*** DENMARK 2019 - WEEKS 4~6 ***
|This week's Photo Gallery||Bottom of Page||Return to Denmark Index Page|
CAMPING IN DENMARK 2019 - Funen, Sjælland (Zealand), Falster and Lolland:
Crossing the Lille Bælt Bridge to Funen: from Tørring in SE Jutland, Route 13 brought us down to join the E45 motorway past the fjord-port city of Vejle, to merge onto the E20 motorway heading eastwards towards the Lille Bælt straits which separate Jutland from Denmark's central island of Funen (Click on Map 1 right). Here traffic became busier as we were joined by more traffic coming up from Kolding. Crossing the Lille Bælt Bridge (see left) (Photo 1 - Crossing Lille Bælt Bridge), we turned off into SW Funen at junction 55.
Hjemstavnsgårdens Camping: from the traffic-ridden motorway, we were suddenly pitched into the heart of rural Funen farming countryside and villages, winding a way on the narrow lanes of Route 329 to reach the small town of Glamsbjerg. Here we shopped for this weekend's provisions at the ABC Lav Pris supermarket, and although the number of cars in the car park indicated it was popular with locals, this was a poorly stocked place; it felt like being in a different country after the plentiful supplies in Jutland. In the steaming hot sun, we headed 3kms south to find Hjemstavnsgårdens Camping. This was another small campsite whose web site wording had raised high expectations; on the strength of this and its fair, all-inclusive price of 170kr, we planned to take tomorrow's rest day there.
The owner welcomed us in good English, and again the values he expressed about the site's peaceful nature seemed to echo ours. The linear camping area was larger than expected, and unusually free of statics apart from a cluster at the far end. We managed to find a flat area on the sloping ground, and in today's torrid heat, the deep shade of trees was welcome (see left); we settled in with fans on to relax after a hot and wearying drive. Dusk seemed to creep earlier now as the barbecue was lit for supper (see below right); it was fully dark by the time we were eating, and an unseen owl called repeatedly from the trees surrounding the campsite.
Storms and heavy rain during the night brought an overcast morning, thankfully with cooler temperatures for our day in camp after yesterday's hot sun. Hjemstavnsgårdens Camping somehow did not live up fully to its promise: although welcoming and generally peaceful, it seemed rather run-down, the facilities old-fashioned, and the wi-fi limited to reception.
Southern Funen and across to Langeland: Monday morning marked the start of Week 4, and this foreshortened trip's half-way point. Compared with an enjoyably rewarding first half in Jutland, Funen and Sjælland seemed far less promising, and the campsites far more expensive and unattractive holiday-camps the closer we got to København; this was a pessimistic prospect. We set off heading for Faaborg in Southern Funen via Route 329 (click here for map of route). This was still a narrow, winding lane and slow going, albeit through attractive rural villages. Route 44 from Faaborg to Svendborg was no better, and it was 12-20 by the time we reached the Kvickly supermarket there. We hoped this would offer a better selection than the usual Brugsen, but food prices seemed expensive. Having secured provisions for our planned 2 nights in Southern Langeland, we crossed the bridge over the Svendborg Sound onto Tåsinge, and across this intermediate island, continued over the causeway and bridge onto Langeland (see left), the 60 kms long linear island lying off Funen's southern coast.
Dovns Klint at southernmost tip of Langeland: at Rudkøbing, Langeland's main town, we turned south for 30 kms to reach the small fishing village of Bagenkøp at the island's southern tip. Here at the parking area by the small harbour and marina we found a stellplads, well equipped with power and facilities which certainly looked a more acceptable place to camp than the nearby over-expensive campsite. But with the weather fine and sunny this afternoon, and forecast to be overcast with rain tomorrow, we headed around the lanes for the parking area at the island's southernmost tip of Dovns Klint for coastal walking this afternoon and a possible wild camp tonight.
Approaching the car park we passed a herd of the wild Exmoor ponies which graze the meadows around Dovns Klint. The lane's end parking area was reasonably flat, gravelled and equipped with WCs with no evident No Camping sign; it seemed an ideal spot for a wild camp, albeit very exposed with the overnight forecast change of weather and winds increased to 12m/s. We had the Syd Langeland map-leaflet showing coastal cliff-top paths around Dovns Klint Head, and set off for the 3 kms circular walk westward along the sandy low cliffs (Photo 2 - Dovns Klint) and return through coastal forests (see below left for map). The clearly way-marked path was lined with china-blue chicory flowers (Photo 3 - Chicory flowers), and for now at least the brisk westerly breeze was not too forceful. The bright sunlight was perfect light for coastal photography (see left and right) (Photo 4 - Cliff-top path) as we followed the line of low cliff-tops from Dovns Klint over the higher headland of Gulstav Klint. At Vestre Gulstav the route passed through forest edging the sea, and here a clump of dead trees on the low cliff edge, contorted by winds on this exposed coast, made a stark photo silhouetted against the clear sky (Photo 5 - Wind-contorted trees). We continued across the open moorland cliff edge past the highest point at Bredstens Bjerg and entered the forest of Søgård Skov. Here the path turned inland through the forest, where brambles were laden with ripe Blackberries. Around Søgård farm, the path turned back through forest and moorland passing the small reed-lined lake of Gulstav Mose where Coots swam. Back at Vestre Gulstav, the way-markings brought us to the coast as a pair of Mute Swans passed over (see left), and along the cliff-tops back to Dovns Klint parking area.
An exposed wild camp at Dovns Klint: a few tourists and fishermen were parked here but we set up camp in the late afternoon sunshine with George's nose headed into the brisk westerly breeze (see below right) (Photo 6 - Dovns Klint wild camp). The forecast showed winds increasing to 13m/s overnight and rain tomorrow morning; it was going to be a challenging wild camp at this exposed spot, fully testing George's new roof. But still enjoying evening sun for now, we cooked supper. The last of the fishermen disappeared after dark, and we battened down for a rough night's wild camp at Dovn's Klint. It was indeed a wild night with constant rain driven by a south-westerly gale which buffeted our camper. This was perhaps the roughest night we had camped in George since the stormy night at Nord Cap in northern Norway, but despite that the newly restored roof stood up well to the battering wind and driving rain. We woke to the gale still blowing in rain squalls; this was certainly no morning for attempting a further cliff-top walk but, with the forecast promising an improvement in weather later, we decided to sit out the morning in our wild camp.
A further cliff-top walk at Dovns Klint: as forecast, the weather did improve but with no easing of the wind. With some difficulty in the teeth of the gale, we packed George to travelling mode and kitted up for a second cliff-top walk. Today we turned eastwards from Dovns Klint (see left for map), following a path through the Østre Gulstav woods just above the shore-line. The SW wind drove breakers onto the rocky shore with the roaring surf (see below right) (Photo 7 - Østre Gulstav). The route curved inland away from the coast, towards Keldsnor, a large, shallow, brackish lagoon cut off from the sea by a sand-bar; the lagoon was now home to Greylag Geese, Crested Grebes and Coots. The path continued north along the edge of the woods, separated from Keldsnor by meadows where South Langeland wild Exmoor ponies grazed (see below left). Rising up onto the highest point of Bruns Banke gave extensive views across the broad lagoon as far as its entrapping sand-bar and Keldsnor lighthouse beyond. Bruns Banke is an example of the flat-topped hillocks characteristic of Langeland and known as hat-hills, formed by moraine during the last Ice Age. Dovns and Gulstav Klints are further examples of hat-hills, but eroded by the sea. Descending from the hillock inland to the NW, we encountered more of the Exmoor ponies. The path crossed meadowland to reach the Dovns approach lane and turned off towards the coast by a farm, leading to a bird-watching tower overlooking the reed-lined, marshy pool of Gulstav Mose. From the tower Coots could be seen on the pool and a lone Heron standing statue-still on an islet. A wind-driven passing shower caused us to take shelter. From here the path crossed back to the coast through Vestre Gulstav woods and along the cliff-tops over Gulstav Klint and back to Dovns Klint parking area.
Bagenkøp fishing port in Southern Langeland: leaving Dovns Klint after our stormy night's wild camp on this exposed, wind-swept cliff-top, we drove back around the lanes towards Bagenkøp, pausing to examine Hulbjerg Jættestue Neolithic passage-grave dating from around 3,000 BC (see right). The now restored grave topped a small hat-hillock. When this was excavated in 1961, its burial chamber was found to contain the skeletal remains of some 40 adults and children; one of the skulls showed signs of primitive dental surgery.
We continued into Bagenkøp and shopped for provisions at the Dagli Brugsen mini-market. Bagenkøp still retained its fishing fleet, but the number of working boats was much reduced from our last visit to the fishing harbour in 2007 (Photo 8 - Bagenkøp fishing harbour) (see below left). Most of the harbour was now given over to a leisure yachting marina, overshadowed by yuppie apartments. Round at the stellplads in the marina parking area, payment was by credit card automat machine by the now closed harbour master's office. The overnight payment of 130kr included power and WC/showers, and the receipt gave access code for the well-equipped kitchen/wash-up and wi-fi password. We settled into the sheltered corner of the parking area stellplads, facing into the brisk SW wind still blowing from the sea and looking out to the marina (see below right). Apart from one other camper, we were spared the expected influx of camping-cars and enjoyed a peaceful night. The gales subsided overnight and we woke to a watery sun. The marina stellplads was well set up with reasonable facilities and good value; this made us realise that such straightforward camping options (called stellplads in Danish, like the German stellplatz meaning parking place) at coastal marinas or farms offered a both more charactersome and peaceful atmosphere, at least out of season, and were a far batter value solution to camping in a country like Denmark with campsites now so overcrowded with holiday-makers or crammed full of statics, and prices so unreasonable.
North from Langeland to Odense: before leaving Bagenkøp, we drove around into the village to buy smoked salmon fillets at the Fiske Kiosk, unchanged from our 2007 visit. Bagenkøp itself was clearly an aging community; how much longer would its working fishing port survive, we wondered. Driving back up the length of Southern Langeland, we turned into Rudkøbing to try to buy more smoked fish at the røgeri (fish smoke-house) down by the harbour. It looked to be a good, old-fashioned shop but regrettably closed today, so we walked around the port for photos looking across the fishing boats in the harbour towards the 1 km long bridge linking Langeland to Tåsinge (see below left) (Photo 9 - Rudkøbing harbour). Again Rudkøbing seemed a time-expired sort of place, with little working fishing left.
Having shopped for provisions in Rudkøbing, we set off to cross the bridge, leaving Langeland after 2 good days of walking despite the adverse weather. Across Tåsinge, we passed through Svendborg and joined Route 9 motorway northwards towards Odense (click here for map of route). Coming down, it had taken us over 1½ hours to negotiate the narrow, winding lanes around Funen's SW side to reach Faaborg and Svendborg; today at motorway speed, it took less than 20 minutes to reach the E20 interchange on the outskirts of Odense. We passed through, heading north on rural lanes to the village of Ladby (click here for map of route), and just beyond on the shore of an inner arm of Kerteminde Fjord, we reached the Ladby Viking Ship Museum.
Ladby Viking Ship Museum: near the fjord-side village of Ladby, a unique find from Denmark's Viking past was uncovered in 1935: a chance find on farmland on the south side of Kerteminde Fjord led to the discovery of Denmark's only known Viking ship-burial. The burial site was excavated by Odense pharmacist and amateur archaeologist Poul Helweg Mikkelsen and Gustav Rosenberg from the Danish National Museum; it was dated to around 925 AD from a gilded bronze link of dog harness found among the grave-goods. Like the Oseberg and Gokstad ship-burials found at Oslo Fjord in Southern Norway, which we saw at the Oslo Viking Ship Museum in 2014, the Ladby grave was that of Viking chieftain, buried in his long-ship; he was furnished with grave-goods of 11 horses, 4 hunting-dogs, weapons, riding gear, utensils, tools, textiles, and even a board game, for his after-death voyage to Valhalla. The 22m long, 3m wide long-ship's mast would have carried a sail of some 60m2 and was built for 32 rowers, with a decorative dragon's head prow with main of iron curls and a dragon's tail at the stern. The ship had been dragged 300m up from the fjord, and after the burial of the deceased chieftain along with his grave-goods and sacrificed animals, a turf mound was raised over the burial site. Almost all of the ship's timbers had rotted away over time, but its weight had imprinted the ship's outline in the clay, its lines indicated by some 2,000 nails which had held the long-ship's clinker-built planking together. Other metal components also found included scrolled decorative curls which symbolised the long-ship's figurehead dragon's main, along with the original iron anchor and chain in the ship's stern. The grave had been plundered in antiquity, the buried remains of the deceased despoiled and removed, and the grave-goods smashed; but the skeletal remains of the buried horses and dogs were found within the hull, with one of the horses still equipped with its harness, bridle and stirrups. The scale of the burial and lavish extent of the grave-goods indicated a wealthy and powerful chieftain to have commanded the resources for such a funerary monument. When the 1935 excavations were completed, a concrete dome was raised above the ship-burial and covered with turf to form a mound, and the first museum opened shortly after.
