If you’re looking for an eco-friendly escape to the slopes this winter, the answer may be an authentic cultural experience in the Norwegian mountains of Voss and Myrkdalen. Flight aside (the ferry route between Newcastle and Bergen no longer exists), the eco-conscious can maintain their credentials by training from Bergen to Voss, arriving opposite Fleischer’s Hotel in the small, atmospheric town.
The following morning, it will be time to start the cross-country skiing – providing that you’re not suffering from an excess of local schnapps administered by the charismatic hotel owner, Mrs Fleischer. The ‘Nordic classic’ style, in which you move your feet to push the skis forward rather than ‘skate’ from side to side on the skis, is one of the most integral to Norwegian culture, having originated as a means of getting around and then developing into a competitive activity a couple of centuries ago around Oslo.
Since then, the competitive element has stuck: each year, the Birkebeiner cross-country ski marathon takes place near Lillehammer, attracting pros and amateurs from all over the world. However, there’s also a more relaxed side to cross-country skiing, which is low impact for your joints as well as the environment. Unlike alpine skiing, cross-country is all about relying on your own kinetic energy to get around. There’s no need for ski lifts, and the pisted, signposted trails in and around Voss and nearby Bermoen – 36km of trails in total – are entirely free to use.
You might meet a friendly elk if you’re lucky, or pass a few people along the way, but it’s a far cry from the jam-packed downhill slopes of most alpine ski resorts. This is, of course, partly due to the relative popularity of cross-country compared to its flashier downhill counterpart. But it’s also just the nature of skiing in Norway, as is proven some 40 minutes up the road in the small alpine ski resort of Mykrdalen, where a new ski lift and luxury hotel (The Mykrdalen Hotel) should keep you from queuing or going hungry for creature comforts.
And of course if your legs just can’t take any more, you can always just hire an electronic Tesla to take you there.