I have arrived at country number three – in a reverse sense – after previously writing about Cycling In Norway and Cycling In Sweden. Denmark will, of course, be country number five after Spain, France, Belgium and Germany but in my quest not to neglect the latter part of the Eurovelo 1/3 cycle across Europe next summer I am purposefully starting at the end and working backwards. These short posts (despite their rather grand titles) are not intended to be a detailed run down of everything that needs to be known about cycling in each of the countries that I will be visiting. They are just a few thoughts as to my own journey through the countries following initial research. If they prompt others to delve deeper, that’s no bad thing. The comments received by others incidentally have been excellent and much appreciated. Have a read of Patrick Stevens’ thoughts on cycling in Sweden for example. Very useful indeed! Thank-you Patrick. You’ll notice by the way that I am copying what I write here onto the Eurovelo 1/3 (2015) section of the site and that is where Patrick made his comments, not on the post below. Wherever you choose to make them, your contributions are gladly received. Right, on with Denmark!
As the Rough Guide to Denmark is not currently available as an eBook (and won’t be until 2017 according to the publishers), I have instead downloaded a copy of the Lonely Planet Guide to Denmark. I’ve been a long-term fan of the Rough Guides (and still am) but I have to say from a cycling perspective, the Lonely Planet guide does score well when it comes to the number of mentions for the word ‘cycling’. 83 of them in their Denmark guide as opposed to just 11 in the Rough Guide to Sweden and 25 in the Rough Guide to Norway. This could, however, also be influenced by the fact that Denmark competes with The Netherlands when it comes to reaching cycling Nirvana. Indeed the Lonely Planet guide lists cycling in its number three position of ‘Top Experiences‘;
“Is Denmark the best nation for bicycle touring in the world? Probably, thanks to its extensive network of cycle routes [of which more in a moment], terrain that is either flat or merely undulating, and a culture strongly committed to two wheels… The cities are a breeze to pedal around… Nearly 40% of Copenhagen commuters travel by cycle – it’s easy to follow their lead.”
My own arrival in Denmark will be from the direction of Hamburg along the Eurovelo 3. It crosses the border just to the north of a town called Flensburg and then continues north through Jutland (the main peninsula which makes up most of the territory of Denmark). However, I have already made the decision to abandon the Eurovelo 3 at this point and follow the route of the Eurovelo 10 for a while. This is the Baltic Sea Route and it connects with Copenhagen. There was no way I was going to visit Denmark without taking in a trip to its bicycle Mecca of a capital city. Such is the complexity of the Eurovelo routes in this corner of Europe that it would seem useful to consult a map. So, here is a useful map:
More exciting than this web of two-wheeled wonder is the following, admittedly much simpler map from the Eurovelo 10 section from the official Eurovelo website:
You don’t get many of those green ‘realised’ sections of route across the network of Eurovelo routes but when you do, it’s worth looking out for them. This is, in effect, my route through Denmark It involves a fair bit of island hopping by the looks of it and I guess there will be at least two ferries to catch; the first from Fynshav to Bøjden on the island of Funen (the round one in the middle) and then a second from Spodsbjerg to Tars on the southern island of Lolland.
The Eurovelo 10 website has some useful information (and also confirms what I’ve just written):
“Be prepared for some island-hopping in Denmark. The Baltic route follows the Danish national route no. 8 from Jutland over the isles Als, Funen, Taasinge, Langeland, Lolland, Falster, Bogoe and Moen before reaching (the island) Zealand. Some of the isles are connected by bridges, other by bicycle-friendly ferries. On Zealand EV 10 joins Danish national route no. 9 and continues to Copenhagen. In total 360 km. From Copenhagen it is by train over the famous bridge to Malmo, Sweden.”
Isn’t it nice to have your suspicions confirmed by the people who should know! So, my mind turns to Danish national routes numbers 8 and 9 and back to the Lonely Planet guide.
“The big draw for touring cyclists are the 11 national routes which are in excellent condition, but there are also oodles of regional and local routes to get you pedalling…
Route 8 – Graenseruten (Border Route) – 360km (95% sealed)
Also known as the South Sea Route, this trail sweeps across southern Denmark and requires a couple of island hops [OK! We know that already!]. It begins in Rudbøl, traverses Jutland to Als [I would join half-way along this stretch of the route], crosses to southern Funen, Langeland, Lolland, Falster and ends at Møns Klint. See also www.grenzroute.com.”
Alas that link covers only the initial stretch of the route that I won’t be using. It looks like Møns Klint is the Land’s End of Denmark – it’s the place on the end of the bit that sticks out like a cartoon nose on the map above. Danish routes 8 and 9 presumably double up for a certain distance before I arrive in Møns Klint. Here’s what the Lonely Planet guide has to say about the second route.
“Route 9 –Øresundsruten (Øresund Route) – 290km (92% sealed)
This route has links with Sweden and Germany thanks to ferry connections at its start (Helsingør) and end (Gedser) points. It follows the east coast of Zealand before tracking south through Mon and Falster.”
Back to the Eurovelo site – Danish Route 9 is the Danish section of Eurovelo 7 – to read the following:
“The EuroVelo 7 is fully developed as national route no. 9 in Denmark. From Copenhagen to the ferry port at Gedser, from where it crosses over to Germany, it is known as the Berlin-Copenhagen route. The route has existed for more than a decade and is increasingly popular among cycle tourists from all over the world. The route leeds you from Helsingor and the castle Kronborg, made famous by Shakespear’s Hamlet, through the capital of Copenhagen, one of the best cycle cities of the world with an impressive number of cyclists, to the chalk cliffs of Stevns and Møn and further south to Marielyst, one of the best beaches in Denmark. The route is flat and follows either small roads or cycle paths. It is rideable for families with children. The Danish part of the Berlin-Copenhagen route was certified with 3 stars in 2012 by the German Cyclists’ Club, ADFC.”
If it’s good enough for the German Cyclists’ Club, it’s good enough for me!
So, the cycling is sorted. What about the other things? Camping grounds shouldn’t be hard to find – there are plenty mentioned in the guide – as well as the same liberal approach to wild camping that has been adopted across Scandinavia. Copenhagen – at the end of my cycle across Denmark – will be a good place to take a day of rest. There is a small part of me that wants to continue along the eastern coast of Denmark north of Copenhagen as far as Helsingør, the home of (fictional) Hamlet. Kronborg Castle would be an interesting diversion and if I am running late (very late), I might be able to take in an outdoor production of the play in August. Scrub that idea – I’ll be in trouble if I haven’t finished the entire journey across the continent by the end of August (although I don’t have a deadline for this particular cycle). Helsingør, perhaps. Hamlet, let’s hope not.