News from the snow
Scotland's first ski centre at Glencoe began life in the 'fifties with just a few dedicated weekenders and a friendly makeshift atmosphere. The resort is located by Scotland's West Coast and was the only lift-served ski centre in the area until Nevis Range opened about 50km (30 miles) to the north in the late 1980s.In recent years Glencoe has linked with Glenshee ski centre on Scotland's East coast to offer combined season passes and mid-week passes . Located close to the the site of the historic massacre, Glencoe Ski Centre is set amid some of Scotland's most stunning and truly awesome scenery on Rannoch Moor. The ski slopes themselves are on Meall a'Bhuiridh (pronounced 'male a voorree') - the Gaelic name of the actual mountain you ski on. It stands alongside the Buchaille Etive (gaelic for 'Shepherd of the Glen'). The one-man chair which originally transported skiers from the base has now become a museum piece having been replaced by a modern chairlift. The long trek across the Plateau to reach the first lift, which used to be the only way to get up the slopes, is now a thing of the past. Skiers and boarders now ride a lift which has transformed the Plateau into what many consider Scotland's best beginner area. Glencoe today remains a compact ski area - you will easily find your way around - but it offers a wide variety of terrain nonetheless, including Scotland's steepest on-piste run, the Flypaper. On arrival at the base station a modern restaurant with stunning views over the surrounding landscape now provides a welcoming meeting point for skiers and there's even a museum worthy of a visit, displaying the history of the resort.
Scotland's original ski centre began life as a weekend haunt for dedicated enthusiasts. Still regarded by many as the country's best ski centre, with a world-class vertical, it is located in an awesome location at the South end of a spectacular valley. The centre is now open 7 days with optional high-value packages including ski-hire and instruction (based on-slope) and lift pass. A wide variety of accommodation is available locally.
The Cliffhanger Chair takes you up to the mid-station where beginners and novices can make a long traverse onto Mugs Alley - a wide expanse of easy green graded terrain. The Main Basin, to the right of the Top T-bar is the most popular run, probably because you get off the lift and you're right there and ready to go.
Its well worth taking a short traverse and checking out some of the other runs on offer. Basically, when you reach the top go right for blue (intermediate) or left for red (more difficult) - and even further left for black and the Flypaper! The terrain on the Main Basin can vary so much that it can be as easy or challenging as you like - watch out for the Haggis Trap - its always good fun and not to be be missed! Take a right when you get off the Top T-bar and try out Happy Valley or just a little further along the Etive Glades - both blue runs - excellent for intermediates, they're nice and wide and the views towards the Buchaille Etive are amazing.
From the Top T bar , a traverse to the left takes you onto Rannoch Glades or, slightly further along, the Spring Run, both firm favourites with the locals, they're long and a bit tricky in places - definitely red!
Fort William and Oban both have family friendly attractions, lodging and places to eat, including MacDonalds and restaurants with integral soft play areas.
Heading north you'll find a wide choice of pubs and hotels between Glencoe, Ballachulish and Onich. Fort William has a wide choice of places to eat, Crannog Seafood at The Pier serves fresh, locally caught fish whilst The Highland Star does Chinese food and theres a Tandoori Restaurant for Indian. If you'd prefer something more traditional then there are plenty of hotels serving typical Scottish food.
The Clachaig Inn at Glencoe has won an award for its real ales and holds a beer festival in March.
The nearest town of Fort William (27 miles/45km) has lots of pubs, two leisure complexes - the Lochaber Leisure Centre and Marco's at An Aird, as well as a cinema.
The Cliffhanger chairlift is good for beginners who find difficulty with getting on a button lift. Its a single chairlift and easily manageable. From there you can get onto Mugs Alley, a green run.
No need to build a fun park as the natural terrain provides plenty of challenges - The Canyon and Thrombosis forming natural pipes and the Haggis Trap a great gully jump.
Snowboards can be hired at the Centre with lessons available from qualified instructors.