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In Denmark: October 2006 PDF Printable Version E-mail

 

IN DENMARK: OCTOBER 2006

The Log of a Motorhome Journey

Margaret and Barry Williamson

October 2006

This daily log gives an account of our motorhome journey south through Denmark, starting from the port of Frederikshavn in the far north-east..

After winter and early spring in Greece, we left the UK in mid-May 2006 and travelled 1,650 miles via France, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary for a 5-week, 1,000-mile journey in Romania. In mid-July we left Romania to travel a further 1,500 miles to Finland via eastern Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Baltic Republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. We entered Finland by ferry from Tallinn (Estonia), arriving in Helsinki on 4 August 2006.

For a further 1,Nor3_(48).JPG400 miles, we enjoyed some of Finland's 187,888 lakes, its limitless forest (covering 70% of the land area) and glimpses of its 180,000 islands! Our bicycles have given us great exercise in several rides on quiet forest roads and gravel tracks. We visited Russia by canal, cycled to the easternmost point of the mainland EU and got up close to elk and reindeer north of the Arctic Circle. We have spent time in the northernmost town in the DSCF0006.JPGEU, reached Kirkenes and Grense Jakobselv, in the far north-east of Norway close to the Russian border, visited Vadso and Vardo on their lonely Arctic peninsula and, of course, struggled as far as Nordkapp (North Cape), the northernmost point in the world reachable by motorhome (or bicycle). To get there and back, we had to pass through 32 km (20 miles) of tunnels, including the world's deepest submarine tunnel.

As the snows beganDSCF0019.JPG to settle and the days started to shut down, after more than 6 weeks and 2,400 miles within the Arctic Circle, we travelled south from Norway's fiord and glacier-indented coast, into northern Sweden for a 1,000-mile journey to the port of Goteborg and a ferry to Denmark. To see how we got on and discover what we actually did, read on!

Distances are given in miles; heights in feet; and costs in Euros. 1 mile = 1.6 km; 1 foot = 0.3 metres and, at present, 1 Euro = about 0.7 Pounds Sterling. The current exchange rate for each non-Euro country is given in the log. The daily rate quoted for campsites generally includes an electrical hook-up.

A Table of Distances, Fuel and Costs will be included at the end of this journey

To read our illustrated account of travelling north from Helsinki, through southern Finland and Karelia (with a visit to Vyborg in Russia and the easternmost point of the EU), up to Lapland and the Arctic Circle, click: Finland 2006.

For the journey through Norway and the visit to Nordkapp, click: Furthest North.

For the journey through Sweden, click: Sweden's Inland Road.

To view a slide show of our journey through Finland, click: Images of Finland

To view a slide show of our journey through Norway, click: Images of Norway

To view a slide show of our journey through Sweden, click: Images of Sweden

To view more images of our journey through Denmark, click: Images of Denmark

To read Jane and George Swindail's illustrated account of their 11-week journey the length of Norway, click: Jane & George in Norway

Margaret and Barry Williamson

23/24 October   At TROLLHATTAN, Sweden   Stenrosets Camping

Rainy Days in the Forest

We are right under the blue band of rain shown on last night's weather forecast. A time for watching the red squirrels and birds in the forest outside our window. Now we are far enough south for a bigger variety of deciduous trees, which means more birds. A pair of Great Tits, very pretty, are used to being fed at the motorhome opposite, perching on its wing mirrors like budgies! There's also a Blackbird and the ubiquitous Magpies.

We took a damp 3-mile walk through the woods, past farms and houses, to look at the Gota River/Canal, which carries both cargo and pleasure boats, but there was no riverside path. Mostly, we worked on a list of motorhome insurance companies for our website and circulated it to other motorhomers for additions. Mike, the MMM Editor, replied that he'd like it developing into an article for the magazine, so there's another task!

The forecast for 25 Oct was fine weather, so we rang Stena Line and booked the ferry from Goteborg to Frederikshavn (Denmark), anticipating bacon, pastries and blue cheese!

