A windy, winter wander, along the Danish West Coast

I have grown fond of the west coast of Jutland (Jylland), particularly areas north of Thyborøn. In part I think this is because of the “Wildness” or openess as well as a sense of isolation, furthermore, I am attracted by the rolling landscape of dunes covered in grass along with the heath interspersed with small forests and lakes. Thy National Park was established in 2007 and is consists of 24 400 hectares incorporating approximately 55 kms of coastline between Hanstholm and Agger Tange.

I was looking for an area my annual Christmas New Year wander and returning to the area that I visited in 2009 seemed appropriate however I wanted to focus on exploring as opposed to through hiking.

Morning in Stenbjerg Klitplantage

I alighted from the bus at Stenbjerg Church and collected some water and as I headed southwards along the well graded trails I quickly donned a wind shirt and begun the fruitless task of avoiding the streams flowing along the roads. As I entered Stenbjerg Kiltplantage (a forest planted to stabilise the dunes) I noted that there was a lot of surface water as well as areas which had been cleared of various invasive weeds. Soon I located the campsite for the night, recognising that with the predicted storm the site would be under water, so I chose the Shelter as my abode. A wise choice, as I awoke in the morning to a swimming pool at my front door.

The storm known as Eva in the UK had passed through early in the morning providing plenty of water and unseasonal temperatures of 10 degrees Celsius as I set off southwards. The storm also provided a headwind with gusts of 10 to 14 m/s (measured). In the beginning, the well used forest trail was dry and I was reminiscing about my previous trip in September 2009.

Dune

Soon I was bought back to reality, with water covering the trail and its surrounds, but my feet stayed dry, thanks to the Innov8 286’s and the Montane Featherlite pants. I continued following the Nordsøstien, as it entered heathland ultimately being confronted by ever increasing patches of water.

I soon discovered that waterproof boots are only good until the water comes in over the top and it was about this time I began to realise my dream trip of a wander along dry forestry trails was quickly disappearing. My suspicions being confirmed when confronted by a veritable sea of water, as  the Nordsøstien headed straight into Blåbærhul and out the other side more than half a kilometre away.

Blåbærhul

The only option was to look at the map and note a secondary road servicing isolated summer houses closer to the coast line which would take me to Lyngby. I set off cross country through tussocks, over tussocks attempting to avoid surface water until finally reaching a point where tussocks and water combined to ensure wet feet, a broken walking pole and a face plant provided the ultimate challenge of reaching the road.

Sun and shadow

The road however, was not the saviour it seemed and I felt sorry for the summer house owners as the water levels were lapping at the doors of the houses. Heading closer to the coast line along a walking path I arrived at another summer house and locating a spot sheltered from the relentless southerly winds I took a break, by now I was wet to the knees, a situation which continued for the remainder of the walk. However, I was enjoying the outdoors and importantly the scenery.

After a break I followed the road as it meandered through the dunes, past several summer houses some of which were surrounded by water before reaching the outskirts of Lyngby only to be confronted by a wide patch of water whose depth was indeterminable, off I set cross country ultimately reaching dry land and soon I was sitting inside the Lyngby life boat station eating lunch, appreciating the shelter from the wind. The option of a nights accomodation for 30 Dkk was tempting, but much too early to stay, I will plan a trip that gives me the option of spending longer in Lyngby.

Lyngby Redningshus 2

Heading southwards I was on familiar trails but was in an unfamiliar environment with wind and water being the main elements, as I pushed into the wind with the occasional drizzle. Returning to a less used trail I was again walking through or avoiding patches a water mostly by now it was walk straight through prodding with the walking pole to ensure no sudden surprises. This pattern continued for the afternoon before I located a campsite above the waterline.

An ideal campsite

It was a windy night with the wind gusting up to 12m/s but in the sheltered spot the Moment only rattled a few times, later the wind would drop and the moon would appear. I wandered around the area with its low stunted trees and impenetrable undergrowth, before eating dinner and finally enjoying the surrounds as the wind blew overheard. During the night the wind died down and the moon appeared, quickly I became aware of how quiet it was and apart from the occasional thump of the waves hitting the shoreline there was silence. In such a densely populated country as Denmark it is rare to find such idyllic an location. In the morning it was still peaceful, there was the occasional birdsong, and the waves meeting the shore but no man made sounds. I will be back for more silence.

Dunes and sea early in the morning

I was well aware that it had been cold overnight with a touch of ice on the tent and frost on the ground and I already knew that I would be soon wading through water again. But the reflections of the dunes and clouds on the water made up for the discomfort of cold feet. My goal for the day was to detour from the Nordsøstien towards the coastline and visit a viewpoint shown on the map and with the sun shining and temps around zero I was looking forward to the prospect.

Water, ice, clouds

However, there was still a few kilometres to go as well as plenty of water, I had come to the conclusion that diversions were barely worth it and to plow straight through on the trail as it was often shallower than the diversions. Throughout the day I followed this mantra and the water was never over knee height.

Straight ahead is the plan

Admittedly Robin’s waders would have been useful.

Wet feet

I guess I made for an entertaining view as I strode through the water, but the only ones who saw me flew overhead, cackling as they went about this crazy guy in the water.

