Early in the morning we hopped the Colorline ferry from Kristiansand to Hirtshals, near the northern tip of Denmark. The ferry was massive and took lots of full sized trucks, RVs and cars. Because we had a luggage roof rack we were too tall for the normal car deck, so we had all the big trucks parked behind us.
You can’t stay in your vehicle for 2.5 hour journey, so we explored the upper decks. Outside there were a number of picnic tables and benches, though the only people outside today were the ones taking pictures looking back at the coast of Norway as we departed. It was a pretty cool and windy morning. There was also a lot of ocean spray which kept people inside. But there were lots of nice places to sit and have coffee, order breakfast (pizza and other food later in the day), and several shops to do you duty-free shopping. We bought some chocolates and shared breakfast in a lounge area. It wasn’t long until they started announcing our arrival in Denmark, but of course before we went back down to the car we went out on the deck to see what the coast of Denmark looked like. It was quite flat in this area, but with expansive sand beaches as far as we could see.
Once we disembarked, we decided to drive to a large lighthouse that we spied from the ferry. Hirtshals fyr is a 35 m tall lighthouse that was built in 1853. The lighthouse is still used today. There is a visitor center there with a small museum to explore some of the other buildings and the history of this area. There are also a lot of nice trails around the dunes and down to the shore. We walked for a while on the beach. There were not many people around, but lots of sea shells and lots of dark black porous stones. We hiked back up onto the grassy ledge and along a path through a field of wild roses. We past remnants of the Hirtshals West Coast WW2 Battery on our way back to the lighthouse.
For a small fee we climbed up into the lighthouse. We enjoyed the 360° views from the top. And we watched as our ferry departed again, presumably headed back to Norway.
We didn’t have much of a plan for the rest of our day in Denmark, but an internet search while we were on the ferry suggested a trip to the Grenen, the most Northern tip of Denmark where the North Sea meets the Baltic Sea. Along the 40 minute drive, we past small country towns and lots of fields with green crops and livestock. The town of Skagen was small, but we found a grocery store to buy some food and snacks. Then we headed to the beach. The first beach we went to was at the end of a small dirt road. There was a parking area, and one RV parked there. We walked out on the beach with our camping pads and some lunch. The beach was much rockier than it looked, there were so many colorful stones. But the sand was soft and the beach was quiet. We sat for a while and watched the light blue waves coming to shore.
We went to Skagen Kystbatteri afterwards. This beach had a very different feel. There were lots of people, a paid parking lot, a snack shop, and even a tractor pulling a wagon, Sandormen, which has been running since the 1940s to bring people out towards the end of the long beach. We walked out on the beach along the manmade breakwaters. There were 20+ ships out on the water sitting. We eventually decided that they were probably waiting for their turns to be loaded and unloaded at the large port city, Göteborg, Sweden. On the shore here is also another lighthouse, the second tallest in Denmark, the Skagen Grå Fyr. We also walked along some of the ruins from another WWII battery, Skagen Kystbatteri.
On our way back South we made a quick stop at the Råbjerg Mile, a large migrating sand dune. The whole area used to be sand dunes, but much has been stablized by planting and growing vegetation. The dunes are migrating constantly and in 100-200 years are expected to reach the main road to Skagen. The dunes are kept as a natural landmark. We hiked out a bit on the soft, cool sand. We played for a while chasing Jack in the sand. He loves running in the sand, it’s second only to snow.
As the sun started to get low, we finally started our drive down to Hamburg, Germany. Along the way we saw more fields, and large wind farms. We made one more quick stop at Koldinghus, a castle previously used by Danish kings. It was quite dark at this point, but it was a nice quiet place to walk through the town and around the castle.