In the UK you can ski or snowboard on dry ski slopes or indoor snowdomes across the country.

Confidence is a huge factor for first time skiers. Before heading out to the mountains going to local dryslope or snowdome will give you a headstart for your first ski holiday. This expert guide explains the types of facilities you can use in the UK before going away.  

In the UK there are artificial and real snow slopes all over the country. If you can master basics like stopping and turning before your first holiday on snow, you can make more use of the mountain when you're there. The new GO SKI GO BOARD initiative, backed by Snowsports England, is a great way to get involved with your local dry slope or indoor snow slope. 

Dry Slopes

The two most common surfaces for dry slopes in the UK are Dendix and Snowflex. Dendix has been around for the longest and is well known to dry slope skiers nationwide. It's made of plastic bristles with diamond-shaped spaces between the bristles. It's not very forgiving to ski on (especially if you fall over) due to the holes in it, but it is a great place to work on the basics. There is also another surface called snowflex which has no holes and the bristles are slightly smaller.  Aldershot, Southampton, Snowtrax (Christchurch), Silkworth (Sunderland), Hillend (Edinburgh) are a few of the many dry slopes now operational. 

The main benefits of learning on a dryslope are that they can be reasonably priced for lessons or freeski sessions, plus you're out in the open air rather than indoors. The surface maybe hard but if you master the basics on a dry matt surface you will find snow a dream. Olympians such as Billy Morgan, Dave Ryding, Laurie Taylor and James Woods have all trained on dryslopes in their early snowsport careers. 

Before you head out to a dryslope make sure you bring a long sleeve T shirt at least to protect yourself from the bristles if you fall. Gloves are also essential too to protect your hands from the aurface. Even though it can be warm your own ski socks are useful too to help with fitting into rental ski boots. It's important to cover up even if it's the summer.

Many dry slopes have rental facilities for equipment such as skis/boards, boots, poles and helmets but it's best to check what your local slope offers before you head there. 

Indoor snowdomes

Indoor snowdomes are becoming more and more popular in the UK and there are now six indoor snow slopes which produce real snow - the temperature is usually kept between -1°C and -5°C, allowing snow cannons to produce snow in the same way as those used in many ski resorts. Braehead (Glasgow), Castleford (Snozone), Manchester (Chill Factore), Tamworth SnowDome, Milton Keynes (Snozone) and Hemel Hempstead (The Snow Centre) are currently in operation. A new facility has been approved in Swindon recently too. 

All the snowdomes in the UK have rental facilities for skis, boards, boots and poles so you don't have to lug your own kit there. Even though you may only be on the snow for an hour or so at a time it is still important to stay warm. Think about wearing ski pants or waterproof trousers, warm gloves, warm mid-layers and a ski jacket. Although eye protection is not essential as it outdoors, it's a good idea to wear a helmet, especially when the slopes become busy.

Indoor snow slopes in the UK have helped to fuel the growth of freestyle skiing and snowboarding, with local freestyle nights and competitions helping to uncover talented young athletes. The indoor snow centres regularly update their websites and their Facebook pages with details of these events. Olympians such as Jamie Nichols and Katie Summerhayes still use indoor snow centres to train on features when they're in the UK. 

Our UK slopes map has more information about dry slope facilities and indoor snow centres, plus details of the discounts which Ski Club of Great Britain members are entitled to receive.

Join the Ski Club and you’ll enjoy these discounts as well as many other member benefits!

 

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