A Trip to Swedish Lapland ~ meet Cherry Fairley and her Finnlara Sled Dogs

March 15, 2017

The dryland racing on wheels that I enjoy in the UK is great for what is available by way of trails, terrain, distance and temperate weather, but sled dogs really come alive in the snow and when temperatures drop below zero.

Vlad and Harry

Vlad and Harry 

I am lucky enough to know friends that moved to Swedish Lapland this year so I took the opportunity in February to travel with my dogs (5 Alaskan Malamutes, 2 Scandinavian hounds and 1 German Shepherd Dog), to visit for some training and fun in the snow.

Chanel and Bolt

Chanel and Bolt at home in the snow

The drive up was not without incident as the EGR valve on the van decided to pack up and I had to limp a good few miles, including through Stockholm in the rush hour, and be very polite to some Swedish Mercedes mechanics to persuade them to replace it.  Once we were back on the road though, the journey improved and the next stop was to get studded tyres fitted.  These proved to be essential for travel in the North of Sweden on the ungraded ice roads. I was soon cruising along like the natives up the centre line just moving to the side to pass and keeping well away from the soft snowy edges that will pull a vehicle off the road if you touch them. Moose lights would have been a good addition to the van to light up the dark edges but despite many signs warning of moose crossings I did not see any of the shy creatures. However, I was lucky enough to pass through a herd of reindeer on the way home. The Sami herders put up sticks with bin bags on them to warn drivers that the reindeer are about. 

Reindeer in the road

Eventually, after some 5 days of travel including 3 ferries and 1,800 miles of driving, I pulled up outside the beautiful traditional red and white painted wooden house belonging to my friends, owners of the Coppernose Kennel Trail Cabins. I then enjoyed two weeks training with the dogs on the lovely groomed trails through gorgeous fir tree forests, over frozen marshes and around the frozen lake.  Trails distances ranged from 2 miles to as far as you could want to go (as they can link in to the snow mobile network). There was also time to fit in trips to the local Ski resort at Kittelfjall, scenic drives for photo opportunities of sparkling snow crystals, lakes, waterfalls and ice features, shopping in Storuman and Vilhelmina, night fires by the lake, snowmobiling and snowshoeing up to ‘Bear’s Den’. Obligingly the Northern Lights made a spectacular appearance one night and the lack of light pollution made the night skies fantastic for star gazing. Temperatures plummeted to -25C for a couple of days but the dryness of the cold makes it quite bearable with the correct clothing.

Lake trails

By the end of our stay my sledding skills had improved dramatically and the dogs were definitely a lot fitter than when we arrived. They should be good and ready to complete the final Sled Dog Association of Scotland Championship race of this season.


Size Guide

Women's Tops

UK USA World Bust Hip Length (front)
8 4 X-Small 87-90cm 96-99cm 53cm
10 6 Small 91-94cm 100-103cm 54.5cm
12 8 Medium 95-98cm 104-107cm 56cm
14 10 Large 99-102cm 108-111cm 57.5cm
16 12 X-Large 103-106cm 112-115cm 59cm
18 14 XX-Large 107-112cm 116-121cm 61.5cm
20 16 XXX-Large 113-119cm 122-128cm 65cm

Women's Shorts

UK USA Waist Hip Length (inside)
6 2 70-73cm 84-88cm 34cm
8 4 74-77cm 89-93cm 35cm
10 6 78-81cm 94-98cm 36cm
12 8 82-85cm 99-103cm 37cm
14 10 86-89cm 104-108cm 38cm
16 12 90-93cm 109-115cm 39cm
18 14 94-97cm 116-122cm 40cm
20 16 98-101cm 123-129cm 41cm

Men's Tops

Size Chest Length (front)
X-Small 87-91cm 55cm
Small 92-95cm 56.5cm
Medium 96-99cm 58cm
Large 100-109cm 59.5cm
X-Large 110-119cm 61cm
XX-Large 120-127cm 64.5cm
XXX-Large 128-135cm 66cm

Men's Shorts

Size Size  Waist Hip Length (outside)
28" X-Small 69-73cm 84-88cm 60.5cm
30" Small 74-78cm 89-93cm 61.5cm
32" Medium 79-83cm 94-98cm 63.5cm
34" Large 84-88cm 99-103cm 64.5cm
36" X-Large 89-93cm 104-108cm 65.5cm
38" XX-Large 94-98cm 109-113cm 66.5cm
40" XXX-Large 99-103cm 114-118cm 67.5cm