Monday, July 9, 2018

Discover Søhøjlandet: A Weekend Well Spent at Skanderborg Lake

↠ sponsored post ↞
This year, the Danish summer came way earlier than anticipated and since its arrival in May, life has been a continuous europhoric blessing. The passing months have perfectly encaptured those mesmerizing summer feels of hot weather and long bright days we all love so dearly. With Sheena passing by Denmark for a weekend, we made the most of it and relished ourselves in the warm embracing sun while nourishing our souls with well-missed Danish cuisine. After previously having spent time in the old market town of Skanderborg and its surrounding forest area, we were happy to come back to enjoy more of Skanderborg Lake.

Situated in the middle of Dyrehaven and directly along the shore of Skanderborg Lake, we stayed at Danhostel Skanderborg which fitted our weekend plans perfectly. From there it was a breeze to bike to the city centre of Skanderborg for some shopping, take a splash in the lake at Skanderborg Søbad, go for walks between the old trees in Dyrehaven, visit Skanderborg Bunkerne to brush up on some history and conquere the water in a canoe. We spent one of the days bicycling along the Southern part of Skanderborg lake, making stops at Junges Plantage, Hylke Strand, Skanderborg Golfklub and Fårbjerg before ending the 15 km trip at Vestermølle Museum, where we took the tour boat M/S Dagmar back to the hostel.

The weekend was a well needed break for both of us and Skanderborg Lake provided us with the perfect combination of both relaxation and action. This is one of the reasons why we have fallen so much in love with our local area, The Lake-Highlands (Søhøjlandet): adventure, nature and a calming atmosphere goes hand in hand here.

↠ Inside the military bunkers hidden among the forest trees ↞

With our weekend-home neatly encircled within the beech forest of Dyrehaven we felt encouraged to bewilder ourselves among the trees and took a step back in time. During World War II, the German Luftwaffe had their headquarters among the beeches and traces from the occupation still remains. The main building of Danhostel Skanderborg is in fact the old officers' mess and just a stone throw away from the hostel is Skanderborg Bunkere (The Museum of Liberation) - two bunkers that have been transformed into a museum. We had a guided tour by an employee from Skanderborg Museum, who took us through the two bunker exhibitions that focused on the Luftwaffe activities, and the Danish activities during the German occupation, respectively. It was an intriguing little museum filled with information, small insightful stories and many preserved artifacts from the war time. Travelling around Denmark we have come across several bunkers, but this was our first time inside one of these secretive stone blocks. We both loved the fact that photography was forbidden as limited exposure maintains the mystique of the bunkers and feeds to the curiosity of bypassers.

↠ The imaginative & cheeky univers by Ole Lund Kirkegaard ↞

The annual festival "Sløngeldage" which celebrates Skanderborg-born and late children author Ole Lund Kirkegaard was taking place on these particular days. The city centre was thus decorated with colorful artwork - some being permanent others temporary - of cartoon characters extracted from the unique and quirky universe created by Kirkegaard. For fun we went treasure hunting to see how many famous motives we could find as our inner children were hungry for play. On our treasure hunt around the city we found an impressive mural "Det Røde Hus" (The Red House) on Adelgade. We also came across several of the 38 cast iron tiles which are placed in the pavement and decorated with motives from Kirkegaards books, as well as two-headed dragons and quirky colorful houses.

We grabbed a light lunch at Kafé K at Kulturhuset before heading into Skanderborg Lake which we had been dreamingly gazing at from the café window.
Lunching at Kafé K with a lovely view over Skanderborg Lake. Behind the big oak tree we spotted the tour boat M/S Dagmar, which we later on had the pleasure to ride.
We beated the hot weather with flavoursome lemonades and treated ourselves with a delightful tapas combined with a summer-inspired salmon salad. A nice and light lunch on a hot summer day.

↠ Canoeing to the small forest island Æbelø ↞

Skanderborg Lake is part of Denmarks longest river system (Gudenåsystemet, 160km long) flowing through the Lake-Highlands (Søhøjlandet) in Jutland. We usually spend time in another part of Gudenåsystemet, namely The Lakes of Himmelbjergssøerne, so visiting Skanderborg Lake was a nice change of scenery. During the afternoon we picked up a canoe from Danhostel Skanderborg and made our way to Æbelø, one of three isles within the lake - the others being Kalvø and the tiny Sct. Thomas & Sct. Helene. It was a short trip that could easily be done in less than an hour, however, with extra time at hand we made a stop on the peaceful forest island itself. There we hung out by the jetty and drank the sun until we felt our stomachs rumbling, hinting us to fuel our bodies with other than solar energy.

↠ From silver cutlery to wooden sticks, traditional Danish food always caters to our tastebuds ↞

A quick bike ride to the border of Dyrehaven and we arrived at Hotel Skanderborghus idyllically situated between Skanderborg Lake and Lillesø. Here we enjoyed a relaxing evening accompanied by traditional Danish food which had our hearts jump in joy.
Hotel Skanderborghus' à la carte restaurant serves Danish and French dishes. We feasted ourselves in juicy beaf steak with Béarnaise and potatoes; and Skanderborg-gryde - Danish pork tenderloin dazzled in a creamy paprika-flavored sauce with mashed potatoes.
The evening was topped off with homemade desserts made with that heartwarming grandmother touch. We had delicate icecream cake and cruncy old-fashioned Danish apple cake that was best described as a glorious parfait in disguise.

The night was warm with a pallid blue sky overhead as we headed back to Danhostel Skanderborg, so we decided to extend the relaxing mood with some sweet bonfire fun near the lake. We took a walk down memory lane as we sat around the crackling fire and neatly prepared some snobrød (Twisted bread: an amazing Danish campfire tradition). The air quickly became a mixture of smoke and stories of our childhood experiences in the Lake-Highlands (Søhøjlandet) and an aroushing feeling of nostalgia flowed through our veins. We stayed near the fire until its dying breath and before heading to bed, we agreed that we still had other ways of exploring Skanderborg Lake.

↠ A calm morning by Skanderborg Lake ↞

As a new day dawned we ran barefoot through the grass kissed by dew and plunged excitedly into the lake. We watched how the expanding ripples swiftly woke the lake still asleep and felt how the cooling freshness of the water magically brought our tired bodies to life. More and more people joined us for a refreshing morning dip as the sun rose higher above the horizon. Our cheeks were still glowing from yesterday and although the sun had barely reached above the tree crowns, we could already feel the tickle of the sunrays.

↠ A bicycling trip along Skanderborg Lake ↞

The day was spent biking along the Southern part of Skanderborg Lake from the city of Skanderborg to Vestermølle Museum on the opposite side. The Lake-Highlands (Søhøjlandet) is shaped by the ancient ice ages so we were challenged with a few steep inclines as we made our way through the morainial landscape, however, most of the route was relatively flat. Leaving Skanderborg, we brushed through the lush and leafy forest and continued along a flourishing path running parallel with Skanderborg Lake. Before hitting the main road we stopped by Junges Plantage, a primitiv shelter ground with a fireplace and direct access to the lake.
The further we got away from the city, the more we were accompanied with beautiful views over the cerulean blue lake and with images of the idyllic pasturelands and fields woven in green and yellow tones. Our hair blew madly in the wind as we biked through the landscape and we felt free on the open road. Approximately half way we reached Skanderborg Golf Klub, from where we followed a gravel trail behind the golf courses to Hylke Strand. A local friend had tipped us about this small secluded beach, which served as the perfect spot for a coffee break. We kicked off our shoes, snacked a few strawberries and watched how tiny waves came rolling into shore.
Before continuing our journey we stopped at Restaurant Skanderborg-sø located at Skanderborg Golf Klub. Yet again, our foodie hearts were fluttered as we were served scrumptious Danish Open Sandwiches (Smørrebrød) in the form of Stjerneskud (Shooting Stars) - a soul soothing traditional Danish dish of fish, shrimps and garnish. From the restaurant balcony we watched how golfers enjoyed their weekend games in this beautiful lakeside setting and agreed, that these people had found their way to paradise.
Before taking on the final stretch towards our pickup point we stopped to climb Fårbjerg (79 m), a vantage point from where we had a grand view over Skanderborg Lake and its neighbouring distinctive moraine hillscape. From the top we could easily point out Skanderborg city and tried next to designate our final destination, Vestermølle Museum. This made us notice, when viewed from a birds perspective, that our total biking route of 15 km seemed much longer than it actually felt. The afternoon sun was strong and powerful, so we did not stay too long at the top although the view stood clear and vibrant and definitely deserved a few more minutes of appreciation on this lovely summer day.

↠ Waiting for M/S Dagmar to take us home from Vestermølle ↞

When we arrived at Vestermølle Museum we only had a few minutes before the tour boat M/S Dagmar would pass by and we thus went straight down to the pier. We passed by the idyllic Restaurant Vestermølle where singing and toasting echoed out from the banqueting hall and where laughter bubbled through the garden. A bunch of kids were catching fish from the pier and eagerly told us stories about their individual catches. M/S Dagmar quickly arrived and it was time to head back. An entire cruise through Skanderborg Lake with this darling lady takes 1 h 30 min and includes several jump on/off points along the way; including Danhostel Skanderborg. We jumped on the boat and lounged back, enjoying the soothing cruise ride back to our starting point. We were all happy smiles at this very moment - smiles conjured from our glowing skin, our tired bodies and our round bellies, all as a result from our weekend at Skanderborg Lake.
Collaboration information
This post is part of the Discover Søhøjlandet series, an ambassador project made in collaboration with VisitSkanderborg, the official tourist office for Søhøjlandet (The Danish Lakelands). Visit Skanderborg Lake yourself and find the trail provided by VisitSkanderborg in their The Danish Lake District 2018 brochure on page 22.

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