Snow is falling steadily. It’s -15c, my hands are frozen and the icy windburn is cutting into my face. But I’m having the time of my life driving a sled hauled by six husky dogs across classic Arctic terrain.
In front of us is a large frozen lake. Our instructor is far ahead on his snowmobile. Much can go wrong, but the dogs follow the track and then head into a large pine forest, with darkness descending.
If you want to get a fix of real winter – and when travel restrictions allow – then head north to Swedish Lapland. My wife Zsuzsanna and I arrive here after a 15-hour train and coach journey from the ski resort of Are, as the third leg of our ten-day tour of Sweden. But you can, if you wish, take a faster route by plane.
Dog sledding across the Arctic terrain in Swedish Lapland is the ultimate winter activity
A husky sits in the snow – these dogs are strong, alert and always ready to spring into action
The hiking and cross-country skiing around Kiruna, a town 90 miles north of the Arctic Circle, are terrific, but the highlight for us is the four-hour dogsled expedition.
‘There are three main things to remember,’ our instructor Beranger tells us, after we are kitted out in special overalls and given two extra pairs of gloves.