25 October   72 miles   TROLLHATTAN, Sweden to FREDERIKSHAVN, Denmark   Transport Center on E45

Across the Kattegat to Denmark on Stena Line's 'Jutlandica'

Sadly, our last morniDenmarkA_(11).JPGng in Sweden (and in the real Scandinavia). The rain had indeed stopped and there was no wind, a light mist shrouding the treetops. Back on the road, our old friend route 45 Inlandsvagen, took us all the way to the ferry terminal in Goteborg. After 8 miles at Lilla Edet (where we saw a motorhome dealer), we had a good view of the Gota River/Canal which we are shadowing to the North Sea, separated from it by the Inland Railway.

The road DenmarkA_(14).JPGbecame increasingly busy as it made its way down to sea level. We stopped after 30 miles at Alvangen's shopping centre, to spend our remaining Swedish Crowns at Lidl and McDonald's (careful arithmetic, there!) In another 11 miles, we disappeared through a 1.6 km tunnel (free of charge) under the river and the city centre, following signs for 'Denmark' and 'Germany' to emerge very near the port.

After collecting the tickets (and a handful of Werther's OriginalsDenmarkA_(15).JPG) from the Stena Line terminal building, we waited in line to check-in for the 4 pm sailing. (There are several crossings a day by conventional ferry or a faster express boat. We avoid the latter, more expensive and often with a height limit – and we're never in a hurry). There was only one other motorhome (a Swedish McLouis – which is Italian!) and a few cars, the decks being filled with lorries and freDenmarkA_(21).JPGight containers. Barry appreciated the easy level access ramp and we had a smooth crossing, arriving in Frederikshavn in North Jutland on time at 7.15 pm. Reading, enjoying coffee and buns, buying Anton Berg (by appointment to the Danish CourDenmarkA_(27).JPGt) chocolate liqueurs in the duty-free shop – it's a hard life at sea! We had crossed the Kattegat, the entrance to the Baltic, which (like the Mediterranean) was once land-locked.

Disembarking in the dark, we turned north on road 40 for a couple of miles and checked Nordstrand Camping, which had just closed (open 1 April-22 Oct). Returning past the harbour, we drove south – back on road 45, which continues through Denmark to Germany, now labelled E45! After about 5 miles, by exit 12 for Saeby, we saw a huge 'Transport Center' (fuel, food, large lorry park, motorhome dump, etc). A good place for the night, which saved us going along road 180 in search of Svalereden Camping (open all year?)

Neither Goteborg nor Frederikshavn had any space for overnighting by the ferry terminals. French Channel Ports are much more generous!

26 October   120 miles   FREDERIKSHAVN to HANSTHOLM, Denmark   Hanstholm Camping DKr 156 (c €20.00)

To Denmark's largest Fishing Port

A massive gale had blown up overnight, rocking the motorhome and lashing it with rain. Our timing for the crossing had been excellent!

Continuing south on E45 (a busy 4-lane motorway) through the rain, we gradually adjusted to Denmark. Driving seemed faster and more aggressive than in Sweden or Finland – more like Norway. (The tighter the space, the more stressed the driver?) As in the other 3 Scandinavian countries, daytime headlights are compulsory. There are no tolls on motorways, bridges or tunnels, except the long bridge across the Great Belt (linking the island of Funen to Zealand, for Copenhagen) and the new bridge/tunnel from the capital to Malmo in Sweden – neither of them on our route, as we've seen Copenhagen (by bicycle and by motorhome). Margaret even went by train one winter, minus 12 deg C outside, and the Youth Hostel only had cold showers!

Today it's plus 13 deg C and the rain has gradually eased. We stopped at the next Transport Center for diesel (DKr 7.88 per litre), ATM cash (at about 11 DKr = ₤1) and a good map of the country. The Center was excellent, with free showers, a café with a tempting lunch buffet (shame it was too early) and a big range of free tourist info and maps, as well as a computer terminal, visitors for the use of. We picked up the thorough DK-Camping Guide, covering 330 campsites in 4 languages with a separate map. Visit www.dk-camp.dk for reservations, etc (not necessary at this time of year!) Also a very informative booklet on North Denmark (see www.visitnord.dk). Autogas (LPG) was not available on the motorway but we did see it at smaller filling stations.

After 40 miles, the motorway tunnelled under the Limfjord to the university city of Aalborg. (This broad fjord cuts through the top end of North Jutland from the North Sea to the Baltic, rendering it an island.) Amongst the chaos of traffic lights, junctions and congestion, an old windmill stood stranded. Turning west at exit 26, roads 180/187 took us through a flat landscape of flooded fields, dodging branches brought down in the gale.

