The magic of husky mushing in Lapland

“Mush! Muuush!” The seven huskies at the head of our sleigh pulled harder, valiantly racing to go faster. And, well, mush. The two small people and man on the sleigh at my feet shouted again. “Muuuuush!” Or was that “Muuuuum?”

I couldn’t tell. From my elevated position as chief musher, in charge of steering my most precious cargo (husband and two children – the cat didn’t fit in the suitcase), I was more than slightly hearing-impaired. 

The effect of a woollen balaclava and safety helmet – some might use the term “crash” helmet, but not on my watch – was akin to industrial ear plugs (I should know – I sleep in them). My face was about to fall off from the cold, and because I was so busy trying to remember how to drive I forgot to put my visor down. And, well, I had more important things to focus on. Like trying not to fall off.

Husky mush Lapland Finland

Not falling off is the main challenge

Credit:
Getty

“Muuuuuuum!”

This time there was no mistaking it as it came accompanied by a backwards glare from my husband.

“You’ve got to steer, babe! Lean in, lean in!”

“I am!” I was leaning so far I was almost executing a side plank.

“THE OTHER WAY!!!”

As we narrowly missed a bank of forest firs, I focused on leaning the other way – and on not hitting a tree. 

It was the right decision. This was literally the ride of our lives, and it had taken several years, a lot of saving and no small amount of Father Christmas-related subterfuge to get here. My own dreams of bringing the kids to Lapland were fuelled even further two years ago when Amelie, now eight, and Charley, now five, developed an obsession with huskies. To say the husky mushing has been hyped is an understatement.

The day started at dawn (not as bad as it sounds, it’s around 10am) at the tour operator’s HQ, when we were asked to remove all of the swanky new snow gear I’d excitedly bought for the trip and put on standard issue winter wear. Once I had got over the fact that Charley would now be meeting huskies without his new husky-adorned coat, hat and gloves, it was actually quite fun. (I opted to keep on my £200 ski mittens, borrowed from my best friend, which I then left in the coach to the husky farm – thank goodness for guides with spares).

After that drama, mastering the snowmobiles en route to the husky farm seemed very straightforward, especially since this was my husband’s turn to drive, which meant I got to gape, awestruck, at the passing landscape. The snowy wilderness instantly encapsulated us in a state of isolated bliss, despite the fact we were on an organised tour. A convoy of just four vehicles driving along marked trails – the guide in front pulling the blanket-wrapped children in a sleigh – it felt like we were in our own witchless Narnia. 

Pit stops to play around in waist-deep snow, the like of which none of us had ever seen or touched, was the powder puff icing on the cake.

Lapland Finland Narnia

Marshmallow Lapland looks like a witchless Narnia

Credit:
Getty

And then we came upon the huskies. A mesmerising array of beautiful, wilful dogs, all intent on the job in hand – getting out into the wilderness with their mates. Despite their semi-domesticated existence, their raw, nervous energy, their other-worldly translucent eyes and their baying calls, they were 100 per cent wild pack animal. We even started a howl-off (copyright Zootropolis 2016). After a five-minute safety briefing and driving instructions (reader, I may have been distracted by a reindeer), we were assigned a sleigh and a team of dogs.

From the moment the dogs set off, it was pure magic. I had imagined how it might be almost to fly through the forest powered by these beautiful beasts – but I could never have conjured up the sense of connection of simply holding their harnesses. The timeless wonder of dashing along forest tracks, with only the excited yelps of the dogs and the yells of the children to break up the swooshing of the sleighs across the snowy pathways.

And, once I had mastered leaning INTO the direction of travel to steer, not AWAY from it as every instinct in me said I should, we motored happily along the forest paths, rather than veering directly into its vastness.

Husky pup Lapland

The puppies are heart-achingly cute

Credit:
Getty

Back at the farm, there was time for hot bilberry juice and cookies in a log cabin round an open fire and stories from one of the pro husky mushers. The children, again, were rapt – until they discovered puppies outside… Daisy and Lily entranced us for a good half an hour, until the heartbreak happened: the tour was over and we had to return to our snowmobiles. (At least, I whispered in consolation to Amelie, we won’t have to hear Daddy’s “yellow snow, no go” joke again.) 

But the magic wasn’t over yet – rather than simply retrace our steps, the guide chose an alternative return route – and although it was only just after 2pm, with twilight descending and headlights on, the forest took on a whole new personality.

Unfortunately, I didn’t – and leaned the wrong way into one of the last corners. Old habits… 

How to do it

Cox & Kings (020 3642 0861; coxandkings.co.uk) offers four nights at Santa Claus Holiday Village from £1,645 per adult and £1,155 per child under 14. The price includes return flight, transfers, snowmobiling, reindeer farm visit, husky experience and Father Christmas encounter. HolidayExtras (0800 1313 777; holidayextras.co.uk) can organise lounge access at Heathrow Airport from £24.99 per person, or Meet and Greet parking from £96.99 for eight days. 

About the Author

Leave a Reply

Name (required)

E-mail address (required)

City

Job Title


Having acknowledged of the Information document, pursuant to art. 23 of Italian Legislative Decree no. 196/2003 as well as art. 58 of Italian Legislative Decree no. 206/2005 (Consumer Code), fully informed of my rights, I give my specific consent to the processing of my personal data for the purposes of sending advertising material, direct sale, market surveys, contests prize, surveys, sending of advertising material and business communications by mail, attached bill, e-mail, fax or phone.

Surname (required)

Your Gender
MaleFemale

Postcode

Age

Interests


Having acknowledged of the Information document, pursuant to art. 23 of Italian Legislative Decree no. 196/2003 as well as art. 58 of Italian Legislative Decree no. 206/2005 (Consumer Code), I give my specific consent to the communication of my personal data to third-parties specified in paragraph 5 of the Privacy Information.