Chilling out at the Snow Centre Hemel Hempstead

Posted: Thursday, 22 September 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,

My job at the Luton Hoo Hotel finished-mid afternoon, but my journey home would leave me facing the horrors of rush hour on London's M25 orbital motorway. Having enjoyed such a great evening the day before, I was aching for more of the same, on the spare of the moment I formulated a plan and there was to be no plan B.

I would investigate the Snow Centre at Hemel Hempstead , the closest indoor snow sports centre to London. Hemel Hempstead is a small commuter town to the North West of London, made famous in December 2005 by becoming the site of the largest European peace time explosion at the Buncefield Oil Storage Terminal.

The Snow Centre is located close to the junction M1 and M25, somewhat incongruously in a residential neighbourhood. Opened in May 2009 on the site of a former dry ski slope it features a 160m long main run and a 100m nursery slope all inside an 8,000m2 snow box.
For the off season period they are running a 2 for 1 discount, getting me 2 hours for the price of 1, that said their hourly rate is significantly higher than Milton Keynes.

Hemel Snow Centre - Grand Opening May 2009

My first impression was the excellent quality of the snow, definitely not powder, but oh so familiar to Alpine conditions; a sprinkling of loose scraped snow on a hard packed base. Around 6pm the slope was empty, a perfect opportunity for making some nice wide traverses.
Thing got decidedly busier around 7pm, to cater for the increased demand the 2nd Poma lift started up. This is an express Poma, for intermediate and above users, with a fast speed, much like those that run up the side of slalom courses or other expert terrain.
During the busy period there was still space for everyone and queuing was very limited.

My 2 hours over, I headed back to the car and enjoyed a stress free drive home with all the heavy traffic gone, blissful.