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Ski Blog

Where To Ski At Home

clock 15th September 2010 | comment0 Comments

Though we lack Alpine resorts in the UK, thanks to our indoor slopes, dendex and Scottish ski hills we have one of the largest and most promising ski and snowboard scenes in Europe. We may not match the Alpine and Nordic nations in terms of Olympic medals but we have a promising future with our three times X-Games Gold Medal winner Jenny Jones and groms like Jamie Nicholls, at 16 years old, making an impact in snowboarding's TTR World Championship.

Now not all of us have the time, talent or tenacity to make a living strapped to wood, metal and plastic whilst hurtling down a mountain or thorough the air, but we still love to get some pre-holiday turns in. Well, with six indoor slopes currently open and over 40 dry slopes out there, there is plenty of choice to get your skiing legs in shape or to get your snowboarding fix in between holidays. Thanks to the Passport Diary blog we have a veritable list of slopes for you to head to in the coming weeks.

Indoor Skiing UK

Link to Indoor Skiing UK map




1. Xscape Braehead,, Kings Inch Road, Braehead, Renfrew, PA4 8XQ Telephone: 0871 200 3222 | Hours: 09:00 - 23:00 (Daily)

2. Chill Factore, Trafford Quays Leisure Village, Trafford Way, Manchester, M41 7JA Telephone: 0161 749 2222 | Hours: 09:00 to 23:00 (Daily)

3. Xscape Castleford, Colorado Way, Glasshoughton, Castleford, Yorkshire, WF10 4TA Telephone: 0871 200 3221 | Hours: 09:00 to 23:00 (Daily)

4. SnOasis, Great Blakenham, Suffolk Telephone: 020 7491 4634 | Hours: Due to open in 2012

5. Snowdome, Leisure Island, River Drive, Tamworth, Staffordshire, B79 7ND Telephone: 08705 000 011 | Hours: 09:00 to 23:00 (Daily)

6. Xscape Milton Keynes, 602 Marlborough Gate, Central Milton Keynes, MK9 3XS Telephone: 0871 200 3220 | Hours: 09:00 to 23:00 (Daily)

7. The Snow Centre, St Albans Hill, Hemel Hempstead, Herts, HP3 9NH Telephone: 0845 258 900 | Hours: 09.00 to 22.15 (Mon-Thu, Sat & Sun) 09:00 to 23:00 (Fri)

8. Cornwall Winter Park, Address currently undisclosed. Telephone: TBA | Hours: Opening Date TBA

UK Dry Ski Slopes

Link to Dry Ski Slopes map




1. Midlothian Snowsports Centre, Hillend, Biggar Road, near Edinburgh, EH10 7DU Telephone: 0131 445 4433 | Hours: 09:30 to 21:00 (Mon-Sat) 09:30 to 19:00 (Sun)

2. Glasgow Ski Centre, Bellahouston Park, 16 Dumbreck Rd, Glasgow, G41 5BW Telephone: 0141 427 4991 | Hours: Pone for details

3. Knockbracken Ski Centre, 20 Ballymaconaghy Road, Belfast, Antrim Telephone: 1232 795 666 | Hours: Phone slope for details

4. Golf And Ski Centre, Tullymoyra Lane, Silverwood, Lurgan, Craigavon, Armagh, BT66 6NG Telephone: 028 3832 6606 | Hours: Phone slope for details

5. Sportsman Inn & Leisure, Bradford Old Road, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX3 6UG Telephone: 01422 340 760 | Hours: Phone slope for details

6. Llandudno Ski Centre, John Nike Complex, Great Orme, Llandudno, LL30 2QL Telephone: 01492 874 707 | Hours: 10:00 to 22:00 (Daily)

7. Ski Club of Ireland, Kilternan, Co. Dublin Telephone: 01 295 5658 | Hours: Phone slope for details

8. Kidsgrove Ski Centre, Bathpool Park, Kidsgrove, Stoke-on-Trent, ST7 4EF Telephone: 01782 784 908 | Hours: Phone slope for details

9. Stoke Ski Centre>, Festival Way, Festival Park, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 5PU Telephone: 01782 204 159 | Hours: Phone slope for details

10. Swadlincote Ski Centre, Hill Street, Swadlincote, Derbyshire, DE11 8LP Telephone: 01283 217 200 | Hours: 10:00 to 22:00 (Daily)

11. Norfolk Ski Club, Whitlingham Lane, Trowse, Norwich, Norfolk, NR14 8TW Telephone: 01603 662 781 | Hours: 10:00 to 22:00 (Mon-Fri & Sun) 10:00 to 19:00 (Sat)

