Nevis Range Mountain Resort
Jeff Starkey, head of Ski Patrol, Nevis Range
Best for Beating the crowds. We have the easiest access to backcountry in Scotland. The terrain is challenging and exciting, and the scenery is dramatic.
Best time to go As we rely on prevailing westerlies to fill in the snow to the back bowls, February and March are usually better than January. Our access roads are mostly coastal so they get less affected by snow-caused traffic delays.
One-day lift pass Adult £30, child £18.50.
Best place for cake The Pinemartin cafe on site.
Favourite run The back corries – easily hikeable lift-accessed terrain. We tend to give visitors informal advice on the best runs according to the conditions. We also run freeride clinics and back corrie workshops specifically tailored to the conditions you’ll find here.
Where to hire kit Nevis Range equipment on site, it also hires clothing and backcountry though it’s advisable to book in advance.
Nearest airport Inverness or Glasgow.
Nearest station Fort William.
More info nevisrange.co.uk
Glencoe Mountain Resort
Best for Steeps. Glencoe has some of the best natural terrain in Scotland and the scenery is absolutely incredible.
Best time to go It can be a little unpredictable so when it snows you have to drop everything and go. If you head up on a weekday you should have the place to yourself.
One-day lift pass Adult £30, child £20 for week days/weekends.
Best place for cake The Plateau Café on the mountain. Its hot chocolate is pretty good, too.
Best place to stay In a microlodge at the resort’s campsite (01855 851 226,glencoemountain.co.uk/accommodation.html, £50 a night for two), or for something more plush The Bridge of Orchy Hotel (01838 400208,bridgeoforchy.co.uk, doubles £100-£110 B&B) – it does a mean fish and chips.
Favourite run Head down the Main Basin and into the Canyon, you’ll pop out under the Cliff Hanger Chair, which usually has a fun gully to air out of. Keep your speed up and ride across the Plateau to the top of the Access Chair. If there’s sufficient snow you can ride all the way to the car park – keep to the left of the chair for some of the best open off-piste runs in Scotland.
Where to hire kit There’s a ski/snowboard hire shop in the car park. Kit cannot be pre-ordered but they have only ever run out once.
Nearest airport Glasgow.
Nearest station Bridge of Orchy.
More info glencoemountain.co.uk
Glenshee Ski Centre
Best for Varied skiing and snowboarding. Glenshee’s USP is definitely its size – it has the most varied riding available on home soil and a great terrain park, too.
Best time to go Keep an eye on the forecasts and the webcams and be prepared to make a last-minute trip when the conditions are looking good. My best days have pretty much always been in January but there are often amazing conditions in spring. The online lift ticket system is great, so be sure also to buy in advance to avoid wasting time in the queue.
One-day lift pass Adult £29, child £19.
Best place for cake The cafe at the base station has just had a makeover and does a mean yum-yum.
Best place to stay The Gulabin Lodge (01250 885255, gulabinoutdoors.co.uk) has a wide range of reasonably-priced self-catering accommodation and is just 10 minutes’ drive from the slopes. The youth hostel at Braemar (01339 741659,syha.org.uk, adults £16, kids £14, rooms from £39) is good for those on a budget – it’s near the distillery, too.
Favourite run Glas Maol is considered by many to be the best piste in Scotland. Over on the Butchart’s side there are loads of natural hits to be found on a top-to-bottom run.
Where to hire kit The resort has on-site hire; you can book online.
Nearest airport Aberdeen.
Nearest station Perth.
More info ski-glenshee.co.uk
Cairngorm Mountain Resort
Lesley McKenna, triple Olympian and former World Cup halfpipe Champion
Best for snow sureness. It gets more snow, lasting longer, and has the largest number of season ticket holders of any Scottish resort. It has wonderful views, a mountain railway to take large numbers of skiers up the mountain quickly and a top-rank pisting team.
Best time to go March or April. It is busiest in February half term.
One-day lift pass adults £33.50, children £20.
Best place for cake The Kiwi-style Mountain Café in Aviemore (mountaincafe-aviemore.co.uk).
Best place for beers The Old Bridge Inn in Aviemore (oldbridgeinn.co.uk) often has folk bands playing.
Favourite run Aladdin’s Couloir in the off-piste next to the ski area, or the White Lady piste.
Where to hire kit The Snowboard Asylum on the main street in Aviemore (snowboard-asylum.com).
Nearest airport/station Inverness
More info cairngormmountain.org, facebook.com/CairnGormMtn.
The Lecht Ski Centre
Katie Shiach, store manager at Boarderline Snowboard Shop, Aberdeen (boarderline.co.uk)
Best for Families. One of the smaller, quieter resorts, with a magic carpet lift and smaller pistes lower down that are great for kids and beginners. The runs are shorter than in other resorts but as the queues are shorter too, you actually get more time on the snow. It’s part of the Cairngorms national park so the scenery is beautiful.
Best time to go Traditionally, January to March – but April has also been good in recent years. Go during the week to beat the crowds, but also on big weekends as it’ll be less busy than Cairngorm.
One-day lift pass Adult £23-£29, child £16-£19.
Best place to stay Lots of people park their camper vans in the car park or you can stay at Glentorets B&B in nearby Tomintoul (no phone, glentorets.co.uk, doubles from £70 B&B)
Best place for cake The new Alpine Lodge bar in the ski centre does good cake, hot chocolate, beer and mulled wine.