At the time of writing it’s a slightly blustery Sunday evening in December. We’ve had quite a fierce week on the weather front and it’s got me dreaming of all the cold and wild places I’d love to visit one day. While travelling to all of these places is probably going to take me years, I’d love to share some of my ideal northern travel destinations with you.
Completely and unapologetically inspired by the short-lived Discovery Channel series ‘Sons of Winter’, which follows a family of homesteaders as they prepare their three sons for the treacherous bush life of northern Saskatchewan. Disappointed as I was to hear the show was cancelled, I’m still inspired by the off-grid lifestyle depicted on similar factual shows set across North America. On closer inspection though, what fascinates me about this Canadian province is its starkly diverse landscape stretching from north to south. The southern portion is a very geometric-like landscape stitched together with prairie plains and farmers’ fields. Heading north, I get the wondrous impression that the boreal, coniferous forests, snaking rivers and towering mountains of the uplands seem to just grow larger and larger the further you go.
Highlands and Islands, Scotland
Right now, Scotland is perhaps the closest new destination to my affinity for mountainous northern landscapes. I’m calling it the ‘Highlands and Islands’ because I’ve not been able to narrow it down any more specifically than that quite yet! With Scotland only being a relatively short flight away, I’m eager to experience life higher up on the map. While growing up we used to visit friends who lived in the northwest of England, where my sister and I got our first taste of true, vast English peaks. It was then that we also did some exploring of the magnificent Lake District, so to continue even further past Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall of Scotland, I’m confident I’d be seeing something absolutely spectacular.
I’m on a mission to eventually be able to take a cruise round all the capital cities of Scandinavia, but the rugged landscape of Norway, where fjords slice roughly through the rock and the North Sea floods into the country’s south-west region, is what I really want to find. In an area that by satellite appears shattered, yet majestic and whole, Bergen is the colourful image of the Norwegian extension of the Hanseatic League trading empire. Its wooden wharf houses reflecting off the water are just the epitome of beauty and I’d love to experience it in person someday.
Faroe Islands, Kingdom of Denmark
With cities like Odense and Copenhagen, Denmark is definitely on my priority list! But when I saw a series of stunning images of the Faroe Islands, I was pretty much sold on taking a trip there, inspired by slow travel and mystery. Annie Spratt is one of my favourite lifestyle photographers and she’s really outdone herself on her images of this self-governing archipelago, halfway between Norway and Iceland. Finding out that almost 300 days of rain hits the Faroe Islands in a year definitely hasn’t put me off. The grassy terrain looks stunning from season to season, in bold shades of auburn and lush green. The houses are no different. Many have actually got turf spread across their roofs (called sod roofs), which was a common practice in ancient Scandinavian construction.
Today, in Helsinki, the sun apparently rose at 09:10. It set at 15.14. Not everybody is a fan of the darker months and, granted, I don’t like commuting in the dark much myself, but I do love the darkness of winter in general. I like the feeling that sets in; how the warmth of a room seems to grow when lights come on indoors and how there’s a soft glow on the streets outside. There’s something so intriguing about the daylight hours in Finland that just draw me to it in particular. Maybe it’s the Christmas giddies I get when I picture the festive lights in the capital city. Or maybe it’s because Lapland is also in Finland. I think I want to experience the crazy daylight hours in both places.
Alaska, United States of America
Closing off back in North America and redefining my fascination for living off the beaten track. Anywhere with a name as cool as Alaska should definitely be visited at a time in somebody's life, and of course it’s the perfect northern escape. For the north Americans reading here who have never been before, this is probably on your list too. A plane ride into Anchorage could be an extremely long one or a relatively short one, depending where you are, but I imagine regardless it’s like arriving in a wholly different land altogether. I’d love to see the Northern Lights from the Nordic countries, but to see them a world away from northern Europe would be equally as incredible…
I should probably stop now, before I plot an escape to the Kilcher homestead.
I'd love to hear your favourites when it comes to visiting wild travel destinations in the north. You have no idea how tempted I was to keep adding to this post with more of mine!