On our northward journey we only spent 4 nights in Denmark and Annie in particular felt a connection with the country so we were excited to be able to spend a bit longer exploring on our return journey.
Well, we can honestly say it’s a treat the Danes are lovely people and their country is fabulous if a little flat! It was an 8pm arrival from our ‘cross-border’ ferry to our campsite close to Skagen and we received the warmest of welcomes and armed with several booklets and maps of the area we settled into our pitch in the evening sunshine. Not having a guidebook for Denmark wasn’t an issue because every campsite and town has armfuls of glossy brochures, maps and leaflets promoting the attractions, walks and cycle paths in their particular area.
A day of blazing sunshine was perfect for a cycle ride (via a designated cycle route) to the town of Skagen 12km away. En-route we stopped at Den Tilsandede Kirke, a partially sand covered former parish church of the town that since 1775 has been buried in 4–5 metres of sand with only the tower remaining above ground.
Cycling through the lively harbour area of Skagen which was busy with tourists and visitors, we carried on a further few kilometres north to the very tip of the headland at Grenen which is the northernmost point of Denmark. Here a 30 minute walk through the sand dunes and along the beach took us to a stunning spit of sand where you can stand with one foot in the Skagerrak Sea and the other in the Kattegat.
The water was so clear and inviting but sadly (for Annie not Richard) we hadn’t thought to pack our swimming kit in our backpack. There was so much to see in this area, the following day saw us climbing a 45 metre high sand dune they call Råbjerg Mile which as a result of the wind is migrating at a rate of 15–20 metres a year. It was lovely but didn’t quite live up to expectation and perhaps we have been spoiled having seen and climbed Dune 45 in Namibia and the Dune du Pilat in Arcachon, France.
We decided to concentrate on the west coast of Denmark and so after a much needed stocking up on supplies in Lidl (slightly cheaper chocolate and beer being top of the shopping list) we headed to the much heralded town of Løkken. Despite a whole brochure dedicated just to this small town we were disappointed to find it filled with empty holiday homes and very little else besides a long and wide sandy beach which didn’t seem too attractive on this, our first dull, windy and overcast day for 5 weeks. As a result we only stopped for lunch but unusually this was spent parked out on the sandy beach right in front of the surf. Before this trip it would have qualified as one of our more unusual lunch stops but since we have recently eaten our lunch looking at towering mountains, vast snowy plateaux, ice lakes and deep fjords this stop was just added to our special lunch stop list.
Pottering on along the western side of Jutland was not as much fun as we had hoped as the weather has finally broken with high winds and dark foreboding skies making long walks or bike rides distinctly uninviting. Along the way we stopped briefly at places randomly chosen off one of the many tourist maps we picked up and loved seeing places such as Nøtre Vosborg, a stunning old manor house now a classy hotel, Vendersø Kirke, a typical coastal church and Nørre Lyngvig Fyr, the last lighthouse to be built in Denmark.
The 500kms of coastline is really rugged and wild consisting of wide white sand beaches and undulating grassy sand dunes or Klit as they call them here.
We called into a number of towns, some lively such Løgstør, situated on an inland waterway where we enjoyed a walk along the canal running parallel to the sea and Ribe (apparently the oldest town in Denmark) which was very picturesque with cobbled streets and medieval buildings that was not so lively but did sell some great waffles!
Others such as Tarm, which on a Monday morning lacked any life at all (although a quick walk around looking at their sculptures did reveal an unusual view of a woman diving into a pond – why?!) and Skjern where we hardly saw a soul, were disappointing and meant we beat a hasty retreat.
The churchyards in Denmark are very special with many of the gravestones being large inscribed boulders surrounded by low well maintained hedges. Something that really intrigued us was finding ‘The Seamarks’ which are high three legged structures all along the west coast used in the past as navigational aids to show ships and sailors where they were. Each one is a different design and unique and although no longer used have been preserved as part of Denmark’s cultural heritage.
Sunday 10th June bought us our first really heavy rain in the daytime since we left the UK. It poured for a few hours leaving us with an overcast showery day and the next few days were windy, cool and very cloudy.
This impacted our enthusiasm for exploring and resulted in us moving south quicker than planned and Tuesday 12th June found us spending our last night in Denmark at Tønder close to the German border.
Here we tried to get rid of all our Danish Kroner cash by buying a fuel credit at a local garage but couldn’t fit it all in the tank so took our rebate in Maltesers!