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Danish flagDenmark Mini Tour 2017 - Fanø - Varde - Vorbasse - Holstead - Fanø

The first of our Danish mini tours.

01.08.17 - Fanø to Nysø

map linkWe packed up our tent and loaded the bikes with our panniers. Birthe the lady who owned Rogard Camping on Fanø had very kindly agreed to let us leave the car there until we got back. It great to be back on the bikes again and especially on Fanø as it just felt that we were back 19 years ago. When we got to the harbour we had just missed the ferry, the next one wasn’t until 1:10pm so as we had an hour to spare so we decided to go and have a pancake at the Panakoken Hause which as normal was absolutely yummy. We caught the 10 past 1 o'clock ferry which left on time and it soon had us at the ferry terminal at Esbjerg. We had decided to take cycle route 2 to Varde. The first part of the route was through the harbour and the industrial part of Esbjerg it was full of supply and construction boats for offshore wind farms. We then past the the 'Blue Water' shipping company which I seem to remember from the last time we were in Esbjerb. As always there was a good cycle route with traffic lights for the bikes and as we got to the main roads underpasses to take you under them. In the distance we could see the big white statues of the ‘Men of the Sea’ which we remembered seeing from the ferry back in 1999, we just had to see them close up. They are obviously quite a tourist attraction now with a large car park and hot drinks stall and it was impossible to get a photo without anyone in it, but at least it gave them some scale. Our route from there took us on a gentle climb up through Fovrfeld a residential area on the outskirts of Esbjerg into the countryside of central Jutland. Our first village was Guldager with its typical white church and on through quiet countryside to Alslev where we stopped at the Dagli Brugsen to pick up some juice and a few snacks. Soon after leaving the village we came across a small holding with all the animals outside, including a large flock of chickens which is kind of unusual in Denmark as they generally keep their livestock in sheds.

We soon reached the outskirts of Varde on a good cycle path, we had thought of missing out the centre but the route looked busy with traffic and it had no cycle route so we stuck to route 2 which took us into the centre past a set of military barracks for the Danish Sargent's school. When we were in the centre of Varde I must have missed the route 2 sign as we carried on along a good cycle path that was separated from the road. It wasn't until it ran out at a busy junction did I check the GPS and realised my mistake. We had planned on staying at a shelterplad only a few kilometres away but there was another marked on our map so we headed up the road that we were on. The traffic was a little heavy as it was obviously rush hour at Varde and the road had no cycle path. Thankfully we weren't on it for very long as we couldn't find the shelterplads marked on our map so we took a track through the plantage that would take us across to the road that we should have been on. Just as we got into the woods Frank spotted a sign for a shelterplad so we turned up the track and found it. Unfortunately it didn't have a water supply and there was a lady there with 5 screaming kids who were obviously going to stay the night. We decided to go and find the one we had planned at staying at, I wonder why? We continued back up the track and just as we got to the road Frank spotted a forest information board and it showed that there was a second shelterplad marked near a lake a little further on, we decided to have a look for that one. A short distance along the road there was a forest centre and I said to Frank let's get some water as there might not be any at the shelterplad as there wasn't any at the last one. There was a car parked outside and I rang the bell several times but there was no answer and just as I was leaving I spotted an outside tap on a barn. I said to myself I am sure no one will mind if I fill up our water container. With the water container full and strapped to my bike we headed off to find the shelterplad.

