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Skiing in the Lake District

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 and ski… 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).

Where to go when it snows

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.

The Helvellyn Central Massif piste map

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