Denmark 5 | Beaches, Lighthouses and an Incredible Forest Experience!

After the disturbed sleep due to the previous night’s stormy weather it felt all too soon that the sun was up and it was time to get up, pack our bags and make our way out of the forest. Making sure we left no trace of our spending the night, we headed back through the trees towards the car.

The sun was not yet high in the sky; instead it twinkled through the branches warming us as we walked. The wind still whipped through the tops of the trees, chasing the clouds across the sky, yet barely touching us, sheltered as we were making our way through the forest floor. We noticed some the previous night but the morning seemed to draw our attention to the abundance of mushrooms littering the path edges, ranging from bright red to dark brown in their varying stages of decay. There were some young ones dotted about but on the whole they were absolutely huge!

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Back at the car we readied ourselves to move on to our next destination, a process which was hastened by an instantaneous and dramatic rain shower. Driving north we found ourselves out of the trees and into the sand dunes. The dunes undulated dramatically around us, the golden yellow base covered in thick silvery grasses, buffeted by the enduring wind. Leaving the car again, as that sudden rain shower had long since passed, we ventured towards the beach which lay just over the dunes.

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The dry sand was tough to walk on, climbing steep ascents with our feet giving way several inches with every step. Luckily it wasn’t too far and we soon found ourselves descending a small distance onto a perfect stretch of white sand. The smoky green sea churned and crashed on the flat expanse of sand. The wind whistled across the surface, collecting up the individual grains and carrying them across the beach with incredible speed and force. We had hoped to find a nice spot to sit, watch the sea and have some breakfast but we very quickly realised that that was not going to happen!

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A tattered and torn Danish flag writhed in the wind; it was placed atop one of the higher dunes and we climbed to it in order to get a better vantage point over the North Sea. Struggling up the steep sandy slope, we reached the top and looked around us – in one direction fluffy white clouds tumbled across a blue sky, the sun shining upon us through the gaps. In the other direction, over the water, a heavy black cloud encompassed the entire sky; giving everything a dark and foreboding appearance… it moved towards us quickly and threateningly.

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Upon seeing this we decided to quit while we were ahead and make our way back to the car, sadly we didn’t make this decision early enough! At the first large drops we quickened our pace but the heavens opened and poured down on us with immense force. Running back across the sand and feeling the sting of the drops hitting us we noticed that is was hail – we were caught hail storm in the middle of September! We found this situation hilarious and couldn’t help exclaiming repeatedly how much those tiny lumps of ice hurt when they are coming down on you with such ferocity! Needless to say we ran as quickly as we could across the soft, sandy ground before diving into the car. We decided that breakfast would be consumed in the car, rather than on the beach, and couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness of the weather as the hail continued to lash against the windows.

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Continuing our journey we carried on north, driving along a small spit of sand running parallel to the mainland called Hvide Sande. We saw a lighthouse ahead of us and made an impromptu decision to pull in. Lyngvig Fyr had a blue staircase which spiralled up the inside of the tower, right to the top.  Up and up we climbed, until we reached the mechanics of the lighthouse and had to go up a small ladder and through a small door (I fit through okay, Callum had to squeeze a little) to reach the platform outside.

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Outside we could feel the full force of the wind which was, at that height, so much stronger than what we had experienced earlier on the beach. We could lean right forward and not fall, being held up by the sheer power of it. It was the kind of wind that took your breath away (you know that weird feeling when you try to breathe in and it all seems to get caught in your throat!)

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The views were also something to behold, clouds sat brightly in the blue sky and the sun was shining, illuminating the grassy dunes and the myriad of footpaths clearly visible twisting and turning, criss-crossing, across the silvery green. The waves moved across the water uniformly, the white crests marching forward until they reached the land, the next in line never too far behind.

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We had to drag ourselves away as we were having a good giggle in the breeze, and back down the spiral stairs we went – everything seemed perfectly calm and serene at ground level compared to what we had just endured at the top. Our journey saw us heading east again, inland and towards Silkeborg and The Lake District. The term ‘Lake District’ conjures up a very specific image in our minds (quaint tea rooms, rustic villages and stunning scenery) so driving through this area caused a little disappointment in us, a very functional town/city and nothing like our own Lake District home, which we are very well-acquainted with. Serves us right for making assumptions, aye!

