Team At The Arctic Circle

Dog sledding in Lapland

Oldham Hulme Grammar School CCF, Oldham, took a group of 11 cadets and two CCF officers to Lapland in Arctic Sweden for a week of dog sledding. Maj Ian Blackwood tells us about the experience…

After a two-hour drive towards the Arctic Circle, we arrived at the kennels and the cadets were briefed about the week’s training. Following an introductory ride on a sled, the cadets were paired up and took turns driving a four-dog team into the wilderness.

As the days passed, the cadets learnt animal husbandry, sled preparation, and how to drive various sized dog sled teams (up to 10 dogs) in conditions ranging from undulating forest tracks to open tundra and frozen rivers and lakes. They also had to learn the skills associated with living in the Arctic wilderness: snow shoeing, wilderness fi re lighting, ice fishing, snow shelters and dog safety, which is paramount. 

After all the training, we were ready for our overnight expedition. After several hours’ sledding, we arrived at our camp site and set about sorting out our dog teams, securing the sleds and putting down straw for the dogs to sleep on. We collected fire wood for a fire that we set in a pit in the snow, which was over a metre deep. As the temperature plummeted to -13.5°C, we settled down to sleep on furs.

On our final day, the cadets took part in a friendly dog sled race, which showed how much had been learnt. The adventure was challenging and rewarding, exciting and stimulating – and made us all eager for more.