Sunday, 3 November 2013

West coast wanderings: Skagen to Tornby

 Sundown

Leaving Skagen to the sounds of applause and cheering I followed the old church path (Gammle Kirkisti) out of Skagen. I did hope that it was the local football team scoring a goal and not my departure from town that resulted in the celebration. I wandered through the forest and sand dunes before reaching the sanded church  the church like many other places suffered from movement of sand and was finally closed in 1795. Nearby there is an ice cream shop which was surprisingly devoid of customers, and I was equally surprised by the two English mountain bike riders who asked me for directions.

On the trail to Tilsandede Kirke






Tilsandede (buried church)

The sound of waves breaking in the distance encouraged me to continue towards the the shoreline of Albæk bay which was bathed in cool autumn sunshine whilst several ships lay anchored.  I was fascinated by the jet streams, the made their daily migration to places unknown, to me.

Ålbæk Bugt (Bay)

It was time to camp and after locating a spot high in the dunes I climbed through the forest and set up camp quickly realising that 6" Easton pegs were not ideal in sand, however, with a light sea breeze there should be no problem.

Camp overlooking Ålbæk Bay

Tucked away nicely in the dunes I set about cooking dinner and was immediately impressed with the Evernew burner and trivet combination inside a trail designs cone.

Evernew Dinner

After dinner I wandered in the increasingly cool and strengthening onshore breeze whilst looking out to sea whilst the setting sun provided an ever changing spectacle on the dunes.


Setting sun colures dunes

The breeze did increase during the night as did the cloud, I was pleased that the longer (8”) corner stakes had held well, however a couple of the shorter stakes were swinging in the breeze, lesson learned. This trip was intended to be a leisurely one as I wanted to take the time to explore and relax, so after a leisurely breakfast I headed inland through Skagen forest crossing the railway line and the main north south road. The forest has dunes and the coastline on both sides providing many opportunities for exploration either on foot or bike.

After crossing Route 40 I intended to return to a campsite I had used in 2010 as I hoped to locate 2 Ti tent stakes that I had left there, locating the spot I begun what I expected to be a fruitless search in the long grass. But much to my amazement there they were still sitting where I had left them. The find brightened up the rest of the day, not so much the pegs but the actual reality of finding them as I had expected it would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. However, the down side was my pack had now gained 12 gm in weight.

There they are

With the success of the “peg find” it was down to the beach and the 8 km walk south. I always enjoy walking along the beach especially in times like these where there was a light breeze at my back, calm seas, and  the firm sand provided a pleasant walking base. I passed the time looking at the dunes, the debris washed up, the sea, the birds and the occasional car, I did wonder whether the drivers took time to appreciate the seascape, or were so insulated from the experience inside their vehicle.

Dunes and North Sea

By the way Coop are you missing a basket? I know where it is.

Coop have you lost a basket?

As I wandered along the beach I watched the terns seeking food and at times running along the beach before flying away.

Terns

I was impressed by the shape of the jelly fish whose tentacles moved with the incoming tide.

Jelly Fish

Finally I turned inland at the small holiday hamlet of Kandestederne, with almost everything closed I asked a friendly home owner for water, as he cleaned his golf cart under what were darkening skies. Thanking him I left with about 3 litres of water on board, as it was to be a dry camp adjacent to Råbjerg Mile the largest moving sand dune in Norther Europe. I had passed this way previously but I was determined to spend more time looking at the surrounding area than on my previous visit. Turning eastward away from the North Sea Trail, I headed to the western side of the dune, with its lunar landscape. This western side of the dune is less visited than the eastern side and as I crossed the heath covered plain I wondered if the visitors walking along the top of the dune even noticed me.  

Råbjerg Mile 3

I spent time photographing and admiring the immensity of the dune areas I followed the south western side I was constantly impressed by the changing face of the dune to my left and the varieties of heath to my right.  People were silhouetted on the top of the dune and children’s laughter could be heard for a considerable distance.

Råbjerg Mile 2

Rounding the dune I followed an old trail towards the forest and camp for the night.

Camp Bunken plantation

A blue and silver shelter will never be a stealth shelter.