A track through the woods brought us out to a large lake with several picnic benches and a large grill under a wooden shelter. It was a beautiful spot and the lake was obviously the result of sand and gravel workings and there were several people on the beach some of whom were swimming, we didn't blame them as it was a lovely summer's evening. We didn't know whether he could camp there so we decided to cook our evening meal using the table in the grill hut. Whilst we were cooking I went to have a look for the shelterplad it was in fact only 50m away in small clearing just a short distance from the grill hut. There were three shelters and someone was cooking dampers on the fire in the middle. I said ‘hello’ and ‘it looks quite busy here’, the guy who was cooking dampers said that there was one shelter free but I said that there is no problem as we have a tent and we will put it up near the grill hut. After we had eaten our evening meal we put up the tent on a nice grassy spot. The family who were cooking dampers came past to use the loo. They were Danish and had come to the lake to stay the night in the shelterplad and to go mountain biking around the trails in the forest. It was so lovely to see a family enjoying the outdoors. it was a super warm summer evening and we were treated to a lovely sunset, Frank just couldn't stop taking photographs. Soon after we had gone to bed I heard footsteps on the gravel, there seem to be someone in the grill hut where we had parked our bikes. As it was dark I grabbed a torch and went over to see who it was. I think he was more surprised to see me, he introduced himself as Sebastian he had intended to sleep in the Shelterplad but on seeing it busy and being late he didn't want to disturb those there so had decided to kip down in the grill house, he hadn't noticed our tent in the dark. I wished him a good night and I settled back into our tent.

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02.08.17 - Nysø to Vorbasse

map linkWe woke to a lovely sunny morning and it didn’t take us long to have some breakfast and pack the tent up. As there were a few caches in the forest we did a little bit of a circular route around the lake to take in a few of the caches that were close to the tracks before leaving the forest. It was a shame that we couldn’t have spend more time in the forest as there were some good caches but as it was nearly 11.30am we thought that we had better get going as we still had a long way to go if we were to get to Vorbasse. Our route from the forest was on easy gentle quiet roads and after an hour or so we got to Næsbjerb. As we entered the village we came across their recycling centre, it was so nicely laid out and clean, there was even a brush and shovel there for keeping it clean. Why can’t we have things like this in the UK? In the village centre we stopped at the Brugsen to buy some lunch and opposite and next to the church was a picnic bench. It looked very new and the planting around it was also new. As we were brewing up a couple of elderly gentleman came past and said something to us in Danish, we explained that we were English and didn’t understand Danish. They obviously didn’t speak English but we got the gist that they were pleased that we were using their new picnic bench.

After our lunch we had a look around the church, it was good to find one open as most of the churches in Denmark are usually closed. We really like the Danish churches they look so lovely with their white painted render and the graveyards are always so immaculate. As we looked around there was a chap clipping the hedges and we felt a bit guilty in walking on the pea shingle which had been racked with lovely lines. Our route from Næsbjerb took us through some quiet little lanes to Øse where we joined cycle route 7 which then took us through Nordenskov and on to Tofterup. Along the road we came across a field that had been planted alongside with a flower bed. It looked lovely and such a great idea as it attracts bees and other insects which help with the pollination of crops. If only every farmer in the UK did something similar it would be great. At Wester Starup we stopped to have a look at the church and pick up the cache there. From Starup we could have continued on the cycle route 7 to Vorbasse however it went a slightly longer route around by Hovburg. I could tell that Frank was getting tired so we decided to take the more direct route which saved us about 4km. The road was quiet and traffic free and after going through some heath land it was a reasonably flat road through several plantations. On getting to the outskirts of Vorbasse I asked a chap who was building a wall as to where the campsite and a supermarket were and he pointed us in the right direction. It is always a worry when you get to somewhere as to whether the campsite will be there as our map was 20 years old! I think for our next tour we must buy and up-to-date map.


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03.08.17 - Vorbasse

map linkWe said we would have a rest day here as it was Frank's first ride and it was a good thing we did as it rained overnight and most of the morning. But by lunchtime it had stopped so we went and had a swim in the Fritidscenter leisure pool which was free as it was included in the campsite fee. After that we did a few geocaches around the village which was fun as they took us firstly to the Æ gaaedhus which was an interesting half timbered house in the centre of the village complete with some unusual sculptured stones.

We then went on to do a multi-cache at the ‘Vorbasse Krigshavn’ which is the small lake in the village. There is a theory that the name originated from the war in 1864 between the Danes and Germans. Legend has it that as it was announced that a hostile column of German soldiers on horseback was moving towards Vorbasse, the Danish dragoons gathered at the lake’s edge. From there they galloped out to face the enemy, fighting a mighty battle and sending the German hussars back home with their tails between their legs. Since then, the lake has been known as Vorbasse War Harbour. The lake has a small plastic warship floating in it which is ceremonially placed there each spring. It apparently did have the turret from a submarine in it at one point but this was moved to the campsite. Our last multi-cache took us to the site of the old railway line that used to run through Vorbasse.

