It was the question on all of our minds, but I asked it: "How do you know when the ice isn't safe to skate on?" Niklas, our imperturbable guide, rubbed his chin, looked thoughtful for a moment, then offered up the distilled wisdom of a lifetime spent playing around on frozen water. "When it breaks," he said with a broad smile.
We had skated just over six miles when we reached the edge. The ice just stopped, and the liquid version of the Baltic Sea stretched out to the horizon. I hadn’t expected this sudden, unnerving divide. I hadn’t expected to be so far from land. And I hadn’t expected to be told that the solid surface I was standing on was only 3in thick.
I am in the middle of a Swedish lake watching winter melt away. The snow has gone and birch trees which cover surrounding islands are starting to bud. I should be worried, given that I am standing on ice, about three kilometres from land, and cracks are literally forming all around me, creating a thudding noise which reverberates across the bay, and through my body.