Vermont

Where do you go if you want the privacy of minor royals out for a spot of skiing practice? Brigid McConville finds the perfect place - and it's family friendly, too

Two-and-a-half feet of snow fell in upstate New York the week we left for America. And the US telephone snow lines told us that their ski resorts had been making snow for a month, no problem ...

So it seemed a cruel twist of fate when the thermometer climbed 30 degrees the day after our arrival, heralding 24 hours of relentless rain. "Skiing?" laughed the gas station attendants. "You'd have to go as far as Maine, or even Canada, to find any snow." Yet as we travelled up into the mountains, patches of white hinted that all was not lost, and sure enough, the "ski area" signs into Vermont led us to a little place called Bromley.

Bromley, celebrating its 60th birthday this year, is antique by US standards. The main lodge is all brown wood, with dusty heads of deer mounted on panelled walls. Many Americans prefer this small, family resort, famed for its friendly staff and excellent creche for up to 60 children, to larger, more expensive resorts such as Stratton Mountain, 20 minutes' drive away.

As we snapped on our ski boots and stepped into the hired Rossignols, we realised that Bromley was waiting just for us, because no one else was there to ski. On another hillside was a single graceful snowboarder. I wondered which is worse when you haven't skied for ages: to stumble about under the disdainful eyes of bronzed, supercool habitues; or be exposed as the only duffer on the slopes?

"Hi! Was that good?" grinned the chair-lift operatives as we shuffled towards them after each rattling descent. "Lovely!" we assured them politely, feeling like minor royals out for a bit of practice in private.

I had loved skiing as a child living in Canada and the speed, freedom and perfection of flying over snow still beckon to me from that time. But apart from a few forays on freezing Scottish mountains, I hadn't been on skis since. Would I be able to recapture the easy exhilaration I remembered, or had those days gone for ever? As the lift took us higher and higher above slopes called "Shin Cracker" and "Nightmare", I thought of broken bones, I thought of my children (mostly at home in England), and I thought of taking my skis off and walking down the mountain through the trees. After all, who would ever know?

The first run was a graceless ordeal, and by the end of it my knees were trembling. The snow surface, raked and then rained upon, was like crinkle- cut crisps; my skis clattered and shook in sympathy with my legs.

"Hi! Have another go!" shouted the lift attendants, as I reached the safety of level ground. The second run was better, and the third better than that. Gradually I progressed from power-snowplough into what used to be called the "stem christie", and by the end of the day I could get down the intermediate-level slopes in a series of acceptable swishes.

And once the initial fear had gone, I could take in the view: a giant sweeping panorama of low, forested hills backed by range after range of impressive, snow-capped mountains. Straight ahead stood Stratton Mountain, a lofty peak streaked with white.

As it got dark I went to collect our toddler, who was happily playing with Lorraine, who has run Bromley's daycare centre for 27 years. She now looks after the children of children who came to her back in the Sixties - when I learned to ski. The sport is far more accessible now, she believes. Local schoolchildren come to Bromley to learn to ski once a week, and the sport is a valuable source of jobs for Vermont's young people.

The other dramatic change has been the advent of snowboarding, which threatens to make skiing a sport for old fogies. Lorraine still skis regularly. But that is not good enough for her young colleagues at Bromley, who are always nagging her to take up snowboarding. They don't realise, she says, that bruises last longer when you get older.

From the nursery window we watched in admiration as the solitary snowboarder carved and floated his way to the bottom of the hill, his board a fourth dimension of liberation from gravity. Neither of us would ever do that, we knew. But with that feeling of being at peace which follows a day's skiing, I personally didn't mind a bit

Vermont essentials

The closest gateways from Britain to reach Vermont are Boston - served direct by American Airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic - and Montreal, served by BA and Air Canada. Fares to these destinations are relatively high, however, at pounds 260 return or more. It is much cheaper to fly to Newark (New York) and travel overland from there by rental car or Greyhound bus. For example, Trailfinders (0171-937 5400) has a fare of pounds 185 on Continental from Gatwick or pounds 191 on Delta/Virgin from Heathrow. From Manchester, Airline Network (01772 727272) has a fare of pounds 197 on Continental.

Vermont's Department of Tourism and Marketing in Burlington can be called on 001 802 828 3237 (office open 12.45pm-9.30pm British time). For details on the resort of Bromley, call 001-802-824 5522.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
i100
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam