Updated: Mar 24
Many of us have missed out on a lot of travelling over the past two years due to the dreaded C word! So this winter a friend and i decided we have some special occasions to celebrate in January and treated ourselves to a short trip to Scotland, and it did not disappoint!
I hope you enjoy reading about our 4 day trip to the highlands to go snowboarding and if you are considering a trip to Scotland i highly recommend booking it, you won't regret a single minute.
As this was my first proper time going on a ski holiday, i didn't own anything i needed! I had some base layers which i was happy enough to use but that was about all i owned. I got Dare2B ski gloves from SD Kells Outdoor active and also Dare2B thermal base layers, which will come in handy when i am on the bike or doing other things. I then visited Lilas in Armagh and was able to rent a Columbia jacket and trousers along with goggles for 45 pounds.
When we were snowboarding for the day, we found it plenty warm, it was cold in Scotland, and some days there was a crisp wind, but when we were up the slope we were very warm and after the first day, we went with fewer layers on. The jacket and coat were very warm, and kept us dry each day! By the end of the trip, we were comfortable in sports leggings, a base layer top and our ski gear. Each evening at our accommodation we hung the ski gear and gloves over radiators to take any dampness off them and they were perfect come morning.
Strathardle Lodge, i struggle to find the words to describe this place! It was beautiful and perfect for us. We got an upgrade to one of their bigger rooms, they have Snug doubles, King-sized doubles, Superior suites and Family rooms. We were upgraded to a family room to allow space for all our stuff. These rooms are located outside the main building, with car parking right outside and with a private front door. We had an en suite bathroom, double bed and single bed and plenty of space for our snowboards, boots, gear and suitcase.
The main building had a cookery school, what i would call a living room beautifully decorated, the perfect place for you to relax and an Honesty Bar. We spent most evenings in the honesty bar, which i found to be an absolute novelty! I have never experienced one before. On the bar, there is a clipboard with your room number and another one with a price list. You simply help yourself to drinks and snacks and keep a note of what you have taken and then on check out the total is added to your bill. The prices were incredibly reasonable!!! We played card games, monopoly and chatted with other guests and the owners each evening, the fire was always lit and it was such a cosy atmosphere.
Strathardle offer breakfast each morning, the coffee pot is always full, cereal, yogurt and fruit are available and a hot breakfast is offered for those who want one. We enjoyed a hot breakfast each morning, anything from small fry to scrambled eggs or poached eggs and toast.
It clearly stated when we made our booking that Strathardle does not offer evening food and that they recommend visiting the Kirckmicheal Hotel a 2 - minute drive (easy walking distance) in the village. During our stay the hotel was closed, but again we were made aware of this before we arrived. We were happy enough to travel 25 minutes to Pitlochry and enjoyed the local restaurants.
If you are looking for something a little more central, lively or close to nightlife/ bars i would suggest looking into Braemar (15 min from Glenshee) or Pitlochry (roughly 1 hour from Glenshee)
As i mentioned Strathardle Lodge does not advertise that they offer evening meals but do recommend some local restaurants anything from 2 minutes to 25 minutes away.
The first night we ate at McKay's bar and restaurant, honestly, i wasn't that impressed. My food was okay, and my friend enjoyed hers but the service was terrible. When we entered the restaurant and asked for a table, a waiter told us no, in a very dry tone and as we turned to walk out saying 'okay thanks' he responded with yes, yes. Im not sure if this was a joke, but there were plenty of tables. We were brought out drinks and when ordering food i asked for my burger with just cheese. When it arrived, it has all the salad and relish on the bap. I asked for this to be changed and the same waiter argued with me, that i should have told him i wanted it plain with just cheese, i tried to explain that i had said a burger with just cheese and my friend also agreed with me, but he continued to argue and i had to ask several times for the bap to be changed. I then noticed on the bill an extra charge which, to be honest, i can only assume was for this because we knew what everything else as we were charged for. Honestly, it just went from bad to worse, when we asked for the bill and asked could it be split he told us to figure it out ourselves and left, when he eventually came back we paid and left.
The second night we are at The Coach House (i think), we treated ourselves to a steak dinner, and would you believe i had to ask for extra mash! It was a great bar/ restaurant with a fun atmosphere for a Friday night. The food was very tasty and we stayed for a few friends, well i didn't as i was driving, i wanted until i got back to the Honesty Bar! It was honestly such a fun night, we had tunes playing on Spotify and let's just say the drive from Pitlochry to Strathardle Lodge is great fun in the dark!