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04.08.17 - Vorbasse to Lindknud

map linkWe left the campsite and headed for the final stage of a multi-cache that we had worked the coordinates out for yesterday. It was in a small forest only 550m away from the campsite. When we got to GZ the cache was quickly found and while I was signing the log Frank had found several fungi to photograph. Our route took us back towards the centre back passed the campsite before turning south down a tree lined tarmacadam road which had a ‘Dead End’ sign with a little road coming out of the red bar. We hoped that you could get through with bikes. After a couple of kilometres the road became gravel alongside fields of golden barley and wheat. It was nice riding in the sunshine, we stopped at a small car park area where there was a picnic bench just for a drink. There was a sign showing details of a coast to coast walking route that ran through the footpaths. From there the gravel road became narrow and certainly not easily passable by a car. We rode it OK until it became too sandy and it was difficult to ride so we had to push the bikes for quite a distance. In the meantime the lovely morning sunshine had disappeared and the clouds had rolled in and we had a few showers as we pushed the bikes.

We must have had to push the bikes for about one and a half kilometres which Frank found a bit hard on her back. It wasn't until we got to a farm that we were back to a good gravel road. From there we cycled to a junction at Vittrup where there was a viewing point as it was was one of the highest points in Ribe county. During the war the Nazi’s had set up a radio listening point there. Having climbed the tower for the view which wasn't bad although the tower could have been a bit higher as the trees had grown up blocking the view to the north. At the bottom there were some picnic benches so we stopped for a brew and some lunch. It was quite windy but we managed to have lunch without getting showered on. Just down the road from the viewing point was a cache in the woods so we decided to go and find it. Well at least I did Frank got distracted by all the fungi in the wood and spent her time taking photographs of them while I found the cache. From there it was about 1 kilometre on the gravel road until we met the main road to Lindknud which thankfully was a tarmac road.

It was only a couple of kilometres to Lundkund and part way along the road at Langdyssen we stopped to have a look at 'Store Jyndovn' a Viking long barrow. It is a 117m long and 8m wide long barrow from the Neolithic period, which is one of the largest prehistoric monuments in South Jutland. The barrow dates to around 3500 BC and is clear evidence of the earliest farmers’ views about the dead and their treatment. We had seen similar sites in Denmark on our previous tours. From there it didn't take us long to get to the outskirts of Lindknud. Just as we stopped to get our bearings l noticed that there was a cache a few hundred metres just down the track to our left so we thought we would take that in as our way into the village. It was just as we had got a couple of hundred yards down the track that we came across the shelterplads. It seemed quite new and well appointed with a fireplace and earth closet the only thing that it didn’t have was any water. We contemplated using the shelters but unfortunately the wind was blowing directly into them, so as there was good grass we would pitch the tent behind a small copse of trees that would give us shelter from the strong wind. Having pitched the tent and whilst Frank was organising the gear inside I nipped into the village to get some water.

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05.08.17 - Lindknud to Torp

map linkWe had a very comfortable night at the shelterplads. As there had been good grass and it had been quite windy the shelters were a bit exposed so we had elected to use the tent instead. I had woken early and as we had run out of milk I nipped off to the Brugsen in the village to get some and a few rolls for our lunch. With the tent packed up we headed around the village to take in a couple of the local caches before heading off on the cycle route towards Holsted. It had been lovely and sunny earlier in the day but as we cycled on the cloud cover increased and it looked more likely that it might rain. When we got to Brørup gammel Kirke there was a funeral taking place which is always very sad to see. The road from Brørup gammel Kirke once we had left the main road was a nice surfaced gravel road which took us through some farms towards Tirslund. We stopped for some lunch at the Tirslundstenen which is a 3.5m high glacial erratic granite stone, which is 16 metres in circumference and it is the largest stone in Jutland and the second largest in Denmark. It had been threatening to rain all morning but we managed to make a brew under the trees and escaped most of a small shower.

