Rajberg Mile and around the very north of Jutland
We had an easy drive northwards in the hazy sunshine. We stopped briefly at a picnic place quite near to our destination at Rajberg Mile, to quickly check out Bunken Strand on the east coast. It was a two minute walk to the beach through pretty, managed woodland, to reach the wide stretch of beach that looked very neat and clean. The inviting sea was much calmer on this side of the country, and there was no one around – a perfect, private place to return to later.
We decided on an ACSI campsite, the closest one we could get to Skagen. The normal price was listed as over €40 per night, but with the ACSI discount card we only had to pay €17, which was cheaper than other aires in the area with no facilities. It turned out our campsite had two lovely pools, one outside and one inside, so we went for a long swim, followed by a relaxing time in their sauna and Jacuzzi. The ACSI card was proving itself to be an essential item for leisurely travel in Denmark.
On our first full day, we cycled north to visit the main attraction of this area; the town of Skagen. The route was mostly cycle lane adjacent to the road, where we were fully exposed to the high cross winds. On some stretches we could cut through forest fire-tracks for a bit of shelter and variation. We rolled into and through the busy tourist town, checking out the large marina ships as we passed. We continued to Skagen Fyr, the Grey lighthouse, and past until we reached the end of the road at Grenen, where we locked up our bikes and continued on foot. Suddenly there were people everywhere, flowing out from a large, almost full car-park.
We walked over the dunes, where we paused to look at the burial place of Holger Drachmann, a renowned local poet and artist. We navigated over and around several German-made concrete bunkers to reach the main stretch of beach. We dipped our toes in the water, The Baltic Sea on this coastline, to test the temperature; cold was the verdict. There was a long procession of people shuffling along the harder, compacted sand at the water’s edge, so we rather reluctantly joined the crowded line, all moving along in step as if in a sombre parade.
There were many more visitors who either couldn’t or wouldn’t walk the 1km from the car-park to the end of the beach, so several tractors with large carriages would instead bring them to the end point. We queued for our turn to take a photo at the apex of the spit where the North Sea and the Baltic Sea meet, standing with one foot in each ocean. The North Sea was, surprisingly, noticeably warmer than the Baltic. Walking away, we thought the strange view of the long queue and the tractor-trailer delivering and removing people was an even more interesting phenomenon than the meeting seas.
We ate lunch in the dunes further along the beach, away from the crowds, then lay down a while and dozed in the hazy afternoon. We intermittently watched more crowds arrive and leave by tractor as we enjoyed the sun from our sheltered beach hide. We walked back along this empty section of beach, following the tractor route, first to visit the on-site Art gallery and then the visitor centre where we bought a few postcards for home.
We visited Skagen again on our return, to see the many sailboats from an Oslo to Skagen race celebrating in the marina. There was a party atmosphere all around as the crews enjoyed their many beers as they relaxed on board and around the marina front. We later cycled home through scrub woodland on fantastic gravel paths that criss-crossed a railway line, where we saw a church now partially buried in migrating sand.
The next day, after a typically lazy start, we cycled again, this time to the wilder west coast. Our plan was first to visit the famous migrating sand dune at Rajberg Mile on the way, the largest in northern Europe. It was a rogue tongue of this dune that had buried the main body of the church we visited the day before. We left our bikes in the car-park and climbed the sprawling ridge, running and playing like big kids all over the wide expanse of virgin sand. The four million cubic metres of sand migrates around 18 metres a year in a north-easterly direction; a fascinating place.
We continued on to the west coast beach at Kandestederne, famed for its high dunes. Because you can simply drive along this extensive beach until you locate your own private stretch, it is very popular with naturists. The sea was much rougher than we had seen on the sheltered east coast, with rolling breakers crashing on the shore, so it was of less interest to us as a possible swim location. We cycled along a short stretch on the hard sand, enjoying the different feel beneath our tyres, before returning the same way back to camp for a restful afternoon in the sun.
We ended up staying a fourth night, our longest stay in a campsite, because the weather was so good. We were also enjoying having the pool to use for swim training, in anticipation for our upcoming Arctic Circle swim. Also, our desire to remain in one place was stronger than the draw to explore any further parts of Jutland before our next WorkAway destination. The temperature hit 28 degs C on our final day, so we packed a lunch and walked out on a little used route from the bottom of the campsite through a forest to the beach we had seen when we first arrived, Bunken Strand. We popped out after 2km of pleasant strolling at a sand dune, and climbing over this rise we were rewarded with a wide, clean white sandy beach stretching miles in each direction.
There were maybe six people in view on the entire beach, so we walked only a short way along and settled into our own private spot for a long day of relaxing. We dabbled with the idea of swimming, but the differential between our sun-drenched bodies and the Baltic Sea water temperature was extreme, so a short, chilly dip was all we could muster on each occasion. It was still lovely for a cool-down. We played Frisbee on the beach, enjoying an almost windless day for the first time in Denmark. The rest of the time we read or dozed, peacefully enjoying that supremely satisfying feeling of having absolutely nothing to do.
A wonderful, exploratory and restful stop was most certainly had, but now we had work to do; Guldbæk Vingård beckoned.