I've menionned it in the planning section: Part 2.5 was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. But than again, doing these spontaneous things are spicing up life a little bit, aren't they? And c'mon, it's Denmark. All flat, shelters en masse and civilized. Even though it's November. How hard can it be...
Reality catches up when I step out of the train into the drizzly, moist darkness. Denmark in November. A bit stiff after nearly 24 hours in the train I stumble a couple of kilometers through the night to find my (lovely) shelter in a pine plantation, where I have a surprisingly good night's sleep.
I start at Denmark's nothernmost point in Skagen, deviating a little from the official E1 again. Wind, sun and rain are following me for the first three days along the beach, which I have all by my self. While I usually love beach walks, this time I'm relieved, when I finally leave the beach, finally escaping the wind.
The solitary walk continues. Beside some people walking their dog, it seems like I'm the only one out here. Beside the one time I am Couchsurfing, I hardly ever have a conversation with anyone.
Despite the short days, I manage to cover reasonably long distances thanks to the easy, flat terrain. In a bit less than two weeks I cross into Germany. Country number 4 done and dusted.
So that was it! A hike across Denmark in November. 13 days, a bit more than 500 kilometers.
It was certainly very different to my previous hikes. Not necessarily the landscape (which is similar to Sweden's southern part) but the hiking in constantly cold temperatures. Something, which turned out to be more challenging as I was anticipating. Luckily it was mostly just the cold. Rain was rare and only light when it did. Being outside nearly 24/7 and thus keeping myself warm wasn't always easy. It required a lot of eating. Fuel for my body. I could have worn morn but I more often than not had the impression the cold came from inside as well. Lack of sleep maybe despite the long nights.
Long nights. Another point I want to take up. When deciding to head to Denmark, I completely neglected this point. With only 8 hours of daylight the days are awfully short, requiring me to walk in the dark. Initially I had to get used to it but it somehow grew on me. Time at night was passing quickly and the moment the eastern sky turned from black to blue was always magical. In fact I remember every dawn of this little hike.
Last but not the people. Well, I can't say much about them as I have hardly met anyone on my hike. The few people I did meet though were wonderful.
I didn't mind to hike in solitude these two weeks. I actually enjoyed it. Still, if I'd continued, it might have become lonely.
Would I do it again? Maybe not. Do I regret it to have done it in November? Definitely not. I loved the challenge and am super happy I could master it.
While not following E1, I mostly can stick to Denmark's existing network of long-distance trails. The first 3 days along the beach are part of the North-Sea Trail. Besides the above mentionned
strong wind, the beach itself is generally relatively easy to walk on. Highlight: the Rubjerg Knude, giant sand dunes .
At Tranum Strand I leave the beach and follow the Hærvejen along Denmark's "spine" all the way to Flensburg in Germany. It's easy walking mainly along cycle trails and roads. Mostly farmland with a bit of forest plantations in-between, all well marked. Easy to walk plenty of kilometers everyday.
Near Nørre Snede I rejoin E1 and follow it to the Danish-German Border. Despite not being marked seperately, walking on E1 feels different, in a good way. After my little deviation in South Sweden and North Denmark, I intend to stick to E1 all the way to Switzerland.
Shelters are plentiful, free and generally have a toilet and water. They do not offer the same scenic views as the ones in Sweden though. I had them all to myself but I can imagine they get a bit busy during the summer months.