Denmark takes time
For instant gratification the Scottish Highlands take some beating.
Denmark is different. Utterly different.
This is an entirely calmer place and its beauty takes time to recognise.
After two nights of pleasant places, exciting houses, but less than exciting scenery we headed further north.
Crossing some of the marsh lands felt like driving across savannah. Huge flocks of birds rising from the water as cattle graze the edges.
Generally very straight roads took us across mile after mile of flat land, and at an 80kph speed limit it takes a while to cover ground.
Arriving at Hanklit, on the Thisted Bredning sea lake the tempo changed for the better.
There are cliffs, even reasonably high ones. And there were a flock of paragliders making the most of the afternoon thermals.
Oh how Polly loves anything with a kite attached. A child with a normal kite, a kite surfer, or a paraglider, it doesn’t matter, they all get shouted at.
Trying to take a dog’s perspective is the only way. And looked at from their world I guess a kite the size of a lorry coming in is pretty scary. Patience paid off and we got her to a state of accepting the massive dinosaurs hovering above her van with not much more than a whimper.
Our second cycle outing introduced us to the hills properly and taught us to respect them, small though they are, and the few miles we rode made dinner of Van Dahl all the more tasty (I’ll write about van food soon, it’s good, but I forget to take photos of our fab meals).
Night four we camped in the woods just back from the beach of Uggerby Strand, part of the 50km+ stretch of white sand from Hirtshals to Grenen at the very top of the country.
In the evening light I have to confess it’s pretty stunning.
I climbed a lookout tower that’s about 15m high, like standing on top of a three storey house, from where the sense of peace was even more moving than the view. At home you’d need security to make sure no one got hurt – but here it’s available for anyone, in the middle of the woods.
Vans park overnight on the beach, but we weren’t that brave, this was a photo stop only.
German friends warned us that the Scandinavian countries are all hot on speeding and issue punitive fines if you’re caught. And the limits are low. Normal roads are 80kph (50 mph), but all towns are 50kph and there’s no sign to tell you. All that should make for an economical drive, but ArchieVan is barely ready for top gear at 80, and the towns come too frequently to benefit from the gentle pace.
Nights five and six are within a cycle ride of Uggerby Strand, the previous night’s spot. We’re at Vesterklit. It’s just east of Tversted where we had our only Danish meal out at the very good Café Fisk – herrings three ways, and fish and chips washed down with a tasty local brew.
And here I learn more about Denmark and appreciate its charms.
My sister had asked whether I’d seen the communal grass roofed huts in the Danish woods, and last night I found them. This is a huge shelter come eating hall with a long line of tables. Outside there were fire pits with grills – even with firewood provided. I’m deeply impressed.
I wander further and find an old mill and cattle shed. It’s open so I walk in and a sensor turns on the lights. It’s a sort of museum. No entrance fee. No need to watch over people to make sure they behave.
When we came out there was a deer stood in the grass, just watching us.
Next day a young school group arrive for a trek in the woods, the teachers have the children pile up their rucksacks in a corner of the car park, and then they set off, leaving all the children’s possessions for an hour or so.
This is special. What must Danes think when they come to Britain?
50+kms of flat sand isn’t always impressive, but last night’s walk in setting sunlight, with not a soul in sight was a moving experience.
Denmark isn’t obvious.
Things happen slowly, including progress on the roads.
Here’s Denmark’s (very) slow moving biggest sand dune, a surprisingly calming sight.
It’s not as obsessively clean as Germany, but it’s still very good.
But it’s the freely available facilities that have blown me away.
I wonder why the Danes seem so grumpy though? Smiles are less ready here than anywhere we’ve travelled so far. Perhaps their inner happiness is such that there’s no need for outward displays of joy.
Tomorrow an early ferry will take us from Frederikshaven to Gottenburg and our Swedish adventure will begin.