Another Brexit Surprise: No Euro skiing for Brits!

Brexit surprises are something the British are going to have to get used to.

Wonder how many skiers voted leave? This season at least that’s not looking such a flash choice as Brexit ski restrictions will apply.

Innsbruck is a great British favourite – so much, so close for them. But not this Brexit/COVID winter

The EU zone – EU and European Economic Area (EEA) – countries travel arrangements allow for quarantine free movement between them, except when blocked by overruling individual country shut down measures.

But from January 1st 2021 Britain is out of that zone.

So if and when the Alps re-open from their Xmas/New Year shutdown hordes of British snow lovers who normally flock there won’t be able to go to Italy, Austria or France, since under current EU COVID-19 restrictions non-essential travel from non-EU/EEA countries is not allowed.

From October the EU has allowed inbound travel from a few countries where COVID-19 is under control, including Australia (minor problem for Aussies, they still can’t leave until at least March 17!) and New Zealand.

Within Europe, non-EU Switzerland will be the only serious option left, as long as the UK does not get on the Swiss quarantine-required country/areas list which mandates a 10 day self-quarantine on arrival (decided on a 14 day case numbers basis). Ski resorts and accommodation remain open there.

Skiing Mt Fort Verbier
Off the back of Mt Fort, Verbier – the most anglophile of Swiss ski resorts © Owain Price

Ski Scotland instead

Driving north to Scotland’s 7 ski areas is not on the agenda either at the moment for the poms thanks to local restrictions.

But assuming those ease early next year the likes of Nevis Range, which is often at its best around late February/early March, will be booming. It gets a tad windy, conditions are variable from hour to hour, never mind day to day, but we love Scottish skiing – in fact, I got my very first ski day at The Lecht, a modest family ski area past Balmoral Castle. Didn’t see any royals though – they prefer Klosters.

Nevis Range is by far the biggest Scottish area with 630ha and 600m vertical. The top of Aonach Mor at 1225m is one of the highest peaks in the UK, along the range from the highest, Ben Nevis at 1345m. We skied it just before New Years in white out conditions, but would love to get back on a clear day to get stuck into the backside steeps and tour along the range.

Due to COVID restrictions they won’t be opening the backside lifts this season, but it will be accessible from the summit button lift as off-piste.

To stay Nevis Range is only 11km from Fort William, and half an hour from Loch Ness, so it’s great to slot into a Scottish self-drive holiday circuit some time.

Get past Edinburgh and Glasgow and the whole country gets really wild the further north you go. Midweeks in March and April would be the optimum for that.

Powder day at Nevis Range, Scotland's biggest ski area
Pow day at Nevis Range, Scotland’s biggest ski area © Nevis Range

Nothing can really replace the hop over convenience of skiing the Alps for British snow lovers though.

For example, while we drove around Europe skiing for a couple of months one winter in the 1990s our son, then living in London, managed to grab cheap flights and meet us to ski in France, Switzerland and Spain on a series of weekend/long weekend mini trips.

Looking ahead to 2021-2022, watch out for a lot more Brits showing up in Japan.

Once they get past the higher airfare and longer travel time, other costs are generally a lot lower for everything from lift passes to aprés ski in Japan vs the Alps. Western market bars in Hakuba and Niseko will be happy about that..

Our bet is more Brtish accents in the Niseko lineup from next winter © Snow Action