Thinking about skiing in Edinburgh? Pentland Hills Midlothian Snow Centre

If you're planning on being in Edinburgh in late December, you might be interested to know the city's Midlothian Snow Sports Centre will be offering ski-ing and snowboarding lessons over Christmas and New Year. The ski centre - informally known to locals as 'Hillend' - has the largest artifical ski slope anywhere in Britain. Handy, because despite its reputation for Arctic conditions, Edinburgh is a seaside town and doesn't often get cold enough to have real snow.

Midlothian Snow Sports has two main slopes and two nursery slopes. It offers junior and adult lessons in how to ski and snowboard all year round, but the Christmas classes are a one-off for the holidays.

If you happen to be thinking of ideas for kids' parties in Edinburgh, I'm told that 'tubing' parties held at the centre are just the thing this year with voguish five to ten year olds in Edinburgh. 

By the way, don't worry, if you don't know what 'tubing' is, you're not alone. I had to ask as well. It's a popular practice in which youngsters fly down the ski centre slopes in something akin to a round inflatable doughnut or a large tyre. I've not yet seen 'tubing' in action myself, but the mother of a six-year-old boy who held a 'tubing' party for him at the ski centre last month said it was a great success. Not least, she said, because after an hour of hurtling down hillsides inside a tyre, all the kids were too exhausted to do much else except go to sleep.

The centre is set into the hillside of the Pentland Hills Regional Park, from where you can enjoy stunning views of most of Edinburgh, including Edinburgh Castle, which dominates the city skyline even from as far away as the Pentland hills. On a day with good visibility you can even see from the ski centre slopes across the stretch of sea called the Firth of Forth, a river estuary that flows past the Edinburgh shoreline into the North Sea, right across to neighbouring Fife on the other side.

Many people choose to park their cars at the ski centre, then start their walk in the Pentland Hills from the ski slopes. If you're interested in walking in the area, I would recommend the invaluable The Pentland Hills: A Walker's Guide in the Cicerone series of publications. The Pentlands are easily accessible to walkers and offer an excellent path system with attractive terrain. If you opt for a circular walk that takes you back to the ski centre where you started, then there's the added benefit you can always have a cup of tea in the cafe there.

Midlothian Snow Sports Centre, Biggar Road, Edinburgh, EH10 7DU T: 0131 445 4433

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