Beneath my skates, the crystal-clear ice of Lake Mälaren, located about 30 miles west of Stockholm, offered a mesmerizing glimpse into its frozen depths. Guided by Titouan Ayroulet, a lean Frenchman, the experience of wild ice skating in central Sweden proved simultaneously thrilling and serene. The frozen lakes, a natural canvas for Nordic skating, transform into expansive, pristine rinks from December through March.With the sun glistening on the glossy surface, I skated past a 16th-century red-brick castle, the only sound being the rhythmic whistling of my blades. Central Sweden emerges as a Nordic skater’s paradise, boasting hundreds of lakes that freeze into natural ice rinks during the winter months. However, the adventure comes with its share of caution, as safety measures are emphasized, including the use of ice picks and backpacks doubling as flotation devices.Joining a diverse group of skaters from various countries, our journey began at Yngern, a picturesque lake known for its clean water and abundant wildlife. Exploring the frozen landscape under a cloudless sky, we marveled at Hökmossbadet, a small beach in Nykvarn, where the clear and smooth ice surface awaited our blades. Seasoned skaters glided with joy, while novices like me found our footing, navigating through snow-dusted shores and wooden cabins.Lunchtime arrived on a mossy spot, where thermoses held lentil-tomato soup prepared by our guides. Fortified and reenergized, we continued our journey, with more experienced skaters leading the way toward the thinner ice on the southern shore. The landscape transformed into a blur of pine trees casting long shadows in the winter sun, accompanied by the echoing ping of metal blades across the ice.Covering over 20 miles that day, we concluded our skating adventure as the sun set around 4 p.m. Our next destination was Mariefred, a charming village on Lake Mälaren, where a 17th-century lakefront inn called Gripsholms Värdshus awaited. Gathered around a fireplace, we indulged in rich beef stew and Toast Skagen, relishing our exhaustion and exhilaration.The following morning, we set out from the hotel directly onto the black ice of Lake Mälaren, the third-largest body of water in Sweden. Guided by Ayroulet, we followed a path around the inlet, stopping for a lunch of Swedish pork sausage cooked over a campfire. As a squall dusted the ice with snow, our snaking path to the waterfront became a final, memorable stride against the wind, marking the end of an unforgettable Nordic skating adventure in Sweden’s winter wonderland.
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