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Glenshee 131

Address: Glenshee Ski Centre
Postcode: AB35 5XU

Glenshee or Gleann Shith, (Gaelic for Glen of the Fairies), flanks the highest public road in Scotland which runs through the Cairnwell pass, formerly one of the main historic drove routes from the Highlands to the Lowlands.

Skiing began here in the late thirties when a few enthusiasts who had learned to ski in Europe, came here to practice their new-found sport. Following the war, some of them returned to build simple rope tows, driven off the rear wheel of tractors and in 1957, Dundee Ski Club built the first T-Bar tow on Meall Odhar.

As skiing grew in popularity, five of these pioneers reached an agreement to lease the land from Invercauld Estate and went on to form Glenshee Chairlift Company Limited, which operated the ski area until May 2004.

In December 1962, with the completion of Cairnwell Chairlift and a small café, the area opened to the public and enjoyed fantastic snow conditions. So, emboldened by success, Sunnyslope T-Bar was built in the summer of 1963.

Unfortunately, through a cruel twist of fate, that winter was a wash out and the new tow operated for just seven days.However, despite this disappointing start, the commitment to development over the years has made Glenshee the largest Ski Centre in the UK, with 21 lifts and tows running over 4 mountains and 3 valleys.

The Glenshee Chairlift Co Ltd was forced into receivership in May 2004 but a management buyout by Glenshee Ltd ensures that skiing and snowboarding continues at the Glenshee Ski Centre.

The ski area is unusual for Scottish hill land because of its complex bedrock and the high fertility of most of its soils. Reflecting this fertility, the stone ruins of old shielings from past centuries occur at a higher altitude than recorded elsewhere in the north-east Highlands, as do moles and breeding frogs.

Many uncommon lime-loving plants grow on the ski area and nearby, the long established Caenlochan National Nature Reserve is Britain's second richest site for rare arctic-alpine flora.

A higher population density of ptarmigan has been found on the ski area than recorded anywhere else in the world, and red grouse and mountain hares are unusually abundant. Dotterel, golden plover, ring ouzels, twites and occasionally snow buntings can be found breeding, whilst peregrine falcons, golden eagles and ravens hunt the area.

As well as the nature reserve at Caenlochan, there have long been Sites of Special Scientific Interest on the ski area at Glas Choire and nearby on Cairnwell. More recently, under European legislation, a Special Protection Area for birds and a Special Area of Conservation for vegetation have been designated, both of which include part of the ski area.

Construction and operation of the ski facilities have caused no adverse effects on the bird populations or rare plants. The Company has welcomed independent monitoring of environmental impacts and reinstatement since 1986, when it also commissioned the first environmental baseline study of any Scottish ski area.

The top of the Cairnwell Chairlift offers the best panorama of the Cairngorms to be seen from any Scottish ski area.