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Lake District Ski Club

Picture a ski resort in the most alpine area of England, sitting among the highest mountains.

Only with no chalets or chair-lifts to clutter the dramatic terrain. Replace the pine forest with huge ash trees, wrapping their roots around boulders that lie on low limestone ridges. No ski-hire shops. Just a vast, epic wild place to go skiing in the Lake District… This is Raise, home to the Lake District Ski Club.

The club was founded in 1936 after a team of experienced and enthusiastic skiers spent months looking for the perfect place to ski in the Lake District. Eventually Raise was chosen – a fell in the Lake District National Park which stands tall on the main spine of the Helvellyn range, between Ullswater and Thirlmere.

Today, the Lake District Ski Club operates a 360 metre button tow on Raise, dug out by hand at around 800m in a bowl serving a snow-holding gulley. There are up to nine distinct, ungroomed pistes available, depending on prevailing conditions; the longest piste is almost a mile along. The tow lift itself has been known to be buried by the snow almost to the top of the pylons as previous seasons have gone by. When conditions are right, Raise offers some serious skiing for an average of 60 days each winter season (November – April).

Raise makes for an unforgettable day out in good conditions, though not for the faint hearted. Skiing or snowboarding can be rough and ready. The runs are formed by naturally occurring parts of the mountain and maintained by nature alone. Chat to the friendly club committee members who operate the tow about the best first and last run of the day.

If you plan to make the 90 minute tour to Raise, don’t set off before reading the Lake District Ski Club’s safety advice. This has been updated due to Covid restrictions, so it’s important to read before you go.

If Helvellyn isn’t an option when you stay, there are several other places within approximately an hour’s drive that for are better for those who are looking to ski or snowboard or even sledge in the English Alps without the big hike.

Skiing in the Lake District

Advanced – Raise

Raise is at almost 900m above sea level, meaning it is on par with some of the lower altitude European ski resorts.

With that comes a bit of a climb, but 40 to 60 days or more a year of snow.

Really just for the tourer and expert skiers, but once you are up there, the views and the one mile slope is a brilliant reward. www.ldcsnowski.co.uk

Advanced – Weardale

If Raise has the height, Yad Moss the longest lift and Allenhead the best for beginners, then Weardale has the longest slope in England as its claim to fame.

With up to 45 days of snow each year, Weardale is about 1 hour 20 minutes from the hotel.

There are some good runs, but with an hour’s walk to get there, only experienced skiers are best trying here. http://www.skiweardale.com/

Intermediate – Yad Moss

Yad Moss is an hour’s drive from the hotel, just outside of Alston, in the North Pennines.

Although only 500 metres or so above sea level, Yad Moss, the self-proclaimed longest ski-lift in England, can offer around 40 days of snow a year.

As with Raise, the terrain is rather rudimentary, but the lack of rocks and soft surface and the 10 minute walk from parking to tow make it a great alternative.  http://www.yadmoss.co.uk/

Beginners – Allenhead

Just a ten minute drive further in to the North Pennines is Allenhead.

A much more gentle slope with up to 40 days of snow a year, a 150m stroll from the village centre, this is one for all the family.

Although not quite apres-ski on the content, there is a café and pub close by to grab some lunch.  http://ski-allenheads.co.uk/

Sledging close to the hotel – Great Mell Fell

If you are just looking to get the kids out, careering down a gentle slope, then Great Mell Fell is where locals go to sledge when the conditions are right.

A ten minute drive, behind us towards the A66 and a short walk from the road, this is much more of a bunny slope for those new to skiing.

Raise ski piste map

Staying safe on the mountain

Helvellyn is arguably one of the most famous of the Lake District’s fells with over 250K people hiking it each year. Formed 450 million years ago from a collapsed volcano, Helvellyn’s knife-edge ridges are notoriously challenging to navigate.

Add winter conditions into the mix, and the ascent of this formidable mountain can become dangerous.

Experienced Fell-Top Assessor Zac Poulton shares some advice and safety considerations for getting up Helvellyn in the cold and tips on how to stay safe in the Lakes.


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