Island holiday with horse riding and sheep shedding (Everyday Adventures in North Jutland, week 5)

The red tower in Byrum aroused old memories in Morten.

It was a Monday morning late August when we sailed with the ferry to Læsø. Actually, we had planned to take the morning departure, but on closer inspection this departure was sold out. We hadn’t considered the possibility that the tickets to the ferry would be sold out since it was out of high season, but obviously it’s been a big hit that the Læsø ferry has put prices down by 50% outside the high season. So either we had to wait until the evening to come to Læsø or we had to get up early and sail in the morning. Of course we chose the last one, so we could get the most out of our stay at Læsø.

When we reached the island, we immediately headed for the easternmost part of the island – Morten would be sure to reach as far out on the island as possible and then it was best for us to start there, cause we know ourselves well enough to know that we can quickly be occupied with something and therefore there’d be a risk we never reached all the way east, unless we drove out there immediately.

Reading time: approx. 10 min.

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First stop in the middle of the island
On our way across the island we drove through Byrum, where Morten recognized the red tower from many years ago where he was at a scout camp at Læsø. He remembered that he had taken a photo of the tower and the house behind it, and that this photo of the red tower with the blue sky as a background was actually contributing to his desire to photograph something more. So it felt right for us to stop and see the tower (yes, we were already distracted).

When we got to the tower, we met the older man who lived in the little house behind the tower. He said he was about to move in to the mainland after 12 years in the little red house on Læsø. At the moment we met him, he was taking down the price tags from the tower and in the recent past, the tower had actually been closed to visitors, but now that he was there packing anyway, we were allowed to access and get up and see the view from the tower. So of course we hurried up into the 17 meter high tower to get the view over most of Læsø.
We were told that it was the local man from Læsø Thorvald Hansen, who built the tower in 1927, as he wanted to be able to look out over the whole island. It was also possible at that time, but gradually more trees have emerged, which means that it’s no longer the whole island, one can see from there, but still most of it.

Well, what did we come from? Oh yes, we were on our way to the easternmost tip of Læsø. You see, we can quickly be caught by something else on the road.
But after being in the red tower of Byrum, we actually drove directly to Bløden Hale, the easternmost point on Læsø – as far as we could get.

In search of amber
We stayed at Bløden Hale for several days. In the evening we noticed how the wind blew outside Turtle while we sat safely and well inside and enjoyed reading loud to each other and the next morning Morten discovered that windy weather is obviously equal to amber searching on the beach the following morning. He came home from his morning walk on the beach and told, that he had met a German family who had found an amber lump the size of a fist. None of us have ever found amber before – or really searched for it – but now we were curious, especially because we saw more cars arrive with people coming along with their small rakes, ready to look for amber, so we clearly felt that it was the right time to go searching for amber.

Morten studied the web when and how it’s best to look for amber and figured out that the best place is where there are seaweed, because amber is light and drives up the beach together with the seaweed and then the seaweed ensures that the amber doesn’t flow into the sea again. And the best time is obviously the morning after such a windy weather that we had just had, because the amber was washed up on land.
So with this new information we got excited and went down to the beach to look for amber.

And we actually did find our very first amber lumps this morning! No less than 7 (small) pieces – not particularly impressive for all the many amber collectors who have gathered amber for many years at Læsø’s shores – but a big catch and a big moment for Morten and I, who never ever before in our lives have found a piece of amber!

 

We found 7 pieces of amber – a big catch when we had never found amber before.

From bank advisor in Roskilde to sheep shepherd on Læsø
The next morning as we sat and talked inside Turtle, it suddenly sounded like there was a proper rain coming in from west. I looked out of the car – there was no rain in sight.
But all of a sudden a whole bunch of sheeps came running. 1, 2, 3, 10, 20, 30 … up to 100 sheeps in a flock suddenly came tumbling past Turtle. They stopped right outside Turtle and we started talking about whether they were alone or not. “Isn’t it strange if they are all alone and they suddenly come running in such a large crowd?” Suddenly a shepherd dog appeared. It ran in a circle around the sheeps and put them in place. And then they continued their journey beyond the dunes at Bløden Hale. Seconds later, a woman came walking, whistling after them. It was obviously one of Læsø’s shepherds we had met.

We didn’t talk to her at the moment, cause she was in the middle of her work, but when she came back, we invited her to a cup of coffee and talked to her. It turned out that just a few weeks ago she had worked as a bank advisor in Roskilde, but suddenly she had been contacted and asked if she wanted to change career and live of her hobby: whether she would be a shepherd on Læsø. She had not needed much time to think about it, but had almost immediately gone to the boss and had quit her job and had now moved to Læsø.
It was inspiring to hear her story and fascinating to hear how, with the utmost self-esteem, she had all gone after her dream.

Suddenly Turtle was surrounded by sheeps.
Læsø seen from horseback

Before we went to Læsø we had been recommended to see Læsø from horseback, and we thought it sounded like a very good idea. Therefore I wrote to Anette from “Fædrelandet” and asked if we could come and ride with her. We could easily do that and when she heard our story, she even offered us a small discount.

So the same afternoon we drove from Bløden Hale and via Alléen, where several of the characteristic seaweed-covered houses are located.
On Alléen we came past a sea-covered house, where a large tourist bus was outside – they were in the middle of a guided tour at that moment. Outside in the yard there was also a small pavilion with boards and a film about the history of the seaweed houses and the story of how they make these roofs. We stopped and took a look at both the house, the roof and the exhibition.