When we got to Tirslund we picked up cycle route 6 which took us on to Holsted Stationsby which was another rather dreary Danish town. Denmark is rather funny in that its villages are usually very nice but their small towns can sometimes be a bit dull and dreary. After seeing a train go through at the railway crossing in town and finding a shop for some supplies we headed off again on cycle route 6 towards Hejrskov where the cycle route passed under the railway line. At Sønder Lovrup we turned off the cycle route 6 and took in a few caches on the road north of the river Holsted. As we were riding along the road near Varho we could see dark black clouds ahead of us which looked like heavy showers and we hoped that it would miss us. We stopped to put our waterproof tops on and debated as to whether to put on bottoms as well but we thought it would miss us. Unfortunately it didn't and our shorts got absolutely soaked. Fortunately for us the shower didn't last long and we cycled through it and then we were treated to a lovely full rainbow which made up for the soaking. After the heavy shower the sun came out and by the time we got to Gørding kirke we were nearly dry. We stopped at the church to pick up a cache and then headed for Torp where we hope to stop for the night.

On getting to Torp we had the choice of camping at a organic farm or stay at a shelterplads. We decided to look for the shelterplads which we knew was near the scout place. There was a sign for the scout place that took us down a track to some cabins where judging by all the parked cars and the noise of people was the scout place but no sign of the shelterplads. We decided to go and camp at the organic farm back up the road. It was a lovely place with very friendly people who had dogs, cats and ducks. One of their cats took a liking to us. She was a gorgeous tortoiseshell cat and being the cat friendly couple we are we gave her loads of fuss and she stopped with us while we cooked and ate our evening meal. When we decided to put our heads down we gently put her outside, but she just climbed back in through the vent. We closed that and popped her back out again. She had obviously decided that she was going to sleep with us come what may and then she cramponed her way up to the top of the tent and yowled. The damage to the tent had been done, so we just let her in and she spent the night curled up between us under the duvet.

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map link06.08.17 - Torp to Fanø

When we got up in the morning I checked the damage to our flysheet, there were 37 holes where the cat had cramponed up it. Oh well it was our fault we shouldn't have encouraged her in. What with the holes that the sheep had put in it when we were in Norway two years ago, it will definitely have to go off to Scottish Mountain Gear for some repairs. We had some repair tape with us but we didn’t want to overstay our welcome so we decided to leave it until we got back to Fanø. We decided to pack up the tent and stop and have our breakfast somewhere further up the road. We said our goodbyes and paid the lady for our stay and headed off. Luckily just about a kilometre up the road we found a shelter by the side of the road with a table and benches. The only thing was that it was guarded by an enormous Hornet on the wood work. Fortunately it seemed docile and as soon as the sun warmed it up it flew off.

Suitably refreshed from our breakfast we headed off towards Esbjerg along cycle route 6. It was easy cycling and the cycle route was clearly marked. There were a few caches along the route which always makes the cycling a bit more fun. At Tjæreborg we stopped at a Brugesen for some lunch and very conveniently there was a picnic bench outside for us to eat and brew up on. At Sønderby we joined route 1 and followed this all the way into Esbjerg. It is a long straight road but it has a cycle track running alongside it away from the road so it was pleasant to ride on. We could see the large tower from the power station near the docks in Esbjerg so we knew we didn’t have that far to go. Fortunately some very kind cacher had put a whole lot of caches along the cycle-path so it helped to keep Frank going as I could tell that she was by now getting tired. We remembered this route as we had done this part of cycle route into Esbjerg 20 years ago and to be honest it didn’t seem to have changed that much. We were soon in Esbjerg and at the ferry terminal for the Fanø ferry. We were lucky with our timing as just as we bought our tickets the guy told us to hurry as the ferry was just about to leave. It was good to be back on Fanø and we decided to celebrate by stopping at the Pannekoken Haus for a well earned pancake before getting back to the campsite. All in all it was a good little tour which proved to Frank that she could still do it.

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