The Story of the Glenshee Winter Sports Area

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.

Glenshee skiing in Scotland in 1972

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.

Newspaper cutting from 1966 of first Glenshee buildings

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.

 

Davy Banks 1970s
David Farqurson preparing the piste in 1956
Crowds flock to Glenshee in the 1960s
Glenshee skiing in Scotland in 1972
Tiger chair lift opens
Very early photograph of the first chairlifts in Scotland
Early ski school training
Slalom Race down tiger in 1965

Photos courtesy Bob Benzies, director of the original Glenshee Chairlift Company Ltd.

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