Friday, 18 November 2011

Præstø to Vordingborg; Along Sjællandsleden

Wandering the Sjællandsleden.

The Sjællandsleden is a series of interconnected trails around the island of Zealand, the island on which Copenhagen is located. The trail mostly follows the southern and western coastline but occasionally detours into the hinterland. The scenery can be rewarding, and often you will find places where quiet contemplation is possible.

I was looking for a walk for three days and scoured the online maps of the Sjællandsleden to locate an area where most of the time I would be near the coast, be in the forest and have opportunities for stealth camping, having walked the sections from Rødvig to Fakse Ladeplads and Stevns Trampsti, thus I decided upon the section between Præstø and Vordingborg.

After an interesting time on public transport, with delayed trains, missed bus connections I finally arrived in Præstø, the beginning of the walk along St Antonius Stien which forms part of the Sjællandsleden.

I followed the coastline, wandering through the outskirts of Præstø before finally heading across country along the trail through Næb Skov (forest) and then farmland along country roads before entering Rekkende Skov. By now the cloud had cleared and it was a cool, breezy clear afternoon and quickly I began to appreciate the forest, the light and the reality of being outdoors. As with most of my trips, whilst I plan a route I do not research on what I will likely see along the route and as a consequence there are unexpected surprises, both natural and man made. For this trip the first surprise was exiting the forest to see Oremandsgårds Husflidsskole (built in 1872 and declared a protected building in 1979). The school was intended to train students in in a range of crafts.

After passing the school I wandered through the farmland, passing an interesting

tree root arrangement before descending to Sandvig harbour with its boats and also 2 shelters with wonderful views out to sea. However, I continued south hoping to find a location in which to pitch a tent.

By now there was no cloud and and the air was cooling but I recognised that I had some more road walking to do to get to the next forest my home for the night.

As the sunset I located a suitable spot and set up camp, it was a relaxing night, whilst it was cool I felt comfortable stretched out in the dried leaves as a I ate dinner and drank coffee. The moon was beginning to rise and provided and a wonderful backdrop to a pleasant location in the forest.

The next morning I awoke to another overcast morning and after extracting the unwanted slug from my porridge I set off quickly being reminded that Christmas was fast approaching.

Ultimately I exited the Viemose forest and followed the coastline past the summer houses into Kalvehave, with it distinctive coat hanger bridge across Ulv Sound.

Leaving Kalvehave the trail takes you away from the coast and in the grey windy gloom this section was perhaps the most frustrating of the trip, though passing through the surrounds of Petersgård reminded me of the days when landed gentry owned large parts of the land.

I was surprised that there was so many pheasant around in the forests certainly more than I have ever seen before. Having settled down for lunch I looked up and noticed the tree, with its distinctive face. What do you see in the photo?

After lunch, I continued along the trail to find the unexpected sight of these two pentagonal shapes next to each other. Did the person deliberately stack them this way, or was it random? An interesting conundrum.

Leaving Langebæk Skov I entered Stensby forest, by now the cloud was beginning to clear and the views out to sea encouraged me to continue, I was now in the large Fredrikskov which abuts the E47 (E56) freeway which takes you to the ferry at Gedser and then onto Germany. Below the freeway on the shores of Storstrømmen is Ellehammers house (the birth place of Jacob Ellehammer a danish aviation pioneer)

The houses are now used by groups, nearby is a shelter place and with the freeway 30 meters above the continual hum of traffic will help those who need vehicle noise to send them to sleep.

The bridge itself provides some wonderful views and geometric features which fascinated me.

As the sunset I settled down in my shelter and enjoyed the evening.

It was a cool morning as I packed up and prepared to continue my wander along the coast, the cloud was now gone and the early morning sunshine provided a variety of shades and tones on the surroundings.

Along the coastline there were many buildings including this old pink hut.

Heading away from Bakkebolle strand I climbed towards Ørnehøj, a burial chamber dating back around 5400 years.

The morning light provided wonderful contrasts on the rock formations.

Visbile from this highpoint was both sections of the Farø bridges across Storstrømmen.

Descending from the burial tomb the trail returned to the sea and as I wandered along the shoreline I marvelled at the tranquility, the wonderful views.

It was easy to just stop and take time, I was in no hurry and in such tranquil surrounds I felt relaxed and invigorated.

All good things come to an end, and I reentered Vinterbolle forest, however, there were still surprises firstly Valdermars place, named after Valdermar Atterdag, King of Denamrk from 1320 to 1375.

Within the stones there is a rock with a circular hole, legend has it that Valdermar's horse hoof made this imprint, must have been one powerful horse.

As the trail meandered through the forest I finally arrived at Beværthuset part of the Køng Linen Works, interestingly when researching on the web about the linen works I discovered that a linen bleacher, Charles Burd, came from Scotland and became bleaching master at the Vintersbølle around 1800. The linen works ultimately closed down in 1900, and Beværthuset is all that remains of what was undoubtedly a very busy area in times past.

Beværthuset sits in a quiet valley with a stream quietly flowing towards Storstrømmen, as I crossed the stream and wandered through the forest I recognised that the trip was drawing to a close, soon I would reenter built up areas and before long be in Vordingborg. Passing through Nyråd the trail then joined the old railway line which once connected Vordingborg to Kalvehave Havn.

There was still one surprise to come I had entered the outskirts of Vordingborg and my focus had turned to which train would I catch to get back home, then as I turned the corner I was confronted by the remains of a large castle. Now my thoughts changed to did I have time to explore, yes was the answer.

The remains of what is known as Vordingborg Castle the largest middle age fort in Denmark which comprised 9 towers and over 800 metres of walls. Later I discovered that it was the first protected building in Denmark being preserved in 1808. The Goose Tower (Gåsetårnet) is the only preserved section of the original fort and is shown in the photograph below.

The remaining walls of the fort provided a colourful contrast to the surroundings and I felt that this was a pleasant ending to what had been an enjoyable walk and historical discovery of Sjælland.

In closing I would say that ignorance is bliss, I set of on a walk because I wanted to spend a couple of nights out, but in the end the trip was much more, I learnt a lot about the history of the country, found places that I did not expect and all in all learnt a lot from what I have realised has become for me a walking discovery tour of my adopted country. There will be more discoveries.

Some gear observations.

Innov-8 288 boots, I have had these boots for a while now and used them on a number of short walks but this was the first extended walk I had taken them on, and my feet were very happy, even with extended periods of road walking. What surprised me was how dry my feet felt at the end of the day, given that they are normally damp from sweat. I will be using them a lot more through winter so will write more in due course. One note of caution however, is the sizing, they seem to be bigger than the normal Innov-8 sizes in the toe box area and some people may be able to size down.

Trail Designs Sidewinder and Evernew 900 pot, my preferred alchol stove and even when temperatures hovered between 0 and 5 C the stove was as efficient as ever averaging 30 gms of fuel per litre of water.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the Exped Syn 7UL to be a perfect fit inside the Katabatic bivy and with the MLD Spirit 30 quilt was comfortable and warm at all times.