From snowshoeing in Turkey to ice-climbing in London, these 10 adventures prove that there’s more to winter than hibernation
1. Ski touring in Scotland
Ski touring opens up Scotland’s snowy peaks| Nadir Khan via Fall-Line.co.uk
There’s few better ways to explore the mountains of Scotland than by ski touring. Using skins for traction and special bindings which release at the heel, ski touring allows skiers to reach snowy peaks with much greater ease than by foot, opening up miles of backcountry snow fields. It’s suitable for confident skiers with a reasonable level of fitness, but an introductory course, such as this one at Glenmore Lodge, is highly recommended.
2. Husky sledding in Italy
A great way to explore the Italian Alps
Dogs, snow and mountain backdrops… what’s not to love? Nestled next to the Slovenian border, Muster Ararad runs sessions with his Siberian Huskies who will happily pull you along snowy, wood-lined paths. The huskies are amazingly well-trained (not to forget incredibly adorable) and the scenery outstanding.
UPDATE: We can’t find up to date info on the above trips but have found these guys a bit closer to home near the French border, in Sestriere – Centro Sleddog – with centres in Breuil-Cervinia and St. Moritz as well.
3. Northern Lights (and more) in Norway
A once-in-a-lifetime spectacle | Fotolia.com
October – November and February – March are the best times of year to catch the Aurora Borealis flickering in Norwegian skies. But even then it’s not guaranteed, so it’s best to combine your trip with other winter activities. We like this itinerary from Authentic Scandinavia, which includes camping in a Sami tent and reindeer sledding.
4. Tobogganing in Austria
Tobogganing in Gries im Sellrain |Anton Klocker / TVB Gries im Sellrain
Austria might be known for its skiing, but in mountainous regions such as the Tyrol, tobogganing (or Rodeln, as it’s known by the locals) is just as popular. There’s literally hundreds of Toboggan runs in the Tyrol; you can opt for a lift-served one, or combine it with a hearty mountain hike.
5. Winter camping in Sussex
Wake up to crisp mornings like these | Fotolia.com
Winter camping means facing cold, wet and sometimes even snowy conditions, but if you get your equipment right it can be an eye-opening – and yes, even enjoyable – experience. Pitchup has top-notch advice on winter camping, as well as info on where to stay, though we’re rather taken by Blackberry Wood in Sussex, which (crucially) allows campfires.
6. Snowshoeing in Turkey
The perfect way to explore snowy climes | Fotolia.com
Snowshoeing opens up winter wildernesses to pretty much anyone who can walk: there’s almost zero barriers to entry, just hire some snowshoes, grab your hiking poles and go. You can try it all over the world – either as a multi-day trip or just for an hour or two – but one of the most interesting trips we found was this one to the Taurus Mountains in Turkey.
7. Long-distance skating in Finland
Breathtaking scenery and excellent exercise combine on Finland’s frozen waterways |Visit Finland
Come winter, Finland’s lengthy coastline and nearly 200,000 lakes transform into icy playparks, perfect for long distance ice-touring. The season usually lasts from January to April, with tours suitable for everything from experts to beginners. The 40km route from Oravi to Rantasalmi is said to be one of the most beautiful, with guided trips available for newbies.
8. Ice climbing in London
Learn to ice climb in a controlled environment |facebook.com/VerticalChill
You can get to grips with pickaxes and crampons without even leaving the country. Just head to Vertical Chill, the indoor ice climbing wall at Ellis Brigham’s Covent Garden store. The 8m high wall is perfect for learning the basics, before honing your skills in the great outdoors.
9. Snowkiting in France
Fast, fun and exhilirating| Fotolia.com
Combining a kite with snowboarding or skiing means you can travel even faster, go further and get better air than with standard downhill riding. Unless you’re experienced handling kites, a lesson is very much necessary. Kite Legend Snowkite School in Serre Chevalier is situated in one of the best snowkiting spots in the world and offers everything from one hour intro courses to five day autonomy courses.
10. Winter Survival in Leicestershire
A good shelter is a winter survival essential |Fotolia.com
There’s two basic priorities in a winter survival situation: shelter and warmth. This three-day course at the Belvoir Estate puts a great emphasis on both of those; expect to master self-feeding fires and shelter construction as well as foraging and tracking.