Today an underground environmentally-controlled vault beneath the burial mound protecting the imprint left by the ship-burial forms the centrepiece of the Ladby Viking Ship Museum. Admission seems expensive at 80kr, but the museum also includes a reconstruction of the ship-burial as it would have looked at the time of the entombment, and displays detailing life in Viking times. At our original visit in 2007, a scale model was the only visible means of understanding and interpreting the structure and layout of the original ship in which the deceased chieftain was buried. Since 2016 however, a full sized reconstruction of the Ladby Viking long-ship, named the Ladby Dragon, now forms an invaluable part of the museum's display (see above right); having viewed the surviving remains of the ship-burial in its underground chamber, visitors can walk down to the fjord-side for a visual comparison with the reconstructed ship now moored at the jetty (see above left). Along with this, the museum also displays a 6.5m long tapestry inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry and woven between 2011~17 by local Ladby women: the Ladby Tapestry shows a sequence of exquisite pictorial panels telling the story of the Viking chieftain's ship-burial at Ladby following his death in battle in a supposed Viking raid to England, and concludes with the grave's discovery and excavation 1000 years later in 1935.
Our visit to the Ladby Viking Ship Museum: on entering the subduedly lit underground chamber beneath the burial mound, there before us lay the perfectly preserved imprint and scant remains of the 1000 year old Viking long-ship (see above right) (Photo 10 - Ladby Viking ship-burial), the kind in which voyages of pillage, trade and colonisation were made as far afield as Britain, Iceland, Greenland, even Nova-Scotia and the Mediterranean. The timbers of the clinkered hull had of course totally rotted and disintegrated over time in the wet earth, but the cleverly conserved imprint of the boat in the clay showed clearly the lines of iron nails which had secured the hull's planking (see above left), and set in the centre section of the raised walls of clay which represent the ship's gunwales, the iron rings which had once tensioned the mast shrouds (Photo 11 - Iron nails and shroud-rings). In the ship's bows were the skeletal remains of the chieftain's horses and dogs which had been sacrificed and buried with him in the ship, and in the prow of the vessel, the large iron anchor and its chain still stood (see right) (Photo 12 - Sacrificed horses and dogs, with anchor and chain). The ship's slender prow dragon figurehead had, like the hull timbers, rotted away completely, but the mud in which the ship had been embedded was raised to give a notional representation of the prow; impressed into this was a line of replica iron curls which had formed the figurehead dragon's mane (see left) (Photo 13 - Notional prow with dragon mane curls); the originals, which had survived in situ like the stern's dragon-tail metal decorations, were displayed in the museum. We spent an uninterrupted hour examining in detail the conserved ship's imprint and remains from stem to stern.
This however left us inevitably with many questions about the boat's structure and layout, and we walked down to the fjord-side of Kerteminde Fjord where the reconstructed Viking long-ship was moored at the jetty (Photo 14 - Viking long-ship reconstruction). It was as if the burial ship was in an instant brought back to life, and we were able to make the visual comparison with the decayed original in the grave-mound, piecing together answers to our questions (Photo 15 - Visual comparison with conserved original) (see right). The sail was furled but the mast set in place supported by its rigging tensioned by the shroud rings in the gunwales each side as on the conserved original vessel. Oars were piled in the bottom of the surprisingly shallow draft vessel, with the 16 oar ports along each gunwale. The boat was steered by a steering oar set at the right hand side of the stern (styrisbord from which we get the modern term starboard for the right hand side of a ship). The dragon's head prow was furnished with scrolled iron curls and stern tail with iron decorations, just like the original boat (see left).
Up at the museum, a diorama displaying a reconstruction of the ship-burial at the time of entombment furnished further answers about the layout of the conserved remains in the burial chamber: the dead chieftain was laid out on his burial couch in the stern of the vessel along with his accompaniment of food, weapons and grave-goods (see right) (Photo 16 - Ship-burial reconstruction); the sacrificed horses and dogs were piled in the ship's bows, with the anchor and chain in the prow, and the dragon's head slender figurehead with its iron mane curls rising above. It also offered a plausible explanation of how the post-burial mound had been raised to enclose the ship burial without undignified disturbance of the laid-out interred body and grave-goods: a timber pitched roofing was raised over the buried ship, and a covering of turf built up over this framework to form the burial mound. We were also able to speak with one of volunteer weavers of the Ladby tapestry who explained the sequence of pictorial panel designs telling the story of the Ladby chieftain's ship-burial: the tapestry began with the ship setting out on a Viking raid to England (see left), followed by the chieftain's death in battle (Photo 17 - Ladby Tapestry), the deceased chieftain's burial at Ladby in his ship along with the grave-goods and sacrificed animals (Photo 18 - Ship-burial tapestry panel), and subsequent robbing of the grave and despoiling of the remains (see below right); the Tapestry concluding panel shows the ship-burial's discovery and excavation 1000 years later in 1935.
All in all, the museum's updated displays, together with the reconstructed ship's presence moored at the fjord-side jetty, made such a commendable combination to complement the admirable presentation of the conserved ship-burial remains in its underground chamber (see below left). Our visit to Ladby had been thoroughly instructive; we had learned so much more about Viking long-ships and ship-building techniques.
Fyns Hoved Camping, typical of the current campsite trend - crammed full of statics and over-priced: from the port-town of Kerteminde, we continued north on winding lanes, passing characteristically Funen timber-framed thatched farmsteads, up the Hindsholm Peninsula to its remote northern tip at Fyns Hoved (click here for map of route). Our plan for tomorrow was to walk the coastal path around the Fyns Hoved headland which passes along the shore line and cliff-tops exposed to the wind constantly blowing off the sea. We still had from our 2007 visit the excellent English language map-leaflet, produced by the local commune as a guide to walking around the elongated hill of Fyns Hoved and the shingle spit enclosing the bay. This afternoon would give us chance to explore possible wild camping potential at one of the parking areas. When we arrived at Fyns Hoved, the sky was heavily overcast and a wild north-westerly gale battering the coastline, bringing drizzly, squally rain. The first parking area, sheltered among woods on the Jøved hill-top and tucked away out of sight behind deserted holiday homes, offered a real possibility for a wild camp. The main parking area along the gravel spit at Fyns Hoved point, totally exposed to the wild weather and with No Camping signs, was certainly a non-starter. For tonight however, with the NW wind driving in heavy rain, we returned to Fyns Hoved Camping just back down the lane; we had stayed there in 2007 when such campsites were still welcoming and with reasonable prices; today however Fyns Hoved Camping had changed to become typical of the current unacceptable trend of Danish campsites.
The reception inevitably was locked and on telephoning, a brusque, surly voice told us to camp and pay in the morning when the owners deigned to open. Even allowing for the grim weather, the site was an enormous and soulless mass of statics. With driving rain making for miserably gloomy conditions, we pitched close to a facilities building in the lee of hedges, and battened down for a rough night. The following morning's weather was brighter with some showers, and forecast to be sunnier for our afternoon's walking around Fyns Hoved head. Despite the excessive low season price of 238kr (almost £28), facilities at Fyns Hoved Camping were mediocre, with gloomily old fashioned WC/showers and basic kitchen/wash-up. When we called at reception to pay, we were treated by the owner with an off-hand, take-it-or-leave-it attitude. How things had changed, certainly not for the better!
Walking at Fyns Hoved Head: by now the sun had broken through with a brisk NW wind keeping the clouds scudding over. We drove back around to Fyns Hoved parking area where the exposed gravel spit connected out to the peninsula head (Photo 19 - Fyns Hoved gravel spit) (see above right), and kitted up against wind and rain for our afternoon's 4 kms cliff-top walk around Fyns Hoved Head; migrating birds pause here on their Springtime journey, and colonies of Cormorants gather waiting to go fishing when the wind drops. A clearly marked path followed the line of the low sandy cliffs around the side of Bydebjerg hill, with the bright sun lighting the surf driven onto the shore below by the brisk westerly wind (see right). The path continued over the headland of Rakkenhald (Photo 20 - Fyns Hoved cliff-top path) (see above left), around the cliff-tops and alongside the outer hill of Bæsbanke out to the northern tip of the peninsula (see left). Around onto the eastern side of Fyns Hoved point, we could look out across the enclosed waters of Fællesstrand Lagoon (see below right); down at the shore-line, more sheltered from the prevailing westerly wind, Eiders bobbed and coo-ed in the gently lapping shallows. An advancing dark cloud mass prefaced a brief shower, and we took shelter in the lee of wild rose thickets waiting for the squall to pass. The path cut inland, returning around the eastern flank of Bydebjerg hill, bringing us back to the gravel spit parking area.
Tornen sandspit enclosing Fællesstrand Lagoon: for our second walk this afternoon, we drove back around Jøved hill and cut through to park by deserted holiday homes by the sheltered inner lagoon of Fællesstrand, enclosed from the Kattegat by the curving sand-bar of Tornen. We followed the path around the lagoon shore-line of reed-covered coastal meadows, past the huge estate of holiday homes, all deserted at this time of year, to Horse-klint at the far side at the start of the Tornen sand-spit which enclosed the Fællesstrand lagoon on the outer side. On distant mud-banks out in the lagoon, a line of Cormorants, Swans and Gulls were perched. The narrow Tornen sand and gravel bar was delightful, with the shallow, muddy waters of the lagoon on the inner, sheltered side (see left) (Photo 21 - Fællesstrand Lagoon), and the surf of the open sea on the exposed outer Kattegat side, all lit by a clear sun, with nodules of chalk embedded with black flint littering the fine white sand of this magnificent wild shore-line (see below right) (Photo 22 - Tornen sandspit). We followed the beach around for almost 1 km until we reached the start of the restricted access nature reserve which covered the outer reaches of the curving sand-spit enclosing Fællesstrand lagoon.
Fyns Hoved wild camp on Jøved hill: returning around the inner bay of the lagoon, we moved George up to the parking area on Jøved hill, which we had identified yesterday for tonight's wild camp. Despite the trees, it was not as sheltered as we had believed; but we managed to level George on the sloping ground with his back faced into the brisk north-westerly wind blowing across the open side of the hill-top at 14m/s (see below left) (Photo 23 - Jøved wild camp). Despite the shelter of trees, the wind increased in strength further, buffeting the camper; we hunkered down to face an alarmingly rough night's wild camp, with tree debris blowing onto the camper's roof a cause for concern. As forecast, the wind eased overnight to a more moderate 8m/s, and we woke the following morning to a watery sun and overcast sky. Last night had been another severe test of George's new roof which had stood up well to the battering wind. The pasture-land above us across the Jøved hill-top seemed much more of a benignly friendly place in gentle sunlight now that last night's violent gale had subsided. Despite its exposure to wind, Jøved hill had proved an excellent wild camp spot, with even the convenience of a picnic table for washing up.
Archaeological excavations of major Viking site at Munkebo Bakke near Kerteminde: we had learned from the tapestry embroidery lady at Ladby of a recent archaeological discovery on the plateau summit of Munkebo Bakke, the hill highpoint above the small town of Munkebo on the northern side of Kerteminde Fjord, immediately opposite the Ladby ship-burial on the southern shore. Excavations here at Munkebo Hill in 2018 had revealed the foundation remains of 2 Viking long-houses set between 2 Bronze Age burial mounds; further excavations in early 2019 had uncovered a much larger, mansion-sized longhouse-hall enclosed by a significant palisade. Following archaeological examination, the site had been re-covered with soil for preservation pending carbon-dating of the finds and further excavation later to uncover more of this significant Viking Era site remains. Finds recovered so far from the site, now exhibited at Ladby Ship Museum, included everyday items, animal bones, and even Arab silver coins (dirhems) showing that this was a significant trade centre. The finds could broadly be dated to the Viking Era 825~1000 AD, and it was hoped that carbon-dating would give a more precise date. The scale of the palisade-enclosed longhouse-hall recently uncovered matched that of other significant major Viking sites in Jutland (eg Jelling) and Sjælland (eg Trelleborg); the resources needed to construct such a major settlement suggest it was occupied by a powerful chieftain. The intriguing question was whether the Munkebo Bakke site could be linked with the Viking chieftain buried with his ship and animals at Ladby immediately across the fjord: the hill-top site was of strategic significance, commanding views across the whole of NE Funen, with access to Odense Fjord and the Kattegat from Kerteminde Fjord, a natural base for long-ships. This was exactly the territory speculated to have been controlled by the Ladby chieftain.
