Did you know that we have some fantastic options for winter sports right here in the North East? Here is a roundup of the best the region has to offer. Time to wrap up warm and go on an epic adventure!
RGU is not affiliated with and does not endorse any of the businesses listed in the post. This post contains no paid for content.
1. Snowboarding and Skiing
The Scottish ski season runs from December to early April, but can vary due to snowfall. There are two purpose-built ski centres in the Cairngorms National Park, and a dry ski-slope at Garthdee.
Both ski centres in Cairngorms National Park offer snow schools, equipment hire, cafes and a shop for refreshments, meals and snacks. Their fantastic scenery is the perfect environment for wildlife-spotting opportunities including deer, ptarmigan, spoonbills and golden eagles.
It is best to do your research first and visit the ski centres’ websites to make sure the snow gates are open, see the snow conditions on the webcams and check the weather forecast. You don’t want to be heather-skiing when it’s blowing a hoolie!
The scenic drive from Aberdeen to the Lecht follows the River Don and takes around an hour and a half. The smallest of Scotland’s ski centres, it still offers an impressive 23 ski runs, named after birds of prey. They go from the gentle beginners Robin and Wren runs, to the very difficult Buzzard run for experts.
Glenshee, which takes its name from the Gaelic ‘Glen of the Fairies’, is the largest ski resort in Scotland. The pretty drive from Aberdeen to Glenshee takes around 1hr and 45 mins and takes you through the heart of Royal Deeside.
The centre boasts the UK’s largest lift system, with 22 lifts, and its 36 runs extend over three valleys and four mountains. The longest single run, Glas Maol, extends to a fantastic 2 kms of skiing. In summer, munro baggers use the Cairnwell chairlift to access Scotland’s easiest munro.
If there is no snow or if you want to go skiing in the city, you can try out the dry-ski slope at Garthdee. Here you can hone your ski techniques and progress from snowplough to parallel turns in no time. Alternatively, snowboarders can have access to jumps to perfect their Ollies, and anyone can take part in fun tubing sessions.
If you visit the centre, remember to wear padded clothing and thick gloves on the artificial slopes!
RGU has a snow sports club through the Union called RGU Snow. They offer ski and snowboard lessons for beginners and intermediates as well as open sessions for advanced members who are confident navigating the slopes without assistance. They also organise trips to France in reputable ski stations, such as “Les Arcs” in the Alps.
2. Cross-country skiing and roller-skiing
At the Huntly Nordic and Outdoor Centre you can try cross country skiing or roller-skiing all year round. The wooden lodge is located in a delightful setting with 400m of all-weather cross country skiing matting, 30m x 6m downhill slope and 800m of a tarmac roller ski track.
Cross Country skiing is considered an excellent choice among the different winter sports for people with vision or mobility impairments. Alternatively, it is seen as the no snow summer option for avid skiers. Both classic and skate techniques can be practised on the purpose built 600m track.
When there is snow, ski equipment can be hired and taken up to the groomed trails in the beautiful Clashindarroch forest, home to a small Scottish Wildcat population.
3. Ice-skating and ice-hockey
Aberdeen’s Linx Ice Arena on the Beach Promenade offers ice-skating tuition and public skating sessions. The arena can seat up to 1000 spectators for its action-packed ice-hockey games. It is also home to figure skating, synchronised skating and 3 different ice hockey clubs. Open 7 days a week, it is an ideal activity for a rainy day.
Additionally, RGU’s Ice Skating Society runs weekly sessions at the Linx Arena with professional coaching for any level. Whether you’ve been skating for years or have never set foot on the ice, you will find lessons adapted for you. Additionally, the society is a great way to socialise with people who share the same passion as you and participate in events on and off the ice. In 2020, they even participated in the first Scottish Universities Ice-Skating Competition, so this might be your chance to show off some of your skills in the future!
4. Winter mountain hiking
There are many options for snowy winter walks in Aberdeenshire. This activity is not to be taken lightly and walkers should research the weather and be fully prepared with the correct attire and equipment as mountain environments can change very quickly.
Granite Adventures offer a Winter Skills Weekend in the Cairngorms where you can gain skills in avalanche awareness, cutting steps, navigation in winter, using an ice-axe and walking in crampons.
Watch this webinar by Ben Gibson, Mountain Safety Advisor at Mountaineering Scotland and learn the basics of planning for winter trips in the hills:
Did you know that curling is an ancient sport first practiced in Scotland in the 16th century? It is also called ‘The Roaring Game’ due to the sound the granite curling stones make while sliding across the ice.
If you enjoy winter sports but would rather stay inside, you can go curling at Curl Aberdeen. This centre is a purpose built, state-of-the-art curling facility. Get your curling brooms at the ready and throw your stone from the hack in this game of strategy, tactics and skill.
RGU Union also has a curling club which you can contact on the union’s webpage for more information.
If you are a dog-lover and not so much into extreme winter sports, this fun activity is a must. Try the ultimate husky experience – your chance to drive your very own dog team on some of the best trails around. You might even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
You can meet the team of Siberian huskies and get a hands-on experience with the pack, running the dogs using a 3 wheeled cart called a rig. Mush! HuskyHaven near Stonehaven offers Twilight mushing experience on weeknights throughout winter.
Even if you’re not an Olympic athlete, why not try some of these winter sports and activities this year? It will be a great opportunity to turn the cold winter days into fun adventures while discovering the breath-taking landscapes and wildlife that the North East of Scotland has to offer!