At the fishing hamlet of Nibe, 13 miles later, we met the south shore of the Limfjord again. We found that a traffic-calming 'sleeping policeman' is simply called a 'Bump' here (not as colourful as the 'Farthinder' or 'Fartdamper' of Sweden or Finland!) There were swans and half-grown cygnets on the water, a small harbour, a large Caravan Center (with no customer parking) and very narrow streets. We continued past a campsite (open) to meet road 29 and turn north at Brondum.

We crossed theDenmarkA_(29).JPG Limfjord at its narrowest point, on a bridge built in 1942 (when Denmark was under German occupation). Across the water at Aggersund we had lunch, parked by a mussel packing plant, watching a couple of anglers. Nearby, to the west, Aggersborg was once the largest fortress in Northern Europe, its circular ramparts now rebuilt.

A few miles north at Fjerritslev we turned west on road 11 which crosses Vejlerne, Northern Europe's largest stretch of wetland for aquatic and wading birds. The Vejlerne Centre had exhibitions on the birdlife and there were thatched hides, though the weather didn't encourage us to linger there. Many ducks and geese were on the water or flying in V-formation above the mixed woodland (scant and bare, unlike the dense Scandinavian forest). The northernmost-nesting storks are also found hereabouts, though now they are well south.

At Osterild, 55 mDenmarkA_(33).JPGiles after Aalborg, we took road 29, heading north-west to Hanstholm at the north-west corner of North Jutland. We were taken by surprise at the size and importance of this remote port. Frisk Fisk (fresh fiDenmarkA_(36).JPGsh) was on sale everywhere, from the vast Auction Hall to the traditional little smoke-house (though not at bargain prices). We soon learnt that Hanstholm is Denmark's largest fishing harbour, with a huge fleet in port. New trawlers, old wooden tubs, ships advertising 2-day fishing trips (in Danish and German) and many vessels under repair, propped above the slipways of the boatyards. The sky wheeled with gulls, the roof of the fish auction hall was lined with them, the water bobbed to their cry. If the fleet hadn't been out today, no-one had informed the gulls!

Hanstholm lighthouse overlooks the town: the most powerful in the world wheDenmarkA_(35).JPGn it was built in 1843 and still the brightest and tallest in the country (at 65 m/215 ft). Furthermore, the port is a passenger ferry and freight terminal for the Shetlands, the Faroes and Iceland, as well as Norway! There is a Museum Center too, by the largest WW2 fortifications in North Europe, but the afternoon was closing in and rain again filling the sky.

Leaving the bunDenmarkA_(40).JPGker for a better day, we drove a few miles east of Hanstholm, through the village of Hamburg on a minor coast road, to this vast open-all-year holiday-park-by-the-sea. We hesitated at its gateDenmarkA_(39).JPGs, seeing the pretentious thatched Reception and the price list, but when the manager told us that a severe storm was forecast for the next 24 hours we decided to take shelter. Paying cash gave a small reduction. Our man was full of dire warnings: don't park on the soft grass (we settled on a gravel path); don't park under the trees in case they topple; don't use your electric kettle (we ignored that last one). But he did offer free Wi-fi internet throughout the empty campsite. (The only thing that was 'free' – we've seen coin-op meters on showers before, but not at the kitchen sinks or the baby-bathing tub!)

The wind did become fierce again and we were glad of the shelter-belt of fir trees, which thankfully remained rooted to the ground!

27 October   At HANSTHOLM, Denmark   Hanstholm Camping

Gales in North Jutland

The gale-forcDenmarkA_(42).JPGe wind continued all day, postponing our onward journey down the west coast, though the weather was now dry and mild.

We were able to work on-line on bDenmarkA_(44).JPGoth laptops, trying out the new Wi-fi USB Adapter bought for the Dell computer in Kiruna. It worked a treat!

After lunch we walked down the dunes to the stony beach for some (extremely) fresh air, blowing so strongly that we could hardly catch our breath. We had a view of a wind-farm (one of many) down the coast towards Hanstholm. The description of our campsite in the ACSI Guide mentions 'good shelter from the wind' and 'ideal for model aircraft and paragliding' – we had been warned!

