Richard Purden

The New Year began with more night than day under a fresh blanket of white snow. The mining town of Roros in central Norway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site characterised by rows of wooden houses built for miners in the 17th and 18th century. A delay at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands left little time to make a connecting flight to Vershuset Roros but some good fortune meant the connecting flight was also detained.

After a day of travelling I arrived in pitch-black subarctic temperatures which dropped to minus 21 degrees during my stay. Mercifully it didn’t get close to its record of minus 45. My abode for the next few days was the Vertshuset Hotel which has its a microbrewery, bar and gourmet restaurant, where I was served a traditional reindeer dinner with smoked beer. The meat was lean with a mild taste served with seasonal root cut chips and savoy cabbage.

With an early start in the morning, I retired to my room which was a wool factory between 1914 and 1990. It’s now a comfortable modern space with a window that looks out onto Røros church built during the golden age of copper.

Early the next morning local guide Harry drove me and a Dutch journalist travelling with her younger brother the 20-minute journey to Husky Point where I heard the uncanny howling long before the kennels came into view. After changing into the Arctic suit, instructions were dispensed before we were taken over to the huskies past a wooden hut festooned with winter-wear made from animal skin. The huskies were immediately affectionate and jumped up for attention, their bright blue eyes fixed on us as if to say “pick me” as we wandered round the kennels.

At first, I took the option of sitting down as a passenger on the sledge as the dogs trotted along but I was soon confident enough to hold the reins. An exhilarating rush took hold as the Huskies gathered pace while swerving around a bend. Leaving the forest in the distance it soon felt as if we were entering a fantastical Scandinavian hinterland. A bond with the dogs is necessary as is an occasional adjustment of speed when you sweep through this sublime landscape with some pace. There were moments when it was as if we were flying through the air before stopping at a heated cabin for a coffee by the bonfire and a bowl of hot stew. With a better understanding of the sledge and my new companions, the return crossing was more reposed allowing me to take in the mighty splendour of the Norwegian mountains before the twilight of the blue hour set in. Harry explained that research trips were organised by Disney for the production team behind Frozen (2013) who visited Roros taking inspiration from the mountains, architecture, traditional clothes and natural environment. The sequel later this year will undoubtedly attract a new wave of tourists looking to draw upon the energy of the fairytale magic that seemed to encircle this land.

Most hotels in Roros provide kick-sledges for tourists to navigate the town. The downhill journey from Vertshuset to Bergstadens Hotel for dinner felt like another folk-tale adventure. With no food chains or restaurants in the village, the backstreets have a refreshing, homespun honesty. The economy is driven by local produce and tourism allowing traditional businesses to flourish. Early the next morning we were collected by Stein, a cheerful Christian and heavy metal fan with a penchant for Tolkien. After arriving at his abode we were once again garlanded in the appropriate clothing before travelling across the Roros Mountains by snowmobile. I turned the key of the Yamaha single rider and could soon smell petrol in the frosty air before being propelled along a steep northern plateau. Soon the only sound was the hum of the engine as we progressed across a great white wilderness. It’s an experience which lends itself to the imagination where you half expect The White Witch offering Turkish delight at some point on the journey. It was no surprise to discover the snow scene from The Empire Strikes Back (1980) was filmed in Norway on a landscape not unlike this; thankfully there is no sign of a horned Wampa. Stein told us a wolf sometimes crossed his path on the same route.

After we reached Stein’s mountain cabin, our faces red with the freezing temperature, it was time to park up the snowmobile. There was nothing beyond us, no sign of life anywhere, all that was in front of us was an endless, heavy fall of snow. It’s an extraordinary experience full of mystery and atmosphere. We heated up with another pot of coffee and a seat by the fire as Stein informed us this wood cabin has been part of his family for generations. It’s now a man-cave style retreat with satellite television and an ample supply of beer chilled naturally by the climate. There’s no Wi-Fi and we all got a welcome break from tapping a mobile phone.

Before leaving Roros for Trondheim by train I was offered a final tour of the village by kick-sled, during a detour downhill I managed to slide off course landing on my back, moments later I was looking up at the guide and my two fellow travellers. In light of such positive experiences on the husky-trek and snowmobile to be eventually derailed by a kick-sledge was a sign to quit while I was ahead. Soon I was on an early evening train to Trondheim Central Station watching the blue hour disappear into a clear sky, rich with stars. It’s a short walk from the terminal to Thon Hotel Nidaros, and after checking in I crossed the road for a dinner reservation at To Rom og Kjokken. Trondheim was recently named the food capital of Norway and the restaurant boasts a renowned reputation. I opted for the recommended scallops from the fishing village of Froya and it was a mouth-watering start. A prize-winning sommelier choose a glass of wine for the starter and the main course of halibut and vegetables – an experience which allowed Rom og Kjøkken to live up to its name.

The following morning began with a drive to Utsikten which translates as “the view” offering a stunning outlook of the city centre, the fjord with its fishing boats and the River Nidelva. Skistua is a well-established cafe in Trondheim and is used as a starting point for skiers and hill-walkers. We sat down to a breakfast of waffles and coffee taking in the snow-covered forest. My guide, Lisbeth suggested our next stop should be a visit to Rosenborg’s Lerkendal Stadium where her partner Tore Gronning is director of the youth academy. A sense of history is apparent at the stadium, the first thing I saw was German-built barracks from World War Two which now function as the club’s offices. Inside there's memorabilia from recent European runs including Champions League qualifiers against Celtic. Former Celtic and Rosenborg player Harald Brattbakk now works as an airline pilot and is something of a local hero having made his mark in Norway as the top division’s highest scorer with 166 goals in 255 games.

A popular spot for travellers on their way to Nidaros Cathedral is Baklandet Skydsstation, named Best Cafe of the Year by National Geographic in 2012. A popular tipple is aquavit, a liquor that dates back to early Christianity. Distilled by monks in the 1300s this “medicine” was referred to in Latin 'aqua vitae' – the water of life and was used to treat various forms of illness. Their homemade fish-soup is another popular dish and is a welcome tonic before my final stop. Built over the tomb of St Olav the gothic splendour of Nidaros Cathedral is a spectacular sight. The green sandstone gives it a dynamic visual presence across the cityscape. Although in a constant state of restoration and reconstruction for the last 150 years it continues to stand tall, majestic and celestial amid endlessly falling snow. Its something of a serene ending to an action-filled Nordic odyssey.

Getting there

Flights from Edinburgh to Trondheim with Norwegian Air, from £217 for a return flight.

Rail from Trondheim to Røros, see


Thon Hotel Nidaros from £111 for two guests sharing,

Vertshuset Hotel from £120 for two guests sharing,

Husky Point, email:

For more information on Snow Safari and Roros visit