Winter wandering on the beaches of Jutland, Denmark

Gale-force winds and freezing temperatures are rarely the desired forecast for a beach excursion. Given that we were in Jutland, Denmark in the middle of March, however, it was not particularly surprising that we were faced with that weather. The good news is that, as we headed up the coast, at least the sun managed to peek through from time to time.

The freezing temperatures didn’t’ stop us from making a few different excursions out on to the beach as we headed up the coast. The first stop was at a small resort town which was understandably deserted at the time. There were scores of small vacation townhouses along the waterfront, nearly all angled to take maximum advantage of the sun during the summer season. And a rather wide beach, too. The winds were whipping, making for a very uneven and chaotic surf; it was most unwelcoming to visitors even without considering the temperatures. And given the temperatures the sand had been covered in many areas with sheets of ice. It was not a typical beach adventure by any stretch. It was, however, quite beautiful.

Further north along the coast we climbed up over the dunes and considered a short walk on the beach; the weather seemed reasonable as we parked and got out of the car. Turns out that it was the dunes working in our favor there. We got to the top and were once again met with the gale-force winds. Beautiful, especially with the bleached out bushes growing along the dunes, but we were not going to be spending any extra time at that beach.

Just south of Skagen, the northernmost town in Jutland, sits the remains of the St. Laurence Church, also knows as the sand-buried church. The first church on the site was built in the late 1300s and it operated up until the end of the 18th century. It turns out that the winds were just as troubling even back then, too. They would constantly drive the sand up off the beach and against the church, essentially integrating the building into the dunes. By 1795 King Christian VII decided that the church could be closed though the tower remains. It serves as a navigational marker for ships in the area today. The site has markers showing where the ret of the church stood and it is quite easy to see how the sand was a problem, having risen up the side of the tower.

We passed through Skagen up to the tip of the peninsula. Technically the park isn’t at the northern tip as is it off to the east a bit. Still, it is an enormous beach with some history to it; there are WWII defensive structures which can be climbed on, in and around. On this day they also occasionally provided shelter from the winds, though not much.

The beach also offers the opportunity to hike out to a point and be at the "end" of Denmark. The wind was still howling and we were now headed out on to a beach with no protection from the weather. It was beautiful but also a ridiculously cold hike.  We bundled up the best we could and set out to the marker at the end.

In addition to the cold they imparted the winds did some beautiful things with the sands on the beach. Watching the patterns created by the blowing sands as they swept up the beach was a lot of fun, if not incredibly cold to sit and watch.

Relatively close to the parking area there are a couple small coves created on the beach for families with smaller kids to play. Obviously no small families out playing on this day; the rocks used to create the coves tell the story of why. The waves breaking against them kicked up a mist which is common. The part where it was freezing, creating a salt water ice shell on the rocks was less common, at least to me. Beautiful, but darn chilly.

We eventually made it back to the car and paid our respects to St. Volvo, the patron saint of heated seats, thawing out a bit before continuing our adventures.

Obviously the area is much more popular when it isn’t bitterly cold. That didn’t stop it from being beautiful during our visit. In some ways I actually think it helped with the effect.

More photos from Spring Break in Denmark here.

More from Spring Break 2013 here.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

One Comment

  1. Hitchhiked that whole route many years ago. Apparently the conjunction of two seas just off Skagen makes for dangerous swimming — it’s something of a sport for the Danes to set up beach chairs in the summer and watch vacationing Germans get into trouble (there are annual drownings).

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