Although there would be little to see now at the Munkebo Bakke site, it was worth a brief visit on our way south from Fyns Hoved for the extensive view from the highpoint with its modern viewing-tower. Returning down the length of Hindsholm peninsula to Kerteminde, we drove out along the northern shore of Kerteminde Fjord on the busy Route 165 which connects Kerteminde to Odense, and turned off into Munkebo uphill to the parking area atop Munkebo Bakke (Hill). As expected, there was now nothing visible of the recent archaeological excavations, but we climbed the observation tower for the views across the fjord. Disappointingly the weather had now turned dull and misty and the direct line of sight to the Ladby ship-burial site on the far side of kerteminde Fjord was obscured by trees (see right).
Rødkærgård Farm B&B stellplads-camping on Kerteminde Fjord: we had planned to camp tonight at Kerteminde marina stellplads, but on inspection this had proved both expensive, noisy and an unappealing environment filled with the oppressive sight of ranks of camping-cars. From our Stellplatz phone app for Denmark, which was increasingly proving an invaluable asset, we had discovered Rødkærgård farmstead B&B stellplads on the northern side of Kerteminde Fjord just east of Munkebo at Lille Viby, and immediately opposite the Ladby ship-burial site on the southern side of the fjord. We drove back from Munkebo to investigate the Rødkærgård farm-stellplads, directly overlooking the northern side of Kerteminde Fjord (Photo 24 - Rødkærgård Farm B&B stellplads) (see left). The farmhouse was a beautiful 19th century timber-framed court-yard building, and we were greeted by the owner. There were 3 camping pitches alongside a barn, but the view down to the fjord was blocked by a sloping ploughed field. The price was 125kr including power, but with no access even to toilets, shower or kitchen which were available only to B&B guests. Despite this we decided to stay, and with a strong wind blowing from across the fjord and rain beginning, we settled in managing to level George on the sloping ground. The site did have an open wi-fi; at most Danish campsites, despite their generally high prices, wi-fi was restricted to reception only. Thankful for power on such a wretchedly chill evening, we even had the heater on. The following morning we woke to a warming hazy sun; it was such a pity that the view across the farmland down to the fjord with Ladby immediately opposite was cut off.
Crossing the 18 kms long Store Bælt Bridge to Sjælland: from Kerteminde, Route 165 led along the Store Bælt coast-line down to join the E20 motorway near to Nyborg (click here for map of route). It was a bright sunny morning with clear blue sky for the crossing of the 18 km long Store Bælt Bridge to Sjælland. Road and rail run side by side across the initial 6.6 km long piered west bridge to the midway island of Sprogø. Trains continue from there into an 8 km undersea tunnel, while the motorway passes over the 6.8 km east bridge to the Sjælland coast; this includes Europe's longest suspension bridge at 1.6 km, the 254m high pylons of which constitute ironically Denmark's highest point above sea level overtopping all the county's natural features. A 65m high international shipping channel passes beneath the east bridge. The Store Bælt Bridge was opened in 1998, having cost 37.8 billion DKK at 2018 prices, and today some 10 million vehicles now cross the bridge each year. Someone has to pay for this construction coast, and the tolls are expensive at 245 DKK for a one-way crossing. To learn more, visit the Store Bælt Bridge web site.
Saturday morning traffic was not unduly heavy as we began the crossing of the piered west bridge, and over the central artificially enlarged island of Sprogø, there ahead, up the suspension bridge's steep approach, rose the magnificent vista of the east bridge's graceful sweep (see above right) with the 1.6km suspension link at the highest point (see above left) (Photo 25- Approach to Store Bælt east bridge). Sheila took photos as we advanced up the slope towards the suspension bridge's apex, to pass under the towering 254m high pylons (see above right) (Photo 26- Crossing Store Bælt Bridge), crossing the 65m high shipping channel as container ships advanced up the Store Bælt to pass beneath. Down the slope on the far side, we reached the toll-stations and just beyond turned off to the parking area near to Korsør and Halskov.
Viewpoint looking westwards along length of Store Bælt Bridge from Sjælland shore: our reason for this diversion from the motorway was to walk out along the spit of land here extending out into the Store Bælt, discovered in 2007, which provides a perfect viewpoint for the magnificent seascape looking west along the curving length of the Bridge. By a fortunate coincidence, a lone fisherman stood at exactly the same spot as on our 2007 bridge photo, as a foreground to our 2019 photographs looking out at the Bridge spanning the straits (see above left) (Photo 27- Store Bælt Bridge from Sjælland shore). From this spit we spent some time photographing the glorious aesthetic spectacle of the eastern bridge's graceful sweep (see above right) (Photo 28 - Store Bælt eastern suspension bridge), then climbed a sandy bluff almost under the very canopy of the motorway looking along the line of the piered bridge approach (see left) (Photo 29 - Store Bælt motorway canopy). Crossing under the motorway, we climbed a higher sandy bluff lookout point on the northern side for further views from this vantage point looking along the length of the Bridge, as a constant stream of tankers and container-ships passed along the shipping channel beneath the eastern suspension bridge (see right) (Photo 30 - Store Bælt shipping channel); like the Øresund on the eastern side of Sjælland, the Store Bælt was a very busy shipping route. Looking inland from this bluff across the shore-side scrubland, a Kestrel hovered in wait for prey (see below left) (Photo 31 - Hovering Kestrel). We knew that the line of the trans-Store Bælt rail-link passed underground at this point to emerge at the eastern end of the 8kms submarine tunnel in nearby woodland, and walked over to try to find a spot where we could see trains entering or leaving the tunnel portal. We managed just to see one west-bound train by climbing a scrub-covered embankment, but despite walking some distance, could find no means of approaching the railway line. As we returned under the motorway, container-ships queued to pass north along the shipping channel under the Bridge (see left) (Photo 32- Shipping passing north). Back at the parking area, the free-entry modest little Ice Museum tells the story of the pre-bridge days when the only means of transport across the Store Bælt was the ferries which plied across the straits between Halskov on the Sjælland coast to Knudshoved on the Funen side. Except of course during savage winters when the Store Bælt was ice-bound, and small ice-boats attempted to keep the straits open.
Harald Bluetooth's Viking ring-fort at Trelleborg: re-joining the E20 motorway, we continued eastwards to turn off for our first visit in Sjælland to one of Scandinavia's most important historical sites, the Viking ring-fortress at Trelleborg built around 980 AD by Harold Bluetooth. From the motorway, we threaded a way around country lanes to the Trelleborg Museum and ring-fort site now administered by the Danish National Museum and free-entry (click here for map of route).
Set at a strategic position defended by swampy ground at the confluence of 2 rivers, Trelleborg is the best preserved of Denmark's Viking Age ring-forts. Built to the same design as the other ring-forts, with 4 gates and timber-reinforced internal roads dividing the centre space into 4 quadrants each with 4 longhouse barracks holding a garrison of 500 troops, Trelleborg is the only one to preserve remains of the outer moats and bailey which reinforce the main circular 5m high earth rampart wall. Like the other ring-forts, dendrological analysis of surviving timbers dates Trelleborg to around 980 AD. The ring-forts were built to enforce Harald Bluetooth's attempts to strengthen royal power and to keep rival clan chieftains in subjection in the newly unified kingdom. A strong central royal power would have been the only one to marshal sufficient resources to build such monumental structures. Their very existence however testifies to the animosity which Harald Bluetooth's unification of the kingdom aroused in the power struggle and unstable political setting of the time. The graveyard at Trelleborg revealed several hastily buried mass graves of young male warriors, many with deep cuts and lethal wounds inflicted by close combat weapons; this together with finds of arrow heads buried deep in the rampart gates indicate a battle at the fortress, perhaps from an attack by rebellious forces possibly led by Sweyn Forkbeard, Harald's rebellious son, who was responsible for his father's overthrow and death. Analysis of the warriors' skeletal remains suggests that many of the dead were from Norway and Central Europe; perhaps Harald Bluetooth's troops included Slavic mercenaries. The name Trelleborg, like the similarly named ring-fort in Skåne, now Southern Sweden, is derived either from borg (castle) which subjugated into trældom (slavery) rival chieftains, or from træl meaning timber used for the rampart's palisade and cladding.
From the museum-exhibition, the approach path led past the 1940s reconstruction of a Viking longhouse (see above left) (Photo 33 - Reconstructed Viking longhouse) to a model showing Trelleborg's complex original layout (see above right), with a surviving section of the fortress' outer moat, rampart and bailey (see right). Within this were the sites of a row of 15 longhouses which had originally served as stores and workshops, now notionally indicated by stone markers. Alongside these was the site of the ring-fort's burial cemetery which had contained 135 graves including the mass-graves of battle dead. Today uneven turf indicated the cemetery's burials. Access to the bailey area had been via two bridges across the inner and outer moats; these bridges were staggered between the inner fortress' two main gates, so that any aggressor managing to penetrate the outer bailey had a long distance to cross to reach the inner and higher rampart or main fortress gates, and therefore remained vulnerable to being overcome by defenders. The lower outer earth rampart wall gave good views of the shallow outer moat and reconstructed longhouse. Across the open space of the outer bailey, past the indicated sites of the radially-aligned longhouses, we reached the deep inner moat lining the outer face of the main ring-fort's circular rampart wall. The wide, 4m deep ditch was not in antiquity filled with water, but probably had a spiked palisade in its base. The 5m high circular earth rampart was clad at its outer base by oak wood reinforcing, and topped by an timber palisade, with an archers' walkway set all around the inner side of the rampart's upper palisade. A reconstructed wooden bridge crossed the 17m wide moat, leading to one of the ring-fort's 4 gates. The gateway would have been stone-lined, with a timber superstructure protected by timber towers, as we had seen at the Reconstructed Trelleborg ring-fort in Skåne.
Standing atop the surviving earth rampart, we could look across the 136m wide circular inner fortress, where the 4 longhouse-barracks in each quadrant were notionally indicated by stone markers (Photo 34 - Trelleborg ring-fort ramparts) (see above left), as at Fyrkat ring-fort in Jutland seen earlier in this trip. Down within the central area of the fortress, standing by the notional outline of one of longhouse-barracks, the enormous scale of the ring-fort was apparent (see above left). The 4 quadrants were divided originally by wood-surfaced roadways connecting the 4 gates and intersecting at the ring-fort's centre; following the internal cross-roadway led us back to one of the stone-lined gateways (see right) (Photo 35 - Trelleborg ring-fort gateway). It was impossible to conceive the enormous scale of manual effort required to construct the huge earth rampart enclosing the fortress, and the unimaginable number of oak trees felled to create the palisades and outer timber cladding. Again this reinforced the conclusion that only royal power could have commanded the resources or manpower needed to construct such ring-forts all across Jutland, Funen, Sjælland and Skåne.
The unattractive town of Slagelse: we now needed to turn our attention to more mundane matters like garnering provisions for the coming weekend, and headed into the nearby town of Slagelse. Some places live up to their name, and Slagelse was no misnomer: the very sound of the town's name emphasized its unattractive appearance! A large town of some 32,000 residents, Slagelse seemed an unexceptional and unnoteworthy kind of place, with sprawling suburbs, an evident population of immigrants, and an irritating number of closed roads making it impossible to escape from once we had completed our shopping at a Kvickly supermarket in the centre. Slagelse was duly added to the list of proverbial non-entity places to avoid; even our sat-nav was bemused trying to extricate us from the town onto Route 22 heading north towards Kalundborg at the NW tip of Sjælland (click here for map of route).
Debbie's B&B-Camping: we had identified another stellplads camping just outside Kalundborg, with the unlikely name of Debbie's B&B-Camping. On arrival, the stellplads was set on what appeared to be a farm, and although no one answered the door bell or phone, the reception was clearly open, and a sign announced its B&B rooms availability and pointed to the camping stellplads behind a barn. On investigating, we were met by another guest staying at a static caravan, who showed us the facilities upstairs in the guest-house and helped us find a power source in the barn. The small, grassy camping area had a glorious outlook overlooking open countryside (see above left) (Photo 36 - Debbie's B&B-Farm camping), and we settled in assuming that the owner would return later. After a long and exhausting but very rewarding day (apart from the unsavoury experience of visiting Slagelse!), we cooked supper as the evening grew dark. No one appeared, but at least we had a pleasant enough place to camp for the weekend, and peaceful, albeit with the sight of Kalundborg's power station and oil refinery chimneys on the distant skyline.
We woke to a warm, sunny morning, and the eponymous Debbie called by to welcome us and introduce herself. We also had the neighbourly company of the campsite farm animals, a jolly fat pig who occasionally trotted by (see above right), a friendly white cat, and a group of goats who peered at us quizzically from their nearby enclosure (see left). The facilities were limited to a tiny kitchenette/wash-up, an even tinier bathroom/shower, and wi-fi at reception, but all were clean; with the guest-house seemingly empty, we had them all to ourselves. The cost 180kr/night and with its peaceful setting, Debbie's B&B-Camping served us well for our day in camp.
