Scotland’s ski slopes are seeing the best conditions in years after weeks of ‘high quality’ snowfall – as they remain shut due to to lockdown rules.
Glencoe Mountain has reported its best snowfall ever – while Cairngorm Mountain has seen ‘high quality snow’ on its popular slopes in recent weeks.
But snow sports enthusiasts are unable to enjoy the white stuff this season, as Nicola Sturgeon‘s stay-at-home order – announced last month – forced ski centres to close their doors again.
Her announcement – swiftly followed by a similar one from Boris Johnson – only permits Scots to leave their homes for essential purposes – and ski-ing holidays are not included.
Cairngorm Mountain’s team of ‘skeleton’ staff – on hand to maintain equipment during the closures – were seen bundled up in ski gear as they carried out their daily tasks today.
Scotland’s ski slopes (Glencoe Mountain, pictured) are seeing the best conditions in years after weeks of ‘high quality’ snowfall – as they remain shut due to to lockdown rules
Glencoe Mountain (pictured) has reported the best snowfall ever in recent weeks – while Cairngorm Mountain has reported ‘high quality snow’ on its popular slopes
Snow sports enthusiasts are unable to enjoy the white stuff this season, as Nicola Sturgeon’s stay-at-home order – announced last month – forced ski centres (Glenshee Ski Centre, pictured in January) to close their doors again
Her announcement – swiftly followed by a similar one from Boris Johnson – only permits Scots to leave their homes for essential purposes – and ski-ing holidays are not included. Pictured: Staff work at the Glenshee Ski Centre in January
What are Scotland’s lockdown rules?
Scotland’s latest lockdown rules – which came into force on January 5 – includes a legally enforced stay-at-home rule.
This makes exercise and essential journeys the only reasons why Scots are allowed to leave their home.
Exercise must start and finish at people’s front doors to avoid overcrowding at rural locations.
Employees must work from home wherever possible. If it is impossible to do so, workplaces must be Covid-secure.
A maximum of two people from two households are able to meet for exercise outside.
Meanwhile, places of worship are closed – but weddings and funerals will still be allowed to go ahead.
A maximum of 20 people will be allowed to attend funeral services and a maximum of five people will be allowed to attend weddings.
The resort’s artificial snow machines were barely visible after heavy snowfall left them covered in white.
The equipment was necessary in the past as sub-par weather conditions left little to no snow for skiers and snowboarders to enjoy.
Meanwhile, visibility on Glencoe Mountain – another of Scotland’s five ski resorts – was severely-inhibited by falling snow – as the ground remained covered by a layer formed during previous flurries.
The conditions – ideal for winter sports enthusiasts – come as bitter winds from the Baltic and Scandinavia are bringing ‘dangerous’ blizzards and sub-zero temperatures to Britain.
The cold front – dubbed the ‘Beast from the Baltic’ – could put vulnerable people at risk amid concerns it might slow down the coronavirus vaccinations rollout, especially in Scotland which will face the heaviest snow.
Interim chief executive of Cairngorm Mountain Susan Smith told BBC news: ‘For the whole team here, it is hugely frustrating that we are unable to welcome snowsports enthusiasts to enjoy the high-quality snow cover, which is the best we have seen in recent years.’
Ms Smith told The Times: ‘It is hugely frustrating that we are unable to welcome snowsports enthusiasts to enjoy the high quality snow cover, the best we’ve seen in recent years.
‘We await guidance from the Scottish Government.’
Glencoe Mountain’s Andy Meldrum added: ‘There is lots of snow – the best we have seen at this time of year – and the weather has been really good as well with less wind than normal.
‘We remain ever hopeful that we will be able to open soon, even if it’s only for locals.’
The snowfall seen in the Scottish Highlands is the most-extensive seen since 2010, experts say.
About 40 drivers were rescued from at Loch Dorma in Wester Ross after becoming stranded in 6ft 7in (2m) snow drifts today.
Highland Council said emergency centres were set up and told motorists: ‘Do not travel in this area.’
Elsewhere the A85 was closed west of Methven in Perth and Kinross due to flooding, and trains could not run on the Highland Mainline between Dalwhinnie and Inverness despite plough trains being used to clear snow.
Meanwhile about 100 properties were without power due to supply faults in Skye, Lewis, Sutherland and near Inverness, as Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks engineers worked to fix the problems.
Glenshee Ski Centre (skiers at Glenshee Ski Centre in January, pictured) closed after stricter lockdown measures came into force for mainland Scotland last month
Cones are put out blocking the entrance to the Glenshee Ski Centre after it closed due to lockdown restrictions
Staff check the lifts at the Glenshee Ski Centre after it was forced to shut. Workers are on hand to make sure the equipment is maintained during lockdown
An empty slope and chairlift at the Glenshee Ski Centre in January. The conditions – ideal for winter sports enthusiasts – come as bitter winds from the Baltic and Scandinavia are bringing ‘dangerous’ blizzards and sub-zero temperatures to Britain
A skier near the Glenshee Ski Centre which has closed under stricter lockdown measures
The snowfall seen in the Scottish Highlands is the most-extensive seen since 2010, experts say. Pictured: A gritter passes near the Glenshee Ski Centre last month
Emergency services at the Aultguish Inn on the A835 in the Highlands today after people were trapped in vehicles overnight
The wintry conditions have swept into the UK following an easterly airflow arriving from Scandinavia – and the Met Office said flurries will move southwards, bringing ‘a chance of heavier snow for a time in the South’.
The Midlands and South East are ‘most likely to see disruptive snow accumulating more widely’ from late tomorrow until mid-Sunday. Up to 6in (15cm) of snow could fall on high ground 4in (10cm) at lower levels.
A Level Two cold weather alert – which encourages people to prepare for freezing conditions – has been issued by the Met Office, running from 9am tomorrow until 9pm next Tuesday.
Before that, heavy rain is expected today in the Pennines, north-east England and Yorkshire. The Met Office said the conditions ‘may cause flooding and some disruption’ including travel delays.