Worldwide Ski ResortsScotlandGlencoe

Comprehensive ski cover and low cost snowboarding insurance for winter sports enthusiasts travelling to Scotland


One of Scotland’s two West Coast ski areas Glencoe is just 74 miles north of Glasgow and maintains a big, diehard following. It has done so for over two generations since the first chairlift was built there in 1961, and rightly so. It has good skiing from a compact network of lifts, and snowholding and terrain is often good late season.


One of Scotland’s two West Coast ski areas Glencoe is just 74 miles north of Glasgow and maintains a big diehard following. It has done so for over two generations since the first chairlift was built there in 1961, and rightly so. It finds favour for its compact network of lifts which can access a decent variety of runs. There is skiing and boarding for all abilities, and the snowholding can be excellent, particularly early and late season when the West has enjoyed the best snowfall. It has 11 marked runs of which there are just a couple suitable for complete beginners. When there is snow back to car park level the centre can offer a reasonably serious vertical descent of 2600m. The centre’s midweek opening can be dependent on demand and prevailing snow conditions, and it is often just Thursday to Sunday opening unless it is peak season. Do check before leaving home. Situated off the main Glasgow to Fort William road the main ski area is remote with no base station accommodation. Nearest hotel is the Kings House hotel which also has bunk house style accommodation. It is about half a mile off the main road and over a mile from the ski centre car park. Otherwise there is accommodation well spread out through the area. Glencoe village is about 6 miles north of the centre and Bridge of Orchy is 12 miles to south. The area has some of the best winter climbing and ice- climbing. The proximity to Fort William and Nevis Range Range does lend itself to skiing or riding both centres on different days — staying in the likes of Onich which is half way between the two. There are several villages worth basing yourself in - Glencoe, Ballachulish, Onich to the north, and Bridge of Orchy and Dalmally to the south.

Mountain Information

The ski area does offer a little bit of everything for all standards, and has the twin benefits of both high, snowsure beginners areas as well as accessible nursery slopes adjacent to the Day Lodge car park. The drawback presently is that these upper beginners runs are very weather dependent and high winds often curtail the operation of the access chairlift. Cairngorm’s long awaited funicular railway will take skiers to these upper runs in six minutes and is due to be completed soon. There are two base stations. The Coire na Ciste car park is two thirds of the way up the main access road and really is best suited to more experienced skiers who wish to access the upper runs directly. It is linked by two chairlifts, or a chair then Poma. The main Day Lodge base station offers car and coach parking, ski, snowboard and blade hire, ticket sales and a restaurant, bar and snack bar. The centre have made significant improvements in their customer care and now have a squad of friendly ambassadors who, as well as answering queries on the mountain, run free guided tours of the ski area each morning and afternoon. The layout to the lifts and runs means that there is a small network of gentler green runs off the Fiacaill Ridge, to the right looking up the mountain, which terminate at car park level. Total beginners usually start at car park level, or if the weather is fine up on the Ptarmigan area. Thereafter there is a short beginners lift below the Shieling mid station mid station, and the run down from this level is pretty benign. Intermediates will quickly master most of the mountain. There are easier descents from the top of most of the lifts, even higher up. The exception is the Coire na Ciste gully.

The staple for intermediates is the snowsure Coire Cas. More advanced skiers and riders will appreciate the White Lady best when it is full width and strewn with moguls. Otherwise the stiffest challenge is the West Wall which is the only black run on the area which drops from the Coire na Ciste ridge into the Ciste gully. Spring off piste can be inspirational and challenging at Cairngorm, but is definitely best with a qualified local guide — at least until you know your bearings and the prevailing snow conditions. Beyond the East Wall across a long traverse is Coire Laogh Mor, while a trek round behind the Ciarngorm summit to beyond the Fiacaill headwall accesses the chutes and couloirs on Coire An Sneachda and beyond. Instruction to all levels in skiing and snowboarding can be booked from the centre’s Cairngorm Snowsports School and also locally through the valley, and children’s classes are often runs peak season and weekends when there is demand. There is a well maintained and popular snowboard and bladers funpark up by Fiacaill ridge which the centre aim to expand. Otherwise child care is available by arrangement.

Apres Ski

Apres ski is limited in Glencoe and the surrounding area, but that does not mean to say it isn’t good. The pubs and hotel/restaurants may often be miles from each other but that usually means making an evening of it. That said a week’s holiday with the objective of just skiing Glencoe would mean a fair bit of driving and limited choice. A week’s multi-activity holiday in the area with skiing or boarding thrown in is a different matter, if the outdoor life suits all group members. Eating out, again, usually means eating in the same place you are staying or driving to another nearby hotel or bar/restaurant. Bars in most of the villages and in between offer a choice of food. Typically accommodation ranges from the bigger hotels, such as those at Onich to the north of Ballachulish to lodge and climbers bunkhouses. There is also a reasonable complement of self catering cottages and chalets in the wider area.

Scottish Resort Guide

Resort Information • Glencoe

Resort Height Resort Height 305m
Top Station Top Station 1108m
Bottom Station Bottom Station 305m
Vertical Descent Vertical Descent 803m
Drag Lifts Drag Lifts 5
Chair Lifts Chair Lifts 2
High Capacity High Capacity 0
Opening Dates Opening Dates Dec - April
Rating Expert Rating Expert 7
Rating Intermediate Rating Intermediate 6
Rating Beginner Rating Beginner 6
Apres Ski Rating Apres Ski Rating 3
Snow Reliability Snow Reliability 5