The industrial town of Kalundborg and medieval Vor Frue Church: on a dull and heavily overcast morning, we headed into Kalundborg, an evidently prosperous trading and industrial town of 16,500 residents, with the Statoil refinery, a gas terminal, Denmark's largest coal-fired power station, and pharmaceutical manufacturing plants; the port also plays a central role in the town's thriving economy. It is also home to the major Kalundborg Long and Medium Wave radio transmitter with is huge aerial array. We drove into the town, again having to negotiate streets closed by road works, and parked at the Kvickly supermarket for our provisions shopping. Leaving George here, we set off to walk through the centre to find Kalundborg's one significant historical building, the medieval Vor Frue (Our Lady) Church. Standing on a hill above the town and harbour, with its distinctive 5 red-brick towers, the church makes an imposing landmark.
The medieval church is built of red brick which was introduced into Denmark in the late 12th century. The fortified church was constructed in the early 13th century by Esbern Snare, brother of Bishop Absalon who first fortified København and built Roskilde Cathedral. Vor Frue Church has a Byzantine design based on the Greek Cross with square central tower connected by cross appendages to 4 octagonal corner towers. The church was originally part of more extensive castle fortifications, later demolished. From the town Torvet (central market square, now just a car park), we walked uphill past medieval houses up Adelgade with the church towers dominating the brow of the hill (Photo 37 - Vor Frue Church) (see right). The church interior was cruciform in shape with high granite columns and Gothic vaulting, and red-brick barrel vaulting in the 4 transepts radiating out from the central tower. The whole interior was now Lutheran plain with no evident artwork other than the ornate carved 17th century altarpiece which dominated the chancel, its centre showing a Last Supper scene surrounded by statuettes of evangelists and saints (see above left). From Vor Frue, we ambled down cobbled Præstegade with its medieval houses an indication of the upper town's 15th century prosperity (see right). But the first spots of rain were now beginning, and we hurried back along the more mundane modern main street to collect George from Kvickly.
Røsnæs peninsula and lighthouse: we now drove out along the length of the Røsnæs peninsula which tapered out to its narrow conclusion at Røsnæs Fyr (Lighthouse) overlooking the northern Store Bælt (click here for map of route). Through a series of villages, the increasingly narrow lane finally reached the parking area 600m before the lighthouse. We followed a path through the woods which covered the narrow headland, with steep drops each side down to the rocky shore-line. The Fyr was laid out with exhibitions illustrating the WW2 history of Røsnæs when the German occupiers fortified this important headland overlooking the Store Bælt shipping lanes, and the post-war Cold War period when Røsnæs Head became an important radar monitoring station against the threat of Soviet invasion. A network of paths ranged around the headland atop the Store Bælt cliffs, which were covered with purple-flowered Duke of Argyll's Teaplant (Lycium bararum) (see left) (Photo 38 - Duke of Argyll's Teaplant); this shrub was originally introduced by the eponymous Duke from its native China in the 18th century for decorative hedging especially in coastal districts and is now naturalised in Western Europe and Scandinavia.
Havnsø harbour stellplads: back through Kalundborg, with the forecast 36 hours of constant rain now starting in earnest, we turned off from Route 23 along a minor lane around the north coast (click here for map of route). Denmark has a 3,600 kms network of such scenic rural lanes, designated as Marguerite Routes indicated on signposts by the Marguerite Daisy emblem (see right); they are named after Queen Margrethe II whose favourite flower this is. We had 2 camping options planned: one was Teglværksgårdens Camping but their web site left a poor impression, and we could get no response to telephone enquiries; after our recent experience of overpriced and second-rate campsites, we turned to our second option. This was another marina stellplads at the tiny harbour of Havnsø from where ferries ran across to the small off-shore island of Sejerø. Our Stellplatz phone app gave Havnsø marina stellplads good reviews, and when we arrived, even in this grim weather it looked very agreeable. There were 4 camping places overlooking the marina by the little harbour/ferry port, with power and water-filling hose. Payment was by credit card at another automat machine by the Harbour Master's office; similar to Bagenkøp, this was multi-lingual and the receipt gave access code for the straightforward but clean WC/showers nearby. The price was a very reasonable 143kr, and there was a well-stocked Dagli Brugsen mini-market just across the street. In pouring rain we quickly settled in; the gravel surface absorbed much of the rain but inevitably puddles formed (Photo 39 - Havnsø harbour stellplads) (see left). It was a very busy little port, with 2 ferries coming and going and some traffic, but no noise disturbance. Despite the miserably grim weather, it was a charactersome setting and such good value, yet again confirming our experience that such stellplads were so much more preferable to featureless, overpriced campsites, particularly out of season. The pouring rain continued all night, easing occasionally, but we were warm, snug and dry in George.
Sjællands Odde, a busy and alternative route from København to Jutland: the following morning, we completed our provisions shopping at the Dagli Brugsen; the sign outside announced the shop quaintly as Kolonial og Skibshandel (Colonial and Ship's supplies) with telephone number Havnsø no 2 (see right). With rain still pouring, we set a course for what we believed from the map was a quiet little ferry port at the tip of the narrow Sjællands Odde peninsula which projected into the outer Store Bælt and was bounded on the northern side by the open Kattegat. We set off around the Marguerite Route coastal lanes alongside shore-side holiday homes, deserted at this late stage of the year (click here for map of route), leading around to Route 225. Both the inland higher ground of Trundholm and the off-shore islands were obscured by low, misty rain-cloud; it was a truly dismal day. We followed a back-lane northwards through dark pine woods filled with holiday homes and side-turnings down to beaches, eventually joining the main Route 21. And now we were faced with a real shock. Route 21 became highway standard with 90kph speed limit, and in the opposite direction, one solid and continuous line of speeding traffic: where on earth was it all coming from, and where was it all going to? And why was this road out along the peninsula, to what we had naively believed was a quiet little harbour, now classified as a highway, evidently filled with city traffic? A more intensive look at the map, and the answer became clear: Yderby Lyng at the western tip of Sjællands Odde was now a major ferry port with regular, busy one hour services across to the city of Aarhus on Northern Jutland, and Route 21 was now an alternative escape route from København by fast ferry to Aarhus, the capital of Jutland and Denmark's second city along with Odense on Funen. With the motorway~highway stretching from København via Roskilde and Holbæk, it was an hour's drive from the capital to Yderby Lyng along Sjællands Odde, plus a further hour's ferry crossing to Aarhus. This was a faster and cheaper alternative route by car than across the Store Bælt (with expensive toll) and Lille Bælt bridges, and the drive up the length of Jutland. Our timing today had happened to coincide with the arrival of a ferry from Aarhus, and the continuous stream of traffic in the SE direction was the ferry's consignment of København-bound vehicles.
We continued along Sjællands Odde through to the ferry port, and of course there was nothing to see except ranks of empty car-queuing lanes for the massive ferry terminal. Only with some difficulty did we manage to turn around in the one-way system, or otherwise we should have been forced inescapably into a ferry lane, and finished up back in North Jutland again! What fools we felt! We pulled into a café car park to eat our lunch sandwiches and take stock, but suddenly realised that if another incoming ferry arrived, we should be caught up in the speeding traffic, all desperate to get back to the urban jungle of København's conurbation. We beat a hasty retreat and scuttled back along the peninsula to escape from the Route 21 highway onto the more peaceful Route 225 to Nykøbing-Sjælland. Our original plan had been to work our way around to Northern Sjælland via Holbæk, across the mid-Roskilde Fjord narrows at Frederikssund, and north to Frederiksværk to camp at Byåsgård camping at the head of Roskilde Fjord where we had stayed in 2007. But looking at the map this morning, we had realised that we could save time and a long unnecessary drive by crossing the mouth of Iselfjord by ferry from Rørvig to Hundested, bringing us directly to Byåsgård Camping (click here for map of route).
Rørvig to Hundested ferry to Northern Sjælland: Route 225 brought us into the small town of Nykøbing-Sjælland and out to Rørvig for the ferry across Iselfjord to Hundested. We had been concerned in case this route would also now be busy with København traffic taking a short cut via Hundested bound for the Jutland ferry at Sjællands Odde. But we need not have worried: we arrived at Rørvig to find a quiet little ferry port, almost deserted, with an hourly service across the Iselfjord straits to Hundested. While waiting, we got into conversation with a delightful elderly lady who was travelling as a foot passenger on the next ferry and who insisted on helping us buy our ticket from the automat (197kr). Several other vehicles arrived, and the ferry docked for the 14-55 20 minute crossing to Hundested (see above left); in today's wet and windy weather, the mouth of Iselfjord looking out to the open Kattegat was very choppy.
Byåsgård Camping, another disappointment: ashore at Hundested port at the mouth of Iselfjord (see right), there was little to detain us in the small town other than re-filling the camper with diesel, before driving the 7 kms along Route 16 to Byåsgård Camping. The town's only noteworthy citizen had been the Danish polar explorer Knud Rasmussens who, after his retirement here, spent all his time trying to get back to Greenland; and seeing Hundested, we could understand why! We had happy memories of our stay at Byåsgård Camping in 2007, when we had camped at a pleasant fjord-side pitch lined with scented wild roses looking down the length of Roskilde Fjord; had any Viking boats been trying to sail out of their fjord moorings, we should have had a perfect view. We arrived today to find reception closed, only open between 4-00 and 5-00pm. As we waited, the owner turned up to book us in; inevitably prices had risen considerably in the last 12 years. We recalled from 2007 the low-lying ground at Byåsgård, and had concerns about it being soft and wet after 36 hours of continuous rain. But when it came to finding a pitch, soft ground was not the issue: the campsite was now just an enormous metropolis of statics, stretching endlessly across the slope above Roskilde Fjord. With all the acres of statics, the concern now was actually finding a pitch! The pleasant fjord-side pitches recalled from 2007 were still there, but of course now totally monopolised by row upon row of enormous statics. Higher up the slope where the ground was firmer, the few pitches available for visitors were poky and dismal among trees. But even worse than that, given the enormous size of the site, were the distances to walk to the facilities, with showers only at reception some 800m away! We drove around twice trying to find an available and acceptable pitch, and in desperation settled on an open area close to WCs and wash-up. Given the campsite's charges, with extra for card-controlled showers, the facilities were mediocre, the male WCs particularly antiquated and dingy. Fortunately most of the statics were deserted, and although wet, the ground was reasonably firm. Despite our happy memories from 2007, Byåsgård Camping was now such an alien environment with so many statics; goodness only knows what sort of bedlam it would be in summer with half of København holidaying here and making whoopee! Scarcely surprised at this disappointment, we reluctantly settled in and took stock. There was no way we were going to stick to our original plan of staying here for 2 nights. Over beers we consulted our Stellplatz phone-app for Denmark, which produced a solution: we found another good value marina-stellplads at the small harbour of Lynæs near Hundested for tomorrow night's camp, after our day of walking in Tisvilde Hegn forests on the Northern Sjælland coast. The evening grew dark and chill, and we again needed the heater for warmth; it was a wet and miserable night.
The sky had cleared overnight but, when the sun did eventually rise above the hedges at 7-30am, there was no warmth in it (see above right); the air now had a real feeling of autumn. Byåsgård had been a total disappointment with its overwhelming statics and poor facilities, but worse was to come. We packed and drove up to reception for showers because of the distance, but when we came to pay, not only were the prices even higher than expected, but the owner tried overcharging us for alleged over usage of the shower time cards. That was the last straw! His grudging response to our vehement protests was to offer a discount to 200kr, but the damage was done: Byåsgård Camping received one of the few negative ratings of the trip, further underlining the value of Danish stellplads.
A day's walking in Tisvilde Hegn forests: we turned north this morning at Frederiksværk onto Route 205 for today's planned walking in the forests of Tisvilde Hegn on the Kattegat coast (click here for map of route). What was once an area occupied by farms was overwhelmed by drifting dunes in the 15~16th centuries; the villages and farms were inundated by sand driven by storm winds from the Kattegat, and abandoned as farmland, threatening to turn Tisvilde Hegn into a deserted wilderness. In the late 18th century, attempts were made to stabilise the sand by planting forests. The plantations continued during the 19the and 20th centuries, producing a variety of forest which now cover Tisvilde Hegn. A network of marked trails now leads around the forests and today we planned to follow a 6kms circuit of such paths, using a map-leaflet from our 2007 visit.