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The town itself was not our intended destination but the forests around it, heading out of the built up area we once again drove into more rural settings, the trees becoming more numerous the further we went. Eventually we found ourselves in the right place, heading down a long straight road, off which were avenues heading into the forest on either side, each had a sign-posted ‘street name’ but they were only accessible on foot. Once again leaving the car behind with our packs on our backs we walked off into the trees, not due to return until morning.

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This forest was far more structured than the last, as with the first there were different section of varying species, however this one seemed to be planted in a more regimented fashion. Between the sections ran the same long straight avenues as off the road, only a couple of metres wide but distinctive. You could walk down any of these but the ground was rough under foot. Debris from previous felling made the ground uneven, but the grass and moss covered everything giving the entire place an enchanted feel.

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Nattering away as usual we ventured on, insignificant under the impressive height of the mature trees which surrounded us. Peering into the depths of one of the avenues we spotted a young stag stood alert, watching us. He was poised majestically in the misty shadows, the odd beam of light breaking through and casting rays across the path in front of him. After watching us a short while he lightly stepped into the next section disappearing into the trees but heading in the same direction we were. At the next avenue, obviously matching our pace, he broke out into view again. His ears twitching, acutely aware of our presence, he continued to watch us as he strode into the next section of trees only to emerge once more into the next avenue. Once again he disappeared into the darkness of the trunks but this time for good.

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Continuing we came to a large clearing with a wooden observatory tower in the middle. Coming out of the shadow we could feel the warmth of the sun, the grass was glowing yellow, contrasting with the deep greens of the trees. There was a small pond just off the path which reflected the blue sky and twinkled in the light. We dumped our packs and climbed the tower, each of the three levels were connected with wooden ladders. From the stop we could see the paths stretch out in all directions, cutting this huge expanse of green into neat segments. There was no sign of anything else as we looked out over the scene, just trees as far as the eye could see.

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Continuing our walk we ended up coming across one of the primitive campsites which we know to be scattered across Denmark, it was an open area of grassland with a wood-store, a picnic bench and just a short way off a little hut containing a pit-toilet. A basic set up, but still great these things exist for people to just go and enjoy! Having only our hammocks we had to venture on and not too far away we found a couple of trees on the edge of a clearing which were perfectly spaced and in a beautiful location.

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There were a couple of small ponds which were perfectly still, reflecting the sky and trees surrounding them. Long grasses grew, swaying the breeze and covering the lumpy ground in a carpet of green, with other flora adding varying textures and colours to the mix. The sky was full of colour as the clouds moved swiftly across it, bathing our perfect spot in a subdued evening light – I can honestly say it was one of our very best (if not the best) hammocking locations!

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As the evening progressed we cooked some food which warmed us up as the air grew colder, whilst eating we could hear the sound of the red deer bellowing in the distance, yet all else was calm and still. Darkness began to close in and we decided to get tucked up for the night, the weather remained calm as we dozed, but we were continuously disturbed by the endless bellowing of the deer. Later into the night, the moon had awakened, full and bright, gleaming down upon us and illuminating our surroundings. It was awesome to see this fantastic landscape drowning in the cool ghostly glow of a full moon, there was no need for a torch as everything the light touched glinted silver, the shadows only emphasising the sheer luminosity of the rest.

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Our enchanting backdrop was enhanced by the deer still bellowing to each other. Now much closer, it seemed at one stage we were right in the middle of two powerful rivals. Incredible noise rang out from behind us just 50m away (if that), only to be answered repeatedly by another, just as strong, about the same distance in the other direction. All the while other contenders were making themselves heard in the distance – altogether I would guess there to be about 8-10 different groups/males in that forest – we were completely and utterly surrounded!

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It was a surprisingly cold night, every intake of breath felt icy against the back of our throats, to stay warm we tucked right into our sleeping bags ensuring that no limb fell victim to the cold air. As the night drew on the moon drifted across the inky sky, the stars paling in comparison and barely visible in the immediate glow. Its path crossed my open-ended tarp directly, no longer creating pretty patterns on my tarp it now shone in on me rather ostentatiously. Between the racket of the red deer and the blinding properties of a full moon we barely got a wink of sleep. However – I can honestly say that I felt fully immersed in nature that night and it was one of the most awesome experiences that I have ever had, which will not be forgotten in a hurry!

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