Sometimes there is snow in winter in Denmark, but appears more likely to me that it will be very windy, rainy, muddy and possibly gloomy as well. This was the weather I experienced on this trip which was a complete contrast to my experience last year where there were snow drifts of over a metre deep. I set off from Høruphav in the early afternoon in cool but sunny weather, the trail starts near the Hotel Baltic, originally established as a ferry inn in 1665 it is now a luxury hotel and restaurant. Passing the nearby harbour where some boats were still moored I followed the well made and marked path around the shoreline, with the sun shining and little breeze it was cool but enjoyable, gradually I left the day walkers and the dog walkers behind as I continued past Stenholt and into the Sønderskov forest.
The trail gradually climbed and followed the cliff line providing expansive views to the south into Sønderborg Bight and in the distance Germany. The forest was popular with many day walkers taking advantage of the cool afternoon sunshine to enjoy the views and experience the wonders of the forest. Before long I had reached camp for the night, the site provided views across Sønderborg Bight to Skelde Købbelskov my destination for the next night. The disadvantage of the site was its proximity to the trail but as the evening cooled and it became darker I had the forest and the views to myself.
Well almost. I watched the sunset as I ate dinner and enjoyed the peace and tranquility, interspersed by the sounds of large fireworks going off in Sønderborg (6 km away). However, my peace was further disturbed when in the darkness of the night I heard an axe being used followed by the use of a bush saw, moving to a position where the sound was coming from I could see a head lamp being used as the person cut a small tree down. Deciding I did not need to know any more I sat and watched as the person left as quietly as they came. I never heard anymore, and the forest returned to its peacefulness with the sound of waves lapping on the shore. I retired for the night, looking forward to a wonderful view in the morning.
During the night I awoke to a strange electrical sound and looking outside realised it was now foggy and it was a fog horn I could hear, oh well back to sleep. Later the wind got up and by morning there was no fog but it was quite windy and given my exposed location I was very impressed by the way the Duomid barely moved in the wind. After a leisurely breakfast in bed, I packed up and set of pleased that the shelter had very little condensation. The weather was best described as gloomy and with a strong wind blowing it was going to be a long day of walking along the exposed coastline into the wind.
I continued along the coast and ultimately arrived in Sønderborg, I was impressed by the outside of Sønderborg Castle as I was with the multi colour facades looking out over the Alssund which connects Als Fjord with Sønderborg Bight.
It was as I wandered towards King Christian X Bridge, I noted that the navy were out on manoeuvres and was rewarded with the bridge being elevated to allow the patrol boat to head out into the bight, they did not seem to be in any hurry, nor were they when I saw them later in the day returning.
Having crossed the bridge I turned southward and headed into the farmland that surrounds the east coastline of the bight, the weather was not ideal and the views were limited and with the strengthening wind I did not stop for long. During this section I passed Danske Skanse 1 which formed part of the defences in the Denmark German war of 1864.