We parked by the moated ruins of the former medieval manor house of Asserbo, kitted up and set off. The first section of path, which branched off northwards from a gravelled forest-ride, led through mixed woodland of Pine, Oak and Beech. The terrain became more hilly with deep gulleys and the woodland more varied and deciduous (see above left and right), the path leading past an evident burial mound. Here we saw Lingonberry and Crowberry among the groundcover, and heard an unseen jay squawking among the trees. After crossing another forest-ride, our ongoing path led into a coppice of magnificent Beech trees, the leaves glowing bright green in the autumn sunshine almost like the new leaf of springtime. The path dropped down to a junction of forest-rides to reach the oldest belt of forest bordering onto the Kattegat coast. This area of woodland was labelled as Troldeskoven (Trolls' forest) from the numbers of twisted, contorted Pines, appearing mystically like the influence of malevolent trolls. Although often attributed to the influence of winds and storms, the contortions of these Pines, like similar trees at Trollskogen Nature Reserve on the Swedish Baltic island of Öland, is far more likely to be due to genetic mutations causing twisted growth (see left and right) (Photo 40 - Troldeskoven contorted Pines). Either way, they created fascinating photographic opportunity. A forest-ride led from here down to the dunes which edged the Kattegat shore-line, and the beautiful vista of deserted white sand beaches and dunes evidently colonised by invasive wild Rugosa roses (Photo 41 - Tisvilde Hegn beaches) (see below right).
So far today, we had managed to navigate this maze-like network of paths with satisfying precision using the map-leaflet aided by our Maps-Me phone-app. We now cut back through Trollsskoven, passing even more dramatically contorted Pines (see left). Turning back eastwards, the moment we crossed a forest-ride, we left behind the early plantation of contorted Pines, and entered a later, more regimented plantation of tall conifers, a far more sterile-looking forest. The path gained height steeply up to fenced horse pastureland, which we skirted gaining more height on steepening terrain up through mixed woodland of Pines and deciduous trees to reach another forest-ride. We turned off around a series of burial mound hillocks, and from the highest of these, the view looked out northwards over the forests to the distant Kattegat coast-line. The onward path continued through open estate parkland with scattered deciduous trees, passing over another highpoint with a stone memorial atop.
A little further and we turned off on a sandy path through an old plantation of Pines to the site of the medieval farming hamlet of Tørup Landsby. This had been abandoned in the late 16th century due to being overwhelmed by drifting sand dunes; the farmland had become uncultivable due to sand encroachment from over-grazing. The foundation remains of the farmsteads had been excavated in a forest clearing. The final section of the return path to the parking area at the ruins of Asserbo Manor was the least interesting of the day's walking, passing through dark, closely planted Pines. Today's 6 kms walk had been one of the most rewarding of the trip for its variety of woodland and nature of terrain.
Gilleleje fishing harbour: it was only 4-00pm and we had time now to drive over to the small Kattegat fishing port of Gilleleje, last visited in 2007. Passing Helsinge on Route 205, we turned north on Route 251 through Græsted to reach Gilleleje harbour to photograph the fishing boats in the surprisingly still busy harbour (see left) (Photo 42 - Gilleleje fishing harbour). The local museum shows exhibits documenting the part played in 1943 by Gilleleje fishermen in evacuating 1,800 Danish Jews across the Kattegat to safety in neutral Sweden, a brave venture risking lives and livelihood under the noses of German patrols along this coast. But with time now pressing, there was only opportunity for a fleeting visit today, and with the forecast change in weather to yet more rain now arriving, we set course to return by the route we had come back out towards Hundested.
Stellplads camping at Lynæs harbour near Hundested: just before the port, we turned off down to the little harbour at Lynæs to camp tonight at the marina stellplads. It was 6-00pm by the time we arrived, with the weather now heavily overcast and wet, and a bruising SW wind blowing. The stellplads camping area was on a grassy triangle, muddy after all the rain, overlooking the marina and boat storage yards, and totally deserted. We plugged George into power, and went in search of facilities, Harbour Master's office and payment automat. After camping at a number of such stellplads, we were learning the ropes. The price here was more expensive at 175kr, but we found a well-equipped kitchen/wash-up, and WC/showers functional but clean, which served both marina and camping. As usual payment by credit card at the automat gave a receipt with key-code for the facilities. We settled into the camping area, with rain now pouring and wind howling; it was going to be a wild night, with the noise of rattling yacht rigging from the marina. The rain blew itself out overnight, and we woke to a bright, sunny morning. Yet again, the charactersome environment of Lynæs marina proved the worth of such stellplads-campings (Photo 43 - Lynæs marina stellplads) (see above right).
A visit to Roskilde Viking Ship Museum: the following morning, we set course for Frederikssund on the way south to Roskilde (click here for map of route). Last evening, Paul's watch battery had expired and we had identified from our universally indispensible Maps-Me phone-app a shopping centre in Frederikssund for a jeweller to get it replaced. The parking area identified in Frederikssund turned out to be the railway station car park, filled to capacity with København commuters' cars, but again Maps-Me obliged by finding us another car park nearby. A Kvickly supermarket in the shopping centre provided today's provisions, and a jeweller replaced the watch battery, and all jobs done, we set course south for Roskilde.
Approaching Roskilde on Route 6, our sat-nav alerted us to a speed camera, remarkably only the second we had passed in the whole of Denmark. We had feared heavy traffic in Roskilde, but in fact we readily reached the fjord-side free parking by the Viking Ship Museum. You will have read the word fjord quite a lot in the descriptions of our journeying around Jutland and Zealand; it may have conjured up images of Norway's mountain-sided glacial fjords, but on the much-indented coastline of low-lying Denmark, it means just a sandy lagoon or inlet, some more like inland seas such as Limfjord in North Jutland. Roskilde is an ancient Viking settlement at the head of its winding fjord whose exit into the Kattegat is several miles to the north; this provided a sheltered haven for trading vessels and long-boats, dating from the 10th century unification of the Danish kingdom under King Harold Bluetooth who had named Roskilde his royal capital. Roskilde's proudest attractions now are its 12th century red-brick Gothic Cathedral, and the Viking Ship Museum which displays the conserved remains of 5 Viking craft recovered in 1962 from the shallows of Roskilde Fjord at Skuldelev (see above left) (Photo 44 - Conserved Viking long-ship), and thought to have been scuttled there in the late 11th century as a defensive barrier to protect the royal capital from invasion; these were still troubled times as the Trelleborg fortress had witnessed. The Viking ships' hulls now displayed in the Museum include a great long-ship built at the Viking colony of Dublin; a modern replica had made the return voyage to Ireland in summer 2007. We had visited the Viking Ship Museum in 2007, adding further to our understanding of Viking history, culture and their incredible boat-building and sea-faring skills. But today admission to the Museum is a prohibitive 150kr (£20) each, and we satisfied ourselves with viewing the outdoor workshops area where a reproduction Viking clinker-built hull was being constructed from planked timber (see above right) (Photo 45 - Reproduction Viking ship under construction). In the museum harbour, other reconstructed Viking ships modelled on the conserved remains in the museum were moored at the quays (Photo 46 - Reconstructed Viking boats) (see above left). Other reconstructed boats were the moored at the dock against the backdrop of Roskilde Cathedral up on the hill beyond (Photo 47 - Roskilde harbour) (see left), and alongside these a church-boat from Sollerön on Lake Siljan in Central Sweden was moored (see right).
Roskilde Cathedral: from the fjord-side parking area, we walked up through parkland past the foundation remains of medieval St Hans Church, to re-visit Roskilde Cathedral. The first church was founded here originally by Harald Bluetooth who named Roskilde as capital of the new Kingdom of Denmark. Bishop Absalon, who fortified København, built the Cathedral at Roskilde in 1170. Later remodelled into a massive Gothic structure to rival the great cathedrals of France, Roskilde was the seat of Danish royal power at a time when København was an obscure fishing village. Since the 1536 Reformation, it has been the burial place for every Danish monarch: 22 kings and 15 of their queens are buried here in elaborate tombs around the cathedral, from early monarchs through to the Renaissance Christian IV, right up to the present queen's father Frederik IX (1947~72).
Admission now was 60kr (seniors' discount), but this included a well-documented and illustrated guide book in English. We began our tour of the royal burial chapels in the Chapel of the Magi, named after its frescoes, which contained the ornate Renaissance style sepulchres of the first post-Reformation monarchs and their queens, Christian III and Frederik II (Photo 48 - Royal sepulchres) (see right), with halberdier statues standing guard over the elaborate tombs and putti swarming over the canopies. Behind the highly ornate 16th century high altarpiece, the Canon's Chancel contained the tomb of Margrethe I (1353~1412) who unified the Kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden under the 1397 Union of Kalmar; her golden crowned marble effigy lay atop the sarcophagus (see above left). One of the Chancel's brick pillars was decorated with a memorial fresco to Harald Bluetooth as founder of the church in Roskilde (see left); it is uncertain where he is actually buried. In the ambulatory, an exhibition illustrated the memorial sepulchre incorporating modern engraved glasswork being prepared in readiness for the demise of Denmark's 79 year old monarch, Margrethe II; the monument has recently been completed and now stands in the Cathedral's St Birgitta Chapel, covered and awaiting Margrethe II's death and internment; typically Danish practicality, if rather macabre! The recent sudden cancellation of the state visit to Denmark by the boorish oaf currently masquerading as US President caused much offence to the Danish people (as well as an estimated 4 million kroner wasted cost) for the insult it offered to their much respected Queen. A panel in the ambulatory displayed a listing of the burial places of all of Denmark's monarchs, including the 22 who are buried at Roskilde, going back as far as Gorm the Old, regarded as founder of the royal dynasty, who is buried at Jelling, and Swyen and Knut (Canute of wave-defying fame), Harald Bluetooth's son and grandson, who were also Kings of England and buried in Winchester Cathedral. Christian IV's Chapel contained the sepulchres of this long-reigning (1588 to 1648) Danish Renaissance monarch's family and his 19th century statue (see right) recognisable by its C4 monogram which we had seen in Kristianstad, the Skåne fortress-town built by Christian IV in Southern Sweden to defend what was then part of the Danish realm until recaptured by the Swedes under the terms of the 1658 Treaty of Roskilde. Our re-visit to this magnificent building of Roskilde Cathedral had given us a tour de force of a thousand years of Danish history from late Viking times to the present; as the lady at the ticket-office had said on our 2007 visit, "København may now be the capital, but we still have the monarchs here at Roskilde".
Stellplads-camping at Rødvig fishing harbour on the south coast of Stevns peninsula: we now had the challenge of extricating ourselves from Roskilde in the late afternoon rush hour traffic. In fact we managed to negotiate a way through the heart of the city with relative ease and, having crossed the traffic-ridden E21 motorway junction with København commuters rushing out headlong past Roskilde, we started south on Route 6 towards Køge (click here for map of route). Again expecting delays crossing the commuter-bound E20 motorway just before Køge, we managed to cross this intersection also with ease, and continued into Køge, getting our first view this trip of the Øresund. We knew Køge well dating from our visit to the Braunstein Brewery in the town in 2007, and from our regularly calling in to buy their excellent beers en route for Sweden in subsequent years. Although not expecting the Brewery still to be open at 5-00pm, it seemed a pity not to look by in passing today, so we diverted around to Køge harbour, where of course the Brewery was closed. We therefore continued south on Route 209, heading towards the Stevns peninsula. We had the luxury of 3 camping options for tonight: the unknown, but expensive Lægårdens Camping, but after our recent negative experiences of conventional campsites, we favoured the two stellplads options from our Stellplatz phone-app, both with good reviews. The first of these at Vallø Golf Club near to Store Tårnby looked fine but had no distinctiveness. We therefore continued across the Stevns countryside to the other stellplads at Rødvig fishing harbour on the south coast of Stevns peninsula.
The stellplads at Rødvig had 6 camping places with power, immediately alongside the marina and fishing harbour (fiske havn) amid boat repair yards and workshops; this looked another charactersome setting, full of bustle and interest. By the Harbour Masters' office, we found the usual automat for payment and receipt giving facilities access-code, but locating the facilities was more of a challenge. With help from passing locals, we eventually tracked down the reasonable WC/showers and well-equipped kitchen/wash-up. A strong signal open wi-fi covered the whole harbour-side area, and the cost was a very good value 120kr plus 5kr coins for showers. We settled in with the quay-side pitches to ourselves and the sun setting over the boats in the marina. With such an admirable setting, good wi-fi signal, and sunny weather forecast for tomorrow, we decided to take a day in camp here at Rødvig fishing harbour.
After heavy rain and strong SW winds overnight, we woke to a clearing sky promising sunny weather for a day in camp with a difference at Rødvig fiske havn (Photo 49 - Rødvig fishing harbour stellplads) (see above left); how restful it would be remained to be seen! We sat over breakfast looking out through the open sliding door across the yachts in Rødvig marina, with the bright morning sun streaming in (see above right) (Photo 50 - Morning sun over Rødvig fishing harbour). During the day, the bright sunshine sparkling on the waters of the harbour and lighting all the boats made for endless photographic opportunity (see left and right). We largely had the quay-side to ourselves during the day apart from locals strolling by along the harbour-front, but with the weekend approaching, inevitably more camping-cars began arriving late afternoon. The evening grew dark and chill, and a waxing gibbous moon (final phase before a full moon) rose over the harbour.