28 October   6 miles   HANSTHOLM, Denmark    Bunker Museum Car Park

From Campsite to Town

Wind and rain still deterred onward travel (we are told it's been a hot dry summer, as it was up in Scandinavia). The gale did drop after lunch, so we decamped into the town to shop (at Aldi, which has crept over the German border to Denmark but not crossed the water to the rest of Scandinavia – unlike Lidl, which is spreading in all directions). Dana-blue cheese and good bacon were found but we'll have to bake our own pastries!

WeDenmarkB_(21).JPG went up to the famous lighthouse but found it only opens to visitors mid-June DenmarkB_(23).JPGto mid-August (climb it and see the exhibitions in the adjoining listed buildings for DKr 20). There's a great view over the harbour and port from nearby and we watched cars boarding a ferry, which always arouses our Wanderlust. Fjordline, Smyril Line and Master Ferries sail from here.

We parked for the night by the Bunker Museum Center, ready to explore it tomorrow (open 10 am-4 pm). It closes for winter (1 Nov-31 Jan) so it's the last weekend of the year – and the clocks go back tonight, so we have an extra hour to wait!

29 October   93 miles   HANSTHOLM to FJAND, Denmark   Fjand Camping & Holiday Park DKr 145 (c €19.00)

Hanstholm Bunker Museum, then down North Jutland's West Coast

We spent a coupleDenmarkB_(11).JPG of fascinating, if incredulous, hours at the Bunker Museum Center (50 DKr or 35 for Seniors), on the site of the German coastal battery that formed Northern Europe's largest WW2 fortifications. Built under Rommel's command in 1943, after the evacuation of DenmarkB_(16).JPGHanstholm's population, the defences covered 9 sq km. The original museum is inside a massive bunker that was the gun emplacement for one of the four 38 cm cannons – part of Hitler's 'Atlantic Wall'. The fuel depot, crew's quarters and washrooms, boiler room, technical support rooms, ventilation system and narrow gauge railway can all be seen, labelled in Danish, English and German.

A new museum DenmarkB_(14).JPGwas added in 2002, with a couple of short films and extensive exhibitions - regrettably none of them in English (though an explanatory English booklet can be borrowed). Outdoors, DenmarkB_(20).JPGthe battery area has more cannons and ammunition bunkers to walk round (or from May-August you can take a round trip on the old munitions train). The site never saw any action, so the place did not have the dreadful pallor of death that hangs over other World War battlefields we have visited, but it left us just as angry. Not least, the role of the Danes was ambivalent, with a reference to local men helping to build the defences, attracted by the high wages. The museum also had a strange message of pride in their achievement.

Visit www.museumscenterhanstholm.dk for more details

We left on the DenmarkB_(35).JPGcoastal road 181, south through the bumpy grassy dunes of DeDenmarkB_(37).JPGnmark's largest nature reserve, the Hanstholm Vildreservat, spotting nothing but seagulls! Past the old fishing village (and windsurfing centre) of Klotmoller, we turned off to the shore at Voruper, the next little seaside resort/fishing village, 22 miles from Hanstholm. After lunch in the car park, opposite the wet fish shops (wishing that fish & chips were a Danish habit!), we walked onto the sands and out along the jetty. The small fishing boats were beached, towed in and out of the water by tractors, the old haul-house winches now disused. Kites flew and a few hardy visitors bought ice creams and walked their dogs – yes, we saw one Great Dane!

At Vestervig we DenmarkB_(38).JPGturned inland to join road 11 south, for a bridge over the Limfjord. Had we stayed on road 181, we could have crossed the coastal entrance to the Limfjord on a short ferry ride, but there was uncertainty as to whether it was running in the current windy conditions. The bridge at Oddesund (35 miles after Voruper) carried the railway and a foot/bike-path, as well as the 2-lane road.

Once across, we soon turned west on road 565 at Humlum. The campsite at Toftum Bjerge, a mile along on the right, was supposedly open but we could find no-one to let us in (barrier down). Continuing towards the west coast, past the town of Lemvig, we rejoined road 181 and turned south, down a narrow strip of land separating the Nissum Fjord from the sea. We trusted the grassy dyke to our right would keep the Atlantic at bay, as we drove along at 0 ft elevation. Windfarms filled the skyline.