I’d never heard of seaweed-covered roofs before I came to Læsø this week, but quickly figured out that it’s one of the great sights and characteristics of the island. Previously, they didn’t have access to either straw or wood on Læsø, but instead they had lots of eelgrass, which they then used to cover their roofs. At present, there are only 19 houses on Læsø left with seaweed-covered roofs and several of them are in really poor condition, so a lot of effort has now been put in place to preserve the existing seaweed-covered roofs so they don’t disappear for posterity.

After getting to know more about Læsø’s seaweed-covered roofs, we continued our trip to Fædrelandet. Here we helped to groom and prepare the horses Jarl and Vægir, which we subsequently had to ride on. Together with three young people who were also going on a trip, we made the horses ready with expert guidance from Anette herself, who was our instructor on the trip.

We were almost all newbies, so Anette led us in a long column out through the forest to the water, where we were allowed to ride a little more freely. It was simply so beautiful to experience Læsø in this way and I was delighted that we had accepted this advice to experience Læsø from horseback.

On horseback in Læsø’s waterfront.

Fuglsangsø
We drove to Østerby Harbor, where we stayed overnight. The following day we bought fish cakes and lobster tails at Thorsen Fish and drove out to discover the island. We parked at the Salt Sewing and ate our lunch there, consisting of rye bread with butter, fresh fish cakes, lemon, remoulade and carrot salad with raisins. DELICIOUS!
We ate the lunch in the garden of the Salt Sewing, and sat there and watched the deserted landscape on the Rønner while we ate.

When we had finished eating, we went into one of the cabins, where they gave lectures every hour and showed how they sew the salt. It was exciting to hear this as well, now we were there.
Subsequently, we went for a walk up the lookout tower and looked out over the deserted landscape. It’s amazing how far you can see from there.

We decided to ride a trip on our bikes out there, so we went down and found our mountain bikes, filled the water bottles and went off.

When we reached a little way out towards the Rønner, we passed a sign saying “Fuglsangsøen”. With the surname Fuglsang (Birdsong), it’s always a little fun to explore places called Fuglsang, so of course we wanted to go there.
We were somewhat in doubt as to whether it was an island (ø in danish) or a lake (sø in danish) we were looking for, but thought it would be clear to us when we arrived. However, that wasn’t the case.

We cycled and cycled and finally, after a long tour around the deserted landscape, we ended up where we started – without having found either island or lake on our trip. We agreed that it was because of this long, hot summer that all water was gone and therefore there wasn’t any island or lake out there. Someone later confirmed this to us.

Instead we cycled to the Girlstone – another one of the places Morten had photographed on his scout trip to Læsø when he was a child.

Morten back on the Girlstone after all these years.

The worlds best softice
After the trip out on the Rønner we cycled up in ‘Storhaven’ – a place we’d been recommended to visit and taste their ice cream.
The first thing that met us was goats, ducks and chickens running around freely and enjoying themselves. Morten also quickly fell for a tractor with a wagon, which perhaps was mostly aimed at the children, but was so big that it was also a great catch for adult childish souls, including Morten.

After a little play in the garden we went into the store and checked out the ice cream selection. Our attention fell on their blackcurrant soft ice and we bought one for each of us with respectively chocolate and almond on top. We sat outside and enjoyed them – and without exaggerating one of the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted!

The blackcurrant soft ice in ‘Storhaven’ is one of the best ice creams I’ve ever tasted.

The next couple of days we also pampered our taste buds with lobster tails for both dinner and lunch.

We parked at Vesterø Harbor, where Morten relaxed in Turtle, while I was riding alone to Stokken and went for a trip to the Fannemands Ferry.

A small world
It had become our last day on Læsø and we drove home and visited Hanne, a woman we’d met at Fædrelandet and who had invited us home for coffee, as she liked us and our story.

After the invitation from her, we figured out that she was married to Tom, whom we had already made an agreement with, because he wanted to write an article about us to the Læsø Newspaper. It’s a small world – or at least Læsø is!
So we went home and visited Hanne and Tom and ate apple cake, drank coffee and talked all afternoon.
They started their Læsø adventure by vacationing on the island and became so fond of the place that they moved there. Currently, Hanne lives full-time at Læsø, while Tom commutes to and from Zealand, where he works part-time.

Goodbye and see you later Læsø.

After a pleasant afternoon in the company of Hanne and Tom, we drove down to the ferry, waved goodbye to Læsø and took the ferry back to the mainland on Saturday evening.

It was great to visit Læsø again and I understand that some people are a little in love with island life. Whether it’s just for a vacation or as a permanent resident.

Thanks for some wonderful experiences Læsø!

Tips for upcoming everyday adventures at Læsø:
We were given the following tips that we didn’t have time to visit, but which we will hopefully come back and visit another time – or which some of you might want to explore?

  • Lærkely.
  • Krogsbækgård riding tours.
  • Horneks Odde. A late summer bath from the beautiful jetty by the ferry.
  • Denmarks most lonely stone, Øglestenen.
  • Go to Holtemmen and go out on the crack that protrudes into the water. The only place on the island where you can see Vesterø Harbor and Østerby Harbor at the same time.
  • Drive to the end of Pentstrømvej, and walk through the low water – all the way to the small crack. Grab a swim at the end of the world!
  • The forest hut.
  • Rent a kayak and sail along the beach.
  • Learn about dining tongs from Læsø by Rie Toftelund Ladefoged at Doktorvejen.
  • Restaurant Bakken in Byrum – taste their homemade stuffed chocolates.

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