Cones

Another grey morning greeted me with the drops of rain as I set off retracing my steps then heading westward to meet the North Sea trail (Nordsostien). All the time I was looking back at the dune admiring its beauty and the "wildness" of the area.

Return to the sea
Passing thorough the heath I rejoined the trail and turned southward through a grass covered dune rejoining the beach and the path to Skivveren.

Along the coast

Exiting the beach at Skivveren, I refilled my water bottles before entering Tversted forest and following roads past Østerklit, sadly now with out the wind mill on top (the photo below is from my 2010 trip)

Østerklit Stokmølle

After a short section along the beach and a chat with a lady who commented on the increasing amount of water below the dunes, I reached the delightful Tversted Sø.

Tversted Sø

The calm waters provided an ideal photographic opportunity, other visitors were enjoying the area either feeding the ducks or admiring the autumn colours.

Tversted Sø 2

Entering the outskirts of Tversted, I then descended to the beach, it was apparent that it was a more populous area than where I had come from and with good weather many people were out buying ice cream. It quickly became obvious that the Yellow Is Hus sold the best ice cream as the queue was significantly longer than the one at the Blue Is Hus, which had a queue of zero.

Along the beach I wandered with a small diversion over a bridge crossing an estuary before continuing to the larger Uggerby estuary and its much larger bridge and accompanying barrier.


Barrier Uggerby Å

From here it was to be a short walk to my campsite of 3 years ago. However, I was to be in for a shock, it appeared that I may have been the last user, as it was now overgrown and worse it was tick hell. Quickly vacating I located another spot only to realise that it was a frost hollow as the temperature plummeted towards zero.

Camp Uggerby

The location did have its advantages with beautiful seascapes in both directions and after dinner it was time to sit on the dune, drink coffee and watching the setting sun, with the clearing skies provided a impressive variation in colours along the coastline

To the east.


Shades of sunset 2

 To the west.



Sunset

Ultimately I retired for the night with the temperature inside the shelter hovering around zero C. I awoke to a moisture loaded shelter, with clear skies promising a fine day, A quick breakfast and I was packed and walking along the beach before returning to the trail. The mist covered dunes to the east and the birds in flight made for some excellent scenes which I photographed in between trying to clean the moisture from the lenses. I have experienced the moisture build up before in moist locations and need to plan for this occurrence in the future.

Morning Mist 2
Wandering along the trail I entered Uggerby forest, passing a campsite with bench ...

Chair


and accompanying fungi. 

Fungi

Then into Hirtshals, a large ferry port with ferries to Norway, Færø Island and Iceland. Leaving the precinct I once again returned to the waters edge and followed the coastline before exiting at Tornby, and climbing along the eastern side of the gorge.

Tornby Gorge

A large established campsite provided me with the opportunity to load up with water for the night as I headed to a location I have camped at before.  Being a school holiday week, there were many groups enjoying the warm afternoon weather in the forest. Setting up camp, adjacent to a shelter, I set about the normal routine of cooking then eating, much to my surprise was now a water tap at the shelter. Why did I carry 3 litres of water to the camp? was a question that sprung to mind. Interestingly though there is no garbage bin or toilet, you can guess the rest.


The following morning it was off to the railway station and then home. I wandered into Tornby and spent some time waiting for the the train that would would whisk me away.


The train trip provided an opportunity to finish reading Erin McKittrick's new book  Small Feet Big Land which is a follow up to A Long trek Home. Erin’s new book is a fascinating story as it weaves a tale of coming to terms with two children whilst maintaining a desire to continue to explore the wilderness. The recognition that their children may now be “game” for the bears comes as a surprise to author. Erin describes the continuing evidence of rising sea levels and how villages are already relocating or planning to relocate, she also discusses the impact (both good and bad) of mining.  Perhaps the one theme that sticks in my mind is her wonderings on what will the country be like in 20 years, will her children remember their first steps in the land? Furthermore, throughout the book an overarching theme is Erin's concerns for the future along with the day to day reality of living in a yurt.

I strongly recommend this book to all, especially for its ongoing theme of educating your children about the outdoors, by providing an experiential base upon which they can build there own understanding.





Skagen