Skiing in England? Snow joke!
No need to jump on a plane, head to the snow-capped mountains of England's very own Alpine-style ski centre.
For many winter sports fans, the snowy slopes of Europe are their usual stomping ground of choice. But did you know that in merry old England we have six mountain ski centres that attract thousands of skiers and snowboarders each year?
All are located in the Pennines and the Lake District, which are becoming increasingly popular with snowboarders and skiers. However, those in the know say that Raise in the Lake District is the closest you will get to an Alpine style experience.
The Lake District Ski Club was founded in 1936 by a group of snow enthusiasts looking for a picturesque place to slide down the mountains.
Perched among some of the highest peaks in England, Raise usually gets a healthy dollop of snow throughout the season, keeping both snowboarders and skiers grinning from ear to ear.
For a number of years the club used a rope tow, but this was replaced in 1989 with the 360 metre modern button lift that stands today. The current lift is 800 metres above a snow-filled bowl, allowing snow aficionados the chance to explore a substantial part of the mountain and feel the wind in their hair as they descend. Running from around 10am to an hour before dusk, the lift runs most weekends and weekdays, depending on the conditions.
Raise boasts nine varied pistes and you'll be pleased to know that the longest of them is almost a mile long, giving you plenty of uninterrupted riding time.
Conditions on the mountain can be excellent and in past seasons there has been so much snow the lift was actually buried!
To get to the start of the lift, you have to walk for around an hour, but it's worth the effort as once you make it to the summit the views are breath-taking. With this in mind, inexperienced skiers or boarders should not attempt the climb unless accompanied with someone more experienced with winter conditions.
Although the club is for members-only, a day's pass will set you back £30, while £55 buys you both membership and a full season pass. This allows you to ski as many times as you like, which was a total of sixty days in the 2012/13 season! Or to put it another way, less than a pound a day!
Anyone used to the well-kept slopes of alpine resorts may find Raise a bit rough and ready in some places, as the tow track is dug out by hand, and the runs are not groomed pistes like you'll find in bigger European bolt holes in the snow. This means that they are naturally occurring parts of the mountain and can vary considerably on a day to day basis.
However, if in doubt, just ask the lift operators which run is the best to start with, they'll be more than happy to tell you!
There are also descents of almost 500 metres on the slopes of Raise and, depending on the conditions, it's almost possible to make it back to the car park if you've got enough momentum going!
As with any trip to the slopes, winter sports travel insurance from companies like Staysure is highly advisable as it is always best to be prepared, especially in remote mountains such as these.
It will certainly put your mind at rest to know that should you fall and break something, you won't be breaking the bank too with unforeseen rescue costs!
Plus, if you fancy another hike there are a few off piste runs within a short distance of the ski area, to give you a varied day out on the slopes. Although it has to be said that après-ski is not its strong point, there is a cosy members' hut with heating and electricity, called the Millennium Hut.
In here you'll find many seasoned snowboarders and skiers enjoying a drink, a bite to eat or just chin wagging after a tough day on the slopes. Built in 1999 (replacing the original hut from 1958), a flushing toilet was also added in 2011 to celebrate the club's 75th anniversary.
So before you book that winter ski holiday to the Alps, why not check out what's on your doorstep first in this stunning part of England?
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