Our top 5 UK ski destinations for the summer
If the Southern Hemisphere is too far away or if you don’t fancy a trip to the glaciers of the Alps, then look no further than the UK’s very own ski centres for your summer ski or board fix. With six indoor snowdomes, around 50 dryslopes to choose from and some excellent touring options in western Scotland following an epic winter, there are some great local options this summer.
Glencoe – still going strong into June
Following a fantastic winter there is still huge amounts of snow on the mountain at Glencoe – in fact as late as May 23rd the Main Basin run had a base depth of 6m. Although the ski lifts closed on May 4th, the touring options on the upper mountain remain exceptional (and should do for some time), with great skiing available on all of the main upper runs, including the Flypaper black. Glencoe has the added bonus of the Access Chairlift turning on a daily basis throughout the summer for sightseers and mountain bikers, but it also takes ski-tourers almost all the way to the snow for only £10. Take note that on Midsummer’s day (June 21st) the Cliffhanger chairlift is also set to spin in the morning, making life even easier by cutting out around 200 vertical metres of climbing.
Hemel Hempstead – the closest real snow to London
The Snowcentre at Hemel is perfectly located for those in the south and offers real snow skiing on its 160m main slope. With a constant temperature of around -2°C, the real snow stays in good condition and regular grooming ensures the surface is smooth. For beginners there is a separate 100m long learning area, complete with its own lifts and instructors ready to get you set for a winter in the mountains. Intermediates upwards should not be put off, with the snowdome hosting regular race training clinics, mogul sessions and its renowned Thursday and Friday Freestyle nights – which feature new park designs each week.
Throughout the summer the Ski Club is also running monthly Club Nights for members at Hemel. The sessions will feature coaching from athletes such as Chemmy Alcott and cost only £20 for two hours.
Midlothian Ski Centre (Hillend) – the longest dryslope in Europe
Hillend lies less than 15 minutes from Edinburgh city centre and offers spectacular views over the city and the Firth of Forth. Add to this three separate slopes up to 400m long, and a huge dedicated learning area then Hillend becomes the top dryslope destination in the country. There are runs for all levels, including the infamous Face from the top of the chair which certainly rivals many alpine runs for its steepness! Café 360 at the base of the hill might not rival Bar 360 in Val Thorens, but it does offer a good range of food and drink – making it a great spot for lunch halfway through your day. Lessons are available for all levels and the big freestyle kicker (made from the softer snowflex material) is one of the best in the country.
Halifax – Jamie Nicholls’ home slope
Although the slope is modest, Halifax dryslope has a reputation for producing some of the UK’s top freestyle athletes. Riders including Jamie Nicholls, Katie Ormorod and Tyler Harding learned their trade here on what is one of the biggest dryslope kickers in the country. A total refit in 2000 replaced the dendix material with snowflex, resulting in a more forgiving surface – hence its integral role in the development of some of our best freestyle. With taster sessions starting from as little as £17 for adults and £13 for children it is a great value way to try and follow in our athletes footsteps.
Halifax dryslope has been vital in the development of the UK freestyle scene and features heavily in “Forged in Steel” – a film about Jamie Nicholls:
Gloucester Ski Centre – year round variety
The ski centre is one of the UK’s premier dryslopes, with four lifts and two 240m slopes. Beginners have two dedicated slopes, one of which is made from the more forgiving snowflex material. Perhaps the centre’s biggest asset is its airbag for freestylers, which offers the perfect place to learn new tricks without the fear of falling. Race training clinics are also run by the highly successful Gloucester Ski Club, and the long slope even allows for Giant Slalom training – a rare thing for a UK dryslope.
For more information about where to ski in the UK check out the comprehensive guide to UK skiing on the Ski Club’s website.