Rail route of the month: the gradual practice to Skagen, Denmark, the place the North Sea meets the Baltic | Journey






By the time you attain Aarhus on the practice from the south, there’s a sense of getting penetrated deep into Jylland, the lengthy Danish peninsula whose identify is usually rendered as “Jutland” on English and German maps. At Fredericia, a one-time garrison city on the east coast, the overhead wires give out. North of right here it’s diesel traction solely on a railway that hyperlinks the heads of a number of lengthy sea inlets on the experience as much as Aarhus.

The railway station at Aarhus, four-and-a-half hours from Hamburg on the occasional direct practice, is a good-looking terminus and, for a lot of travellers, the northern extent of their Jutland journey. However some trains reverse in Aarhus, looping across the west facet of the town, after which meander north. There’s numerous Jutland nonetheless to return, and the 160-mile journey from Aarhus as much as Denmark’s northernmost railway outpost at Skagen is a scenic delight. It provides not grandeur, however a satisfying mixture of forest and heathland, agricultural and coastal landscapes. It is a journey to the very finish of Denmark. Skagen itself is a rare neighborhood, perched on a fraction of land poking into the ocean the place the waters of the Skagerrak and Kattegat straits mingle.

This autumn marks the one hundred and sixtieth anniversary of the opening of the primary railway station in Aarhus. The present constructing is more moderen, a gracious neo-Renaissance construction courting from the late Twenties. Once I stopped in Aarhus in September, an enormous Ukrainian flag was fluttering above the station clock.

North to Aalborg

The blue carriages of a local operator
The blue carriages of a neighborhood operator run north from Aalborg

I sit on the virtually empty two-carriage practice from Aarhus to Aalborg, the place passengers sure for stations additional north change for the onward journey to Skagen.

Escaping from the tangle of the Aarhus suburbs, we make an unscheduled – and unexplained – cease at Hinnerup, with its placing modernist library and cultural centre by the station. Then it’s on by the light Lilleå Valley, previous woodlands the place keen mushroom-gatherers are combing the forest ground. We slip by stone church buildings with white towers, crimson barns in a wide range of kinds, and strong Jutland farmhouses that settle gently into the rolling panorama. Jutland is extra hilly than many guests anticipate.

The arrival of the railway 150 years in the past remodeled this rural area. The small city of Hesselholt even marked the second by altering its identify to Arden. With an idyllic location on the sting of thean historic forest of Rold Skov, Arden is an ideal spot for a stroll on heathery hills the place eagle-eyed guests are sometimes rewarded by sightings of crimson deer.

In Aalborg, I modify from the silver-hued Danish State Railways practice to two-tone blue carriages of a localoperator. We rattle north over the girder bridge that carries the railway throughout Limfjord to achieve North Jutland. This northernmost a part of Denmark is, in impact, an island, a standing it gained in a storm 200 years in the past when the sandy barrier that linked North Jutland to the mainland was breached in a ferocious storm.

Forests, dunes and coast

beech trunks in green moss
The moss-covered beechwoods close to Tolne are remarkably stunning. {Photograph}: Alamy

The North Jutland surroundings is initially tame, however the very best is but to return. The solar seems, so I make an impromptu cease at Tolne, eager for an additional woodland stroll. The beechwoods right here change into remarkably stunning. A brisk stroll is sweet prep for espresso and orange cake at an outdated nation inn by the station. IHere potters Janne Hieck and Gregory Hamilton Miller have made their house.

The Inn at Tolne where potters Janne Hieck and Gregory Hamilton Miller have made their home. tolne-inn
The Inn at Tolne the place potters Janne Hieck and Gregory Hamilton Miller have made their house. tolne-inn

“It was curiosity that introduced me right here 10 years in the past,” says Miller. “I used to be on the practice to Skagen and noticed this tumbledown place when the practice stopped at Tolne. I purchased it on a whim.” Right now the couple handle a pottery studio, cafe and B&B within the once-abandoned inn.

Again on the practice, we comply with the tiny Elling River in the direction of the coast at Frederikshavn, the place I pause to look at the ferry leaving for close by Læsø, an island famed for its salt and radishes which one way or the other I’ve by no means managed to go to. Subsequent time, maybe.

The ultimate a part of the journey, from Frederikshavn to Skagen, is a superb experience into an eerie panorama of shifting sand dunes. Neat conifer plantations give solution to arid scrubland, whereas away to the east there are glimpses of ships at anchor in sheltered Ålbæk Bay, part of the Kattegat that separates North Jutland from Sweden.

I cease but once more at Hulsig, a wee slip of a village amid a sea of hummocky dunes. Then it’s again on the practice for the final 10 minutes to Skagen, a neighborhood stuffed with breezy, seaside type which, within the closing many years of the nineteenth century, discovered fame as an artwork colony.

Sand dunes and small wooden house
Sand dunes close to Hulsig, on the final leg of the journey to Skagen

If you’re ever in any doubt concerning the significance of geography, come to Skagen, a spot that, towards all odds, survives amid the sand nearly at Denmark’s northernmost extremity. I had a romantic notion of stepping off the practice to see the waters of the Skagerrak and Kattegat doing battle outdoors the station. However the precise tip of the spit is at Grenen, so I hire a motorcycle and pedal out to the windswept spot which is, in impact, the place the place the North Sea meets the Baltic. The 2 seas do certainly look relatively completely different, the North Sea uneven and turbulent, the Baltic calmer and maybe, simply maybe, a lighter shade of blue.

Find out how to get there

he railway station at Skagen
The railway station at Skagen

Half-hourly trains operated by Danish State Railways (DSB) hyperlink Aarhus with Aalborg, usually taking 75-90 minutes. The onward hourly service from Aalborg to Skagen is run by North Jutland Railway (NJ). That second a part of the journey takes two hours. By tickets from Aarhus to Skagen can be found from DSB. The common standard-class fare is £38, however guide effectively upfront and also you’ll discover discounted tickets for as little as £12.50. These cheaper DSB Orange fares are tied to a selected practice and don’t permit stopovers. For actual flexibility, think about using an Interrail move, which is legitimate with out restriction on all practice companies in Denmark.

The inn at Tolne provides easy, homely lodging, with doubles B&B from about £113. It’s only a step away from the forest and there’s good, native fare within the cafe. At Skagen Resort, reverse the railway station in Skagen, doubles B&B price from £114 in off-season, however £186 or extra on summer time weekends.

Nicky Gardner is a Berlin-based author. The seventeenth version of her guide Europe by Rail: The Definitive Information is accessible from the Guardian Bookshop. She is co-editor of Hidden Europe journal

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