Creagan Bheithe (2490 feet) is a small hill, next to the corbett of Ben Gulabin, that has long been forgotten by Scottish skiers. These days most skiers drive straight past it, completely unaware that there used to be more than one ski area in Glenshee. However glance left a few miles after passing the Spittal of Glenshee, and you you can amazingly still see the silhouette of an old pylon on the skyline. In the 1948 the Dundee Ski Club established a lunch hut on these slopes. In the early 1960s a rope tow followed and, for at least a short period of time, Glenshee had more than one ski area. These days it perhaps seems an odd spot for a ski area : the slopes are low and south facing. However up until the early 1960s the Glenshee road was closed by drifting snow during the winter months due to lack of snow clearing. The local skiers had to make do with the lower hills on either side of the pass. Skiers from Aberdeen had their very own rope tow up on Carn an Turic and an ill fated commercial development was also made at Marr lodge – so in total Glenshee had at least 3 other sites during the early 1960s where ski tows have operated apart from the present ski area. The site on Creagan Bheithe would have been very convenient for visiting skiers staying in the nearby Spittal of Glenshee and Dalmunzie hotels. I first became aware of this long forgotten ski area in an old Scottish Ski Club journal from the 1960s which was passed down to me by an “old timer”. The piste map shows a number of runs, descending in different directions. It is clear from the map that the DSC skiers were a keen, and no doubt hardy, bunch!
We started our own ski day with a few turns up at the main Glenshee ski area. It was good to be back on skis in November and get some miles on the legs, even if the tows weren't running and the snow was still very “early season”. By 2pm we had bimbled over to Meall Odhar (narrow and thin in places!) and also had a fun run on the road side flank near Carn Aosda (pretty decent chalky snow down the burn line). Even though the snow was OK a second lap didn't capture our imagination and so we decided to drive a couple of miles down the road to explore the old Creagan Bheithe ski tow. Here is Ross skinning up the path which runs from the A93 road to the old ski tow. Luckily the path held the snow very well, and we were able to skin most of the way. It took about 30-40 minutes to reach the old ski tow from the road.
This is silhouette of the old ski tow as seen from the road. I imagine most modern days skiers would be too lazy to walk up ?
It was kind of weird to get to arrive at an empty hillside and imagine it bustling with skiers. Ross contemplates the demolished lunch hut whilst looking up the line of the old ski tow.
I guess this was an old pulley wheel for the rope tow ?
At the base station we met this mountain hare. Amazingly he didn't seem particularly scared of us and was happy to pose for a photo. I suspect that he might use the old base station as his home now ? It almost seemed that he wanted to protect his territory and wasn't prepared to leave. I quite like the idea that this ski area now belongs to a mountain hare....
Here is Ross approaching the top of the slopes. I was surprised how well this spot held the snow as many of the other hillsides were wind scoured and notably devoid of white stuff. Despite the low altitude the recent north winds had loaded the south facing gullies well.
The plyon of the ski tow is still standing – though I wonder for how much longer!
Ross skiing past the pylon.
Myself enjoying making turns in a new Scottish ski area :-)
Ross heading for home.
Finally here is a picture of the old “Creagan Bheithe / Ben Gulabin” ski area in its prime!