Cross country skiing without prepared ski tracks – let’s call it ‘wild skiing’. It means you can explore, you won’t have to keep getting out of the way for fast skiers behind, and you won’t have the feeling of going round in circles. We particularly enjoy lakes and rivers for this – when frozen over with a thick layer of snow on the top it is usually possible to ski on them, especially if a snow scooter has passed by that way.

On the down side there’s a lot of side-slip, there are many uneven snow areas to negotiate, and the going can be hard and slow. On the lake this week it all looked very promising, but it turned out there was a very thin layer of snow on top of ice, so a few strides of skiing was followed by some unexpected slipping and sliding, more like skating than skiing, which for an unconfident skier such as myself can be very challenging.

On occasions like this you remember there is something to be said for prepared ski tracks. You just slot yourself in and whoahey! you’re off! At speed, and always in a forward direction. One day last week we were surprised to find some prepared tracks on a section of the Kalix river where we usually ‘wild ski’.

We didn’t turn our nose up at them and insist on our own route – we willingly stepped into the tracks, abandoning any sense of being in control, letting them lead us where they would. It turned out that this was out in unknown territory, towards the middle of the river. We trusted that whoever had made the tracks knew what they were doing. We settled into a steady glide, wondering, but not worrying about where we were going.

Not unlike the mechanical trousers in The Wrong Trousers, prepared ski tracks really do take over – all decisions are theirs. This can be very relaxing.