Thorsminden, about 6 miles along the isthmus (just over half-way), is another fishing harbour, at the point where sea and fjord link. At the southern end of the Nissum Fjord, in the village of Fjand, we found the campsite/restaurant actually open, with heated washrooms and only one other couple staying.

Again, showers cost extra, as does payment by credit card. Wi-fi internet is available for a one-off payment of DKr 25 for the password and it's a good strong signal, faster than at Hanstholm.

30 October   At FJAND, Denmark   Fjand Camping

Rain in West Jutland

Feels like it's been raining for weeks! We made good use of the laundry room and the wireless internet. The plan for a walk on the beach or by the fjord had to be abandoned as it poured down all day. The term 'fjord' in Denmark means a sandy sea-lagoon – very different from the glacial fjords of Norway's mountainous coast.

31 October   106 miles   FJAND to SKAERBAEK, Denmark   Skaerbaek Familie Camping DKr 86 (€12.00)

Rain in South Jutland

Very blusteryDenmarkC_(10).JPG and showery as we drove south down road 181 througDenmarkC_(11).JPGh a landscape of grassy dunes and thatched houses, ancient and modern. After 23 miles, half way down the next narrow isthmus, we reached Hvide Sande (White Sands), a fishing harbour/coastal resort (with one campsite open).

We passed a Museum and Aquarium, then crossed the bridge to the town centre. ADenmarkC_(12).JPGnglers lined the banks at the point where the Ringkobing Fjord meets the North Sea, trawlers were in port. We parked by the dock to find a bank and get supplies at Netto (a down-market version of Lidl). There was a Wind Surfing School (with no shortage of wind), a fish smokery with firewood stacked in the yard, and an outdoor-wear factory shop stocking Jack Wolfskin brand – from tents to clothing. (We splashed out on 2 bum-bags, made in Vietnam!)

Continuing south, past fields of Friesian cattle and frisky little ponies, we were buffeted by strong winds and lashed by rain. DenmarkC_(20).JPGSeveral seasonal campsites were well closed. Leaving the isthmus, the 181 turned inland through villages with squat plain churches. At Nebel, 27 miles from Hvide Sande, we stopped for diesel (DKr 8.38/litre or £0.76), the filling station and car wash totally automated and credit card operated.

Varde, 13 miles on, is a big town with an Artillery Museum. We took the ring road to the south and joined highway 11. After 8 miles, the E20 motorway crossed our route (west-east from the port of Esbjerg to the capital, Copenhagen, via a couple of long bridges). We paused at the service station by the junction for lunch, among vehicles from Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Germany and the UK. The Scandinavian wilderness was another world!

Another 19 miles south we turned off into Denmark's oldest town, Ribe. It lies 5 miles inland on the Ribe River, with a Viking Museum, a new Viking Center and a medieval town centre of cobbled streets, twee red-brick buildings and the Domkirke cathedral. Its famous summer-resident storks had flown, and so did we. (Nowhere to park, rain still pouring – and we've been here before.) Had the weather been kinder, we might have parked at the new shopping centre out by highway 11`and walked in. Visit www.ribesvikinger.dk and www.ribevikingecenter.dk for some history.

At Skaerbaek,DenmarkC_(19).JPG 15 miles later, we found a small simple friendly quiet campsite, a couple of miles east of the town. Open all year, free wi-fi internet and hot showers, a member of the ACSI off-season discount scheme. Being 4 miles inland, devoid of beach, tennis court, swimming pool, go-karts, etc, it's much cosier than the vast holiday parks we've seen in Denmark so far. There is no-one here except the owner (born on the top floor of the adjoining house, 45 years ago!) andDenmarkC_(17).JPG his menagerie of pet goats, rabbits, birds and dogs. We had found our shelter from the storm – and quickly retuned the cab radio, which had started speaking German (not far from the border, now).

The ACSI camping card (valid for a calendar year) and book with a full description of the 950 campsites in 17 countries in the scheme (not the UK!) and their location, will cost £6.50 in 2007. The campsites charge either 10, 12 or 14 euros per night, including electricity, off-season. Being published by the Dutch, the information is in good English and very thorough! Visit: www.campingcard.com for more details.

For the continuation of our journey south - through Germany, Holland, Belgium and a side trip to England, click: Southwards and Onwards