The skiing and boarding facilities at Allenheads are provided by Ski-Allenheads, (formerly the British Norwegian Ski Club) who have developed the facilities over the last 40+ years. During the late 70’s and early 80’s, we regularly had 4 to 5 months skiing each winter, a season almost matched in 2010 with skiing every day for 3 months. Most years won’t match those times, but we can expect a few weeks of suitable snow most winters. The position of the slope and its situation in the upper Allen valley means it captures any snow that is going and can support skiing with barely 5 – 10 cms of snow.
To use the facilities at Allenheads, you must be a member of Ski-Allenheads. Joining is easy and there are no restrictions as to who can join, although we do have a limit on the numbers because of the size of the slope and the parking available in Allenheads.
Please note: Only annual membership is available – we do not allow day membership, other than for members of Weardale and Yad Moss Ski clubs. We regularly review the provision of day membership but, at the moment, the administration overhead needed and the limited parking available in Allenheads prevent our offering day membership.
The club is entirely run by volunteers and we do need all the help we can get from members to keep the ski area working and to develop it further.
A bit of history:
Why was our club originally called the British Norwegian Ski Club?
The Bergen Steamship Company, founded in 1851, had sailings for passengers between Bergen in Norway and Newcastle from 1890, summer and winter. To encourage business in winter, they set up the British Norwegian Ski Club over here as a national club, offering club members discounts on travel on their ships.
People had been trying out skiing at Allenheads, usually on ex-army wooden skis, in the fifties, and some had set up ski tows on a steep field belonging to Lord Allendale. Those skiers decided to join the British Norwegian Ski Club in 1961 and Lord Allendale allowed the club a limit of 500 members. The Bergen Steamship Company ceased its interest in the British Norwegian Ski Club in the mid-sixties. Subsequently branches all over Britain folded, with the exception of the Allenheads club, which continued to flourish.
In 1968 a retired Engineer, John Law, set up his antique Fordson Major tractor to power one of the tows, followed by another two tractors to power the other two tows. The club had two tows in the steep field and one up onto the higher fell with another, interlinking, tow. Three huts were built at the bottom of the field.
By the year 2003 we had our British Norwegian Ski Club website and realised that, for searches, it needed to have “Ski” and “Allenheads” in it. Also some people had thought we were a cross-country ski club rather than a downhill club. So we decided to operate under the name “Ski-Allenheads” and change the website name to www.ski-allenheads.co.uk.
In 2010 we formally changed our constitution from British Norwegian Ski Club to become “Ski-Allenheads”.
Long before the club started, there was an embryo ski ‘resort’ in Allendale. See this extract from ‘Notes on Allendale’ by B Irwin published in 1880:
- ………a number of us had snow skates laced on our feet, which we found very useful for travelling on the snow, for while some were wading knee deep, we who had skates did not sink any. As I have not seen snow skates anywhere but Allendale, a description may not be out of place. They are made of old oak wood, and from 4’ to 6’ long; ½ “to ¾” thick with a turn of 3” at the fore part to hinder them from running into the snow, iron heel quarters rivetted into the centre, and leather straps tacked on each side to fasten over the forefoot. I have seen great bands of young men climb the hills for a distance of 2 miles or more during a snowstorm and race for wagers, and they were generally blind for a time after arriving at the winning post. Where they came to an elevation or ridge, they sometimes got a long jump and occasionally a tumble. They carried an iron pole in their hands to help them climb the hills……..