Wellbeing 16/01/2018

Experiencing Silence, Skiing & Cross-Country Skiing in Sweden – Sälen, Dalarna County

Full body workout for my daughter - Nordic skiing in Sälen, Sweden!

Record snow falls this Christmas gave us a magical experience skiing and cross-country skiing in Sweden!

Born in Stockholm and growing up in the UK, I return to Sweden every summer and winter to catch up on the outdoor sports that I so miss. This year served opportunities like rarely seen before!

We started with a week visiting my family in Uppsala, followed by a week skiing in one of Sweden’s main resorts, Sälen. This is about a 5 hours drive north of Uppsala, or 6 hours north of Stockholm. Sälen had record snow fall this holiday season, so our timing was perfect! It’s located in Dalarna county, where the iconic red and floral wooden horse “Dalahäst” or “Dalecarlian Horse” comes from.

What makes these trips so special for me, is going back to experiencing silence. It’s not necessarily completely silent around me, as I can hear the trees creaking, water from a stream and perhaps even the bustle beyond. But Nordic skiing surrounded by fresh snow and seeing the sun find its way through the trees give me a silence within that restores energy and calm. Norwegian Polar explorer Erling Kagge says in his book “The silence that I am after is the silence within […] For me, silence in nature is of the highest value. That’s where I feel most at home. Still, if I hadn’t been able to experience stillness amid city life, my longing for silence would be too great and I would have needed to return to nature more often” (page 27). People may find this silence within in many ways, perhaps from yoga, running or knitting. For me, it’s moving in snowy woodland and skating across frozen lakes.

If you’re interesting in experiences of silence created by Norwegian explorers, do also read this post about a unique wood and glass cabin suspended above water, high above Norway’s Arctic Circle. The Manshausen Island Resort was developed by Erling Kagge’s friend and fellow explorer Børge Ousland.

Cross country ice skating in Uppsala, Sweden

The snow did not fall on Uppsala to the same extent as Sälen. But the ice on the lake just outside Uppsala, near Sweden’s largest lake, Mälaren, was better than it had been in years. So we enjoyed cross-country ice skating in the Fjällnora nature reserve – one of my all time favourite activities! It’s such a unique experience to skate for miles along the beautiful woodland scenery. Having fractured my coccyx many times during years of snowboarding, I find regular ice skating quite nerve wrecking. But cross-country skating is so much easier, due to the long, steady blades and comfortable hiking style boots. It’s also known as Nordic skating or long distance skating. Skates and cross-country skis are available in the well stocked chalet by the lake, also serving up excellent food.

Cross country / long distance / Nordic ice skating on the frozen lake outside Uppsala, Sweden. If you've never tried this, I urge you to do so! It's the most uplifting experience, skating for miles through serene natural beauty. The skates are very easy to control and balance on. The 50cm long blades attach to cross country ski boots, which are very comfortable and warm. Make sure you have an ice pick and whistle though in case anything should go wrong! And do listen to advice about the ice condition, in case it's not strong enough.

Cross country skating, also known as long distance and Nordic ice skating, on the frozen lake outside Uppsala, Sweden. If you’ve never tried this, I urge you to do so! It’s the most uplifting experience, skating for miles through serene natural beauty. The skates are very easy to control and balance on. The 50cm long blades attach to cross-country ski boots, which are very comfortable and warm. Make sure you have an ice pick and whistle should anything go wrong! And do listen to advice about the ice condition, if it’s not strong enough.

Parked up at Fjällnora was Uppsala’s mobile preschool! This bus takes their nursery children around different nature spots for learning through outdoor play.

Uppsala's mobile preschool. This bus travels around outdoor spots to give the children a nature connected learning experience.

Uppsala’s mobile preschool. This bus travels around outdoor spots to give the children a nature connected learning experience.

Skiing and Cross Country Skiing in Sälen, Sweden

I used to think cross-country skiing was lame, and just for old people. Then I moved to Montreal and had Mount Royal on my doorstep. At the weekends, we used to head for Jay Peak in Vermont to snowboard and ski, but other days we needed something closer to home. That’s when we discovered the unique and utterly serene feeling that cross-country skiing brings you. It’s just you, the snow, the trees and the sounds these elements create. Hooked on serenity and near silence, we explored remote corners like Gatineau National Park in Ontario. Since that time and back in Europe, we now split our time between the fun-filled but manic ski hills and the calm of cross-country skiing in the forest. So a snowy week skiing this Christmas in Dalarna, Sweden, with ski lifts out the front door and cross-country trails out the back gave us the hit we so needed!

