Prepare for the trip
You can hike or bike along the Ancient Road throughout the year but the best time for a holiday there is from 1 May to 1 October. Hiking outside this period is, of course, possible but the weather is unstable and accommodation offerings are fewer.
The terrain on the hiking trail varies along with the changing landscapes, which include heathland, woods and dunes. The route is sometimes very hilly, such as Dollerup Bakker outside Viborg. But most of the route is relatively flat.
The routes alternate between tarmac, forest lanes, gravel or earth roads and footpaths.
Clothing, shoes and other equipment – hiking
The terrain along the Ancient Road does not require hiking boots as such. However, your footwear needs to be wide and long enough so you can spread your toes, and there must be space for your feet to swell a little during the trip. The footwear must provide good support and be flexible in the forefoot and be cushioned. Ankle-high footwear is optimal in wet terrain. Depending on the weather, you can alternate between shoes, boots and sandals.
Good cushioning prevents chafing and blisters, which is why wearing a thin sock under a thicker sock is advisable. You can buy specialised hiking or running socks, which are an advantage. It is best to change or wash your socks daily, if possible.
Your garments must be suited to the changeable Danish summer weather, which is why underwear, trousers and blouses made of breathable fabric is an advantage. Clothes made of microfiber are preferable to cotton since they weigh less and dry quickly. A cotton scarf will also be useful as it helps regulate the temperature round your neck. In addition, you should bring rain gear. A rain poncho covers both you and your backpack and provides shelter when it is windy. Alternatively, you can bring a rain cover for your hiking backpack.
A hiking backpack of 40-60 litres with a padded waist strap and chest straps and stiffened back is advisable and they come in many varieties. The backpack should have a good fit for added comfort when carrying a heavy weight over long distances, which is why it is important that it has the correct length in relation to the spine so the weight is evenly distributed between shoulders and hips. Use pack bags to keep equipment separated in your backpack and use a rain cover to keep it dry. Such a backpack is only necessary for longer trips. Bring one that meets your needs and fits your stamina.
We also advise you to bring a light sleeping bag of 0.5-1 kg and a sleeping mat if you plan to sleep outdoors during your trip. Moreover, a sleeping mat is also useful for taking rests along the way.
We also recommend bringing a walking stick or two. With a large backpack your balance will be somewhat impaired and this is where walking sticks provide extra support. In addition, they relieve the knees and back.
It is also advisable to bring a microfiber travel towel, since such towels are lightweight, dry quickly and take up less space. It is also important to bring foot care items that both prevent and alleviate problems with blisters and muscle pain.
Clothing, shoes and other equipment – cyclists
As a cyclist you need to decide which kind of trip along the Ancient Road you prefer. You can either travel in a relaxed pace or as an extreme sport – and anything in-between. The following advice is very general and should be adapted to your needs.
Your clothing and footwear must be suited to the changeable Danish summer weather, which is why packing underwear, trousers, and blouses made of a breathable fabric may be an advantage. Moreover, such fabric dries faster. You should also bring rain gear.
When cycling down the Ancient Road you may benefit from having panniers mounted on the bike to avoid having to carry your baggage yourself.
You are also advised to bring a light sleeping bag of 0.5-1 kg and a sleeping mat if you plan to sleep outdoors during your trip. Moreover, a sleeping mat is also useful when taking a rest along the way.
Most cyclists have experienced a puncture. Make sure you are prepared by bringing a repair kit, including glue, patches, valve rubber and pliers to hold the tube while the glue dries. Experienced cyclists often also bring a wrench and an Allen key to adjust the bike.
Planning before the trip
Once you have decided on your holiday destination and your budget you now have to plan the trip. First you need to decide on the daily distances you plan to cover, in which case it may be a good idea to decide on some interim and final goals, allowing time for meals and attractions, while also making sure you reach water posts, toilets and accommodation in time. You can do this via the Ancient Road website using the interactive maps and route descriptions or via the Ancient Road mobile phone app.
With some accommodation offerings along the Ancient Road you are advised to call one or two days in advance to book rooms. If you are not taking part in an organised package tour it may also be a good idea to bring a couple of meals with you on your travels since shops and eateries along the route can be far apart and you may also miss their opening hours. Since the Ancient Road offers peaceful open nature you will not pass many towns en route, which is why you must stock up on provisions when you can. Several accommodations serve meals and can help you with your shopping list.
You will need to travel light, which is why you will have little or no space in your backpack for multiple sets of clothing. Some accommodations offer laundry facilities. We recommend that you bring a little detergent and a clothesline for drying clothes. A good tip for wet shoes is using crumpled newspaper, which draws out the moisture.
You will need sustenance to cover the many kilometres you need to walk or bike every day, which is why it is important to eat a hearty breakfast before heading out. Breakfast cereals such as oatmeal, muesli and corn flakes are easy to bring. You can also bring protein-rich long-life beverages, which unlike milk products do not turn sour overnight. Bringing good wholemeal bread is also advisable, such as sourdough Danish rye bread, which provides good nutrition, although to some it may seem a little heavy. You also need to keep your spirits and your blood sugar levels up, which is why packing a little cake or the like will be beneficial. Finally, water is of course extremely important! Always carry a water bottle with you. The Ancient Road has many small streams, such as around Tinnet Krat, which has one of Denmark’s largest concentrations of natural springs, where you can fill up your water bottle.
Always think two meals ahead. After all, there might not always be a grocery store when you need it.
Venturing out on holiday along the Ancient Road means walking or biking around 20-60 km (15-40 miles) a day, depending on how far you are planning to reach. Preparatory training is a good idea. For instance, walking or cycling to work to get into good shape. Training is important to maintain and increase your mobility and prevent strain injuries. It is also important in relation to breaking in a new pair of boots and getting used to carrying a backpack.
Mentally, a journey down the Ancient Road can be demanding. It also requires a lifestyle where you only bring the necessities. The physical strain of a day of slow travel means you have to adapt to new situations. Biking and hiking in unfamiliar surroundings can also be a challenge. You may also have to get used not having access to daily comforts and having to deal with the uncertainties of accommodation and provisions. However, all this also makes travelling along the Ancient Road a positive experience where you get to enjoy the peace and quiet with shared experiences of history and nature.
In addition to the Haervej app, there are a number of other useful applications:
Shelter – an overview of shelters and other basic accommodation in Denmark, including booking (in English).
Shopping and provisions
Mobile first aid (search: Mobil Førstehjælp) – ensuring you have first aid at your fingertips (in English).
Travel planner (search: Rejseplanen) – a travel planner for all Danish public transport. Available for iPhones and Android (in English).