Apparently if you can learn to ski properly at Hillend, you can ski anywhere, due to the fact it's a dry ski slope, which makes turning and all the rest just that bit harder, as if skiing wasn't hard enough in the first place. Well it is for me anyway, I've only just managed to figure out how to keep my skis parallel, and I still resort to Snowplough Fear technique when I'm on a slope I can't deal with.
Anyway, Hillend is actually a really affordable place to learn to ski if you're in Edinburgh, and it has a whole range of courses for whatever level of skier. The actual ski space is fairly small, but to be honest, it's enough if you're just practising or learning, and you can't really compare a dry ski slope in Edinburgh to the choice of ski runs in the French alps. Hillend was facing closure a few months back, but there has been a big campaign by Edinburgh residents to keep it open, so hopefully it'll last the distance. Would be a real shame to see it close, as it's been a legendary bit of Edinburgh Pentlands scenery (with a purpose) for as long as I can remember.
I went to hillend at the request of a friend to give her some advice on how to ski, having grown up in Switzerland and done teaching there for a few seasons I was happy to oblige.
We had a couple hours of fun, the slopes are good and night skiing is really special.
However just as we were about to leave an older instructor skied over and proceeded to tell me off. I actually apologised as I didn't know it is not allowed to give your friends advice but then it got personal and he told me that my friend was sliding all over the place, an offence apparently on a ski slope, and it was my fault for doing a bad job of it, he skied off before I could respond.
I think that was uncalled for and that this particular member of staff was quite rude. The reason I was teaching my friend in the first place is because the two hour group lesson she paid for had over 15 pupils and the instructor couldn't even to begin to teach them as he had his hands full with one struggling student. Waist of money and time as all she got taught was to put her skies on.
All in all, customer experience muddied by this rude member of staff and a confirmation that the beginner group classes are not worth the money, go private or go somewhere else.
I'm so unsporty and live my life like a lump.
However, on a rather adventurous day me and my pal decided that we NEEDED to learn how to snowboard.. you know how it's really fashionable and that eh?
We booked in for a private lesson which was £45 for the two of us to go up and down the baby slope while some 6 year old kids were pelting down the adult one, it might have been my paranoia but I'm sure they were doing tricks.
Sadly I can't afford or can't be bothered to persevere but hopefully one day some ambition and motivation blesses me once again.
Midlothian Ski Centre aka Midlothian Snowsports Centre is situated on the outskirts of Edinburgh on the stunning Pentland Hills. The slope itself sits on 'Hillend' which is the original name of the leisure facility.
Hillend has so much to offer and not just to skiers and boarders - although obviously they make up the majority of visitors.
Slopes and Lifts
Hillend used to be Europe's longest artificial ski slope but I see they now say 'one of Europe's longest' so it has perhaps lost that title. Regardless, the 400m+ main slope is still an impressive size offering the equivalent of black runs at the top - known as 'The Face'. There is also a tow slope around 275m in length. Both of these are Dendix matting which, for those unfamiliar with artificial slopes, looks a bit like diamond shaped toothbrushes.
In addition, they also have two nursery slopes - perfect for beginners at 50m long each. One of these is Dendix matting again and the other SnowFlex (a bit like a carpet of pretend snow).
As well as the 4 slopes detailed above Hillend also boasts a very popular SnowFlex jump slope. This is most popular with boarders but I have seen equally impressive stunts by those on skis and blades (wee skis).
The slopes are fitted with misting systems to ensure they don't get too sticky through the summer. They also have have air mattresses fitted at the bottom of both the main slopes and jump slope. These are more effective in absorbing an impact than normal crash matting and a lot less painful. The slopes are also floodlit so you can ski all year round.
The main slope uplift is provided by two tows and a chairlift. The tows have a number of stops and supply both main slopes and the jump slope. The chairlift has two drop off points - one half way up and the other at the top.
Walkers are welcome on the chairlift and can get off at the top for some sightseeing if they wish. The views of Edinburgh and beyond are magnificent and well worth making the trip for. The staff are very accommodating too and will happily stop the chair to allow you to get off. They will also stop it to allow you back on if you don't fancy the walk back down.
Classes and Prices
There are lots of different types of classes - private lessons, group classes, ski and snowboard schools, taster lessons, ladies only, racing etc etc. I could give lots of details but the best thing to do is phone - 01314454433. The staff of reception know their stuff and will be able to advise the best class for your individual circumstances. You can also have a look at their website but it is council so isn't perhaps as easy to navigate as it could be - midlothian.gov.uk/topic.… .
IMPORTANT - Minimum age for skiing is 6 years old. Also, you are not allowed on the slope unless you have had a lesson or skied before. So if you have never been before and can't use lifts - phone first. You can get in to a beginners class fairly easily. A 2 hour beginners lesson is £25 for adults and £16.40 for under 18's. These usually run at weekends and you can sometimes get an offer. This is well worth the money - from the safety aspect alone.
Prices are the same as classes, as there are so many options it is not an easy £x an hour. Plus there are always offers on so again a phone call is probably the best way to find out. However, to give you an idea:
Practice Skiing and Snowboarding
Main Slope First hour £ 8.40 £ 5.70
(using lifts) Add hour £ 3.50 £ 2.40
These prices include skis and boots but there will be an additional charge for special equipment such as snowboards or blades. This is currently - £2.70 for the first hour and £1.05 for additional hours.