The gateway to the cross country skiing trails in Sälen, Sweden. This is just a few minutes from the ski slopes at Lindvallen, but it's silent and peaceful. The entrance to the magical cross country skiing forest! It's my gateway to paradise... I used to think cross country skiing was lame. Then I moved to Montreal and had Mount Royal on my doorstep. That's when we discovered the unique and utterly serene feeling that cross country skiing brings you. It's just you, the snow, the trees and the sounds these elements create. So a snowy week in Dalarna, Sweden, with ski lifts at the front and cross country trails at the back gave us the hit we needed!

The gateway to Paradise! Here we enter the cross-country skiing trails in Sälen, Sweden. This is just a few minutes from the ski slopes at Lindvallen, but it’s silent and peaceful.

Morning in the woods, Sälen in Dalarna county, Sweden. I love the little hut peeking out from among the snowy branches. Photo by Anna Sjöström Walton for Chalk & Moss (chalkandmoss.com).

"I ett hus vid skogens slut". A little cottage at the end of the woods, nestled among snowy pine trees.

“I ett hus vid skogens slut”. A little cottage at the end of the woods, nestled among snowy pine trees.

The view from the Gubbmyren Nordic ski trails in Sälen, Dalarna county, Sweden. Photo by Anna Sjöström Walton for Chalk & Moss (chalkandmoss.com).Amazing shadow play from the sunshine across untouched powder snow, just off the cross country ski trails. Sälen, Dalarna county, Sweden.The early bird catches... this stunning, crisp, snowy sunrise in Sälen, Sweden. Speaking to the locals, it seems the snow has never been this good! I love the small cabin peeking out from behind the snow drifts. Perfect day to get into the woods and mountains. Photo by Anna Sjostrom Walton, Chalk & Moss.The early bird catches... this stunning, crisp, snowy sunrise in Sälen, Sweden. Speaking to the locals, it seems the snow has never been this good this early in Sälen, Sweden! Photo by Anna Sjostrom Walton, Chalk & Moss.

This little stream really caught my love while I was out cross country skiing. The sounds from the water below and the branches creaking from the heavy snow were so peaceful. Photo by Anna Sjostrom Walton, Chalk & Moss.

This little stream really caught my attention when cross-country skiing. The sound from the water below and the branches creaking from the heavy snow felt so peaceful.

Pillowy snow in morning light, Sweden. Photo by Anna Sjostrom Walton, Chalk & Moss. The early bird catches... this stunning, crisp, snowy sunrise in Sälen, Sweden. Speaking to the locals, it seems the snow has never been this good! Photo by Anna Sjostrom Walton for Chalk & Moss.

I've never seen light pillars before. This week we were treated to several instances of this optical light phenomenon. It happens when light reflects from ice particles in the atmosphere. Starting on the road driving up from Uppsala, we saw around ten at the side of the road. Then whilst Nordic skiing I saw this one elevating above a little cabin. Sälen, Sweden. Photo by Anna Sjostrom Walton, Chalk & Moss.

I’ve never seen light pillars before. This week we saw several instances of this optical light phenomenon. It happens when light reflects from ice particles in the atmosphere. Starting on the road driving up from Uppsala, we saw around ten at the side of the road. Then whilst Nordic skiing I saw this one elevating above a little cabin.

Beautiful day for Nordic skiing in Sweden.

It was my daughter's first time long distance skiing, and it was a huge hit! She said she likes it "almost" as much as downhill skiing. She too appreciated the special silence that's so unique to snowy woods.

It was my daughter’s first time long distance skiing, and it was a huge hit! She said she likes it “almost” as much as downhill skiing. She too appreciated the special silence that’s so unique to snowy woods.

Full body workout for my daughter - Nordic skiing in Sälen, Sweden!

Taking a break whilst Nordic skiing to enjoy the snowy trees in Sälen, Sweden. Photo by Anna Sjostrom Walton, Chalk & Moss.

Taking a break to marvel at the snowy trees.

Snow on woodland pine branch, Sweden. Photo by Anna Sjostrom Walton, Chalk & Moss.

Which way to go, right or left? Follow your gut and it will likely be a happy turn. And it was. Oh how it was. The most magical cross country ski trails through snow filled woods in Sälen, in the Dalarna region of Sweden. I never feel happier than when I have cold, crisp air in my lungs, and white fluffy snow all around. Photo by Anna Sjöström Walton for Chalk & Moss (chalkandmoss.com).

