During March 2022 two team leaders and six beneficiaries met at Stanstead airport for the beginning of an expedition that would unbeknownst to those assembled, be life changing for many. They then flew to Lulea via Stockholm. The team after a night in Lulea travelled to Brandon Lodge on the edge of the Bothnian sea. Here they met Thomas their Swedish guide and were assigned their snowmobiles. After a snowmobile familiarisation, they quickly loaded their kit onto their vehicle. The team eagerly looked out across the stunning frozen Bothnian sea. They knew that traversing the frozen sea would be the beginning of five amazing days travelling over 600 km in the epic Swedish Arctic wilderness. The team led by Thomas moved across the frozen sea and along the river Råne. For many it was their first time on a snowmobile, but the group as a whole quickly gained confidence under the guidance of Thomas. The team steadily progressed along woodland tracks, along rivers and across lakes eventually reaching their accommodation on a lake. There they met their second guide Michael. Michael taught the team recovery and advanced snowmobile techniques in deep snow to further enhance the team’s ability and confidence.

As the expedition progressed the tracks became more challenging and the pace picked up. The team embraced and began to relish the high speeds that could be attained on their snowmobiles. Team spirit and morale began to grow within the group. The team quickly began to work together, helping one another when stuck, sharing cooking duties, preparing the saunas and lighting fires.

The team reached Gorgim camp, this consisted of some remote log cabins owned by the local Sami people. That night the team were treated to an amazing display of the Northern lights. Tired and thrilled by the lights the team quickly fell asleep warmed by the fires within their log cabins. The next morning the team officially crossed the arctic circle! It was a beautiful day, with clear blue skies and the team enjoyed a lunch cooked on an open fire surrounded by the frozen arctic wilderness.

The team quickly moved along the route, enduring temperatures as low as minus 14, often sighting reindeer and other local wildlife. A highlight for many was staying at the beautiful Melderstein Herrgard Manor. This was the family home of our host Katerina Thingvall. Katerina explained the history of the Manor and how it was built by her family through the profits of iron ore mined in Galliivare Malmberget. The Malmens Vag or Iron Trail was a route used by the Sami to transport the iron ore by reindeer sledges from the mines to the foundries. This trail had formed a considerable part of the route that the team had taken. The team enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by Katerina and her family and slept exceptionally well in the comfort that the manor offered.

The next day after a sumptuous breakfast the team left the manor and followed the Råne river back to the frozen Bothnian Sea eventually reaching their finish point at Brandon Lodge. It had been a fast paced and exhilarating expedition for the team. It was an unforgettable experience for all the beneficiaries. Memories had been made, laughter had been a plenty, friendships were forged and lives had been changed for the better