Win­ter sport won­der­land

JAMES PEARCE hits the slopes of New Hamp­shire for a thrill- seek­ing win­ter sports ad­ven­ture

Solihull News - - TRAVEL -

MY snow­mo­bile is push­ing 45mph as we climb higher and higher to­wards the sum­mit.

The ex­pe­ri­ence is as ex­hil­a­rat­ing as it is breath­tak­ing. The adren­a­line is pump­ing as we ne­go­ti­ate the wind­ing pine tree- lined trail to the top of Bear Notch.

Once there, with the roar of the en­gines si­lenced, we gaze in won­der at the panoramic views of Mount Wash­ing­ton and Mount Cho­cora. It re­ally is a stun­ning set­ting.

A two- hour cruise with North­ern Ex­treme Ad­ven­tures ( north­ernex­tremess­now­mo­bil­ing.com) was one of the high­lights of an ac­tion- packed whis­tle- stop tour of the Amer­i­can state of New Hamp­shire.

The 50- plus miles of trails close to the town of Bartlett are per­fect for in­ex­pe­ri­enced riders with all the equip­ment, in­clud­ing moon boots and hel­mets, pro­vided. You’ve got to have a valid driver’s li­cence to op­er­ate a snow­mo­bile and pas­sen­gers must be at least five years of age.

New Hamp­shire, which is bor­dered by Mas­sachusetts to the south, gave Amer­ica its 14th pres­i­dent, its first as­tro­naut, the alarm clock and the Seg­way. With its jagged moun­tains, lush river val­leys and dense forests, it also boasts re­mark­able nat­u­ral beauty. No won­der it’s such a pop­u­lar spot for win­ter sports lovers from across the globe and it’s never been eas­ier or cheaper to get there.

Our four- day trip started on­board Nor­we­gian’s new Boe­ing 787 Dream­liner direct flight from Gatwick to Bos­ton’s Lo­gan In­ter­na­tional Air­port. One- way seats in econ­omy are avail­able from just £ 139.

They might be low cost but they set a high bar both in terms of com­fort and po­lite crew mem­bers who couldn’t do more to help.

Within seven hours we had touched down in Bos­ton and our first stop was a two- hour drive north to the town of Mered­ith.

We checked into Mill Falls at the Lake ( mill­falls. com), a group of inns lo­cated along the shores of Lake Win­nipesaukee. The room boasted a roar­ing fire­place and sofa area with a bal­cony look­ing out over the snow- cov­ered lake.

Break­fast in the Lake­house Grille the fol­low­ing morn­ing didn’t dis­ap­point, the lo­cal spe­cial­ity of eggs lob­ster bene­dict proved a big hit.

From there it was a 45- minute drive to Alpine Ad­ven­tures ( alpinezi­pline. com) in Lin­coln where we boarded a six- wheeled Swiss Army ve­hi­cle called a Pinz­gauer for some off- road pur­suits.

The jour­ney was bumpy to say the least but the views of Bar­ron Moun­tain were mem­o­rable. With the ve­hi­cle be­ing open- sided, wrap­ping up warm is a ne­ces­sity.

Af­ter lunch and a tour around the de­light­ful Wood­stock Sta­tion & Brew­ery ( wood­stock­innnh. com), which was re­as­sur­ingly packed out with lo­cals, it was on to the Loon Moun­tain Re­sort ( loon­mtn. com).

It’s a year- round fam­ily ad­ven­ture des­ti­na­tion of­fer­ing down­hill ski­ing, ice skat­ing, in­door climb­ing and zi­plin­ing.

We kicked things off with the lat­ter, zoom­ing 700ft across the Pemige­was­set River and then back again on a higher line. Two ex­pert in­struc­tors were on hand to check and recheck har­nesses and to en­cour­age the ner­vous ones over the edge of the plat­form.

Af­ter that it was on to the slopes. I hadn’t skied prop­erly for two decades but af­ter a cou­ple of un­gainly and bruis­ing falls on the nurs­ery slopes it soon came back to me.

The snow­plough was ditched and the par­al­lel turns meant I got the green light to take the lift to the main slopes. Our sec­ond night was spent at the vast Moun­tain View Grand Re­sort in White­field ( moun­tain­view­grand.com). Built in 1856, it oozes his­tory and has the old­est el­e­va­tor in New Hamp­shire which is still manned by a concierge. How­ever, there’s noth­ing dated about ei­ther the rooms or the ex­ten­sive din­ner menu.

It be­came the first re­sort in the state to gain AAA four di­a­mond sta­tus for both din­ing and lodg­ings in the Conde Nast Trav­eler Read­ers’ Choice Awards.

The fol­low­ing morn­ing we got in­volved in the re­sort’s ar­ray of ac­tiv­i­ties which vary from the re­lax­ing to the down­right bizarre.

First we toured the farm, with its chick­ens, lla­mas and goats, and then hit the snow- coated hills for some tub­ing. Next came the axe- throw­ing com­pe­ti­tion which ap­par­ently is a skill in these parts.

It’s es­sen­tially darts but with axes which you launch from above your head to hit a board about 10 me­tres away. The closer to the bullseye, the more points you score.

It was time for some re­lax­ation and we headed to the ho­tel’s Tower Spa to en­joy its in­fin­ity hot tub and strik­ing views of the White Moun­tains.

Af­ter that we em­barked on a guided na­ture walk at the AMC High­land Cen­tre be­fore ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the thrill of the snow­mo­bil­ing.

On our last night we stayed at the pic­turesque Christ­mas Farm Inn in Jack­son and sat down for din­ner with charm­ing own­ers Gary and San­dra Plourde ( christ­mas­farminn.com).

It may have been smaller than the other ho­tels but it was the pick of the bunch – an ab­so­lute gem of a place. It’s warm, wel­com­ing and the restau­rant is out­stand­ing. The lob­ster and shrimp scampi will live long in the mem­ory.

Christ­mas Farm Inn is a col­lec­tion of lodges dot­ted on the hill­side above the main house, form­ing a small com­mu­nity of beau­ti­fully rus­tic and cosy cab­ins. It’s the kind of set­ting you re­ally don’t want to leave and is per­fect for both ro­man­tic breaks and fam­ily get­aways.

Hav­ing fi­nally prised our­selves away af­ter break­fast, we hit the slopes for one fi­nal time.

We headed for At­ti­tash Moun­tain Re­sort ( at­ti­tash. com) which of­fers wide runs for all abil­i­ties with its 68 trails and 11 lifts. There are also amaz­ing views of Mount Wash­ing­ton across the val­ley.

With around 200 inches of snow land­ing each year, there’s no short­age of the white stuff and the thriv­ing ski sea­son runs from Novem­ber through to the end of March.

Af­ter a brief stop off at Remick Coun­try Doc­tor Mu­seum & Farm ( remick­mu­seum. org), a 200- year- old work­ing farm, for a maple- syrup cook­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, it was back to Bos­ton for the jour­ney home.

My love for win­ter sports had been well and truly rekin­dled. From the peo­ple to the scenery to the ac­tiv­i­ties, New Hamp­shire sur­passed all ex­pec­ta­tions.

Snow­mo­bil­ing with North­ern Ex­treme Ad­ven­tures of­fers stun­ning views of Mount Wash­ing­ton The his­toric Moun­tain View Grand Re­sort in White­field, New Hamp­shire

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