One of my hiking goals for 2014 was to complete the European Walking Trail sections of the E1 and E6 in Denmark. Prior to Christmas, I completed the final section of the E1 so after Christmas celebrations, I set off for Svendborg to complete the final section of the E6. My reports on the other sections of the E6 in Denmark can be found at the end of the post.
The section of the E6 between Svendborg and Høruphav utilises the Archipelago Trail (Øhavstien) (there is an APP available from their home page). The E6 traverses part of the island of Ærø (a popular tourist destination), before returning to the mainland at Fynshav, after which the trail follows a series of minor roads before connecting with the Gendarmstien at Høruphav. There was a few surprises in store for me on this trip, which are described in the following paragraphs. The trip began at the ferry wharf in Svendborg where the regular ferry service connects the mainland with Ærøskøbing Havn. I along with many others boarded the ferry and I for one was pleased to get out of the bitterly cold winds. The ferry trip takes a little over an hour before depositing us at Ærøskøbing.
It was below zero C when I left Svendborg and it felt much colder, with wind chill, when I alighted from the ferry. Fortunately, the wind would be at my back as I headed westwards along the well marked trail. I wandered past the harbour before reaching a series of multi coloured beach houses where I was soon donning more clothing. One of the locals arrived with 4 dogs and suggested it was too cold for hiking, she was probably right, however, little did she know that I was also camping.
Following the trail I admired sunlit waves and beaches, appreciative of the fact that I was out hiking. Walking along the trails wherever they be urban or wilderness always provide surprises in this case my first surprise was the artwork on the side of a building and in particular the sculpture of a person and a plough. reminding me of the work of David Jones in Australia
Soon I was following the shoreline as it meandered westwards, the sky was clear and the sun was setting, however, there was still a way to go. Entering the Ærø Nature Reserve the walking was easy as the trail followed the coastline and with darkness rapidly approaching I was looking for the ideal campsite with views across the water. Unfortunately, the onshore breeze encouraged me to seek a more sheltered spot and after disturbing a deer I settled in for the night pitching the Ultramid in a pine forest.
It was a cold night and I recognised that I needed to think more carefully on how I wore my sleeping layers, something I did the following night.
In case you are wondering, my sleeping setup within the mid was
Groundsheet: AMK emergency blanket
Bivy: Katabatic Bristlecone
Foam mat: 3mm Eva
Sleeping Mat: Klymit Insulated Static V
Quilt: AsTucas Sestrals, which is my go to, and only quilt.
BPL Cocoon pants
Rab Xenon and or Western Mountaineering Flash Hoody.
Needing to catch the lunchtime ferry connecting Søby with Fynshav, I was up well before sunrise, however, the deer were before me and wandered past my shelter as I ate breakfast. Setting off I stopped to admire the pre dawn light over Ærøskøbing have as I headed westwards.
Setting off up the road all was quiet, apart from the cows (who were hoping for food). The trail maintained the high ground as it headed west, ultimately, I found myself at a “coffee place”, set on a high knoll in a small section of forest surrounded by farmland. This seemed like an ideal spot to take in the sunrise as well as relax. I did wonder if there was room for a tent here and certainly it appeared to be an ideal hammock site.
Meanwhile I continued down the road, until I was finally stopped in my tracks. There was an animal grazing in the field about 150 metres away, I thought that looks strange, what is it? Then it moved, and I knew, I am aware that Kangaroos have been known to swim and there are several youtube videos of swimming kangaroos (if you are interested), but to swim to Denmark is less likely. So then my questions what, how, when … After taking many photos I wandered along the trail. The what, when and why would have to wait.
Interestingly a careful analysis of the photo, at home, suggested to me that it was actually a Wallaby and was carrying a Joey in its pouch. Further research led me to a series of articles about a guy on Ærø who has wallabies to keep the grass down, and one (or maybe more?) have escaped. It had me wondering what may happen in the years to come, how many wallabies will there be roaming free on Ærø.
Moving on I walked past the splendid Søbygaard (built around 1580) surrounded by an almost empty moat prior to descending to Vitsø. In the bright sunshine the walk along the iced covered trails was interesting at times.
Leaving Vitsø I headed towards the coast and the awaiting ferry. Once on board, coffee was the first priority.
Alighting from the ferry it was even colder as the wind continued to whip across the water. Heading westwards, into Norre forest along the Alsstien, I located a sheltered spot and sat down for lunch, pondering what to do as I was well ahead of schedule. I decided to continue my journey westwards towards Taksensand lighthouse which I had seen from the ferry. The lighthouse was opened in 1905 and the walk along the trail was pleasant as it followed the coast line to the lighthouse.
Reaching the lighthouse, I soon realised darkness was approaching quickly, and I needed a campsite, after a few minutes of studying the map I noted a little further along the coast there was a possible campsite so I quickly set off locating a suitable spot with views northwards across Lillebælt to Fyn.
Setting up camp in the small pine forest, I sat back and relaxed listening to the waves meet the shoreline. Ultimately, dinner was cooked and with darkness closing in, I headed to the tent noticing that the breeze was increasing. By midnight, the mid was being battered by a strong onshore wind, a quick check indicated to me that all was tight and I went back to sleep. Around 6 in the morning the wind strength had increased and given that I had intended to leave fairly early I packed up and headed inland. It was noticeable that the further inland I went, the wind strength decreased. Soon I was out of the forest and into farmland. Making my way to Notmark I found a suitable spot at the local school and sat down for breakfast. By now the sun was rising but a cold wind ensured that it felt bitterly cold.
The remainder of the day was to be spent mostly on bitumen as I followed the cycle path north to Horuphav and the commencement of Gendarmstien, which I would follow to Sønderborg. However, as always when wandering along the country roads there are surprises, in this case it was a monument to Martin N. Hansen a poet and author who grew up in the area. I stopped and took a few photos as the cars whizzed past, I wondered how many knew what the memorial was about or why it was there.
I passed through small villages as I headed northwards with crystal clear skies making for an enjoyable walk, as long as the cold wind remained behind me. Arriving in Horuphav a little earlier than I expected I took the time to have a long lunch on the coastline, the skies were mostly clear the air cool and the locals were out for their walks.
Sitting down for a lunch of noodles, followed by christmas pudding and custard all that was needed was a cognac or two.
Finally i felt the urge to wander on, and was soon setting up camp for the final time on this trip. The weather was deteriorating, which was disappointing, as I had hoped for another night like the last one at this campsite. Instead I was in the shelter early as the sleet and the wind battered the Ultramid The wind died down as night progressed and peace was restored. The last two nights had confirmed to me that the mid is a robust shelter with barely any flapping in the wind, as expected.
The following morning it was a short walk in the early morning light to Sønderborg railway station. With 2 days to go to the end of the year I had completed the missing link in the E6 and now my mind was looking northwards to the vast open spaces of Sweden and beyond for the next wander. Stay tuned.
The other sections of the E6 in Denmark, commencing at the Padborg, adjacent to the Denmark and German border.