good red and blacks emanating from the summit.

The north-eastern face is served by one lift, Buzzard, and opens up a pair of red runs back to the lift and a blue back to the resort base. The north-eastern face opens onto a gently undulating plateau, allow tourers and hikers the chance to explore the terrain beyond. Over the ridge on the opposite side lies a back bowl and gulley for the adventurous, although will require a long hike out!

At the resort base you can find the day lodge, with plenty of parking and a restaurant, toilets, first aid post and the Lecht Ski School. Equipment hire is available, and it is strongly recommended you book ahead (before 4pm the day before your visit) to secure your kit.

The Lecht is comparatively isolated, with no public transport options available. Inverness, Aberdeen and Aviemore are reachable in between one and two hours by road. The A939 which serves the resort is subject to delays and closure during winter weather; plan ahead and drive carefully!


Skiing in Scotland can be challenging due to uncertain conditions, but rewarding when it hits:

  • There are five resorts to choose from, all with their own unique character
  • When conditions hit, seriously good skiing can be found across the highlands
  • Aviemore and Fort William are perfect bases to explore the area, replete with plenty of hotels, bars and restaurants
  • Conditions may not always be ideal – back your hiking boots too and make the most of being in a spectacular, accessible mountain environment!

Ross Woodhall

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