12. The Ackers, Golden Hillock Road, Small Heath, Birmingham, B10 0LG. Telephone: 0121 772 5111 | Hours: 10:00 to 21:00 (Mon-Fri), 10:00 to 17:00 (Weekends)

13. Gosling Ski and Board Centre, Stanborough Road, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6XE Telephone: 01707 384 384 | Hours: 12:00 to 21:00 (Mon-Fri) 09:00 to 16:00 (Weekends)

14. Cardiff Ski Centre, 198 Fairwater Road, Fairwater, Cardiff, CF5 3JR Telephone: 02920 561 793 | Hours: Phone slope for details

15. Bracknell Ski Slope, John Nike Way, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 8TN Telephone: 01344 789 002 | Hours: 10:00 to 22:00 (Daily)

16. Sandown Sports, More Lane, Esher, Surrey, KT10 8AN Telephone: 01372 467 132 | Hours: Phone slope for details

17. Chatham Ski Centre, Chatham Ski Centre, Alpine Park, Gillingham, Kent, ME7 3JH Telephone: 01634 827 979 | Hours: 10:00 to 22:00 (Daily)

18. Christ's College Ski Club, Larch Avenue, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 1JY Telephone: 01483 504 988 | Hours: 09.00 to 22.30 (Mon-Fri & Sun), 09:00 to 16:30 (Sat)

19. Alpine Snow Sports, Gallwey Road, Aldershot, Hants, GU11 2DD Telephone: 01252 325 889 | Hours: 10:15 to 21:45 (Mon-Fri), 12.15 to 18.30 (Weekends)

20. Southampton Alpine Centre, Bassett, Southampton, SO16 7AY Telephone: 02380 790 970 | Hours: Phone slope for details

21. Knockhatch Ski & Snowboard Centre, Hailsham Bypass, Hailsham, BN27 3GD Telephone: 01323 843 344 | Hours: 18:00 to 21:00 (Mon-Fri) 10:00 to 18:00 (Weekends)

22. Plymouth Ski & Snowboard Centre, Alpine Park, Plymouth, Devon, PL6 8LQ Telephone: 01752 600 220 | Hours: 10:00 to 22:00 (Daily)

23. Suffolk Ski Centre, Bourne Hill, Wherstead, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP2 UK Telephone: 01473 602 347 | Hours: Phone slope for details

24. Brentwood Ski Centre, Warley Gap, Brentwood, Essex, CM13 3DP Telephone: 01277 211 994 | Hours: Phone slope for details

25. Bassingbourn Snowsport Centre, Royston, Cambridgeshire, SG8 5LX Telephone: 08450 728 293 | Hours: Phone slope for details

26. Christchurch Ski Centre, Matchams Lane, Christchurch, Dorset, BH23 6AW Telephone: 01202 499 155 | Hours: 10:00 - 22:00 (Mon-Fri), 09:00 - 23:00 (Sat), 09:00 - 22:00 (Sun)

27. Bromley Ski Centre, Sandy Lane, St. Paul's Cray, Orpington, Kent, BR5 3HY. Telephone: 01689 876 812 | Hours: 12:00 - 22:00 (Mon-Thu), 10:00 - 22:00 (Fri), 09:00 - 19:00 (Sat), 09:00 - 20:00 (Sun)

28. Gloucester Ski & Snowboard Centre, Matson Lane, Robinswood Hill, Gloucester, GL4 6EA Telephone: 01452 874842 | Hours: 10:00 - 22:00 (Mon-Wed), 10:00 - 18:30 (Thu) 10:00 - 22:00 (Fri), 00:00 - 18:00 (Sat/Sun)

29. Pendle Ski Club, Clitheroe Road, Sabden, Lancashire, BB7 9HN Telephone: 01200 425222 | Hours: Phone slope for details

30. Kendal Ski Club, Canal Head North, Kendal, LA9 7BY Telephone: 0845 6345 173 | Hours: Phone slope for details

31. Pontypool, Civic Centre, Pontypool, NP4 6YB Telephone: 01495 756955 | Hours: Phone slope for details

32. Ski Rossendale, Haslingden Old Road, Rossendale, BB4 8RR Telephone: 01706 226457 | Hours: 13:00 - 21:00 (Mon-Fri), 13:00 - 17:00 (Sat), 09:00 - 17:00 (Sun)

33. Sunderland Ski Centre, Silksworth Sports Complex, Silksworth, Tyne & Wear, SR2 3AW Telephone: 0191 553 5785 | Hours: Phone slope for details

34. Bowles, Sandhill Lane, Eridge Green, Tunbridge Wells, TN3 9LW Telephone: 01892 665665 | Hours: Phone slope for details