On the third day, we did a light lunch in Hetty's Tea Room Pitlochry which was lovely! It was so homely, and there was such a selection of cakes, buns, scones, teas and coffee! I highly recommend checking this spot out when you explore Pitlochry. That night we at Strathardle Lodge, as the Kirckmicheal Hotel was closed for the January break Paul and David offered up some home-cooked basic meals, we were very happy with this and enjoyed pizza and homemade chips on the fourth night. Other guests beside us were tucking into homemade chips and pie which also looked yummy!
On the last night we were celebrating and we went to the Old Mill Inn in Pitlochry, and it was by far my favourite, the venue and setting were beautiful, but it is set in behind the main street, so keep an eye out for it. The staff were very friendly and welcoming and the food was delicious.
For this trip, we flew Belfast International to Edinburgh with Easy Jet and then rented a car to drive 1.5 hours to Strathardle Lodge in Kirkmicheal. Having the car gave us the freedom to explore the local area, honestly, if you didn't have a car i don't know how you would get around. There is a train station in Pitlochry but if you want to go skiing you are roughly an hour from Pitlochry to Glenshee.
We rented a Fiat 500 and it was an absolute riot of laughter, we managed to fit the two snowboards and all our gear in the little car but the poor Fiat struggled with the hills and mountains around Glenshee. Our flights were around 40 pounds and the car rental was around 52 pounds. As many airlines have changed their policies, we checked one 23kg bag onto the plane and managed to bit everything we needed for the trip.
Before leaving Northern Ireland we researched some places to ski/ snowboard in Scotland while we were there. When we made the booking Scotland had snow, but sadly by the time our trip came up, the snow was gone. Not ideal for a snowboarding weekend but, the weather, is unpredictable. Although there was no snow, it did not stop us from having the BEST weekend!
A friend, along with some online research recommended we visit Glenshee Ski Center, which is Scotland's largest ski venue, and also the best for man-made snow! Just what we needed.
We kept an eye on the website which they update regularly and it told us what was available/ open. As there was no 'real' snow, they have three options, Plastic DinkDink and RopeTow with full cover. In simple terms, a very small one, a little bigger and then what looks massive for a beginner but is classed as an intermediate. For complete beginners, this was plenty for us and we made the most of it. I recommend joining some Facebook groups as prople post regular updates and it is also a way to see 'true'photos, as Glenshee's webcam is not positioned in a great place and makes it look like there is absolutely no snow, not even man made snow. We joined, Ski Scotland, Glenshee's Facebook page and also Ski Scotland 2021/2022.
Online, we were able to book our all-day ski passes, equipment and received free car parking. In total it cost us about 446 pounds, which allowed us to ski 4 days.
It was honestly pretty simple, we arrived at Glenshee, went to the ticket office and got our stickers each day and on the first day went to the equipment hire and got fitted for boards, helmets, and boots. We were able to keep the equipment for four days, which meant we didn't have to queue up each day to return or receive the items. When making the booking for your equipment, it asks your height/ weight and shoe size, so they have a rough idea what you will need when you arrive, so be honest!
We planned out our days so they suited us, arrived, got our passes for the day and enjoyed learning to snowboard. We did not book lessons, and just taught ourselves, but it's entirely up to the individual, i have snowboarded one day in 2019 so had a rough idea but honestly, we just picked it up and watched others. I think the hardest thing to grasp was the lifts, but they were even fun after you got the hang of it.
The staff at Glenshee were incredible! We quickly made friends with two men who operated the lift (Barry and Alister), very kind men with who we could laugh. There was also a medic, who spent the entire day skiing up and down the slope ensuring people were safe, not endangering anyone else and also checking no one was injured on the slope, i never got his name but we have a good laugh with him also.
Over the four days, we naturally got chatting with other visitors, and staff who were on a 'break' or taking a lesson and they were very helpful with tips and hints to help perfect your snowboarding skills. I needed all the help i could get.
I would highly recommend Glenshee, the views are spectacular, and i can only imagine how beautiful it much is when it is covered in snow.
Before arriving at Glenshee, i received emails with information, one of which had a QR code which they scanned to get your lift pass info etc. I would recommend printing this out before arriving and also your car-park information. The signal for me (Vodafone) was not great and i was glad i had them. The first day we left the paper copies in our accommodation, and they were able to find my booking using my name, but they do request/ advise that you print them.
I would recommend pre-booking at Glenshee as they are limiting numbers due to the lack of snow and Covid.
I honestly had the best trip, we were celebrating a few big events in both our lives and i couldn't have wished for a better time. I can't wait for next winter to get back to the slopes!!
If you would like to see more photo's check out the highlight over on @ImnotDrunkLifestyleBlog Instagram.