10 of the best beginner ski slopes in Scotland
Scotland is fortunate to boast a wide range of great first day beginner slopes at the five ski resorts. The grading system includes green as the easiest slopes and then blue runs for next-step progression.
It’s well worth considering a few lessons at one of many artificial slopes that operate year-round across Scotland before heading to the real snow, although if you want to wait for winter before learning to ski there are lessons for novices at all of the resorts.
All five Scottish ski resorts have snowsports schools operating on-site, offering skiing and snowboarding lessons for complete beginners. Most also offer packages that include equipment and a lift ticket.
Here is a round up of some of the best slopes for beginners across the five Scottish ski resorts. (In no particular order.) See Ski Scotland for information about each of the ski areas.
This season, a new Snow Factory has added to the appeal of the Scotland’s most easterly ski resort. The two easiest runs have small bird names, Robin and Wren, and they are kept in good condition thanks to the excellent snow-making. The slopes, which extend to about 150m, are also accessed via novice-friendly Magic Carpet travelators (moving walkways).
Annette McIntosh, at The Lecht, said: “The Magic Carpets make it so much easier for nervous skiers, especially children, to travel up the snow. You just slide on to the travelator on your skis and stand still to go uphill.
The Robin and Wren are situated close to the Day Lodge, which has a cafe, so it’s great for a quick refuel or for warming up mid-ski.”
Calum Lynch, of Kincraig, who has grown up skiing in Scotland, said: “For sure, I would say The Lecht is the best place for beginners.”
Top Scottish snowboarder Lesley McKenna agrees. Her young daughter is learning to ski and snowboard and they are frequent visitors at The Lecht.
She says The Lecht is “perfect for families”. She adds: “It’s so well set up with the slopes next to the Day Lodge. You can do a few laps on the Magic Carpets and then pop into the cafe for a drink or something to eat, and you also have easy access to the toilets. That is important for parents and kids. I would say this beginners’ area is better than most I have seen in the Alps. We love it.”
2 The Eagle and Eagle 2 offer a good next-step-up for beginners at The Lecht and are described as “great cruising blues”. The slopes are accessed via a poma that runs on a continuous loop so it is fairly simple for newbie skiers to use.
3 Cairngorm Mountain also has the advantage of snow making on a 70m slope that is just perfect for first day beginners. The slope also has the advantage of being located close to the car park and in a sheltered area. The café and toilets are nearby as well (these are always important factors for families!).
Note that you need to book tickets for the beginners’ area at Cairngorm so that the resort staff can effectively manage the space for the best experience of skiers and snowboarders.
4 There are so many great beginner friendly runs at Glenshee Snowsports Centre that I have chosen areas rather than just runs. Glenshee is the largest of the Scottish ski resorts, where you can also take advantage of a beginners/limited lift pass.
The first day beginners’ area by the roadside, below the Cairnwell Restaurant. offers a wonderful area of gentle slopes served by the Rope Tow, Dink Dink and Plastic Poma tows, as well as the Baddoch Chair and Claybokie Poma tow. These are all included in the beginners’ lift pass.
5 Once beginners are ready to venture further at Glenshee, there are some amazing green runs for which a full area lift pass is required, although it is well worth buying. Sunnyside boasts some easy-to-access green (and blue) runs from both Sunnyside Chair and Poma.
These also allow access into the second of the ski centres’ three valleys, where the green runs are served by Beag, Cluny and Tom Dearg Pomas. There, beginner skiers and snowboarders will start to really feel they’re in the mountains. Brilliantly, the Meall Odhar Cafe is nearby, which is great for a quick refreshment or to use the toilets.
6 Uphill from the Cairnwell Restaurant at Glenshee is Butchart’s Coire, with blue runs served by Butcharts Access Poma. Once a beginner has mastered using T-bars, Butchart’s T-bar gives access to some lovely blue and green runs. The Bunny Run links with one of these Butchart’s green runs, but it’s the Cairnwell T-bar that gives access to the top of the Bunny Run, one of Scotland’s longest green runs.
It is a glorious run that will give beginners a sense of really getting somewhere. The Bunny Run’s gentle slope passes the top of a couple of fairly steep reds, the race track area and a steepish blue called The Gully, so it might be a good idea to venture into this area with an instructor or competent companion when first exploring it, although the steeper runs are well signposted so they are easy to avoid so long as you keep an eye on the signs.
Lucy Wallace said: “As a beginner, I can say Glenshee is definitely my favourite for sheer variety. I love that I can scoot about several runs and a couple of valleys on greens and blues. It feels to me like a proper mountain journey.”
7 While Glencoe Mountain has long had a reputation for tougher and steeper runs, there are also plenty of easier graded runs. If you are coming as a group of mixed ability skiers and snowboarders you will discover a surprising range of options.
For beginners, the Coire Pollach button lift runs for just under 400m and offers access to the gentle bowl-shaped green-graded Coire Pollach run, which is loved by regulars and a firm favourite with ski school.
8 Happy Valley and Main Basin on the upper mountain make great next-step runs at Glencoe Mountain and there is in fact a blue-graded run now from the summit all the way to the car park.
9 Skiing and snowboarding first day beginners have plenty of options at Nevis Range, directly they alight the gondola at the top station, next to the Snowgoose Restaurant.
Shorter, snow plough green runs include Lochy, Abhron and Glaistig, before progressing to the likes of Alpha and Yockies.
The views from the mountain are amazing – and from the beginners’ area you can see down to Loch Linnhe and Fort William, as well as a stunning vista of the start of the Great Glen Way.
10 At Nevis Range, the Quad Chair also gives easy access for beginners to an area with some easy blues, including The Fairway, Easy Rider, Far West. Then gentle slopes at the top of the Quad Chair are a popular place for snowboard lessons to take place.
- This blog post is published in association with Ski-Scotland.