Magnetic North Travel’s philosophy cries freedom

Seeing the Northern Lights in Norway

Friluftsliv and Free Air Living on wilderness holidays in Scandinavia

I like companies that are based on a sound philosophy, and Magnetic North Travel was set up by Laura Greenman, a green travel writer and eco entrepreneur, after she travelled extensively in Scandinavia, and discovered the Norwegian philosophy of Friluftsliv. Although this sounds more like something you might buy in Ikea, it actually translates as Free Air Living. And, unlike the Swedish indoor retail therapy, this philosophy is based on the idea that spending time outdoors, in nature, can really help us recuperate as individuals.

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Wild swimming in a bog pool in Estonia – beat that

It’s not every day you get to swim in a bog pool in real wilderness. But this adventure holiday in Estonia, takes you to Soomaa National Park, just two hours drive from the stag-filled bars of its capital. Soomaa translates as ‘Land of Bogs’ where you can meander through meadows and mires by canoe,  hike across squelchy sphagnum moss with the aid of ingenious bogshoes, and cool off in the most divine natural pools you will ever come across.

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Holiday on ice. Ice skating in Sweden – one of the best winter holidays

Ice skating in Sweden is one of the best winter holidays

I take my first steps out onto the frozen waters of The Baltic and my legs lock with fear. All that practice on the Christmas rink feels like a futile flirtation as my Swedish guide gently urges me to put my trust in the long metal ‘tour skating’ blades and just slide. Only weeks previously I had been proudly circling the rink, feeling all crisp and carefree, and now here I am, on the precipice of Swedish serenity, and I can’t seem to put one bleedin’ blade in front of the other.

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Loop Head on the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

I am often asked, which are the best bits of Ireland to visit? Which are the greenest? The most ‘Irish’? This is all very subjective, of course, but what most people don’t know is that the European Union has come up with a pretty efficient way of mapping some of the most sustainable regions of Europe. It has chosen Eden areas all over Europe, and Ireland boasts five of them. Because EDEN is an acronym meaning EU Destinations of Excellence, and are actually awards given to specific regions (often tiny enough to fall off the usual tourist maps) for their exemplary contributions to sustainable tourism. And I have the task of going in search of all of Ireland’s EDEN’s to see if they are as fruitful as they claim to be. My first one is Loop Head on the Wild Atlantic Way.

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