Which way to go, right or left? Follow your gut and it will likely be a happy turn. And it was. Oh how it was. The most magical cross-country ski trails through snow filled woods. I never feel happier than when I have cold, crisp air in my lungs, and white fluffy snow all around.

Can't get enough of this breakfast view in snowy Sälen, Sweden! Savour every beautiful moment through 2018. Having serious illness strike our son over the holiday really made us slow down and appreciate moment by moment. Photo by Anna Sjostrom Walton for chalkandmoss.com.

The breakfast table view from our hostel, right by the slopes and Nordic ski trails.

Our 7 year old son got bronchitis the day we arrived in Sweden from England and has now developed pneumonia. So we take turns skiing/snowboarding and staying inside with him, enjoying the view. It makes us slow down and see it all in a different way. Late last night, I heading into the forest on my cross country skis. I don't think the photos can explain just how beautiful it is here. Perfect day skiing! Apparently, this year has seen more snow than in many years. Aren't we lucky! Night time cross country skiing in Sälen, Sweden. Photo by Anna Sjostrom Walton, Chalk & Moss.

Our 7-year-old son got bronchitis the day we arrived in Sweden from England, which developed into pneumonia. So we took turns skiing/snowboarding and staying inside with him, enjoying the view. It made us slow down and see it all in a different way. In the evenings, I heading into the forest on my cross-country skis. I don’t think the photos can explain just how beautiful it is here.

Looking out over the snow filled fields during a night time cross skiing session. Sälen, Sweden. Dalarna county. The snow makes it quite easy to see where you're going when skiing after dark. I also had a head torch. Utterly magical! Sälen, Dalarna county, Sweden. The path into the snowy woods after dark. Sälen, Dalarna county, Sweden.

This New Year's Eve I watched fireworks on a Swedish ski slope through heavy snow falling. 2017 has been quite a ride, making changes to prioritise wellbeing, happiness, family and ethics. So I started the Chalk & Moss naturally connected design blog and shop to materialise the outdoor mentality that I so cherish. I'm thankful for every ounce of support received, and I've met so many amazing people. Photo by Anna Sjostrom Walton for Chalk & Moss.

Celebrating New Years Eve on the slopes in heavy snowfall!

Happy New Year from the snowy Lindvallen ski slopes - Sälen, Sweden!

The view from one of the ski hills at Lindvallen, Sälen, in Sweden. It's not as high as the Alps (by a longshot), but it's very well set up and fantastic for family holidays.

The view from one of the ski hills at Lindvallen in Sälen, Sweden. It’s not as high as the Alps (by a longshot), but it’s very well set up and fantastic for family holidays.

A blue run at Lindvallen ski hill, Sälen, in Sweden. It's not very high, but it's got an amazing set up for holidays with the kids. They really have thought of everything! It gets dark around 3.30pm, but lifts are open until 6pm.

It gets dark around 3.30pm, but lifts are open until 6pm.

It was very foggy some days, but the flood lighting made it pretty easy to see. Night skiing is open until 6pm in Sälen, Sweden.

There are lots of BBQ spots dotted around the mountain, stacked with logs and charcoal to keep the fire burning. Coupled with hot squash on lifts on cold days, it's these details that make Sweden so amazing for family skiing holidays. There are also warming huts where you can warm your picnic and cold hands. I highly recommend Sälen, in Sweden's Dalarna county. I's a 6 hour drive north of Stockholm, so can be done in combination with exploring the city.

There are lots of BBQ spots dotted around the mountain, stacked with logs and charcoal to keep the fire burning. Coupled with hot squash on lifts on cold days, it’s these details that make Sweden so amazing for family skiing holidays. There are also warming huts where you can warm your picnic and cold hands.

Snowy branches, Sweden. Photo by Anna Sjostrom Walton, Chalk & Moss.

I can’t recommend enough that you try skiing and cross-country skiing in Sweden. If you’re a snow fanatic like me, I’d love to hear what feelings you get when moving through glistening snow. What is it that’s so special for you?

If you’re looking for  a magical winter holiday, do consider skiing in Sweden. If you’re after a family holiday, it’s a no brainer. You can find out more about Sälen and other Swedish ski resorts on the SkiStar website. I’m happy to give you tips, so leave a comment here or on social media (@chalkandmoss on the usual channels).

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply