“It is particularly ironic that the battle to save the world's remaining healthy ecosystems will be won or lost not in tropical forests or coral reefs that are threatened but on the streets of the most unnatural landscapes on the planet.”- Worldwatch Institute. 2007

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

September 20th Viborg to Samsoe

September 20th Viborg to Samsoe
By cycle 32 + 6km
By train 80km
By Ferry 30km

It’s grey and overcast in Viborg so rather than the planned cycle ride around the lakes I decide to get going to Arhus. I’m cycling from there to the ferry port at Hou, only 30km or so but if it’s going to rain I’d rather be able to take my time so I can miss the worst of it. There’s a lot of people on the train, again, including two large groups of school children. I don’t think I have ever seen a school trip using the train in the UK.

The route out of Arhus along the edge of the sea is very pretty but the road soon turns inland and begins a long steady climb. It’s 20km to Odder with little opportunity for hot drinks which would be welcome. It’s not too cold but the rain is persistent. About half way it really starts to tip down so I hide in one of the excellently designed cave-like bus stops and eat crisps and apples until it slacks off.
Odder is a little town, about the size of Chorley and like most places I’ve seen in Denmark, outside of Arhus, very quiet. I get a brew in the Retro café. I ask if they have cake. The woman looks worried and says, ’Cake?’ then ‘Apple cake?’. ‘Yes please,’ I say and she brings me some chopped nuts and crunchy cereally stuff in a bowl with apple sauce on top, finished off with a big dollop of cream. The only other customer says something to her that I understand to be along the lines of ‘That’s not cake you mad old bat’, but good naturedly enough. She nervously asks me if the cake is ok and I reassure her it’s great and just what I need after cycling form Arhus. She shakes her head and blows her cheeks out. Apparently that’s pretty mad, cycling from Arhus.
I start to get cold and my leg muscles are seizing up. I fancy the next 8km to the ferry port at Hou about as much as a poke in the eye with a sharp stick and so decide to get it over with and hole up in a café when I get there. The rain keeps going all the way to Hou which turns out to be not much more than a village. It’s predominantly detached dormer bungalows in little gardens, a lot of them have wrinkly tin roofs, presumably well insulated beneath. The ferry port is just a little building on a car park and I have two hours to wait. I find a café which is shut and then one that is open. They both have optimistic quantities of outdoor seating. Maybe the Danes are just a tough bunch. They have heating indoors though – an electric bar fire. Even though they have the door open I don’t mutter darkly about energy waste and carbon implications. I just sit down gratefully and order some more tea. It’s the end of the tourist season so the ferry is almost empty. Saelvig, the ferry port on Samsoe is only a handful of houses. I follow signs to Pillemark, where my hostel is, a 6km ride to the middle of the island. It looks very like the English countryside, smaller fields than the mainland with crab apples in the hedgerows. When I get to Pillemark it’s empty and silent as the grave. It’s tiny – less than a hundred houses I reckon. Maybe one in ten has a light on but that and the cat at the bus stop are the only signs of life. After riding through several times I can’t see anything that looks like a hostel. It’s dusk and I’m wondering if I should ride to a bigger place in the hopes of a pub or something. I go and sit with the cat in the bus stop to see if there’s any unsecured WiFi around.
I try not to scare him when I walk up but he’s delighted to have the company and rubs around me, rolling on his back and noseying at the laptop. No WiFi but I remember that, in a fit of uncharacteristic organisation, I’ve put all my receipts in a folder. I find the one for the hostel and it gives the address as the School house, which I’ve already passed. I go back to it and walk up to the door. No answer. So I try the handle and it opens. I step into the cloakroom. There are coat hangers on every wall. Pegged to one is a piece of paper with my name on. It directs me to a small white room with a made up bed and tells me to make use of the kitchen and TV room. I locate the first and rummage around hopefully to see if the last residents have left any food but no such luck, only salt and pepper, some elderly paprika and dried garlic. I’m dammed if I’ll find myself unable to rustle up a meal of some kind. Down in the village I noticed a couple of farm stalls with honesty boxes. I go back to these and get some potatoes, tomatoes, onions, eggs and parsley.
. Without oil I’m resigned to boiling the veg, cut quite small so they take on the paprika flavour better until the tomatoes are mushy and then stirring in the egg at the last minute. With plenty of seasoning on it’s not half bad. The only thing lacking is a friend to share it with.


  1. What a brilliant end to a cycling day! An enchanted cottage and honesty food!

  2. Hi It's Rosemary from CIBSE again! Can you confirm that you will be attending the President's Awards Dinner on 8 October and that you will be bringing a guest. Sorry but we need to clarify numbers.

    The cottage looks lovely and so does the food