Enjoying the Cultivated Wilderness

Hi everyone! I’m Phoebe from California and after enjoying other international students’ perspectives on this blog, I’m excited to be able to contribute to it. I’m in my first semester of the MA program in Linguistics here at AU, but this isn’t my first time in Denmark. We’ll talk more about that later; this post is about getting away from it all!

It’s Autumn Break this week and people are either getting out of town or catching up on schoolwork. But like any good gluttonous American, my attitude is:

why-not-both-animated-gif-7

So this past weekend I went to visit some friends in Struer, a city of 10,000 along Limfjord (which technically isn’t a fjord) and now I’m back in Aarhus and it’s time to hit the books. But first, a blog post!

Struer is a two-hour train ride from Aarhus. I didn’t see much of the actual city, which looked charming, because we spent all of our time hiking and enjoying the mild weather. There are plenty of other outdoorsy places much closer to Aarhus, like Mols Bjerge, Marselisborg, and Riis Skov, but it’s always fun to go where you know people who can show you around their favorite places. This weekend I saw Lodbjerg Klitplantage, Toftum Bjerge, and Klosterheden Plantage, and I only scratched the surface of what northwestern Jutland has to offer.

As a student of linguistics, I feel compelled to start with a vocabulary lesson:

  • Klit = dune (If that makes you giggle, I promise you’ll get over it.) You may have heard of Klitmøller, called Cold Hawaii because of the good surf
  • Plantage = cultivated, managed forest
  • Bjerg = mountain (I can only assume this is a bit of that famous Danish humor, as the highest point in Denmark is 561 feet)

The Lodbjerg Klitplantage has a number of looping “wander trails” that lead you along squishy paths through beech, oak, and pine woods. There are wild blackberries and blueberries too, which were just a bit past their peak so if wild fruit foraging is your thing, maybe go in September. At the edge of the woods stands the Lodbjerg lighthouse, built in 1883. Past the lighthouse, you come to the sand dunes. There may be beach access, but not via the path we took—it dead-ended in a steep sandy cliff overlooking the North Sea.

 

One more vocabulary lesson. I can’t help myself! ‘Lighthouse’ in Danish is fyr but fyr also means ‘guy’ (which I recently learned originally comes from Guy Fawkes). Isn’t language fun??

Toftum Bjerge seems to mostly be an RV park and summer home subdivision, but there is public access to the beach from the parking lot at the end of Solbjergvej. Follow a damp sandy path and a wooden staircase down through the dunes and you’ll have several miles of beach to explore, with countless beautiful rocks, bits of sea glass, and even some sea creatures in the shallows. You could spend 15 minutes here or several hours, depending on how much you enjoy beach walks.

 

If you look at Klosterheden Plantage on Google Earth you can see how unnatural it is: row after row of identical trees planted in a neat grid pattern. From ground level, though, it is quite beautiful. Like Lodbjerg Klitplantage there are beech and pine and oak, but here they are grown in monoculture so that on one side of a path you have nothing but dark green pine trees and on the other side you have bright yellow beeches, dropping their orange leaves all over the mossy ground. Shiny beetles, well-camouflaged frogs, and beastly black slugs all prowl the forest floor and there are more kinds of mushrooms than you can shake a stick at. Probably some edible ones, if you know how to identify them.

 

All three of these parks allow camping in certain places. They might get crowded during the summer holiday (I’m not sure), but they were practically abandoned when we were there, so it’s a great way to get some peace and quiet.

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