I’ll take the High road ... to Ben Nevis
ANDY WILLIAMS is seduced by the mountains of Scotland and skiing Ben Nevis-style
Black meltwater entices the foolhardy, while seductive mountains boast of beautiful death.
They call to the folly of unwary travellers, whispering swim, climb, reach.
It was into this inhospitable terrain we drove, then walked and finally skiied to conquer the wilderness.
The wanton will to tame is a tale of man’s greed to overcome nature. Ben Nevis, the highest peak in Scotland has become home to the Nevis Range, a glorious paean to adventure sports.
For eight months of the year, you can zip, pedal and clamber its awesome slopes. For the other four, it transforms into a bona fide ski resort, offering delectable white pistes – around 30 of them, with a dozen different lifts – to everyone from the discerning enthusiast to the complete novice.
It is into the latter category that your four adventurers fell.
A six-year-old, three-year-old and two old-enoughs-to-know-better attempted their first day’s skiing with two brilliantly knowledgeable, entertaining and patient instructors (thanks to Nonnie and Emma).
Within the hour, my girl was swishing along in the sunshine, all rosy-cheeked fearlessness.
She had practised aeroplaning (on one ski with arms outstrectched) and skateboarding (pushing along on a single ski) but unfortunately not stopping. Crashing, she could do just fine.
For the youngest, early trepidation had been replaced by a brave-heartedness to follow his sister, wooed by a bowl of chips in the popular, warm and inviting Snowgoose restaurant.
Ultimately, while she persevered, he found an adventure playground next to a viewing platform much more to his liking.
Myself, not having strapped on a pair of skis for 20 years, it was good to know that the sport is much like riding a bike.
You thankfully never forget.
All equipment can be hired at the foot of the mountain for decent prices, so bringing your own clobber is not necessary.
The 10-minute cable car climb up the side of the mountain is stunning, although not for the faint-hearted.
We stayed at the three-star Scandinavian-style Isles of Glencoe hotel in the village of Ballachulish (wonderfully pronounced Balla-hool-iy).
Family-friendly and freshly painted, our room was large and comfortable. A partially enclosed area with pine bunk beds was perfect for the kids.
The self-service buffet breakfast provided an eat-all-you-can start to the day and an excuse to spirit away a couple of Danish pastries for a cheap lunch.
The evening meals were great – although the kids fell asleep at the table in the conservatory overlooking said loch so I am afraid, dear reader, that I cannot report back on the joys of the bread and butter pudding.
Elsewhere, the Grog and Gruel in Fort Wiliam and Laroch Bar and Bistro in Glencoe come as highly recommended less expensive options.
And it was in the hotel, that we answered the final call to the weary traveller.
The hotel has its own pool and sauna to stretch those ski-sore muscles and to tire the kids out yet further should they require it.
Free golf is also offered at the nearby nine-hole Dragon’s Tooth course.
What have we forgotten? Ah yes. The best till last. The Isles of Glencoe is perched right on the shores of Loch Leven and its jaw-dropping views of the hills of Morvern are worth every penny.
The route to the hotel, along the A82, which kisses the shoreline of Loch Lomond, takes some beating in my book as the most scenic in the whole of the British Isles.
A return journey is in the offing.
n Bed and breakfast for a family of four at the Isles of Glencoe Hotel starts at £101 per night.
n visit www.akkeronhotels.com for more information
n For information about the full range of activities on offer at the Nevis Range, visit www.nevisrange.com.
n A Zone A ski pass costs £30 for a full day (£18.50 for ages 7-17and £6.75 for ages 5&6), with Zone B £20 (£13/ £6.75) Under-5s go free. Season tickets are available.
n A two-hour group lesson is £26 per person, with individual lessons starting at £36 per hour. For kids Under-7 it’s £25.50 for an hour. Booking in advance is a must.
n Skis, boots and poles can be hired for £21 per day for adults, and £15 for children under 130cm tall