Accommodation along the Ancient Road
There were a number of shelters along the route. At most places there was running water and also a toilet. The sites were really nice and well maintained; really places you wanted to spend the night. Many places had tables and benches, and at other places there were small shelters with tables and benches, all very nice and well kept.
Nonetheless, there were hostels for every 20 km along the Ancient Road. Awesome! A small booklet is available with addresses and phone numbers and a small photo of each location. The booklet is also available on the Internet as a PDF file. We spent two nights at hostels, one in Jelling and one in Immervad. Both places with dormitory bunk beds, bathroom facilities and kitchen where you could cook your own food. In Immervad you could also buy food from the freezer. There was a stove and an oven for cooking. Really nice! Both places were in good condition and clean, which made you want to stay there.
Along the way we came across some wayside stalls where locals would sell groceries at reasonable prices. Some sold different kinds of snacks and water bottles; others sold candy, sodas and even blister plasters. There was a note with the prices, and you simply dropped the cash in the moneybox in the stall. Nice gesture!
We were surprised how few towns you passed if you stuck to the route. However, this places some demands on provisioning, especially when you travel very lightly. But you could reach a few more towns if you veered off route.
Experiences out of the ordinary
There were many attractions along our route but we had to skip some. We were, of course, guided by the aim of reaching our destination in time. But we enjoyed the experiences close by and spent time there. But if an attraction required a detour we would skip it. Among our experiences were ones of history, but also ones of nature, such as:
Eating wild fruit, such as raspberries, apples, plums, pears
Cooling down in the summer heat under the farmer's irrigation hose
Exploring high maize fields (with respect for the crops, of course)
Taking a break at the lookout tower at the fringe of a forest to gaze across the heather-clad heath
Having a hay fight on a newly harvested field
Having a potato war with already dug-up potatoes that were loose and useless on the field
Climbing bales of hay together and making them roll
Other nature experiences included...
The fabulous Hald Lake and the hills of Dollerup Bakker
The disused train station in Bindeballe, which features vintage trains and wagons
The cosy merchant’s store, Bindeballe Købmandsgård
The historic Jelling Church, the Jelling Monuments, including Denmark's birth certificate, the Jelling Stones, which were impressive.
The former border to Germany, Kongeåen, which gave food for thought
The architecturally magnificent Immervad Bridge, Povls Bridge and the bridge of Gejåbro
The story of the Freedom Bridge
The border checkpoint in Bov, marked with a barrier, which apart from being a demarcation of the border between Denmark and Germany also represented the shift from the Ancient Road in Denmark and the German Ochsenweg.
The continued trip – the Ochsenweg
When planning the trip, we quickly noticed that the Ancient Road is a bigger attraction in Denmark than the continuation of the trail, called Ochsenweg, is in Germany. Rather than consisting of separate hiking and cycling routes, the German section is simply one long cycling route, according to the tourist office in Viborg. However, we did see signs marked with footprints and ‘Pilgrimage Route’, which suggested a hiking trail. Nevertheless, these often followed the cycling route, but not always.
Since the German route is more of a cycling experience, the trails were mainly tarmac country lanes. The route also wound through beautiful forests and other nature, but gradually the magnificent natural setting that had characterised the Ancient Road in Denmark gave way. Our penultimate stage, 120 km to 60 km from the target town of Wedel, consisted of long stretches of straight tarmac cycling paths that were decidedly dull compared to the Ancient Road. However, the Ochsenweg brought us through several cities, some larger cities like Flensburg, Rendsburg and Neumunster, as well as several smaller communities. This meant more options for provisioning and more people.
In Germany there are no hostels. We had to contend with hotels and campsites, and slept one night at a private home, simply by ringing the doorbell.
What did we get from the trip?
We had a great trip with many different experiences and good company – far away from PlayStation and Facebook. We spent quality time together in touch with nature. You get to appreciate having good company and getting a bed to sleep in, taking a bath and enjoying meals far more than you ever would in the safety and convenience of your home.
For us there was also a sporting angle, which was all about making an effort and achieving a goal. The thrill of reaching our goal in Wedel was immense. It was a feeling of elation, success and the completion of days of travel – from 7:30 am to 18:00 in the evening, some days even later – exposed to the sun and carrying a minimum of baggage, simply only what we were wearing. We all supported each other and we could all experience the sense of achievement. No one gave up. We made it. We won! We won over ourselves!
Packing list – Henning
My backpack weighed 4 kg, which was what in my experience I could run effortlessly with. Everything was packed in transparent bags to keep things in order and to protect them from rain. They contained:
Long compression running tights, long-sleeved compression running shirt, which I switched to in the evening and sometimes slept in as nightwear
A light lined, windproof Newline running jacket where the sleeves could be zipped off so it could be worn as a vest or worn with sleeves on chilly nights and mornings or when it was windy.
500-gram sleeping bag.
Foldable toothbrush, mini tube of toothpaste and pocketknife for different purposes.
Debit/credit card and mobile phone with charger and a small tubular emergency power unit in the event that a little power was needed at the end of the day.
Small reusable drinking bottles with 200 ml of water.
Small, light and cheap rain poncho.
After visits to the grocery store, it could also contain a little food.
Packing list – children
The kids had roughly the same in their backpack. They didn’t have to carry their own kit on their back so they had chosen to bring a few extra things. In addition, one carried a bike kit consisting of:
Repair kit with glue, patches and valve rubber.
Pliers to hold the patch until the glue has dried.
Allen key to adjust the bike.
They both rode mountain bikes with somewhat sturdy tires so we had no punctures.