Further along the coastline I arrived at the quiet, at this time of the year at least, summer house area of Vemmingbund. Leaving the road I followed the somewhat narrow shoreline, watching swans feed in the sheltered waters adjacent to the coastline, ultimately the shoreline and the bank became one, so crossing over a barb wire fence I continued finally regaining an old trail that took me around a swamp and into the forest though the trail was never far from the sea. At least on this side of the bight the hills provided shelter from the wind, however, the roaring of the wind through the trees could be heard overhead. Some more ups and downs along the cliff tops ultimately brought me to a small fishing village with a caravan park, which was open (unusual in winter to say the least) I popped in for some water and had a pleasant chat with the proprietor, and felt that this campsite would be a nice place to revisit in the warmer months. If you are in the area take a look at the Broager Strand Camping. I commented that I had been in the area at the same time last year and the proprietor indicated that at that time they were snowed in for 5 days, which I can believe given my experiences on the other side of the peninsula. Having filled my water bottles I set off to find a campsite in Skelde Kobbelskov, a free camping area in the forest. By now the wind was roaring and it was cold, I quickly erected the shelter and dived in as the first shower arrived. Fortunately it was short and I was able to cook my dinner outside and sit (sheltered by a large tree) looking back over where I had come from including the lights of Sønderborg along with the occasional burst of fireworks across the bight. Soon however, the rained returned and it was clearly bed time, at 6:30 pm. I had downloaded part 2 of the Bob and Andy Christmas special podcast. In my view part 1 was better maybe it was the christmas cheer that made it so, however, I did need to take my ear plugs out on several occasions to determine where the rain was, it was mostly on my shelter, not their's. I awoke the next morning to even stronger winds and rain (later I found out that ferries had been cancelled because of the predicted gale force winds). As per normal I had breakfast in bed and then packed and viewed with trepidation a day of walking along the coast into gale force winds, many questions remained unanswered as I packed. The soft option was to walk along the roads, or find the nearest bus stop something you can do on smart phones now. However, I decided to stick with my original plan stay on the coast and avoid all roads. Thus I set off. I was wearing Haglöfs Oz, Macpac fleece, Rab Boreas, Smartwool hoody, BPL possum fur hat, Chocolate Fish TeMata Tuara as well as my Ibex soft-shell pants and Montane Featherlite pants.
As I left camp it was not raining and the views were briefly magical, before the cloud increased. Initially I headed through the forest before descending to the beach where I would spend most of the remainder of the trip. Following the beach I continued my walk south west and then heading northwest at Kragesand all the time noticing the swell and the wind. As I headed northwest towards Skelde Vig I was continually pounded by the wind, but was thankful that there was no rain, I was also impressed by the grip of the Innov 288's as I walked along the pebble strewn beaches, at no time did I slip and at all times I was able to feel the varying texture of the ground as I walked.
I had taken the "dotted line" on the map instead of following the road walk and whilst it may have been a problem at high tide times it seemed that today at least apart from the wind this was the better option. Ultimately I rejoined the trail at Skrækkehøj which took me across a newly built bridge across a stream exiting Vigsmose, from here it was an easy walk along a foot trail to Wolffsgårdvej. Now for some reason, which is unclear to me, the trail heads inland to the township of Gammelgab, before returning to the shoreline about a kilometre further on. Now for me that did not make sense so I decided to continue along the rock strewn beach. I was going fine and saw no problems, except that the weather gods decided to punish me, walking into the wind and a severe hail storm is not to be recommended wherever you find yourself and this part of the beach offered little shelter except to turn my back to the storm. I waited what seemed like an eternity until the storm abated and then turned around to see more blue sky accompanied by lots of cloud, yep more storms were coming. Onward, ever onward, I was pleased that it was not raining and ultimately I reached a place I had been 12 months ago, and found shelter out of the wind and sat down to eat and relax, if only the sun had been warmer it would have made my day.
Soon afterwards I left the beach and followed the roads and trails to Brusnæes and then to Broager where I caught a bus to Gråsten before catching a train home. There were more storms and more hail and more wind and more rain, which were interspersed with short sunny breaks. Overall I enjoyed the trip a lot, I feel the Gendarmstien is a trail I will revisit as it provides a touch of history, options for stealth camping as well as a wonderful seascapes.
Inov-8 288's I have now completed over 100 km's in these boots and they continue to provide comfort. support, protection and grip no matter what the terrain. Yes there is some seepage of moisture from the outside but when cleaning them at home I have noticed that they still hold water ( a disadvantage in my view) but it seems to me that until Inov-8 produce a non GTX boot then these will be my boot of choice. Of and by the way they are now lighter but I will need to wait until these are worn out.
MLD Duomid a lot has already been said about this shelter I feel that this shelter may suit my needs better than the Trailstar, but for now both are highly recommended, choice will depend on the user's needs.
Olympus EP-2 Do yourself a favour (to quote a well known Aussie identity) if you are in the market for a new camera then take a look at the Olympus 4/3 offerings, they may meet your needs.
Haglöfs Oz, Macpac fleece, Rab Boreas, Smartwool hoody a combination that kept me warm and dry.