Spring is on its way, but if you’re hankering to make the most of what remains of winter, head to Europe, particularly the icy realm of Scandinavia, for some great activity breaks. Wrap up warm mind!
Below are nine of my favourite things to do in the snow and from keeping fit to enjoying some incredible snow-capped scenes, if you think outdoor fun is all about the summer then be prepared to think again.
You’ll need nerves of steel to ride this train. Speeds of over 90mph are attained by professional sledders, but you’ll probably want to ask the pilot to take it easy on the brakes to begin with. Still, hurtling along a track in a two-or four-man sled will probably be one of the most thrilling few minutes of your life. Fantastic if this is your kind of thing, I’ll just watch from the bar though thanks.
Ah now this is more like it. What could be more enjoyable than a gentle clip-clop around the snowy streets of some charming Alpine village, wrapped up cosily beneath a warm rug and sipping hot chocolate, or chilled champagne, as you go?
Well, this would be, to be honest. Always the most popular winter activities, and with budget flights now serving most resorts throughout Europe, skiing and boarding are rapidly becoming accessible to everyone. Now is definitely the time to research late deals on flight/accommodation/lift pass packages for a last-minute holiday on the slopes.
You know, a few years ago if someone had asked me whether I fancied spending a night sleeping in sub-zero temperatures north of the Arctic Circle, I’d have choked on my doughnut. But that was before I heard of Ice Hotels, incredible structures built entirely of, you guessed it, which melt over time and are rebuilt every year. These beautiful and unique hotels began life as an art project in Sweden and are now found in Norway, Romania and Canada also. It might sound unappealing but apparently they’re surprisingly comfortable.
Probably the best place to catch the dazzling light show in the sky that is the Aurora Borealis, is in Iceland or Northern Norway , on a clear evening in March or September. You can also catch the Southern Lights, which are visible at the same time in southern latitudes, in countries such as Australia and New Zealand. Have your camera handy because these remarkable and stunning displays of geomagnetic energy in the sky usually only last for quarter of an hour or so.
This popular winter sport is not dissimilar, in my mind, to a massive icy game of marbles. The aim of the game is to slide heavy, smooth rocks into a target area of point-scoring circles at the end of an icy path. The sweepers on each team skate ahead of the rock and use brooms to steer its trajectory. Simple, but quite addictive, if a little on the chilly side.
Or extreme angling, as I call it. The days of sitting on a stool beside a hand-carved hole in a frozen lake waiting for a bite are long past. Nowadays ice-fishers will utilise technical methods and tools including special suits, sonar and drilling equipment to locate the best spot to drop their lines, often checking hundreds of holes over the course of a day. It can still be dangerous of course, particularly as some people seem to think it a good idea to drive their SUVs onto the ice to collect their catch!
Heed the call of the wild with a dog-sledding adventure across the wilds of Scandinavia. The northern reaches of Sweden take in the Arctic Circle, while Finland’s National Parks afford some of the freshest air in the world. The term Mush! actually originates from the French word Marche! or Go!, which you’ll need to spur on your team of huskies. Try a company such as Exodus for packages, and remember to bring some doggie-treats.