People who know me are aware that I usually plan to do at least one or two overnighters a month as well as a couple of longer hikes/bikes a year. 2020 was a crazy year and with Covid travel restrictions and social distancing regulations still in place here in Scandinavia. I with my hiking buddy Ole planned for a winter hike on the Danish island of Bornholm. It is situated in the middle of the Baltic Sea. Here in Denmark, it is known as the sunshine island. Not so much on this hike as we were met by snowy windy weather and a serious thaw on the last day, which made hiking conditions difficult during the whole hike.
Travel through Sweden was a no go, so we had booked tickets on the slow night ferry from Køge to Rønne. The ferry casts anchor just after midnight. We were lucky to get two couches to sleep on during the crossing. The ferry docked in Rønne at six in the morning. The plan was to walk the southern coastline all the way up to Aarsdale where the coast trail connects to the newly opened Højlyng trail which crosses the island to Hammeren peninsula on the north west end of the island. From here we would hike the coast trail south and back to Rønne. In all about 140 kilometers of coastline and forests. This would be my fourth hike on the coast trail of Bornholm, but my first time crossing the island on the Højlyng trail. Something I was looking forward to.
We exited the ferry terminal and walked into the nearest coffee and rolls shop for breakfast. It was freezing cold, and the sun was just barely climbing the horizon on what would become a beautiful morning. Still munching on a cheese roll we hike out of Rønne following the coastline out past the small airstrip. The snow lay heavy on the ground and we sunk to our lower legs on stretches where the wind had pushed the snow into large piles.
Continuing through snow and frozen coastline we pass several small harbours on the south coast. The coast is more or less deserted. We do not stop for many pauses and the wind picks up during the day. We come out on the wide coastal stretches near the south eastern point of Bornholm. Here we spot the Dueodde Lighthouse. There is a café near the Lighthouse but due to the wintry conditions and Covid it is closed. We make our way to the empty campground nearby to pitch our tents and settle down for a windy night.
I sleep soundly and wake up when Ole is standing outside and asking if I am awake. We strike camp leaving only footprints in the snow. We continue along the coastline heading north from Dueodde. We pass the beaches of Balka where a nude lady streaks past us heading for cold sea swim. We hoot and applaud her for her courage and continue on huddled in our winter hiking gear.
In the town of Neksø we hunt down the local baker for coffee and rolls. We stand outside eating while small talking with the queuing customers. Many are impressed with our hiking the island in winter conditions. We take to the trail continuing north towards Aarsdale. The trail here is rockier and weaving in and out of coastal rock formations. There is still a lot of snow on the ground and the wind is fierce on our backs. Nearing Aarsdale we pass an older man on the trail. Ole asks the man if there is a place nearby to get a soda. The man replies that there is not. Thinking nothing more of it we reach the intersection of the Coast trail and the Højlyng trail. Here we head inland on small roads. We have not gone more than a kilometer before the man that Ole talked with pulls up in his car. Handing us four canned sodas and wishing us a good hike. Now that is good karma and good trail magic. We drink one and saves the other for later in the day.
After a following an icy road we head into the Paradise Hills Forest. The trail is heavy with snow and we weave in and out and over rolling forested hills. The tempo is slow until we come out on a forest road going west. The trail then takes us into the forest following the Øle waterway on small trails heavy with snow. The going is again hard and slow. The light is disappearing on an otherwise grey day and we start to look for possible camp spots. A small navigation error or a missed sign takes us a little further south than planned and we find ourselves near the Pedersker Shelter We make a quick decision and decide to stay in the shelter for the night.
Next morning, we head north to pick up the trail again. It takes us further west into the Aaker plantation and through the Bison forest where wild Bison roam. The signs of them are noticeable on the trees and coming out of a small forest we come across a small flock of them standing in the snow. We take pictures and leave them alone. Continuing westwards we enter the Almindingen Forest which is the largest forest on Bornholm. It is famous for its Echo Valley that we head into. Here we are pleasantly surprised that the local café is open and serving hot soup at a campfire making us stop there for a prolonged break.
We head into and through the valley climbing towards the high point of Bornholm at Rytterknægten. Here we to our happy surprise again find the local café open making us stop for coffee and cakes. All that stopping for soup and coffee takes a lot of time, so we have to head out and brave the trails again. It has snowed on and off throughout the day and the temperature is just at the point of freezing making the snow wet and and heavy to hike in.
The trail takes us north through the Nyker Forest and into the Rø Forrest. Darkness and fatigue is slowly gaining on us and we agree to settle down and camp for the night in the northern end of Rø Forest. Here we find a small primitive camp area to pitch our tents. The night is uneventful, and we break camp quickly the next morning and follow the trail heading primarily west north west. The trail is mostly small roads and boring on this part of the trail. A toe on my foot is rubbing on the tape on another toe making it painful and drawing my attention. We stop and I tape the raw wound for now knowing that I will pay the price when the tape has to come off at a later time.
We arrive in the small coastal town of Sandvig having reached the northern coast and the end of the Højlyng Trail. Here we find a small hotel willing to make us a cup of coffee that we enjoy on their outside porch in the now heavy thaw weather making the trail wet and treacherous to hike. Saying farewell to Sandvig town we take to the Coast trail going west and south around the Hammeren peninsula. At the point end we pass the Lighthouse and turn south following the rocky coast up and down. We pass the old castle ruin Hammershus on a wet, muddy and slippery trail. The view is some of the best Denmark can provide from a hiking trail. All though if you are looking for a remote wilderness type of experience then I recommend the southern coastline around Dueodde. That is why a hike on Bornholm has it all.
Passing through the hamlet of Vang signs remind us of the rock quarry industry that is long abandoned in this area. Just south of Vang in the former quarry near the trail we know there is a shelter and we are planning on either staying at that or at another coastal shelter a bit further down the trail. The first shelter in the quarry is empty, and we quickly stake our claim by settling down for the night. Not long after another hiker arrives and we propose to make room for him, but he declines and camps instead below us in the quarry. The weather is wet, windy and rainy so a night in a shelter is preferable to pitching tents in the rocky ground.
Next morning we follow the trail south as it heads up and down the rocky shore. The footing is very treacherous in the wet and Ole takes a fall on wet rocks. Luckily without hurting anything other than his pride. The coast trail becomes more and more civilized and during the morning we enter the town Hasle and immediately starts looking for the local baker or CoOp. Munching on pastries we decide to take the bus into Rønne instead of hiking the wet muddy 10k trails left. Love the new technology where you just open an App and punch in destination. That and the gps in your phone lets you know where and when the next public transport is running. Tickets are bought in the app as well.
We arrive by bus at the main square in Rønne. There is a food truck selling falafel and kebab so we celebrate by eating a Durum and washing it down with an IPA beer. After that we walk down to the harbour and settle in at the ferry terminal waiting for the ferry to take us home, while contemplating another good hike in good company. The trails were as expected heavy with snow and later wet and muddy making the going tough and making us have to deal with wet feet every day. The old trick with plastic bags around dry socks in wet footwear still works.
Note on gear brought.
I was hauling the new Montane Naukan backpack that I was testing for Outsite Magazine. Review in the magazine soon.
I was also incredibly lucky to have Kenneth Shaw at Backpackinglight.se lend me their new Sarek Gear Sidewinder DCF Mid tent. I have been allowed to keep it a little longer to be able to take it on more hikes/bikes and do an extensive review later.