Paddock of Apples – part II

The clouds were never far away as we cycled through the landscape. Photo: Mick. 2015.

The clouds were never far away as we cycled through the landscape. Photo: Mick. 2015.

It was not the best weather for a week in a summer house at Boeslem Strand, Ebeltoft, Mols. We spent some time calculating the best opportunity to mount the bikes and ride into the natural beauty of this place. Huge tracts of the area is incorporated into Mols Bjerge National Park, protected since 2009. Greedily, we rode both the tandem bike and a couple of town bikes to get around when the weather smiled upon us. Sometimes we did get caught in the rain, but unperturbed on we rode.

We discovered that when we are on a roll on the bike it truly is the journey that matters – the destination becomes less important. Frequently we failed to reach our intended destination. Differently looking roads, sore muscles and bums and flat tyres persuaded us to change our course many times. We rode about 150 kilometres over four days.

South of Ebeltoft at Ahl Hage is a lovely nature reserve where we stopped for lunch one day – the sun was even shining on us as we ate the smoked mackerel and salmon bought at the local smokehouse. In the early 1800s, when the English confiscated the Danish fleet for fear it might fall into the hands of Napoleon or his allies, a redoubt was built here overlooking Ebeltoft and together with another redoubt in Ebeltoft and the shallow waters in the bay, enemy ships could be attacked and stopped easily.

Jernhatten (the iron hat), a geological abnormality so hard that the sea has been unable to erode it, leaving a different climate because of its aspect and the direction of the sun. Photo: Mick. 2015.

Jernhatten (the iron hat), a geological abnormality so hard that the sea has been unable to erode it, leaving a different climate because of its aspect and the direction of the sun. Photo: Mick. 2015.

Our trip to the north of the summer house ended at Jernhatten, a unique hill created by the west to east retreat of the ice to become a hard hill that the sea has been unable to break down. Its unique environment sees less rain and more sun because of its aspect and hence it supports an ecosystem of unusual flora for Denmark as well as a rich animal and bird life. Unfortunately, the paths were so very slippery from rain that we could not really walk the whole walk and settled for the first outlook over Kattegat. On the way back we headed inland to Dråby, where the church from the 13th century was particularly impressive and imposing. It is said that in medieval times Dråby was a harbour town on the Kattegat coast, and hence Sct Nicolaus, the saint for sea farers is the patron saint.

Our feet were wet as we struggled through an overgrown path - was it even there? Then a birch tree had fallen and Mick lifted the bikes over, hoping for more passable path ahead. Photo: Lone. 2015.

Our feet were wet as we struggled through an overgrown path – was it even there? Then a birch tree had fallen and Mick lifted the bikes over, hoping for more passable path ahead. Photo: Lone. 2015.

One day we set out to reach Tved, where my grandmother grew up the youngest daughter of the school master. Our 50 km plus bicycle trip took an unexpected turn, when a path showing on the map on Bogens Søvej was locked behind a gate. We met a few angry-looking, curly-haired bulls as we walked the bikes down what seemed like an overgrown path, lifted the bikes over a fallen birch tree. We never did reach Bogens lake and we even failed to realise we had reached Bogens until we passed a sign pronouncing Bogens 1 km in the direction from which we came. The hills were amazing – long, breathtaking and disastrous to cycle up and long and fun to race down, hoping like hell we would not need to go back this particular way. We took a wrong turn and instead of reaching Tved, we got to Knebel.

Porskær Stone House has stood for more than 5000 years, against the elements and the farmer that tried to remove the sacred site with dynamite. Photo: Mick. 2015.

Porskær Stone House has stood for more than 5000 years, against the elements and the farmer that tried to remove the sacred site with dynamite. Photo: Mick. 2015.

Between Knebel and Agri we stopped to look at Porskær Stone House, the largest barrow in Denmark, built about 3,300 years back. It was a sacred site with a burial chamber capped with an 11 ton flat granite rock and circled by 23 boulders. Denmark has no bedrock and all the boulders in the countryside travelled here during the ice age. How the stone age people got the rocks up this hill one can only imagine. That they still stand is also a miracle after, in 1859, the farmer tried to blow them up because they stood in his field on arable farming land.

On the top of Mols Bjerge. Photo: some passer by, thanks. 2015.

On the top of Mols Bjerge. Photo: some passer by, thanks. 2015.

Mols Bjerge themselves are a barren landscape, created by ice and water during the last ice age. Distinct single plough furrows from medieval times can still be seen on sides of hills – the heath and moraine clay was too difficult to farm and was left for cattle to graze, resulting in the landscape being dominated by graze-resistant plants like sloe, rose and juniper. The undulating heath landscape has a high concentration of tumuli or burial mounds from prehistoric times. People have lived in this landscape since at least the stone age.

One day we took a ride to Stubbe Lake along gravel forest paths. We spoke to the friendly cattle and small ponies along the way and enjoyed the view of the bird life from the hideout on the lake. Then we took the rail path on the way to Gravlev. In 1901, a railway line was built from Trustrup to Ebeltoft. It ceased operations in 1968 and the rails and sleepers were removed so a flat track is now available from Gravlev to Ebeltoft. Across this track one can observe the Ree Safari Park residents, including giraffes and rhinoscerous.

Then we got a puncture. Thankfully, Peter was more than helpful. Photo: Lone. 2015.

Then we got a puncture. Thankfully, Peter was more than helpful. Photo: Lone. 2015.

But then a flat tyre stopped us entirely in our tracks. We were about 11 km from home and had not even brought a bike pump. We pulled the bikes to Gravlev in hope of an open shop, but of course Gravlev is some eight houses and nothing looked like it was open. There was a bus stop were we could catch a bus in a few hours, but to nowhere useful to us. Then we met Peter, retired sailor and resident of Christiania in the beginning. He invited us in, pumped up the tyre, gave us a cup of tea, checked the tyre – yep it had lost pressure. Peter got his repair kit out, found the offending hole and patched it up. How wonderful to meet a big-hearted hippie in Gravlev! We enjoyed the chat and the help and were off on our way again, less emboldened and hoping for no more flats. Consequently, we did not take the path to Sønderskov, but went straight out to the coast and rode back to the summer house.

Throughout our many kilometers in the saddle, we frequently stopped to savour near-ripe apples, red and yellow plums as well as black berries on the side of the road. This is a treat we could not have in too-polluted Copenhagen even though I am quite fond of the sprouting rooftop gardens, the children’s veggie patch in the King’s Garden and the app, Byhøst, that crowdsources the places where edible plants grow wild for the picking in the city environment.

We ate big fat ripe black berries from the side of the path, as well as yellow and red plums and apples. Photo: Lone. 2015.

We ate big fat ripe black berries from the side of the path, as well as yellow and red plums and apples. Photo: Lone. 2015.

Thanks to Margit and Per for lending us the summer house, a great destination allowing us to journey into the wonderful landscape of Mols.

On morning we got up early to capture the sunrise over Boeslum Strand. Photo: Lone. 2015.

On morning we got up early to capture the sunrise over Boeslum Strand. Photo: Lone. 2015.

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