February 10, 2009 / 5:57 PM / 10 years ago

Blizzards add whizz to Scottish sledging business

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Record snow falls across Britain have caused traffic chaos for some, but they’ve brought a blizzard of success for one Scottish sledge maker who can barely keep up with orders.

Visitors to a park walk in the snow in Oxford, February 5, 2009. REUTERS/ Eddie Keogh

Bill Wilson, who sells sledges at the Glenmore ski resort in the Scottish mountains, said he had sold more than 20,000 sledges since last Monday’s heavy snowfalls, which were some of the strongest in two decades.

“I haven’t seen anything like this for many years,” he told Reuters on Tuesday, saying that his website, www.sledges.co.uk, had been inundated.

“We had 7,800 people looking at our website at one time and the computer burned out. We are having problems coping with the orders coming in. We are too busy,” he said.

Some of the heaviest snowstorms since the early 1990s have swept across Britain from Russia in the past week, bringing up to two feet of snow to some areas of the country, thrilling millions of children but frustrating drivers.

Scotland, which has a handful of ski resorts, has also benefited from a blanket of snow, producing some of the best skiing and sledging conditions that lift operators remember.

Wilson has sold out of his 25 pound ($37) steerable plastic sledges and has also seen steady business for everything from 4 pound plastic sleds to 350 pound racing models and the top of the range 700 pound arctic expedition sleighs.

A new truckload of 10,000 sledges is scheduled to arrive form Norway on Thursday, he said.

Not only has sledging been a big hit this year, but Scotland’s ski resorts have also seen a steady stream of business as Britain’s tough economic conditions have made skiing in the French and Swiss Alps relatively more expensive.

Scotland’s major ski centers of Nevis Range, Cairngorm, Glencoe, Glenshee and The Lecht reported powdery snow conditions with a deep white cover on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman at the Scottish tourist organization www.visitscotland.com said the resorts were busy, with Scottish day visitors and holidaymakers from across Britain.

“When the snow comes, the visitors come with it,” she said. “The longer the snow stays, the more we can attract visitors here. Hopefully it will be an exceptional season.”

Heather Negus, marketing director at the Nevis Range ski resort, said almost 3,500 skiers headed down the slopes last weekend, well up on previous years.

“At this point we have more people than we had last year. And there is more snow forecast, so I am delighted,” she said.

Britain’s weather forecasting Met Office predicted that the cold weather will remain and more snow will fall on Scotland for the rest of the week.

Editing by Paul Casciato

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