Monday, 10 June 2013

Jutland Tour, Part I: The race north

OK it wasn't really a race but one of the aims for this tour was to make it to Skagen on the northern tip of Jutland, so we decided to try and get there as quickly as possible, then spend the rest our time in Denmark working our way back south, ticking off all the sights that we wanted to visit. I'd already done a rough route plan using the excellent map on the Danish Cycling Federation website which gave us suggested overnight stops and daily mileages (or kilometre-ages as its mainland Europe!).

We met a german guy at the ferry terminal in Harwich who was towing a trailer around the North Sea Cycle Route (now that is crazy). He said it was great for storage and security but way too heavy.  He'd been defeated by the British weather and was going on to Denmark where it was flatter and hopefully less wet/windy.

German style touring

The overnight crossing from Harwich to Esbjerg was hideous. Gale force winds do not make for a pleasant crossing and my tummy was not too impressed. Once off the boat around lunchtime, we headed into Esbjerg and the Tourist Info to buy the missing two maps for the tour.  We had a brief panic as the Tourist Info building was covered in scaffolding and builders, but the lady at the post office pointed us in the direction of the temporary Tourist Info office.

Strapped down and ready for the off
Getting out of Esbjerg wasn't too difficult and we stopped off to have a look at the strange 'People of the Sea' statues... I don't remember much about the route apart from the wind. The storm winds from overnight had continued and trying to keep a loaded touring bike moving was ridiculously hard. I remember when we were on the country lanes, surrounded by fields and no hedgerows - you came out from the shelter of the farmstead and were practically brought to a standstill by the force of the wind.  I think we were both having second thoughts about the whole adventure at this point - if the wind continued to be that bad we wouldn't be getting anywhere....

People of the Sea

The plan had been to get to Skive, but the reality was that we gave up when we got to the end of National Route 2 at Olgod. So we ended up doing only 36 miles the first afternoon.

Day two aim was to get to Viborg (or beyond if possible). To make up time/distance we decided to take the road as far as Herning, as it was more direct than the cycle routes. I wasn't sure about this but it turned out that the roads are quieter in Denmark and most of the time the vehicles give you more room than in the UK.


Random building in Herning

The wind had slacked off a bit and we made good time in getting to Herning for lunch. After that it was on to the Local Route 21 - the old railway route.  This was the first experience of the proper Danish cycle paths - lovely smooth tarmac, no potholes, and not a road in sight.  As it was the route of the old railway, the path was raised up on an embankment and you got a great view of the surrounding countryside (mostly grass and arable fields).  Going through some villages you could even see the remains of some platforms and station buildings.
What cycle paths should look like.

We got a first experience of Danish village/town churches today as well (the first of many photos).  Iconic whitewashed buildings with red roofs, sometimes with some exposed red brick and a bell tower.  What struck me most was the graveyards, they were so pretty.  Each was beautifully manicured - divided into (family) plots with small hedges and then filled with small shrubs and flowers.  All lovingly maintained.

Karup Kirke

Viborg was lovely.  Situated on the side of two lakes, with the cathedral on a rise above the city.  We arrived and collapsed in the park next to the south lake before working out where the campsite was, and the first thing that struck me was runners.  They were everywhere, single runners and packs of them.  I think that every time we wandered away from the campsite, we saw somebody out running!

Viborg at Sunset

The aim for day three was to get from Viborg to the other side of the Limfjord so we could visit the Viking fortress near Aggersund. Looking at the size of the villages on that side of the fjord, we revised the plan as we didn't think we'd end up being able to find somewhere for dinner.  So the new aim was Logstor, on the south side of the Limfjord.

Big sky

The 'interesting' sand/gravel track down by the Fjord
We used a combination of signed Cycle routes and normal roads.  On one section early on the cycle route went away from the main road and on a minor road down towards the edge of the fjord, so we decided to check out the scenery down there.  The minor road degenerated into a gravel track, which degenerated into a sandy track.  At this point Mal's bike attempted to go sideways and traction disappeared, so we had to get off and push.  The sandy section was only short and before long we were back cycling on gravel.  That was still a bit skittish though and there was a lot of concentration involved in trying to keep the bike upright and moving forward, and trying to pick the line on the track that had the least gravel.

Spot the intrepid Traveller?
Given that we did 60 miles, I'm not sure how we managed to get to Logstor in time for tea and cake.  But we did.  And we had 'speciality of Denmark' cake, which was described to me as having special egg foam.  Turns out that's a very posh Tunnocks tea cake.  They were very nice though.  The tea however.... It's best to stick to coffee outside of the UK I think....

Post tea/cake we mosied on down to the campsite and set up the tent, then decided we had enough time to cycle across the bridge over the Limfjord to check out Aggersund (better than trying to fit it in before the next day's epic cycle).  Photos don't do it justice...

Aggersund Viking Fortress
OK, so it is a big grass covered circle.  But it's big.  And you can see why that clever Harold Bluetooth built it here - the narrowest point of the Limfjord and some cracking (strategic) views!

The kirke at Aggersund

By day four of the big push north, I think we were both feeling a bit dazed.  The original plan had been to go to Frederikshavn on the coast, and then get the train to Skagen the following day as our rest day. But that was quite a long way, and after some studying of the Lonely Planet guide Mal discovered that Hjorring was closer, nicer (Frederikshavn = industrial port, Hjorring = pleasant historical town), and we could still get the train to Skagen from there. We used mostly main roads for the route so it was more direct, and I remember it being hilly (for Denmark) and windy, but not much else.  


Esbjerg - Olgod, 37.9mi
Olgod - Viborg, 65.1mi
Viborg - Logstor, 60.7mi
Logstor - Hjorring, 55.2mi

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