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Glenshee is one of Scotland's most established and largest ski resorts, and is often referred to as the 'Scottish Three Valleys' after the world's largest lift-linked ski area around Courchevel and Méribel in France.
However, Glenshee is a rather more modest affair, albeit with an equally loyal fan base – the ski centre is the closest of Scotland's five ski areas to four of the country's six cities: Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Stirling. Regular visitors from these centres and beyond cram the resort's car park and spread out over the slopes when conditions are good.
The area has sadly suffered from a lack of investment for many years, due to the challenging economic realities of running a ski centre in Scotland's unpredictable winter climate. Despite this, a new chairlift, the Baddoch Chair, was opened in early 2012 to improve access to the slopes. Glenshee has also invested in the country's first high-pressure snowmaking system, so as long as it is cold, enough snow can be made in order to open.
Resort elevation: 650m (2,133ft).
Top elevation: 1060m (3,478ft).
Base elevation: 650m (2,133ft).
Hit the slopes
Glenshee's ski season normally takes place between December and April, subject to adequate snow cover. Depending on conditions, the centre may not be open every day so it is important to check ahead before visiting.
There are 40km (24 miles) of ski runs in Glenshee, with nearly three quarters of the runs rated easy blue or intermediate red. The ski area extends over the four peaks of Glas Maol, Meall Odhar, Cairnwell and Cairn Aosda.
There are beginners' areas on both sides of the road, near the car parks, with about a dozen drag lifts serving the area. These green graded runs are predominantly in the Sunnyside sector.
Intermediates can spread out across the three valleys with long reds beneath Glas Maol. There are wide runs in Thunderbowl and popular sheltered terrain over the back at Coire Fionn. Meanwhile, freestylers and snowboarders will enjoy the bumps, jumps and natural half-pipe of Meall Odhar.
There are two black classified runs, the steepest of which, The Tiger, is beneath the Cairnwell chair. In this part of the mountains there's also a racetrack area, which has in the past hosted speed skiing championships.
Annual Snow Fall
Beyond the slopes
There's a lot to do around Glenshee; however, most activities are located a few miles from one another so having a car is important to take full advantage of the opportunities.
Most of the leisure activities available are outdoors and include hill walking, mountain biking, horse riding, fishing, birdwatching and clay pigeon shooting. There are also many places of interest in the area with a true Scottish theme, including several whisky distilleries and the village of Braemar – famous for its annual summer Highland Gathering, which is normally attended by a member of the royal family.
One local facility is the Glenshee Pottery (tel: (01250) 882 238; www.glensheepottery.co.uk) which – apart from selling ceramics – stages winter workshops in a wide range of craft activities including needle felting, wire crocheted jewellery and silk papermaking.
Glenshee has a very family-friendly atmosphere, which is replicated in the small villages around the resort. The only absentees are indoor facilities such as swimming pools that exist in larger, more centralised resorts – Aberdeen, Perth or Aviemore are the best options for these type of facilities. On the slopes, the ski school accepts children aged six and older, who can learn in the safety of the nursery slopes near the main car park.
As many skiers at Glenshee are day trippers from Aberdeen, Dundee or Perth, the après-ski scene tends to be limited to locals, winter holidaymakers or weekenders. The main action is found in the hotels that are dotted around the area. The Spittal of Glenshee Hotel (tel: (01250) 885 215; www.spittalofglenshee.co.uk) is the nearest to the ski slopes and has a reputation for serving superb food with a good atmosphere, cosy log fires and a games room. Ceilidhs and other live local entertainments are sometimes organised in the area and are advertised locally.
There are three on-mountain restaurants in Glenshee. The Cairnwell Mountain Restaurant is situated mid-mountain, accessed by the new chairlift, and has great views on a clear day. The cosy Meall Odhar Café is nestled in the middle valley over the road, and is accessed via the Beag Tow. The licensed Base Café is situated at the car park and is a good meeting place and popular with beginners.
In the wider area, much of the evening dining is provided by local hotel restaurants such as Dalmunzie Castle (tel: (01250) 885 224; www.dalmunzie.com), with its restaurant based in a former laird's mansion.
A warm, friendly, family run, 3-star country house hotel with 16 en-suite rooms, formerly visited by Queen Victoria, with parts dating back 500 years. Ski packages can be arranged by the hotel.
Dalmunzie, Glenshee, Perthshire PH10 7QG
Tel: (01250) 885 224.
The Green Park Hotel
Located in Pitlochry, the nearest tourist town to the ski area; this imposing hotel enjoys unrivalled views over Loch Faskally and has a restaurant.
Clunie Bridge Road, Pitlochry, Perthshire PH16 5JY
Tel: (01796) 473 248.
A family run hostel providing self-catering accommodation or bed and breakfast as well as ski activity breaks located ten minutes from Glenshee Ski centre.
Spittal of Glenshee by Blairgowrie, Perthshire, PH10 7QE
Tel: (01250) 885 255.
Nearest airports: Dundee Airport (DND)
; Aberdeen Airport (ABZ)
; Edinburgh Airport (EDI)
; Glasgow Airport (GLA)
Distance to resort: 60km (37 miles); 119km (73 miles); 120km (74 miles); 162km (100 miles).
Driving time: 1 hour 10 minutes; 1 hour 50 minutes; 1 hour 50 minutes; 2 hours 15 minutes.
Glenshee ski centre is situated 14km (8 miles) south of Braemar and 40km (24 miles) north of Blairgowrie on the A93 road. There is no winter bus service and the nearest rail station is Pitlochry, 52km (32 miles) away, so most visitors arrive by car. There is extensive car parking available, the majority of which can be found in the main car park at the foot of the slopes.