Unique geological feature of Stevns Klint: from Rødvig the following morning, we drove across the flat agricultural landscape of East Sjælland which ends abruptly at the 20 km long line of 40m high cliffs at Stevns Klint (click here for map of route). So what's special about these cliffs, you'll say? Well, what's special about Stevns Klint, and our reason for coming here today, is that the stratified cliff face presents an evident geological profile pre- and post- the meteorite impact 65 million years ago which wiped out the dinosaurs along with 70% of our planet's plant and animal life (click here for diagram of Stevns Klint stratified cliff-face).
The upper part of the exposed cliff face is made up of Tertiary Era limestone which, being harder and more resistant to erosion, overhangs the lower half which is composed of soft white Cretaceous Period chalk studded with lines of black flint nodules. The chalk was sedimented over a climatically stable 40 million years period in a deep tropical sea which then covered Northern Europe, and only the uppermost layers of this 800m deep chalk sediment are visible on the lower section of the 40m high exposed cliff-face at Stevns. Then 65 million years ago, the Earth's climate changed drastically and became what resembled an arctic winter. Over a period of around 5,000 years, a 5~10cms layer of dark clay was deposited in a shallow, cold and lifeless sea, a period when around 70% of all plant and animal species, including the dinosaurs, became extinct. This thin layer of dark clay, visible on the exposed cliff-face at Stevns just under the upper limestone layers' overhang and above the lower chalk layers, was found to be enriched with Iridium, an element not normally seen in surface rocks since, like Iron, Iridium sank into the Earth's core during planetary formation. Such high Iridium concentration, shown by analysis of the Stevns Klint boundary clay and that from a similar site in Italy, was characteristic of extra-terrestrial bodies such as meteorites. This fact was used in 1980 by a team led by Nobel-winning physicist Luis Alvarez and his geologist son Walter Alvarez to propose the hypothesis that the worldwide Mass Extinction Event 65 million years ago, which wiped out the dinosaurs and 70% of Earth's plant and animal life, was caused by an asteroid impact. Alvarez's conclusion from calculation of Iridium levels in the Stevns dark clay boundary layer, representing the momentary 5,000 years of arctic winter caused by debris and dust in the Earth's atmosphere thrown up by the impact, was that the meteorite was a massive 10kms in diameter. The Alvarez hypothesis to explain the Mass Extinction of life on Earth 65 million years ago by meteorite impact is now widely accepted, and reinforced by the discovery of a large buried impact crater structure of similar age under what is now the Yucatán Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico. The global blocking out of sunlight resulting from the meteorite impact dust and debris in the atmosphere inhibited plant photosynthesis, leading to mass extinction of plant life and therefore animal life. What is significant about Stevns Klint is this visible narrow band of dark clay deposited by the meteorite impact dust cloud; this forms a demarcation between the uppermost layers of Cretaceous Period chalk and the later Tertiary Period more impervious limestone, laid down during the post-meteorite strike aeons when life on Earth, particularly early mammals, began to re-emerge. Stevns Klint is geologically important as one of the few places in the world where the Cretaceous~Tertiary (Paleogene) Boundary is so evidently exposed, and as such the cliff-line was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.
Our visit to Stevns Klint: geology may not be your thing, but you've got to admit that such evident charting of this momentous event in our planet's mega-history, one to which human kind owes its distant origins, is worth seeing. We therefore headed to Højerup village which is set by the top of Stevns Klint and is one of the best place to scramble down for a close quarters view of the cliff face. Centuries of marine erosion of the soft chalk lower layers at Stevns Klint triggered a major cliff landslide in 1928, causing part of the chancel of Højerup's 13th century cliff-top church to collapse into the sea, leaving the church nave and tower teetering on the cliff-edge. The Gamle Kirke (Old Church) at Højerup is now underpinned and reinforced to prevent further collapse, and the church nave gives access to an outside cliff-top balcony, where the east-end chancel once stood (Photo 51 - Højerup Church cliff-top terrace) (see above left). This terrace gave unparalleled views northwards along the length of the sunlit Stevns Kilnt cliff-line (Photo 52 - Stevns Kilnt stratified cliff-line) (see above right). But from the church terrace and other look-out points on the cliff-top, the overhang of the upper limestone part of the cliff obscures the lower chalk strata and the all-important boundary layer of dark clay. To see this, you need to descend the terrifyingly steep metal steps 40m down the sheer cliff-face to the rocky shore below (see above left). Pausing partway down the nerve-wracking descent, the view along the cliff-line was even more impressive (Photo 53 - Descent of cliff steps). At the foot of the cliffs, wooden steps led up to a path along a terrace partway up the cliff across the fallen debris from the 1928 landslip, around to a point where the full 40m high face of Stevns Klint cliff was revealed, towering above a long stretch of shingle beach (see above right).
Along this pathway, we scrambled over boulders and landslip debris to get a full, unimpeded view along the whole length of the Stevns Kilnt cliff (see above left) (Photo 54 - Stevns Klint cliff face): there before our eyes, 70 million years of Earth's history was exposed, in fact just a brief moment in geological time of the planet's full 4.5 billion year history. The most significant part of this pictorial story, scarcely visible from a distance, could now just be seen: the thin, 10cm deep darker strip of clay layer, immediately below the under-surface of the harder, more impervious upper limestone overhang (Photo 55 - Narrow dark clay boundary layer) (see above right), and above the lower softer chalk which was eroded by tidal action. This difficult to see darker line of clay resulted from the deposition of dust thrown up by the asteroid impact 65 million years ago, leading to the global winter causing the Mass Extinction, from which the early mammals managed to survive, Homo Sapiens' remote origins. From this point also, we could look out across the straits, and in the misty distance could just make out the line of piers of the Øresund Bridge. Re-ascending the steep metal steps was certainly not as nerve-wracking as the descent, when you could see just how far down the cliff you had to fall! Back at the cliff-top, another viewpoint showed Højerup Old Church (or what remained of it) perched on the brink of the cliff-edge, and the line of Stevns Klint stretching away northwards (see above left). We followed the cliff-top path beyond the church around to further viewpoints immediately above the highest part of the cliff-line (see above left) at the northern end of the cliff face; unfortunately in shadow here against the afternoon sun, the effect of earlier quarrying of the upper cliff face limestone could be seen (see above right). Further round, the Bråten viewpoint also showed just how precariously perched the Old Church was on the very brink of the high cliffs, dramatically above the massive heap of cliff-collapse debris at the foot of the cliffs (Photo 56 - Højerup Church perched above landslip debris) (see left).
Holtug Kridtbrud (Chalk Quarry): from Højerup, we set course around the lanes of Stevns to Holtug village and Holtug Kridtbrud (Chalk Quarry). Here and at Boesal Kalkbrud (Limestone Quarry) further south, were the 2 major sites along the 20 kms length of Stevns Klint where limestone for building material and chalk for paper production had been quarried during the 20th century. At Holtug, more than 300 workers were employed producing both limestone and chalk, before the quarries closed in 1972. The pits have now reverted to nature and are open to public access. We followed a narrowing lane which ended at a parking area at the brink of the huge, deep quarry pit (see above right). From here a path led around the quarry's southern rim and edged down a narrow ridge between pit and coastal cliff, snaking down into the quarry floor; from here a track led through to the shingle beach edging the Øresund where fishermen fished for sea trout. From the shore-side (see left), we could look out across the Øresund straits and in the misty distance could just see wind-farms on the Swedish coast of Skåne.
Galleri-Østervang Farm-Stellplads near Præstø: we now had to head south to find a place to camp for tonight near to Præstø from where we should cross to the island of Møn tomorrow. We had 2 options: one was the unknown and very uncertain Præstø Camping (no response to phone calls), and the other was another farm-stellplads just inland from Præstø Fjord and which had good reviews on our Stellplads phone-app. We set course for this, through Store Heddinge, across to Fakse, and south on Route 209 around the shore of Præstø Fjord (click here for map of route). Here we turned inland towards Tappernøje, to reach Galleri-Østervang Farm-Stellplads, a large and attractive farmhouse with camping in the gardens at the rear. The initial problem was that, despite the evident signs for camping, no one was about to respond to our presence or answer our telephone call. We found WC/shower, kitchenette and source of power with extension lead in a barn, and notices invited campers to settle in. We were about to settle on the gravelled forecourt area when the owner's son arrived in his pick-up. Hospitably welcoming, he encouraged us to camp in the beautifully turfed and extensive gardens, and we duly settled in by a screening hedge (see above right). The elderly lady owner arrived back, equally welcoming but unusually speaking only Danish or German, and charged us a very reasonable 125kr. We settled in as the sun declined over this beautiful garden setting looking out over farming countryside. As we cooked supper, a hazy full moon rose in the eastern sky (see left), but a chill wind was now blowing.
Crossing to the island of Møn: after a rough night of strong westerly winds, we woke to a heavily overcast sky. Galleri-Østervang Farm-Stellplads had been a good find: the welcome had been warm and friendly, the setting in lovely turfed gardens was peacefully rural, and the facilities, although limited, were functional. and all for the price of 125kr. It had served us well. This morning we drove into Præstø to shop at a poorly stocked Rema 1000, and continued on Route 59, the main roads towards the island of Møn (click here for map of route). Before crossing Møn Bridge, we diverted into Kalvehave to investigate the stellplads by the marina for tonight, given that all the campsites on Møn were unacceptably over-priced. The Kalvehave stellplads was wonderfully sited directly overlooking the length of the arched bridge spanning Stege Bught (another Viking word from which modern English inherits the geographical term Bight), the channel separating the island of Møn. The harbour office, payment automat and facilities were close by, and we set George's reserved plaque ready for our return tonight.
Medieval frescoes at Elmelunde and Keldby Churches: with the weather still overcast and strong westerly wind still blowing along the channel, we crossed the 746m long bridge (see above right) and continued onto Møn along to Stege with its large Super Brugsen supermarket. Route 287 brought us through Keldby to the village of Elmelunde for the first of this afternoon's church visits to see again the beautiful medieval frescoes. Elmelunde is the oldest church on Møn, built on the site of an earlier wooden church alongside a pagan burial mound dating back to the Bronze Age, showing that the site had been of religious significance from time immemorial. The chancel and nave of the present white-painted red-brick church date from the end of the 11th century. The Romanesque style church was extended westwards in the early 13th century and the gabled tower added in 1500. The Gothic vaulting of the nave and chancel are totally covered with beautiful, well-preserved frescoes which were painted towards the end of the 15th century by an anonymous artist, known simply as the Elmelunde Master, more likely a school of painters, the Elmelunde Værksted (Workshop), who were also responsible for similar frescoes in Keldby and Fanefjord Churches on Møn. The frescoes owe their excellent state of preservation to being white-washed over at the 16th century Reformation, such Catholic imagery being considered as idolatrous by the Lutherans, and in 1969 the National Museum of Denmark undertook a major programme of recovery and restoration. This also uncovered an earlier set of painted decorations with Romanesque frescoes on the walls of the nave and chancel. The main later frescoes present a series of well-known Old Testament scenes with the stories of the Creation and Adam and Eve, and episodes from the New Testament such as the Annunciation, Nativity (see above left) (Photo 57 - Elmelunde Nativity fresco), Adoration of the Magi, Flight into Egypt, and the Crucifixion (see above right). Using distinctive soft colour tones of russet, ochre, green and red, with styles of dress from contemporary rural life including familiar everyday events such as ploughing and hunting, the Elmelunde Master depicts these Bible themes in a simple rustic style to convey the Christian message to medieval illiterate farming folk. A characteristic of the artist was the figures' sleepy facial expressions, and between the panels, margins were decorated with frills, flowers and plants. There were mythical animals like unicorns, St George is shown boldly skewering his dragon, and Herod's men slaughtering the innocent babies are wearing suits of medieval armour. The paintings even include quaint touches of humour with Joseph stirring his porridge pot and licking the spoon in the Nativity scene as Mary watches dreamily over the infant Christ.
We took our photos of the ceiling fresco panels at Elmelunde Church, then drove along to Keldby Church to see the similar frescoes there. The original Romanesque nave and chancel of Keldby's imposing red-brick church were built in the first half of the 13th century, and the cross-vaulted nave extended around 1480. The gabled tower was added in the 16th century. Again some fragments of wall-painting survive in the chancel from around 1275, with a second series on the walls of the nave from around 1325. The main series of frescoes painted by the Elmelunde Master covers the Gothic vaulting of the nave, dating from the late 15th century; these include the same Old and New Testament scenes, including the Nativity and Adoration of the Magi (see above left) (Photo 58 - Keldby Magi fresco).
The Grønsalen Neolithic long barrow and medieval frescoes at Fanefjord Church: we now drove SE-ward on Route 287 to southern Møn to see the Master's frescoes in Fanefjord Church which stands proudly on a bluff overlooking an inlet from the Baltic (click here for map of route). Again the church must have occupied a site of long-standing, ancient religious significance, built close to the Grønsalen long barrow (see above right). This sizeable Neolithic burial monument stands within sight of Fanefjord Church, 100m in length and 10m wide, with 145 embedded side stones. It contains 3 burial chambers with 2 open stone-lined graves on the top (see above left).