35. Folkestone Ski Centre, Radnor Park Avenue, Folkestone, Kent, CT19 5HX Telephone: 01303 850333 | Hours: 10:00 - 22:00 (Mon-Fri), 10:00 - 18:00 (Sat/Sun)

36. Calshot Activities Centre, Calshot Spit, Fawley, Southampton, Hampshire, SO45 1BR Telephone: 023 8089 2077 | Hours: Phone slope for details

37. Avon Ski & Action Centre, Lyncombe Drive, Churchill, North Somerset, BS25 5PQ Telephone: 01934 852335 | Hours: Phone slope for details

38. Dorset Snowsport Centre, Warmwell Road, Dorset, DT2 8JE Telephone: 01305 853 245 | Hours: Phone slope for details

39. Swansea Ski Centre, Upper Bank, Swansea, SA1 7DB Telephone: 01792 645639

40. Clifton Hill Sports Centre, Belmont Road, Exeter, Devon, EX1 2DJ Telephone: 01392 253353 | Hours: Phone slope for details

41. Oval Ski Club, Wirral, Liverpool, Merseyside, CH63 7LF Telephone: 0151 645 2452 | Hours: Phone slope for details

42. Telford Snowboard & Ski Centre, Court Street, Madeley, Telford, TF7 5DZ Telephone: 01952 382688 | Hours: Phone slope for details

43. Ski Village, 4 Vale Road, Sheffield, S3 9SJ Telephone: 0114 276 9459 | Hours: 14:00 to 22:00 (Wed-Fri), 10:00 to 19:00 (Weekends)

P.S. The dry slopes are more fun after a bit of rain.

Five Forgotten Gems

clock 1st September 2010 | comment0 Comments

Now us Brits love a good chalet holiday. Those of us who frequent the Alps have probably been to Europe's big super-resorts and huge ski areas such as Meribel, Val d'Isere, Les Arcs and St. Anton. There is also a rather large proportion of us who find ourselves going back to the same resort year on year. I'm as guilty as anyone with three trips to Morzine in the past two winters.

With this in mind I'd thought I'd take a look at the forgotten gems of chalet holidays. There are a mixture of world class resorts and hidden gems here, and though you may argue some of these resorts are not exactly forgotten, in terms of chalet holidays, not hotels, we all forget about them.


Zermatt, with the iconic Matterhorn, is among the most famous and revered resorts in the Alps, though it is not a typical chalet holiday resort. The resort may boast a great selection of chalets but it is better known for its 5* hotels and luxury accommodation. The Matterhorn and the Gournegrat offer some fantastic skiing, and with Cervinia the other side of the valley offers great motorway pistes and affordable Italian mountain restaurants. Zermatt chalet holidays are a great way of staying in this über luxury resort.

Saas Fee

The chocolate box resort is again better know for its luxury hotels, ski in/out village and the glacier, but it also offers a couple of incredibly popular chalet hotels. With only a handful of chalet hotels to choose from this picturesque resort often falls under the radar from the masses, yet offers a world class snow record and beautiful Swiss village-style resort. Whether you are skiing with your partner or going away with your family, Saas Fee chalet holidays offer great value in one of Switzerland's finest, snowsure resorts.


Ischgl is one of Europe's finest resorts, yet remains largely undiscovered to Brit skiers. With two of the biggest parties in the Alps, the resorts opening and closing festivals, a great apres ski scene and superb skiing, this is a resort we have somehow forgotten about and really shouldn't have. Okay, so along with the likes of Zermatt, Lech and Courchevel it is one of the more exclusive resorts full of 4* and 5* hotels, but with the addition of the Chalet Hotel Abendrot you can enjoy a more affordable Ischgl chalet holiday and make the most of this fantastic resort.


Obergurgl is my token purpose-built resort, though some people are not fans of the high rise buildings and lack of trees, these resorts were built with one thing in mind - the skiing. Not as unattractive as Val Thorens or Tignes, and offering a slightly more chilled feeling compared to the usual Austrian apres madness, Obergurgl is great for families and intermediate skiers. With loads of glacier skiing, Hochgurgl only a cable car away and Solden a short bus journey, there is more than enough on offer here to fill your week. With Obergurgl chalet holidays making a come back, this is a resort for families to flock too.

La Rosiere

Quaint, French and friendly are not three words that some skiers will use to describe the Tarantaise Valley. Though a fan myself, the Three Valleys' vast pistes and crowds are not to everyone's liking and La Rosiere is anything but busy. This great little resort is a family skiing haven, yet also offers un-tracked off-piste and the chance to ski over to Italy thanks to being linked with La Thuile. If a more French & relaxed feel, among one of the most famous skiing valleys in the world, is what you are looking for then La Ros is perfect. Most of the accommodation on offer is chalets therefore a La Rosiere chalet holiday is the way forward to enjoy this hugely under-rated resort.

