The ski season is in full swing, but don't worry if you can't make it to Europe or North America. Across the UK there are home-grown slopes to challenge every ability, from the stunning resorts of the Scottish Highlands to the pistes of England's Pennine folds. And if the snow doesn't show, you can still embrace the best of the British winter, thanks to a little artificial assistance. So dust off the skis – it's time to go downhill.
Scotland's five ski resorts spread from Glencoe to Glenshee, and one of the most snow-sure areas, topped with bracing scenery, is Cairngorm Mountain Resort (cairngormmountain.org; day pass £35). There are 35 runs, including three blacks. To access them, there are 11 lifts to choose from, including Scotland's only funicular railway.
The downside is it can get busy, so book online to avoid queues. On the upside, it's home to fantastic facilities, including a freestyle park, the Ptarmigan Restaurant (1,067m up) and The Storehouse café, with sweeping views to Loch Morlich. There's also a brand new Snow School offering lessons for all abilities.
For year-round snowsports, try Chill Factore in Manchester (chillfactore.com; £30 an hour including equipment). Located opposite the Trafford Centre, it's home to the UK's longest indoor slope at 180m, which uses man-made snow.
As well as skiers and snowboarders, it's open to those who want to try unusual winter sports, such as “extreme sledging”, snowscooting or airboarding (akin to body-boarding on an inflatable). Specialist sessions teach skiers how to tackle moguls (mounds on the piste), while freestylers can attend weekly events in the Freestyle Park.
The Nevis Range ski resort (snowsports.nevisrange.co.uk; day pass £15) offers slopes in the shadow of Britain's highest peak. Britain's only mountain gondola whisks outdoor enthusiasts up 650m to the slopes of Aonach Mor and the start of the ski area. Eleven other lifts are on hand, with runs that range from green to red, as well as off-piste blacks.
It's open all year round, with hiking and biking the order of the day in summer, while winter brings skiers and snowboarders. Two restaurants, the Snowgoose at the top, and the new Pinemarten café near the car park, furnish hungry skiers with hearty food.
For more of the real deal, head to Yad Moss (yadmoss.co.uk; day pass £25). Set amid Cumbria's North Pennines, the resort has a selection of weather-dependent pistes; opening is sporadic so be sure to check before you set off. It's run by volunteers from Carlisle Ski Centre, and has only recently built a day lodge and ticket office, so the facilities are limited, although there is a club room and toilets. There's no café, for example, and after heavy snowfall, you'll need to bring a shovel to dig your own parking space. But that's more than made up for by the chance to jump on the longest drag lift in England (600m) before whizzing down the slopes.
Snozone has two indoor centres which offer real snow (snozoneuk.com; £25 an hour including equipment). The Milton Keynes branch is good for Londoners wanting easy access to the slopes, while the Castleford branch in West Yorkshire offers ample opportunity to extend your break with shopping in Leeds, or a stroll down York's characterful Shambles. The slopes offer ski and snowboarding lessons for all ages.
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