The original nave of Fanefjord Church was built in the second half of the 13th century with later additions in the 14th and 16th centuries. The scale of the church in a small, rural community is thought to owe its origins to trade links through the fjord with North German Hanseatic ports who contributed both financially and with labour for the church's construction. The Elmelunde Workshop was responsible for decorating the church, and the main frescoes from 1500 cover large areas of the ceiling vaulting and upper walls, again portraying Old and New Testament scenes. Similar to Elmelunde and Keldby, the frescoes were covered with white lime during the Reformation, and only discovered in the late 19th century; they were restored in 2009 to reveal their scale and magnificent colour and detail. At Fanefjord, the warm colours ranging from dark red and russet to yellow, green, grey and black are richer in tone and more distinctive than at the other 2 churches. Again the characteristic style of the sleepy eyed figures' expressionless faces can be seen, turned to left and right with bodies facing front. The images may have been inspired by block-prints from a Dutch or German Biblia Pauperum which contained pages of illustrations depicting Bible stories. Using the helpful crib-sheets provided by the church to help identify each of the scenes, we systematically worked our way around the church photographing the fresco-panels, particularly the Nativity (see above left) and Adoration of the Magi scenes (see above right) (Photo 59 - Fanefjord Magi fresco) to figure on our 2019 Christmas card as we had used the equivalent Nativity scene from Elmelunde Church in 2007.
Kalvehave Stellplads: we returned to Stege and re-crossed Møn Bridge to the marina stellplads at Kalvehave for tonight's camp. Having settled into our reserved pitch close to the facilities huts (see left), we went over to pay at the automat by the Harbour Master's office. At a good value all-inclusive charge of 158kr, the facilities were first class with modern, clean WC/showers, better than most campsites, a straightforward wash-up, washing/drying machines (extra cost) and a rather fragile wi-fi; as usual access key-code for facilities and password for wi-fi was given on the receipt. A strong SW wind was still blowing from across the sound, but we pitched looking out to the magnificent vista towards Møn Bridge spanning the channel (Photo 60 - Møn Bridge) (see right and below left), cooked supper and battened down for a chill, stormy night. Kalvehave marina stellplads, with its good value price, excellent facilities and magnificent setting, served us well and we rated it at +5.
Møns Klint chalk cliffs on eastern coast of Møn: the following morning, we again crossed Møn Bridge and set off across the width of Møn (click here for map of route), truly surprised that as we approached the eastern side of the island, the dip-slope of Møn rose dramatically through dense woodland up to a highpoint of 143m at Aborrebjerg, one of Denmark's highest natural points. This rising dip-slope ends at the 6kms long chalk cliff-line of Møns Klint, which falls a sheer 120m to the sea below. The chalk sediments which formed Møn were created from the deposition of the skeletal remains of microscopic creatures on the seabed over 70 million years ago. This ancient chalky ocean floor was raised above sea level before the last Ice Age. The enormous pressure of the westward moving glacial ice that covered Denmark during the Ice age peeled off huge flakes of the chalk layers up to 50m thick; these were pushed upwards and folded together, compacting the terrain to form the hills of folds of Høje Møn. Strata of black flint were embedded in the chalky layers, and are visible today in the chalky cliff-face of Møns Klint, giving an indication of how the layers were folded under the enormous pressure of glacial ice. When the ice melted and glaciers retreated 11,000 years ago, the cliff-line emerged. The chalky cliffs at Møns Klint form part of the same deposits as the cliffs at Rügen in Northern Germany on the southern Baltic coast which we visited last year. Coastal marine erosion and rain and frost erosion of the chalk causes regular landslides at Møns Klint, particularly during winter and spring. Cliff-collapses occur when blocks of chalk are loosened and fall, sending landslides of chalk down into the sea. In January 2007 a major collapse occurred at Store Taler at the northern end of Møns Klint, creating a 300m peninsular jutting out into the sea. When we last visited Møns Klint in September 2007, the sea off-shore from the cliffs was still stained a distinctive milky white colour from the chalky residue of the major cliff-collapse.
Our visit to Møns Klint: driving out beyond the final village of Borre, we were taken aback by how steeply the land of eastern Møn rose, covered by dense beech woods. The tarmac ended and the final 2kms of unsurfaced lane twisted and turned through the beech forests, ending finally at the parking area by the glitzy and expensive entry Geo-Centre geological museum. Cars from all the countries of Western Europe were parked here, but fewer Danes during the week. At the museum information office, we acquired English language map-leaflets and sought advice on a circular walking route, down the cliff-face at the Maglevands wooden steps, along the shingle beach south for 1km, back up the cliffs at Gråryg steps, and returning along the cliff-top path through the woods. With some apprehension at the steps' potential steepness down the 120m sheer cliff-face, recalling the unnervingly steep and continuous drop of just 40m at Stevns Klint, we approached the Maglevands flight of wooden steps. In fact the cleverly constructed steps managed to negotiate the sheer cliff-face in a series of shorter sections of steps (see above right) interspersed with sloping walk-ways (see above left); there was none of the sense of exposure as at the sheer drop of the Stevns Klint steps, and most of the long descent was in dense woodland with the beech trees hiding the more exposed chalk face of the open cliffs. Only on the final section of the descent did the step-way emerge into the open to reveal the full scope of the sheer chalk cliffs (see right and left). Despite the 120m height of the cliffs, the descent was far less nerve-wracking than feared, and certainly less adrenaline-stimulating than the descent at Stevns. Finally stepping down onto the narrow shingle shore, we were surprised not to find the distinctive milky-white chalk-laden water as we had witnessed in 2007. We had assumed that this was a regular feature under that high chalk cliffs, but of course in 2007 it was the lingering effect of the massive landslide in January of that year. Today the sea, even in the shallows at the foot of the cliffs, was clear.
But another unexpected obstacle now presented itself: we had expected to turn southwards along an open, albeit narrow shingle beach for the 1km walk at the foot of the over-towering cliffs along to the Gråryg steps for our re-ascent. But the immediate way forward entailed an initial scramble around a projecting chalk buttress where the Freuchens Point headland came right down to the water's edge. Our attempt to edge around this was thwarted by the treacherously slippery chalk at the water's edge with risk of a soaking from slipping into the sea; it was just a matter of a few metres to round the obstacle of the buttress, but it was a few metres too far. Rather than face a simple and disappointing re-ascent of the Maglevands steps, instead we turned north to head along the shingle beach for 1km to re-ascend at Røde Udfald steps. Keeping a wary eye upwards to the fragile-looking sheer chalk cliff-face towering above with its risk of rock-falls, we set off along the narrow shingle strip (Photo 61 - Møns Klint cliff-face) (see right). Ahead the beach pathway passed around a headland, making it impossible for us to see the full extent of the route and whether there were further buttresses as obstacles to negotiate. The curving lines of black flint embedded in the white chalk face gave an indication of the tectonic forces that had folded the terrain. Crushed chalk that had fallen to the shore and been trodden into the shingle by passing visitors was compacted into solid masses at the foot of the cliffs.
In 1km, we reached the foot of Røde Udfald steps to begin our re-ascent. The steps were constructed within the folded confines of a tree-covered gully with the cliffs less high at this point. Again the cleverly designed step-way rose at relatively shallow angle, with sections of sloping walk-way. Reaching the top among dense beech woods, we began the 1.5 kms walk back along the cliff-top path. The route rose and fell among woodland, passing significant viewpoints at the cliff-edge which gave spectacular vistas along the exposed cliff-face (see left). The most impressive views were at the highpoint of Forchhammers Point (see right) (Photo 62 - Highpoint of Forchhammers Point). From here the path descended via steps back to our start-point at the Geo-Centre.
A final night back at Kalvehave Stellplads-Camping: it was by now 4-30pm, and we had an hour's drive down to the southern point of Møn where we had identified another marina-stellplads at Hårbølle Havn. Back across the width of the island for the final time (we thought) to Stege, we turned off southwards again on Route 287. Just beyond Fanefjord Church, lanes wound a way around finally reaching the tiny harbour at Hårbølle, but disaster: it was obvious that the stellplads had closed. The small marina-side camping area was blocked off by boulders, and the payment automat removed, so that was that! We had no choice but to drive back to Kalvehave for a further night at the stellplads there.
Crossing to Falster to the port of Stubbekøbing: finally leaving Kalvehave, after a second night's unplanned stay, but grateful for such an excellent stellplads, we crossed Møn Bridge for positively the last time for a major provisions re-stock at the Super Brugsen in Stege for our last few nights in Denmark. Re-tracing our route through southern Møn, we crossed the causeway onto Bogø island (see left) and on the far side, turned up onto the E55 motorway to cross Falster Bridge (click here for map of route). The weather this morning had been squally, but the westerly wind was now blowing at 14m/s, raising a considerable swell in the sound and buffeting George as we crossed the high, exposed bridge (see right). Across onto the Falster side, we left the motorway at junction 43 and turned onto Route 293 along the northern coast of Falster to the port of Stubbekøbing. Many places gain the epithet of one-horse town, but this sad, little town scarcely merited half a horse, so back-of-beyond and run-down did it feel; even the immigrants looked as if they wished they were somewhere else! We paused by the semi-derelict harbour, just to say we had been here, and set course on the Marguerite Route around the eastern coast of Falster.
Marina-Stellplads at Hesnæs fishing harbour on east coast of Falster: Falster itself seemed a dreary back-water island, that most Danes and visitors rush through on the motorway in less than half an hour on their way to or from København from the southern ferry ports. The island seemed to serve as nothing more than an agricultural bread-basket, with nothing to be seen save endless fields of sugar beet. The lane led around to the east coast, turning down to the tiny village-havn at Hesnæs. As we paused at the fishing harbour cum marina, we suddenly realised that the large parking spaces marked out with logs had camping-car symbols; this was in fact a small 6 place stellplads. It was not listed on our Stellplatz phone-app, but further investigation showed power supplies, and a WC/shower but no automat for payment. A notice however said that the Harbour Master would call round to collect payment of 100kr and presumably would issue access code for the facilities.
We had no particular plans for our final 3 days in Denmark other than heading broadly over to western Lolland, the other southern Danish island which was just like Falster with endless fields of sugar beet, only more so! Hesnæs harbour was a magnificent spot and, after little thought, we decided to stay here tonight. Hesnæs stellplads was a serendipitously fortunate chance find, such a gloriously straightforward spot facing into the western sun but also therefore open the vicious westerly wind (see above left) (Photo 63 - Hesnæs Marina-Stellplads). Taking some care to align George in the teeth of the westerly gale now blowing, we settled in overlooking the little fishing havn, and glad to be in the shelter of George out of this exhausting wind. It continued gusting all evening, beginning to ease later as forecast, but the weather remained chill with a waning moon rising in the eastern sky behind us.
George's overnight temperature was down to 11ºC the following morning, but the wind had eased to 4~5m/s with a clearing sky promising a fine morning. At 8-00am, the Harbour Master duly called round to collect the 100kr payment, and we took the opportunity to ask him about the reed-clad cottages we had seen in the village. These timber-framed, thatched cottages, known as Hesnæs houses and unique to Hesnæs, were part of a 19th century social housing scheme for Hesnæs fishermen and their families; designed by a København architect, they used reeds cut from local marshes as an insulating cladding for the stone cottages to retain heat and save on firewood (see left and right) (Photo 64 - Hesnæs houses). Their original status may have once been social housing, but it was clear this morning that they were now very much des res properties! Before leaving Hesnæs, we walked down to the beach for photos across the Øresund (see above right). Hesnæs Stellplads was yet another memorably peaceful place to camp, with reasonable facilities, exceptional value and wonderfully located, and we posted its details onto the Stellplatz phone-app site along with our photo against the backdrop of Hesnæs fishing harbour.
Nykøbing-Falster and Gedser Odde, Denmark's southernmost point: from Hesnæs we followed the Marguerite Route around the back lanes and villages of Falster into Nykøbing-Falster (click here for map of route). Nykøbing with a population of 19,300 is the largest town on Falster and Lolland; not exactly the most exhilarating town, its primary function is to process the sugar beet farmed on the 2 islands, and it is dominated by the huge Nordic Sugar refinery and storage silos (see left). During the autumn~winter sugar beet production season, the factory operates around the clock, processing 1.4 million tonnes of sugar beet from the 600 growers around Falster and Lolland, refining this, according to Nordic Sugar's glitzy promotional material, into high quality granulated sugar and animal feed. We stopped off to shop at the Kvickly supermarket in the centre of Falster, before heading south on the E55 which cuts a straight course down the ever-narrowing peninsula of Syd Falster to the port of Gedser at the southern tip; from here a busy ferry service operates to Rostock in Northern Germany. This was clearly a major freight route, and an incoming ferry had obviously just docked, disgorging cars and lorries which streamed north from Gedser. Reaching the port, there was little of the town other than the ferry dock, and we found ourselves almost trapped in the traffic queuing lanes while trying unsuccessfully to gain access to the Railway Museum housed in the former locomotive round-house which once served the boat trains. Giving up on this, we managed to extricate ourselves to drive around narrow lanes out to the lighthouse at Gedser Odde, Denmark's southernmost point (Photo 65 - Gedser Odde) (see left). As we walked out to the tip, we could not resist photographing a field full of Falster's proverbial sugar beet, not one of the trip's most exciting photos! (see right) (Photo 66 - Falster sugar beet).
