Forget down, the wild set go across

It may be the most gruelling way to meet a grouse, but Nordic skiing is a healthy antidote to Scotland's crowded slopes. UK OUTDOORS

Still feeling stodgy from the Christmas over-eating? Depressed at the thought of spending the rest of the winter in the city? Then clear a weekend of commitments and join one of Highland Guides' Nordic skiing trips into the high, white wilderness of the Cairngorms.

Scotland's downhill pistes, such as Aviemore and Glen Shee (or Glen Shite as many now call it), are notoriously ugly, crowded and over-used. But Nordic, or cross-country, skiing allows you to get quickly into the wild, skiing with the deer, Arctic hares, peregrines and grouse. It's also a lot more physical than downhill skiing - a weekend on Nordic skis will work off a fair slice of post-Christmas podge.

Many downhillers think of Nordic skiing as a poor relation - fit only for wimps who can't take speed. Certainly at a beginner level Nordic skiing offers little excitement. But those with some downhill experience can expect to start gentle ski touring - really crossing country - their first weekend on Nordic gear. Once you have mastered the basics of step- turns and skiing along the flat, the adrenaline and attendant skill levels of Nordic easily rival downhill.

Negotiating steep, unprepared snow with Nordic equipment, which uses a free-heel binding rather than the relatively easy fixed-heel boot and binding of downhill skiing, is far from easy. But the free-heel binding opens up the mountains to you in a way that downhill skiing never can.

Telemarking is Nordic skiing at its highest level. Invented in Telemark, Norway and enjoying a boom in the USA, Telemark is the art of turning in steep, deep powder with free-heel cross-country equipment. You drop to one knee, push one foot forward to make one ski out of two and carve your turn in a kneeling position. If the right foot goes forward you turn right. If you push the left foot forward you turn left; simple, not.

Highland Guides leads combined Nordic ski trips and Telemark courses from Aviemore into the surrounding ranges. Founded in 1969, it was the first outfit to offer Nordic skiing in the UK. Its trips last from a weekend to several days and cover four levels: basic, intermediate, Nordic downhill and Telemarking.

Beginners are taught the basics of uphill and flat technique before they start on the difficulties of turning. Those with some experience with Nordic skiing can go straight into learning the Telemark turn. Then, whatever your level, if the snow is right and the instructor feels you are ready, you are taken "away up the hill".

If you have just arrived on the overnight sleeper, the space and freedom are exhilarating. Yes, you will fall over in the snow. Yes, there are long uphill plods. Yes, the long, narrow, Nordic skis can be frighteningly fast once you do set off downhill. But once you've carved your first Telemark turn, felt the unfamiliar movement take you in a smooth, wide arc across the slope, felt the strange, gliding grace of it, you're hooked. Always bear in mind, though, that aching thighs are part of the deal.

FACT FILE

Location

Highland Guides

Inverdruie, Aviemore

Inverness-shire PH22 1QH.

Tel: 01479 810729

Fax: 01479 811153

Season

Approximately January to the end of March.

Accommodation

Not provided, but Highland Guides will book you into local accommodation to suit your budget, with pick-ups to the ski site each morning.

Food

Highland Guides provides packed lunches only.

Children

Accompanied children welcome at reduced rates (see below). Minimum age eight for family courses.

Disabled facilities

None.

Insurance

Clients must have their own personal accident cover.

Safety

All instructors first aid trained. Mountain rescue on hand.

Affiliations

British Association of Ski Instructors.

Tariffs

Two-day courses cost pounds 55 including equipment and tuition or pounds 40 if you have your own equipment. Four-day courses including equipment and instruction cost pounds 97 or pounds 65 for instruction only. Under 15s go for reduced rates, contact Highland Guides for details.

Booking

Last-minute bookings often taken, so ring to see if there's a cancellation, with a deposit of 25 per cent. Access and Visa accepted.

Access

Inverdruie is on the Aviemore-Glenmore road, about two miles east of Aviemore. Clients arriving by train at Aviemore will be collected on request. Aviemore also has a coach stop.

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksJK Rowling to publish new story set in wizard's world for Halloween
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
i100
Life and Style
tech

Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into conflicts
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'
film

"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Going down the wrong road: parking fines are
nudging people into debt difficulties

Charges related to car parking rising and leading to serious money woes

Going down the wrong road: parking fines are nudging people into debt difficulties

Stacks of income: Drax is among the companies in Neil Woodford’s portfolio that he believes will pay strong dividends

Mark Dampier: Woodford’s young companies could be the stars of the future

Stacks of income: Drax is among the companies in Neil Woodford’s portfolio that he believes will pay strong dividends

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Simon Read: The markets might not be calm but you should be

Don't panic, it’s a wise idea to check investments regularly to ensure they are on target for your hoped-for returns

Only six per cent of the 13,000 new homes bought during Help to Buy’s first nine months were in London

Money Insider: Help to Buy must be boosted by building

With little or no wage growth being seen in the UK, increasing house-price inflation could see the number of first-time buyers slide further, unless there’s a new accelerated house building programme

House buyers can take their pick of more than 3,500 home loans, the most available since the financial crisis

Simon Read: Those cheap home loans may be built on shaky foundations

You should ignore the headline offers and trickery and work out the total cost of borrowing under different deals

Denise Leigh, who appeared in a production
of Rigoletto with Alan Opie, was left without an essential service

The opera singer, the broadband delay and why customers aren’t divas if they expect a good service

Denise Leigh, who appeared in a production of Rigoletto with Alan Opie, was left without an essential service

Problem debt adds £8bn cost to the economy

A charity has calculated the cost to us all of unmanageable debt – from lost productivity to the extra demands on the NHS

Payday loan stores are to face tougher regulations after moves proposed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) call on more responsible lending

Calls for payday lenders to sign up to an officially recognised price comparison site

The regulators are at last tackling the high-profile payday lenders, but they appear to be ignoring the growing problem of internet loan firms

According to the research, only one in five customers trusts their energy company

Rap for energy firms won’t stop the rising prices

As the cold weather hits, the question of soaring bills will be felt by each of us at home

Nikki Galloway has enthusiastically embraced buying and selling over the internet

Selling goods online: The pros and cons

Nikki Galloway (above) sells jewellery via her own website as well as on Facebook, Amazon and Bouf

The city of Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu with the Remarkables mountain range in the background.

You can have it all: Asian stocks get on the dividend bandwagon

Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu in New Zealand. The country’s stock market was boosted last month on John Key’s re-election

Staff at work in the packet and parcel section of the Royal Mail's Swan Valley mail centre

Bargain hunter: Halfords’ zero-VAT child car seats are cheap and with a safety message

Royal Mail is cutting its small parcel charges from 20 October

Elderly people living in certain countries abroad are being denied pension rises

Anyone who moved to countries including Australia, Canada, South Africa and a 100 other places, have had their pensions frozen at the rate it was paid at when they left the country

Governor money plans to save clients time and cash with its online service

Simon Read: Relegate struggling funds from your plans

Every fund has good years and bad, but consistent underperformance over a number of years points to something more fundamental

Investments: Spot the difference and pick a fund that’s ready to go it alone

Nick Train thinks luxury fashion brand Burberry is one of the companies that has prospered in digital marketing

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Data Analyst/Planning and Performance – Surrey – Up to £35k

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

    IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

    £24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

    Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

    £50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

    CTO / Chief Technology Officer

    £100 - 125k: Guru Careers: A CTO / Chief Technology Officer is needed to join ...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker