Tuesday, 20 October 2020

The Secret Sandboarding Life of Denmark

In March, I was excited to be off to Denmark as I booked a holiday to visit Copenhagen, take a train over to Oresund Bridge to Malmo and overall have a whale of a weekend as it was also my birthday. Sadly, due to an unforseen pandemic that was out of my control, I couldn't go and I spent my birthday riding home a new moped I bought instead... That moped ended up being a lemon and I broke down half way home on my birthday but that's not relevant here.

When Denmark comes to mind, I think of the Danish conquest of England, Vikings, King Harald Bluetooth, the birthplace of Lego, and Elia (a very confusing art form that's in rural Jutland). Unfortunately, there's not a lot I know about Denmark (sorry Danes).

But one thing I definitely didn't know about Denmark is that they are a sandboarding nation, not with many sand dunes but enough that I felt that the Danish people deserve an article.

The first is Rubjerg Knude, which is in the Hjørring municipality looks out into the North Sea, more specifically; the Skagerrak which is the strait that is the north of Denmark, the South of Norway, and the South West of Sweden. The dunes here are interesting because in 1900, a lighthouse was first activated but due to the shifting sands in the area, "The Rubjerg Knude lighthouse has been perched on a sand dune on the northern Danish coast, but coastal erosion from North Sea winds threatened to topple it into the sea." (BBC, 2019).

The sand dunes surrounding the small church remind me a little of Kolmanskop in Namibia. They look quite high from photos but if anyone's interested, the tower height is only 23 metres but fantastic scenery of the Jutland peninsula and the Skagerrak nonetheless.

Next up is Råbjerg Mile, which is just over an hour's drive from Rubjerg Knude, and Visit NordJylland puts it best: "The Dune of Råbjerg Mile is the largest migrating dune in Denmark. The west-coast has for many centuries struggled with migrating dunes due to the harsh wind and sand-covered areas - and being close to Skagen, the weather at Råbjerg Mile is far from mild." (VisitNordjylland, n.d.).

"Råbjerg Mile (37)" by Ragnar1904 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The dune isn't too far from Skagen (the northernmost town in mainland Denmark), only a 20 minute drive. If there's a review from Tripadvisor that summarises the dunes, it has to be this from Laylalae: "
We came to Raabjerg Mile from a nearby camping by bikes and loved it from the first moment. An extraordinary contrast when the forest suddenly changes into "a desert" is beautiful. We had a nice clear day and no one on the horizon so we could have all this space for ourselves. And boy, it is quite large, I honestly expected Raabjerg Mile to be a bit smaller.". (Tripadvisor, 2020.)

Up next, we have Rømø Island; an island connected to the West of mainland Denmark by a causeway created by a dyke in 1948. Aside from the dunes on Rømø, you also have the option to explore bunkers, plantations, and beaches whether you want to take a cycle, hike, or just simply drive; you can do it all on Rømø!

"The new row of sand dunes on the beach is an interesting example of Rømø’s ceaseless growth towards the west. In future, the beach will spread wider and wider, and the area behind the sand dunes will change into a coastal meadow." (The Danish Nature Agency, n.d.) Unfortunately, free camping facilities and shelters don't exist on the island; so the true sensation of being one with nature can't happen here. The island does have hotels, so you do have options if you wish to stay; the largest settlement, Havneby only has a population of just over 300.

And finally, there's Skallingen which is on the island, north of Rømø. Situated on a small peninsula near the settlement of Blåvand (Blaavand); these dunes are of a lower height in comparison to some of the others I've wrote on this post. The area around Blåvand including Rømø, better known as the Danish area of the Wadden Sea, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"Skallingen" by Sfdan~commonswiki is a public domain work.

"The Wadden Sea National Park is with its world class nature now the biggest national park in Denmark. Here is spectacular wildlife and the importance of the area extents far beyond the borders of Denmark. A remarkable place to experience the world heritage is either at the bay named Ho Bugt or at the nation’s newest dry territory - Skallingen - an undisturbed and ever changing coastal landscape. The area also holds international significance as a rest stop for millions of migratory birds." (Varde Kommune, n.d.) The peninsula also hosts a golf club and a small zoo.

To conclude, Denmark isn't just a frozen wasteland... In fact, it's not even a wasteland; it's beautiful, it's perfect for anyone who's a fan of nature; along with nice sand dunes at its disposal, the danish nation could very well be a nation with sandboarding cohort! I have managed to re-book tickets for a trip to Denmark and Sweden in July 2021, hopefully this place is as good as it looks!

Reference List:

BBC News. 2019. Danish Rubjerg lighthouse moved inland on skates - BBC News. [ONLINE] Available at: http://bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-50139900. [Accessed 12 August 2020].

VisitNordjylland. n.d. Råbjerg Mile. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.visitnordjylland.com/north-jutland/things-do/rabjerg-mile. [Accessed 3 September 2020].

Tripadvisor. 2020. Rabjerg Mile (Skagen). [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g285705-d10118933-Reviews-Rabjerg_Mile-Skagen_North_Jutland_Jutland.html. [Accessed 20 October 2020].

The Danish Nature Agency. n.d. Attractions. [ONLINE] Available at: https://eng.naturstyrelsen.dk/experience-nature/in-the-countryside/roemoe/attractions/. [Accessed 20 October 2020].

Varde Kommune. n.d. UNESCO World Heritage: The Wadden Sea National Park. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.vardekommune.dk/unesco-world-heritage-wadden-sea-national-park. [Accessed 20 October 2020].

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