Heading North

Onward and then sidewards towards the coastline, I climbed the steep dune, my knee complained, but I continued before following a knife edged sand ridge to a point providing a 360 degree panorama of the North Atlantic , the heathland and the dunes as wells Lodbjerg Lighthouse. It was little chilly in the breeze but worth for the views in all directions.

Northern undulations

South to Agger

I watched a couple on the beach as they fossicked for amber . Ultimately they turned inland as I sat and wondered whether walking along the coast would have been drier, than inland, I quickly decided yes, but was more than happy with my inland trek.

Looking for Amber

Having spent a while just gazing out to sea I headed towards the lighthouse, navigating another lake or two as well as leaving tracks in the dunes.

Tracks and shadows in the sand 2

Sand dunes

As I exited the last lake I met a couple who had just started and were intent on heading north to Stenbjerg along the coast before returning to their car. They hoped that they could keep their feet dry, I wished them luck knowing what was just around the corner. Soon I was at the lighthouse sitting in the courtyard eating lunch whilst chatting to a father and son.

Number 33

I was impressed to find that the lighthouse was open and I required little encouragement to climb the innumerable steps to enjoy the view from the top.

Lodbjerg Lighthouse

Ships, highpoint, water from the lighthouse

Finally leaving the lighthouse I headed toward Lodberg Church as well as Barnehoj, a large burial mound.

As always there are surprises they are not on a map but appear when you least expect it, such was this stone. Roughly translated it says

“to commemorate the families who died, who had the deed and time here, over the ode of empty lots and dunes sounds the sea’s wistful song”

The stone commemorates those who lived in the area and were forced out by the encroaching sands. Fokelore has it that the site of the stone (Gammel Kirkegård Mose) is the original location of Lodbjerg Kirke before it was moved, however, the Danish National Museum has refuted the claim.

Unexpected find

Passing through Lodbjerg forest I returned to Lodbjerg lighthouse seeking a campsite ideally sheltered from the strengthening northerly winds, which later would turn south easterly, having found such a spot I settled down for my last night on the trail.

Final camp, a bit windy

During the night the winds increased in strength and the large pine trees swayed in the breeze, which had me wondering “What if …” I slept well for most of the night but ultimately I packed up and moved to the shelter well before sunrise and relaxed as I made breakfast with a revitalising Starbucks Via (or 2)

As I drank coffee I watched the light in the trees.

The light in the trees

and the light in the sky.

A light in the sky

Having come to the conclusion that the coffee supply was getting low, it was time to leave. Once again heading into the wind (I should plan these trips better in future) I descended to Flade Sø, with the wind whipping of the water. Swinging on to the isthmus that connects Lodbjerg with Agger I descended to the beach. It was a mixture of firm and soft sand interspersed with breakwaters to keep the sand from moving northwards. There has been a lot of work building retaining walls along the coast line. And yes I did look for Amber as I wandered along the shoreline, but there had been many there before me that day.

Beach defences

I arrived in Agger and waited for the bus before travelling to Hurup (the coldest place in Denmark or at least it was that day) ultimately embarking on the first of 3 trains home.

Clothing

As I prepared for the trip the forecast was for temperatures between 0 and 5 Degrees C with wind speeds up to 14 m/s (50 km/hr or 31 mph) I measured speeds of up to 12 m/s so wind protection was paramount, as was keeping warm whilst moving and stopped. Starting from the top down

I wore an Astucas Cabietos Merino beanie as an inner layer and partnered it with either a GTX Baseball Cap or an Haglöfs Wind Cap , though I may use an OR Wind Warrior as an alternative next time. Around my neck I wore a Chocolate Fish Merino Tuara, during summer I use an Icebreaker buff.

During the day my base layer shirt was an Ibex Indie Hoody over which I wore a Macpac lightweight fleece and a Montbell Tachyon wind shirt, for night time (or colder days) I use a Patagonia Capilene 4 Expedition Weight 1/4 Zip Hoody and for extra warmth I carried (and used one day) a BPL Cocoon vest. For extra warmth at night I used a Montbell EX Light Down Jacket. I did carry a Berghaus VapourLight Hyper Smock 2.0  in case of rain, it was not needed.

I used Woolpower boxers under a pair of Ibex Climawool soft shell pants (similar to the Equipo pants, I have been using Ibex softshell pants for about 10 years) over the pants I wore my ever reliable Montane Feathlight wind pants which not only effectively stopped the wind they also helped to reduce the flow of water into my boots.

Socks were Woolpower liner socks,  inside Inov 286 boots, my feet were wet but never cold. On my hands I used Defeet Duragloves and when windy a set of MLD eVent over mitts were used to block the wind. This set up kept me warm at all times and is a setup I will continue to use in colder conditions.

This entry was posted in Coastal Walking, Denmark, Thy National Park, Wandering. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A windy, winter wander, along the Danish West Coast

  1. Nice looking trip Roger. It’s certainly been a wet winter so far!

  2. Certainly when you are in the lowlands there is lots of water and I suspect that if the temps do not dip below 0 then my winter walks will be more like winter wading. The west coast is a special place and there will be many return trips as the weather and sea will always provide inspiration.

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