Denmark – Blåvand and the west coast
We drove north from Ribe along empty roads, first through flat, cultivated farmland and then neat, managed forests. We barely saw any traffic, passing more weekend cyclists than cars. We arrived suddenly into the town of Blåvand and surprisingly there were people everywhere, enjoying a busy, bustling Saturday morning in the resort. We rolled through the central spine of the holiday town, passing many boutique shops and neat tourist stores, soaking up the sunshine buzz; the day was clear and a very pleasant 22 degrees, out of the wind. Beyond the town we reached a long stretch of road lined with timber-built thatched holiday homes nestled, rather uniquely, into the deep sand dunes.
We parked in the end of the road car-park, near a lighthouse that doubled as a tourist information office. There were many visitors enjoying the sunny day, walking dogs and picnicking on the beach. We walked along the water’s edge, relishing the simple pleasure of white sand underfoot and the sun on our faces. We passed large German-built concrete bunkers that still littered the beach from WW2, most of them toppled over and covered in graffiti. The warm weather and the inviting calm of the protected sea convinced us we must linger longer and enjoy a dip.
We retrieved our wetsuits and returned for an afternoon swim in the cold, calm water. The depth never reached more than about 1.5 metres due to an extended sandbank reef off-shore, itself covered with thousands of resting birds. We swam parallel to the shore for five or six lengths of around 100-150m each before the deep cold started to adversely affect our digits; not an excessive distance, but a good first try in the cold waters of the North Sea. It was, shamefully, our very first open water swim of the year; we’ll most definitely have to fit in lots more miles of training to be prepared for our upcoming time-travelling midnight Arctic Circle swim from Finland to Sweden.
After checking signs and asking at the tourist office, we confirmed that we were able to stay overnight, as long as no camping activities took place. We did initially have other plans, but that welcome information made up our mind to stay, so we happily snuggled into a quiet corner away from the day-trippers and relaxed into our lazy beach mindset. It was so easy to sit in the afternoon sun, drink copious amounts of tea and people-watch as our rash vests and wetsuits dried. This is the real value of life in a motorhome; the complete flexibility you have over your own travel decisions.
We walked to view a local nature exhibition in a small custom-built room near the car-park. It was lined with rough cut timber to offer the appearance of rugged, handmade authenticity. The timber decking on the floor was stopped short of both exhibits and perimeter walls, allowing portions of the floor to be infilled with clean white sand, completing the beach-hut natural feel. The exhibits were interesting and informative about the local ecology and birdlife and we felt we learnt a lot. The building also housed immaculately maintained toilets, very handy for saving our WC while we lingered.
That evening after dinner we undertook a long beach walk east to see a line of fallen bunkers that had been transformed into slightly cartoon sculptural horses. It was around 8km total down to a prominent stone groin and back, taking us around two hours as we meandered along the beautiful, empty beach. We searched for amber, having read that the fossilised tree resin floated over from the Baltic Sea and was washed ashore by the tides. We found a dozen or so small pieces of various colours and quality, just ready to be fashioned into Viking jewellery.
We returned the same way, now being slightly blinded due to facing west with the sun slowly setting in front of us. We slowly approached the most westerly point in Jutland, and thus by default in Denmark too. There we stood and, with awe, stared at the final death throes of the sun as it disappeared below the watery horizon. The sky, sea and rippled sands were turned blood-red in the final moments, bringing our first, wonderful beach day in Denmark to a suitably dramatic end. We scrambled back to Benny over the steep dunes, passing the tall lighthouse one last time.
We considered remaining in this small contented corner for a few more days, relishing our languid beach life and enjoying more walks and swims. But we had plans to criss-cross Denmark and we had other places to explore, so it was back on the road again.