If like me you live for the winter and love nothing more than the thrill of rushing down the side of a snowy mountain on a pair of skis or a snowboard then the thought of moving to flat-as-a-pancake Manchester may seem a bit of a let down. You may be surprised to find out that a 15 minute bus journey can transport you to a snowsport heaven…
Manchester’s Chill Factore (www.chillfactore.com) is the longest indoor ski and snowboard slope in the UK and the best part is it’s 180m of real snow! The piste is kept in great condition with 2 button lifts to get you to the top it’s the perfect place to hone your skills and get your fix of snow until you can next make it to the mountains. If you’ve never skied before and you fancy giving it a go you can hire all the equipment and there are plenty of trained instructors on site. You can book in for a group or a private lesson and get to grips with being on the snow on the nursery slope before working your way up to the top. There are ski and snowboard lessons for every ability so even if you know your stuff but want to improve you will be able to find a lesson to suit your needs.
Having skied for years I decided I wanted to try snowboarding and after 2 day lessons I was confident coming down from the top and was able to spend my next trip to the Alps on a board without wasting the week on my bottom; just be prepared for the bruises! There are also regular Freestyle sessions with rails, boxes and kickers for if you fancy trying out some tricks and also lessons for this too – you’ll be ready for the next Winter Olympics in no time!
Perhaps skiing or snowboarding isn’t your thing in which case you can still enjoy the snow park which offers sledging and luges or perhaps you’d prefer to watch the action from the balcony coffee bar and restaurant (they do good cakes and home-made pizzas!). There are also lots of shops in the Alpine Village for if you’re in need of some new snow gear including boots, skiis and snowboards (April is the time to buy when the season comes to an end and everything goes in the sale!).
Chill Factore is located across the road from the Trafford Centre (you can’t miss it, it’s the big slopey-building!) so there are plenty of buses which run from town; to recreate the full ski-bus experience I recommend wearing your helmet, boots and goggles, don’t worry about the funny looks people don’t know what they’re missing! It’s a great day out with friends or if you fancy just going alone for a late-night session to unwind after a long day of lectures (last lift pass is 9 PM). The University also has a Ski Club (which admittedly I’m not a part of) who run regular Wednesday night trips and can help organise lessons if you fancy learning with other students; look out for them at the Fresher’s Fair! Whether you’re new to the snow or riding is your raison-d’etre I would definitely make the most of having this mini mountain adventure on your doorstep in Manchester!