In addition to skiing Hillend also offers tubing parties. Imagine your kids flying down a nursery slop in a giant blow up doughnut as a birthday treat! These are really popular and prices vary so again, give the centre a call for details.
For those that don't fancy hurtling down the hill, there is a fairly new and modern cafe in the centre. This gives impressive views over the hill so you can sit with a coffee and a bun and watch your kids, partner, friends etc out on the slope. If you have little uns with you there is also a small play park on the hill.
Hillend is a great place to visit to ski, snowboard, walk or sight-see. The views from the hill are breathtaking and the facilities are impressive for a council facility. Go take a look - i'm certain you'll enjoy it.
Midlothian Ski Centre or Hillend as it's more commonly known is one of those places you either love or hate.
I learnt to ski here when i was younger and have taught several people to ski there since, so think it has come a long way. Once known as the longest artifical ski slope in Europe, (it's now been gazumped by somewhere in France) this place offers the perfect opportunity to learn to ski without the snow.
There are several beginner slopes and then two main slopes with a chair lift and two pummel tows attached to these. The main slopes have a fairly decent gradient, and if the matting is kept sufficiently wet, you can get some decent speed up on the decent. Yes- the matting is not the easiest to ski on, but as i told the people i taught if you can ski here, you can ski anywhere.
Staff at the centre are generally very helpful and are there for your safety, so please take their advice. There are always lots of kids learning to ski, so you have to have at least a basic level of stopping and turning before being allowed on the slopes for obvious reasons!
Hillend is one of the rare examples of a semi-decent artificial ski slope. Here I learnt all the basics of skiing and had a great time in doing so. Sure, it's not a patch on the real thing, but Hillend really is the perfect place to dust off your skills before a ski season or to learn the basics.
The staff are extremely helpful and the skiing lessons really are great. Personally I think the best time to go skiing is at night and it's a great experience to stand at the top of the run, under flood-lights and look out at the wonderful view over Edinburgh...before hurtling down the slope!
In terms of facilities, there are slopes for beginners (nursery slopes) and a longer main slope. In fact, the top level of the main slope is actually quite steep so I wouldn't recommend going right to the top if you're a beginner...not unless you want a sore bum!
Oh, and if you can survive a fall on the uncomfortable artificial surface, you're ready for anything Glenshee can throw at you!
If you're a snowboarder then you're also catered for as there are series of jumps for you to break your neck on in addition to the main slope.
Get your skates (or Ski Boots) on and sample Hillend!
Midlothian snowsports centre is the perfect place to learn, brush up or practise your snowboarding and / or skiing skills.
There are 4 dry slopes including two nursery slopes for beginners. To get up to the higher slopes there are toe bars and a ski lift.
If you fancy a few lessons, the instructors are very friendly and will help you with your confidence. The lessons are fairly reasonable too. If you don't want to take lessons but fancy a few hints and tips, there is usually an instructor on the slopes on a Friday night to give a hand if required.
A word of warning though - wear thick clothing and gloves - that plastic hurts when you fall on it!!!
Cracking fun, can't tell you how nice it is to get a decent run with some terrain! God forbid people should build bumps on a slope. This place fills in the gaps in our ridiculously short season.
It is artificial and that means you're gonna feel it if you fall, burns like hell. But a great place to get into snow sports.
The artificial surface will wear the edge of your board so sharpen as soon as you're done.
This is a great ski slope situated in the very scenic Pentlands. Not far out of Edinburgh it is pretty handy and a fantastic day out. Something different to do with a spare day! Reasonably priced and on various bus routes such as the 15 (Lothian Buses).
Midlothian Ski Centre / Hillend is located just to the south of Edinburgh. I think for a dry ski slope it is very good. The slope itself is longer than any other I have been to and there are areas of increasing difficulty for people who ski to different standard. There are 2 poma tows and a small chair lift although only one tow takes you all the way to the top. The slope can get busy at times but you never have to queue more than a minute or two to get back up to the top. There is also a bus route that takes you there so transport is pretty good.
"The longest artificial slope for skiers and boarders in Britain" - and it certainly feels like it when you're at the top - terrifying! This is a great place for learners and experts alike, with lessons at all levels for ski-ing, snowboarding and - wait for it - tubing! This, bizarrely enough, is where you slide down the hill in an inflatable doughnut. There are two tiny beginners slopes, and then the three-level giant ski slope itself. There are ski tows and a chairlift (which I actually spend all of my time on as I'm a total wimp when it comes to sports and the view was sooooo pretty, even at night with all the twinkling street lamps and the red and white streaks of the bypass headlights! You can see the whole of Edinburgh, lovely!) There are also jumps, but, being a wimp, I haven't tried these out, although there have been some very impressive boarders to watch attempt them. They rent out all the equipment you'll need, with some rather attractive snowsports experts giving advice. A warning - they won't let you on the slopes unless you've had some sort of lesson: we lied the first time and it was a mistake! Once you've used up all your adrenaline and gathered as many bruises as you can handle, there's a cafe at which I can highly recommend the hot chocolate, mmm!
The Snowsports Centre is well used locally. Great for childrens parties with their tubing events which are cheap, great fun for kids and take all the pain of having a party on give it to the staff there. The cafe is average but relatively cheap. Can't say much about the ski slope as its beyond my skills. However I can say the people do appear to enjoy it and with the large number of users all through the year, its clearly popular
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