Riding through Germany reminding me much of England. Obviously I couldn’t understand most of the signs and written word, but the hills and topography in some areas was much like home. Agricultural land tended to be a mix of arable and dairy, with the odd pig farm thrown in.
I stopped early after leaving Bremen, the clouds had started to gather and the smell of that first rain after a long dry period was in the air. Checking on the map, the town of Gnarrenburg had a Lidl and Ebeka supermarkets and campsite. I emailed the owner of the site while I was 15 miles away and Frank, the owner emailed back almost instantaneously. He asked me to just give him a call when I arrived.
Before heading to the campsite I popped to Lidl to get a fewbits and pieces. Cycled North past takeaways, family’s getting their Friday meals of pizza, kebabs and even Chinese.
Arriving at the campsite, another camper was already on the phone and confirmed Frank would be here at 4pm. As it was spotting with rain, I sat in a little shelter, took use of the toilet facilities to wash my hands and face and awaited the arrival of the owner.
Bang on time a tall, dark haired but well built man arrived, Frank? I enquired? It was indeed. Filled in a quick form to say who I was etc with contact details, handed over €11.50 and made sure I had a 50 cents left for the shower (5 minutes for 50 cents) and Frank then led me to the area that I would be able to put my tent up.
This guy had put some thought into what a cyclist needed, a previous review on Google had said it was good for cyclists. I was instructed to put my tent up by a bush and that a covered area, complete with electric points, a light and picnic bench was available to cook in or to relax in, if the weather was bad. The bush had been placed to break the wind if it came from the open direction of the three walled unit. No charge for electric!
At this point after the tent was up, I felt another trip was in order to Lidl, so cycled the 1 mile round trip to buy a couple of beers (I now had a taste for the Haake Becks) and to treat myself to some fresh pasta.
Next day saw me riding North East toward the River Elbe, where a river crossing would be needed. There is a ferry, with several boats running to keep up with the number of people wanting to cross. Leading up to the ferry, there was good 1/2 mile queue to get the ferry. Luckily on a bike, and similarly with the motorbikes, we went passed the large queue of cars, motor homes, caravans etc. Most of the occupants of the stationary vehicles were out of there hot boxes and trying to get some air.
I rode straight to the front, asked a heavily tattooed German biker whether I needed to pay on the boat, or beforehand. He confirmed payment could be made on the boat.
A real actively quick crossing meant I was on the other side and then heading Northwest. I found my way up a large dike and rode along the top, enjoying the cool breeze coming off the large river, even if this meant a headwind.
I’d happened purely by conincidence onto a website called Wildes Schleswig-Holstein or Wildes-SH. In Northern Germany, this is relatively new and has yet to spread elsewhere. Landowners or Towns allocate an area for wild camping. They set some basic rules, i.e. leave no trace and any excrement (there are no toilets) must be buried. I’d found a place in a town called Kuden and headed for this. Whilst this is not what I would truly call wild camping, as this is usually done stealthily (or perhaps I am being a snob about wild camping), it was the first “wild” camp of the trip. Most campsites are cheap in Europe compared to the UK and I do like a hot shower.
It was nice to finish relatively early, which does not normally happen with a true wild camp. I was able to set the tent, prepare dinner and even have a shower (using a 1.5 litre coke bottle and cap with three holes drilled into it with a penknife. I have an Ortlieb folding bowl, which is used for washing clothes in, or more often than not, to stand in while using my self made coke bottle shower. This retains enough water to make sure pages and feet are clean after concentrating on the upper part with the bottle).
I did hear another couple arrive, they set up further down from me (this does not happen with a true wild camp). I was quite tired and was in the sleeping bag, reading by about 19:30.
It was the best nights sleep so far of the trip, almost 10 hours, 9 hours 59 minutes.
Even though I woke early, I feel back to sleep, in the knowledge that I was actually allowed to be there. I got up had breakfast and set off, my first Sunday in Germany.