Yet another disappointing Danish campsite, over-priced and full of statics: we now set course across to Lolland, hurrying back up E55 before another ferry load of lorries and cars arrived at Gedser (click here for map of route). At Nykøbing, we crossed the sound between Falster and Lolland and cut across to join the E47 SW-wards towards Maribo. From here Route 289 took us towards the north coast of Lolland for tonight's planned campsite at Kragenæs. Close to the marina and ferry dock, where ferries departed for the off-shore islands of Fejø and Femø, we found Kragenæs Camping. Their website had given a good impression of this small campsite, but when we got there, yet another disappointing campsite: in reality it was the worst kind of holiday-camp, totally crammed with statics, and made to seem worse by being shockingly over-expensive. This was totally unacceptable after the wonderfully peaceful and delightfully located, good value marina-stellplads we had become accustomed to over the last 2 weeks. Somehow Kragenæs Camping symbolised the contemporary dilemma of camping in Denmark. Conventional campsites, which had regularly been the mainstay of our camping trips in the past, had now become no-go areas: an unsavoury environment, over-noisy and overcrowded with holiday-makers and all their materialistic paraphernalia, crammed full of statics and totally over-priced even out of season. Experience now showed that, at least out of the main summer period, the future for camping was now dependent on exploring the stellplads concept, at small harbours, marinas, or farm-B&Bs.
Tårs Havn Stellplads on west coast of Lolland: we fortunately knew from our now invaluable Stellplatz Europe phone-app of an alternative place to camp for tonight, a small marina stellplads at Tårs on the west coast of Lolland, close to the harbour from where ferries make the 45 minutes crossing to Spodsbjerg on the east coast of Langeland where we had been 2 weeks ago. This was another 30 minutes drive, and we set course for there, joining the highway standard Route 9 out to Tårs. Approaching the ferry terminal, a lane led around to Tårs Havn and by the tiny fishing harbour a sign pointed to camping. Alongside the harbour and marina, we found the straightforward stellplads on a grassy area with power supplies behind some fishing sheds. It was another glorious, peacefully deserted setting, looking out across an inlet of Nakskov Fjord which formed the natural harbour at Tårs. The facilities were straightforward with WC/shower and large common-room cum kitchenette/wash-up, and the charge was a very reasonable 125kr/night including power, payable by phone-app or leave money in envelope. After the disappointment at Kragenæs, we had found another lovely fishing havn stellplads for our penultimate night in Denmark, and gladly settled in sheltering in the lee of the fishing sheds from the westerly gale (see above right and left)(Photo 67 - Tårs Havn Stellplads). And all evening until late, the Langeland ferry glided in eerie silence into and out of the ferry port just across the water.
A sunny morning at Tårs Havn Stellplads: Sheila's 73rd birthday was greeted by a magnificent sunrise over the inlet of Nakskov Fjord (see above left) (Photo 68 - Dawn over Nakskov Fjord), the sun rising to give a glorious morning over Tårs Havn, and at 8-00am the first ferry of the morning from Langeland glided quietly into the ferry dock across the inlet. We sat for a birthday breakfast looking out over the fishing harbour with the morning sun streaming through the camper's open door (see above right). Tårs Havn was truly an idyllically peaceful setting, and this morning with warm sunshine and not a ripple of wind after last night's gale, we spent a happy time taking photographs around the harbour (Photo 69 - Tårs Havn fishing harbour) (see right). It was an easy decision this morning to return here to Tårs Havn tonight for a final and climactic camp in Denmark this year in such a glorious setting, after a successful series of such marina-stellplads camps over the last 3 weeks. The facilities at Tårs Havn Stellplads proved to be of good standard: the WCs were perfectly clean and the shower relaxingly hot, the only place all trip to have a shower mat. And when we took our washing up over to the kitchenette, one of the local fishermen working at his nets on his boat at the quay called across in perfect English that the water was cold but to take hot water from the shower. We enjoyed a relaxed sunny morning in the lovely atmosphere around the harbour, watching the ferry quietly passing to and fro (see left) (Photo 70 - Langelands ferry passing Tårs Havn): the amount of traffic using the Langeland ferry route was surprisingly high, another unexpected east~west route across Denmark to Odense on Funen avoiding the Store Bælt, particularly for freight coming from Europe bound for Central and Eastern Denmark
Albuen Strand at SW tip of Lolland: having resolved on a second night here at Tårs Havn, we drove late morning via the local section of Marguerite route into Nakskov and through the town, continued out to the lane's end to the extreme SW tip of Lolland at Albuen Strand by the coastal dyke at the start of the 5 kms long sandspit which curves around enclosing Nakskov Fjord (click here for map of route). Behind the inland shelter of the dyke the air was still, but the moment we crossed over to the parking area on the outer side beside the sea, a brisk westerly wind made the air chill. We kitted up against the wind, and set off along the sandspit shore-line, where rows of posts stretched out into the sea, each one occupied by a perching cormorant (see left) . Although the wind was chill, the sun gave a glorious light for photography looking along the deserted beach of the narrow, curving sandspit which stretched away into the distance at this extreme tip of SW Lolland (see below right and left) (Photo 71 - Albuen Strand sand-spit). On the distant westerly skyline, we could just make out the east coast of Langeland accross the Langelands Bælt straits. To begin with we walked along the firm, wet sand edging the surf-line, or crunched through shingle and mussel shells along the drier sand further up the beach. After some 800m, we crossed over the line of dunes onto the sheltered leeward side looking across towards Nakskov Fjord which the curving sandspit enclosed on this SW side, and once out of the wind, the air became warmer. We walked on for a further kilometre and crossed back over to the outer beach side for more photos by the water's edge. And still the sand and shingle-bar stretched away into the distance, its outer end curving around to a hook-shaped terminal point with its lighthouse, enclosing the lagoon of Søndemor. In such glorious autumn weather, this was a truly exhilarating walk.
The industrial town of Nakskov in Western Lolland: the time was now approaching 3-45pm, and we headed back around the lanes to visit Nakskov and get into the Tourist Information Centre before it closed at 4-00pm. A town of 12,600 population, Nakskov had once been a major centre of heavy industry and ship-building. But after Denmark joined the EU in 1973, it was obliged to cease government subsidies to Nakskov's ailing ship-building industry; this, and the decline of orders making the ship-building uneconomical in the face of Far-Eastern competition, brought closure to the Nakskov shipyards in the late-1980s. As a result Nakskov, which had formerly been a prosperous, high employment town, was left with Denmark's highest level of unemployment at 7%. When we were last there in 2007, the town, which was dominated by its enormous sugar beet refinery, had a forlorn air. Even at that stage however new industries were picking up on the derelict former shipyard site by the docks, such as the world's largest manufacturer of wind-turbine blades which was based in Nakskov.
We were interested today to see how the town had progressed in the intervening 12 years. Reaching the town, we parked by the central square of Axeltorv, but by the time we had walked around to the TIC it had closed. The tall slender spire of Nakskov's St Nikolai red-brick built parish church rose above the surrounding buildings, and we headed over towards this through the quiet streets. The town felt to have less of the run-down, depressed air than on our first visit in 2007. The streets were clean, the buildings bright and well-maintained, and the shops were full of consumer goods; there were also a number of clearly successful restaurants and wine-bars; the population of contemporary Nakskov evidently had employment and money to spend. Reaching the church, we found the door open, revealing the starkly white Lutheran interior walls, but decorated with ornate pre-Reformation and Baroque furnishings, pulpit, altarpiece, and epitaphia memorials. The pastor came through to welcome us as visitors, surprised that we were English. We took the opportunity to ask him more about the town's current economy: he confirmed that after the decline and closure of the ship-yards, Nakskov had gone through a very depressed decade; but now with commerce and newer technological and environmental enterprises springing up in recent years replacing the former heavy industry, the town's economy was facing a brighter future. Unemployment was now lower, and the local authority had done much to restore the town's buildings. The town's sugar beet factory, owned by the Danish farming cooperative DLG, was the largest in Denmark processing around 12,000 tons of sugar beet per day during the September~January harvesting period (see right), and was one of largest employers but only seasonal work. The other major employer was the wind-farm blade manufacturer MHI Vestas. We also, rather tongue in cheek, asked the pastor about the former Russian submarine we had seen here by the harbour in 2007. He replied, with wry humour, that it had been bought in the early 2000s as a tourist attraction in a forlornly misguided attempt to bring visitors to Nakskov and boost the town's then failing economy. But tourism produces few jobs; the scheme had been abandoned as a costly failure and the submarine scrapped. He seemed impressed with our observations and our recognition that Nakskov, his native town, now had a more affluent air of well-being than the depressed atmosphere of our first visit in 2007. This had been an informative and enjoyable conversation.
Final night at Tårs Havn Stellplads: back out to Tårs Havn and thankful to find the stellplads still deserted, we settled back again for our final night this year in Denmark. The Langeland ferries passed to and fro, and as the sun set, we were able to get the trip's first sunset photo looking across the little fishing harbour to conclude the trip (see left) (Photo 72 - Sunset over Tårs Havn). The night grew dark and heavily overcast, foreshadowing a cloudy day for tomorrow's ferry crossing from Rødby to Puttgarden in Northern Germany.
Ferry crossing from Rødby to Puttgarden: we woke to a mistily overcast morning with light drizzle, but by breakfast time, the sky was beginning to clear. We finally departed Tårs Havn, after our very happy 2 night stay, and returned along Route 9 highway, just managing to avoid getting caught up in cars and lorries arriving by ferry from Langeland. We tuned off onto Route 275 (click here for map of route), a more peaceful and direct road to Rødby through agricultural countryside and large farm-estates, where huge tractors with multi-track harrows were busily at work in preparation for autumn seed drilling. By 12-15pm, we reached Rødby ferry port and parked by the outward ferry check-in lanes. While waiting, we read of plans for the proposed 18 kms long Fehmarn Bælt immersed-tube tunnel due to open in 2028, with 4 lane motorway and 2 electrified rail tracks, which would eventually replace the ferry. We had flexible ticket reservations, and managed to get space on the earlier 13-40pm sailing, and passed through into the queuing lanes. The lady at the Scandlines international ferry check-in was the only Dane we had encountered in 6 weeks who struggled to speak English! We were among the final vehicles aboard (see right), and spent the 45 minute crossing in the ferry lounge, using the last of our Danish currency to buy cups of coffee. Ashore at Puttgarden, we crossed Fehmarn island to begin our journey home across Germany and Holland, with our customary overnight stops at Campingplatz Schönböcken at Lübeck and Camping Quendorfer See at Schüttorf close to the Dutch border.
During this brief 6 week trip around the Jutland peninsula and Denmark's islands, we had explored almost every rural corner of this small but much fragmented country, indented with so many seas, fjords and islands. For a country which, before we set off seemed anti-climactically unappealing, we in fact were thrilled to have enjoyed a mammoth feast of experiences and learning, particularly about Denmark's Viking past. Our visit was helped by the fact that Danish, with its Germanic origins and Viking-derived links to English, is not a difficult language, and we had gained a ready familiarity with and understanding of the written language. Pronunciation and understanding of spoken Danish however remained something of an incomprehensible puzzle: the common usage of the Stød (glottal stop) in spoken Danish seems to cancel out consonants in words, making the spoken language sound garbled with a tendency to 'swallow' syllables; as one Dane explained, it was as if the Danes spoke their language with a mouthful of pebbles! (Having said that, imagine what foreigners tutored in formal English make of sloppily spoken English, constantly hearing expressions like won't, couldn't or y'know). But despite our efforts to master the difficulties of spoken Danish, we had little need given the Danes' universal almost embarrassing fluency in English. With this advantage, we had the chance to converse with so many interesting people of all ages and from every walk of life. Our overall conclusion of Denmark and the Danes is that of a courteous, considerate, and enviably civilised society, which uses its high taxation revenue to good effect to provide first class public services. So make a visit to Denmark, and remind yourselves of how we used to be before .... well just look around you for what life in contemporary UK has degenerated to.
Our 2019 travelogues will shortly conclude with publication of our review of campsites and stellplads used during this year's trip to Denmark.
Next edition to be published quite soon