The clubhouse is a key development that marks a major milestone in the sustainability of the club. Ski centres are capital intensive businesses; long-term security of tenure is needed in order to attract investment in the facilities. For example, one of the conditions to release the grant to build the clubhouse is a 25 year lease on the land at Lowther Hill.
The need for suitable security of tenure over the ski area has been raised with the landowner regularly over the past four years. Therefore we were obviously disappointed that no lease was in place by the time that the funding became available, particularly as everything else -contractors and ski club logistics and paperwork- was ready to build the clubhouse for the 2017/18 season.
We therefore will not be able to have the clubhouse built this season. This new delay will have a critical knock on effect on other projects. Our first priority now is to ensure that the club doesn't lose the funding due to a lack of a suitable lease over the ski area. Discussions continue with the landowner on the details of a potential lease on which we hope to agree firm commitments as soon as possible.
In the meantime, there is always planning, admin and maintenance work running in the background, even when it may look like there is nothing happening on the hill:
Ongoing improvement of the Lowther Hill ski tow continues with refinements to the electrical installation and fuel lines, and new nylon wheels which will lengthen the life of the rope.
Last season saw the completion of the first phase of planned snowfence works with a 450 metre line of snowfence posts and 220 metres of timber rails along the Lowther Hill towline, as well as a temporary snowfence which was built with pallet slats alongside the 600 metres of the boundary fence. Phase 2 of snowfencing works should see this year more timber rails along the Lowther Hill tow and at one of the nursery slopes on Whiteside.
The Engine Hut has reached the end of its life and needs to be replaced with a fit for purpose building with more storage space, a suitable First Aid point, and a space for the lift operator. We are looking into options to ensure that a new hut is in place before the season 2018/19.
Next Season PreviewWe are now accepting memberships for the 2017/18 season.
Like in previous years, we aim to provide 20 days of mechanical uplift, either in Leadhills or at Lowther Hill, always subject to favourable snow conditions and availability of volunteers.
At village level we will have the usual set up, running one or two portable tows at Leadhills Golf Course depending on demand. The village tows tend to open mainly during January; they are accessible for the whole family, just a 5 minutes walk from the Hopetoun Arms hotel in Leadhills. Thanks to our popular night skiing we often open the tows after school hours during midweek.
In February, when the snow retreats from village level to higher altitudes, we open the main tow at Lowther Hill. As previously mentioned, this will be another season without a clubhouse on the hill. Therefore please bear in mind that we will only open the Lowther tow when the weather conditions are safe for everybody. The slopes are Lowther Hill are only suitable for intermediate or advanced skiers/boarders who are happy to walk or skin up to the hill.