Denmark sits quietly between Sweden, Norway and Germany and to be honest, when we thought about Denmark’s identity, we were limited in our terminology. We weren’t using the same descriptive words that we had done about its neighbours but having spent a second stint here, (Charismatic Copenhagen) this time in the Jutland region, we realise our ignorance, big time. Notable thoughts are; it has a warm and friendly population, it has incredible landscape and beaches; it’s quirky in that it seems to be a very creative place, tons of galleries and artists making all sorts of wonderful pieces. If we had it, we could have parted with some serious cash! All in all, Denmark (Jutland, Funen and Zealand) all have so much diversity, we wonder why we hadn’t come sooner than we did, and will for sure be back to explore further.
Arriving off the boat in darkness we headed for a car park at Friedrikshaven for some sleep, we were pretty astounded to wake up to a white sandy beach morning walk with millions of shells, and an array of razor clam shells neatly organised in the water, what else was to come? Deciding to check out the west coast of Jutland where Denmark meets the North Sea we headed directly across, being met with glorious rolling countryside, crop fields, fields of Christmas trees and dairy herds everywhere. An immediate architectural change was evident, low rise brick buildings with perhaps some Dutch influences from days gone by. (or maybe the Danes influenced the Dutch?)
Our first quirk stop was Lønstrup, a small, charming and old fishing village. It’s become a tourist draw as it’s coastline is eroding rapidly such that in 2019 the town moved its lighthouse back 70m, away from the perilous sand dune edges to hopefully give it 30 more years. It’s a shell of its former self, sitting, battered but still standing. It’s well worth seeing and climbing, for the stunning coastline views and dunes. The town itself, is fun, not only did we have to partake in the ice cream with guf (yay, guf, welcome to DK!) but we had to wander around and talk to all the arty folk with their creative wares in the many independent galleries. One of our favourites was Galleri Visby a shared workshop/gallery space for multiple creatives. Some really lovely and unique treasures.
Continuing down the west coastline we detoured to Blokhus, home of The Worlds Largest Sandcastle! What a sight to behold, so clever in its design and form. It’s set next to a fabulous sculpture garden, Kulturhuset Skulpturparken, with an array of bronze, wood, sand and stone creations. The snaps hopefully do some justice, the sand sculpture theme this year is Noahs Ark, it’s a shame they are all transient but that’s probably the fun part, creating new.
Klitmoller, in the coastal district of Thy, is known as ‘Cold Hawaii’ so no guesses for what this place is about! A north sea version but still with long white sand beaches, dunes and the winds to attract the surfer dudes. We sadly were moving on a week before Cold Hawaii Games 2021 or we’d have been watching some serious action, akin to that mad stuff we saw in Tarifa no doubt. It may be the case given we keep finding these places, that someone is suggesting we have a go at kite surfing but instead we took a sedate cycle ride or two, sedate because it was relatively flat, not the distance! Just sitting and watching the minions having their surf lesson was a fun way to while away the time (they all wore yellow vests) We took in the Bunker Museum at Hanstholm, a relic of the days of occupation. The current occupation was by massive fishing trawlers and French trucks waiting to take the catches away at the harbour. South of Klitmoller a long ride, diverse again, trails, woodlands, sand dunes and open fields took us to Vorupør. It is within Thy National Park too. A sunny day, it was bustling but why not, the call of a long sand dune hugging white sand beach is enough for anyone. Their ice cream dipped in chocolate (who remembers Ice Magic?!) was a tad soft, dripping down our faces, most ended up on our hands and the sand 🙂 I’m not allowed to post those pics! A sundowner sitting on a sand dune was much more civilised.
A windmill spot on the sky line was reason for a detour, to Vestervig. A fantastically preserved example, where the mechanics of its movement were clearly evident, the Kloostermolle was built in 1860 and used until 1960. It was known as The Vestervig Monastery Mill originally as it’s very close to the white Romanesque church, the largest village church in Denmark. The citizens of the area bought the mill in 1965 to preserve it but it took until the late 1980’s before work was undertaken, completed just before a catastrophic storm took the mill cap and sails off. Thankfully, repairable. Continuing on the road south past the heathers and flat fields with the beautiful wild flower borders we joked that no Dane would ever win ‘King of the Mountains’. A quick google search sent us to the back of the humour queue, a Dane has won it twice recently, doh!
We pitched up at a great site at Kammerslusens where our morning coffee and stroll among the numerous herons, a marsh harrier and other birds we can’t name was a delight. A wide estuary wetland area leading to the Wadden Sea and ultimately The North Sea, it’s a bird haven, with a starling murmuration at dusk too, the birds landing on the unharvested wheat fields.
This wasn’t the main event though, the oldest town in Denmark, Ribe was our destination, just west of where we were. Ribe is an incredible time capsule, dating to the early C8th it celebrated its 1300th birthday in 2010 with a town party! It’s one of the best preserved historic towns we’ve ever seen in terms of buildings, cobbled streets and it’s general feel, although there’s cafes and galleries around too. Medieval and sitting on the River Ribe the buildings are distinct, the red brick Radhus, the small side streets of quirky small properties and some faded grandeur. We’d never seen the street viewers before, a curious structure that looks like a war of the worlds fly on a window, that is mirrored so from inside, the street side to side could be viewed, neat! The Cathedral, built from 1150 is a fresh airy space with features such as a cast bronze font from c. 1400, wall paintings from c. 1525 and did you know St George, of Dragon fame is patron saint of the weak? The tower climb for the panoramic views was worth the effort, if only to see the magnificent warning, ‘storm bell’, the original was damaged in a storm in 1594…. Recast, it hasn’t ever been swung for fear of destabilising the tower 🙂 Anyhow, if you are ever within a 100 miles of Ribe, make a detour, it’s a must. While there, another must is Ribe Glass with the wonderfully generous and talented, Erna.
For the shroom fans, some new ones!