We may be creatures of habit, but if you fancy a change of pace from the hectic skiing in the Three Valleys and Espace Killy or a resort with more of a village feeling to purpose built ski resort, these are all worth a look.

If you want to escape the Euro-zone then Zermatt's Matterhorn offers incredible views from the rotating restaurant in a star studded resort, or Saas Fee offers a romantic and picturesque feel. If Austria's love of sausages and um-pa-pa apres ski is more up your street then try out the world renowned Ischgl or more family-friendly, though purpose-built Obergurgl. And last, but by no means least, if you have a love affair with the French skiing scene head to La Rosiere for its quieter slopes, fantastic terrain and relaxed atmosphere.

As a Meribel and Morzine addict I am looking forward to trying somewhere new this year, with Ischgl at the top of my list!

The Irresponsible Guide to the Three Valleys

clock 25th August 2010 | comment0 Comments


The Three Valleys is the world's largest and arguably best-linked ski area, famed for playing host to everyone from Courchevel's Russian Oligarchs and Meribel's rockstars to Val Thorens' vibrant, orange-infused, Dutch week.

The Three Valleys offers a huge variety of terrain, resort atmosphere, accommodation, bars and restaurants. Some go for the celebrity spotting and boutique shopping, others for varied skiing and great off-piste, and not forgetting the famous and raucous après ski.

Now finding the right restaurant for a mountain lunch can be challenging across the Three Valleys. With Courchevel's bank busters to those run by friendly French patrons, who feel the need to finish off your slightly boozy lunch with their homemade genepy, to choose from. Whether you are a hardcore skier, a park rat or a fan of leisurely lunch, at some point you will be enjoying the array of cuisine and venues on offer.

I've had a few mixed experiences including drinking too much toffee vodka with the manager of the Skilodge in La Tania and realising I only had 90 minutes until the last lift into Val Thorens, where I was staying, to romantic lunches on Meribel Village's quaint terrace.

Of course I don't recommend drinking and skiing because that would be dangerous and irresponsible, but if you do enjoy a cheese-filled lunch with a glass of wine and sampling the local digestives, I do have a few favourites. Some I know by name, others by location (does anyone actually know the name of the restaurant with the big knife and folk sign in VT?).

If Savoie mountain food is your thing there are some great places to fill up on cheese and meat. Darbelo's hidden in the labyrinth streets on La Praz and offers perfectly cooked steaks and the infamous, and sometime dangerous, Mutzig beer on draft. At the top of the Menuires chair in Les Menuires there is a wonderful little family run restaurant, the name escapes me but the cheese based food, bright blue genepy and welcoming service make it worth a visit. The Adray Telebar in Meribel, set just below the Ronde Point de Pistes, offers a superb Savoyard specialties set in a traditional, rustic, mountain atmosphere, and it has a terrace with superb views, and it's an easy ski back into Meribel post-lunch.

If you are looking for a lively atmopshere, planning to write off your afternoon and you are staying nearby there are some great venues to spend white-out days or sunny afternoons. If you are in Courchevel the Skilodge is a great venue for both occasions. On sunny days the terrace has great views, and the bus runs to the other Courchevel resorts well into après ski o'clock, great for toffee vodka, big portions and live music. If Meribel is your venue then the Ronnie (Ronde Point) has to be top of the list, with a variety of food from relaxed table service to a hot dog and burger stand, again the Ronnie has great views, a truly huge terrace, and the cream of après ski live bands.

If someone else is paying then take a trip to the Chalet de Pierres, where Courchevel's skiing meets Parisienne gastronomy. This über luxury restaurant has a wine menu that requires a small mortgage, lavish decor and of course praise in the Michelin Guide for it's fine cuisine. If your credit cards can stretch to the bill you will find yourself rubbing shoulders with sports stars, entrepreneurs and their trophy wives. The wine won't give you a headache, but your bank manager might!

If a romantic lunch, drinking Rose and eating crostinis, great salads or stone-baked pizza sounds up your street head the Lodge du Village in Meribel Village. If stunning panoramic views are more to your partner's desire a glass of Apremont at the top the La Saulire always goes down a treat. The food is pretty good in either restaurant and if needed you can get the lift back down to either Meribel or Courchevel, if you over-indulge.

Not that I'm suggesting that skiers like a drink, but there is something about vin chaud and genepy on a cold Winters day or a post skiing glass of Rose in spring on the many sun terraces around that you just can't replicate at home.

Don't drink and ski, you could be a danger to yourself or others, and you may spill some.

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