Sundays are still mainly a day where most shops closed, even Lidl unless you reached a really big town. I didnt see anything open for a while until I reached the larger town of Heide. Hear I found a McDonalds. Well why not.
Luckily the auto till could be changed to English, and I ordered a Bacon and Egg muffin, a bucket of Coffee and an Orange juice. Service was quick, albeit they got the order wrong and instead brought me a chicken muffin. Perhaps they knew Bacon sets off my indigestion!
The ride north was relatively simple, albeit long. This time to another wild camp spot. I arrived in Enge-Sande and the signs were clear to the spot. This time, it was in a forest.. horror! Forests mean Mosquitos! It’s great that the owners allow camping, but forests are a nightmare (for me as the mosquitos love me, I must be a good vintage!).
I opted to ignore the sign, move further up the track and camp in a turning area. Enough out of site, but still with sunlight on it. Mosquitos, like vampires, hate sunlight! It was then a race against the sun to get the tent up, showered, dinner cooked, eaten and myself into the tent before I was eaten alive. I almost did it, about 6 mosquito bites later and a couple of nasty large ant bites and I was in the tent, to enjoy my second longest sleep of the trip.
The previous night while eating my dinner on the move (walking and eating to avoid being bitten by both ants and mosquitos), I saw hares running across the fields, followed by deer and several large birds of prey on the wing to their roosting spots. At least the birds of prey had no fear of bloody ants or mosquitos at the height they were at.
Next day was a short 22 mile ride to the border and to enter Denmark. The weather wasnt great, started raining as I left the campsite, I was lucky to get packed up in the dry. I headed for a Bus Stop and put my bike in it, started to unpack the coffee making kit and then double checked the timetable. A bus was due in 20 minutes, so once the kit was unloaded to make coffee, I parked the bike under a tree, in case anyone wanted to catch the bus.
Caffeine fuelled and the rain stopped, sun coming out, I set off again, seeing another touring cyclist go by as I was packing up. It turned out to be a lady I met on the Elbe Ferry.
The mixed arable/dairy farms slowly changed to almost all dairy in the last part of Germany. I cycled past large amounts of Rose hips in flower, with a lovely sweet smell. Even passing through an aptly named town of Rosenkranz (Roses Wreath).
On changing border, this time there were signs! And Danish couple kindly took my photo. They were on their own bicycle tour coming south and then turning east.
First town, I stopped to get provisions and money, Danish Krone. First bank wanted to charge 40KR, about £4.50. No thanks!. I helped a Belgian guy who couldn’t use the machine, told him there was a charge, he was ok with it. I bought a drink in the supermarket, mainly to test my card worked, which it did. Chase has had no problems so far.
To begin with I was cycling on the top of a large dike, and it was clear again to see that this area was less populated. Houses weren’t too dissimilar to begin with but fields were larger and more Dairy farms. I passed parking places and even a free camping shelter in the town of Hjerpsted.
There are lots of these shelters, many free to use. I had been told about them by other travellers or hosts. I had downloaded the app and had looked, although I was planning on a campsite.
My route is roughly following Denmarks Route 1, which is part of the Eurovelo North Sea Route. Signs are easy to follow.
The rain started as I headed for a campsite. The google reviews were not good. I arrived, looked at the area for tents and rode back out! Inspecting the Shelter app I found one 11.5 miles away and promptly headed for it. It was at a scout hut. After speaking to the scouting master, Max, he confirmed I was good to sleep there for a night.
He was pleased to tell me how they catered for lots of groups of children and had recently had the roof redone. Looking at it, you wouldn’t believe this flower laden roof was only a week old. Apparently its some type of stone that flowers live on, bought from Poland. The Danes have a lot of robes with dirt and grass on top, he explained it was about 100 tonnes of dirt and grass removed to put the new roof on! Wow that must be a solid structure!
My route continues North and to my first Warmshowers experience in Denmark.