You don’t have to budge from Britain to enjoy a few days skiing! So why head like lemmings for those cram-packed ski resorts in far flung places, when you can chill out and enjoy the real snow experience closer to home, often at a fraction of the cost?
Although you can ski in the Lake District in Cumbria when there's enough snow. Scotland, and the Cairngorms natural ski resort, in particular, is the place to be if you're looking for somewhere more snow-dependable. The Cairngorms is the highest land mass in the UK and therefore the nearest you'll get to predictably reliable skiing conditions, in Britain. The vagaries of British weather aside, the ski season in the Cairngorms usually runs from December to early April.
Located amid the glorious Highland scenery of Strathspey, the Cairngorm Mountain range lies between Speyside and Braemar. The highest peak, Ben Macdhui, rises to a height of 4,296 feet; the three other main peaks stand at: Braeriach (4,249 feet), Cairn Toul (4,242 feet) and Cairn Gorm (4,085 feet). Once a quiet railway village, the region's main ski resort, Aviemore was developed in the 1960s to cope with the booming skiing industry. Today, Aviemore is the largest ski centre, in the Cairngorms offering conveniently located accommodation and a broad choice of tourist amenities. Facilities include a funicular railway, east of Aviemore which travels up the flank of the Cairn Gorm terminating at the highest restaurant and shop in Britain.
Skiing aside, the Cairngorms and the surrounding area is also a great all-year-round tourist destination. For a start, the Cairngorms National Park (designated Scotland's second National Park in September 2003) also offers spectacular scenery - moors, forests, hills, glens, lochs, rivers, alpine plants and rare wildlife. The remote corries, throughout the region, are home to golden eagles, ptarmigan and other rare species. In late August and September, the hillsides are a mass of purple heather and the forests in autumn time form swathes of rich golden, russet hues. In addition, the area is well-known for its wide range of sports including fishing (the River Spey is famous for its salmon), walking, hiking, golf, biking and pony trekking. So, if taking to the slopes is not your bag, take the chairlift to the top instead and simply enjoy the breathtaking views.
But above all, the Cairngorms are seen as a trendy ski destination for those who dare to be different. So go on - give it a go! The Cairngorms is Britain's prime ski centre and is fast becoming a viable alternative to other European ski destinations. Book up a flight on one of the budget airlines that fly to Inverness; check out the available B&B deals in the area (Grantown-on-Spey, Carrbridge, Newtonmore, Aviemore (the main ski centre) all make good bases); create your own ski package; have fun. At least, this year, you can keep up with the Joneses when they're banging on interminably about their annual skiing holiday in that same old European resort.
Don't be put off if you've never been skiing before; newbies fear not. If you would like to get a feel for things before venturing onto the natural snowy slopes of Scotland, why not have a trial run - first - on one of the seventy- seven real snow and artificial slopes conveniently located around the UK? Nothing ventured, nothing gained!
Find your perfect Bed and Breakfast in The Cairngorms National park and grab your ski's (or snowboard)