The Archipelago Trail (Øhavsstien) is 220 km long and one of Denmark’s longest hiking routes, encircling the South Fyn Archipelago. The entire area of the Archipelago consisting of South Fyn and the islands of Langeland and Ærø makes up a typical and distinctive ice age landscape.
On this hike I am joined by fellow Instagrammer @wildstray_hikes aka “Biz” – Mikkel Mandrup Fogt, a 24 yr old kid from Denmark dreaming of mountains, rivers & instant mashed potatoes 🇩🇰. Mikkel thru-hiked the PCT in 2019. Please refer Mikkel’s website here.
- departed Copenhagen at 13:00 pm
- drove over the 18 km long bridge across the Great Belt (Storebælt) which links together the eastern and western parts of Denmark / cost 194, kr.
- Drove to the harbour in Svendborg at this address: Havnepladsen 2, 5700 Svendborg
- Arrived Svendborg at 15:05 pm
- Rode the ferry at 16:05 pm (75 min journey / 43, kr. ea.)
- Arrived at Ærøskøbing, the capital of Ærø at 17:20 pm
- Walked 5.6 km to Lille Rise forest (wild camping allowed)
- Camped at Lille Rise (remember to bring water for the first night, there is no water at the site)
- walked from Lille Rise to Marstal 11.1 km
- looked around in Marstal and had lunch at the local Chinese restaurant
- After lunch rode a bus from Marstal to Ærøskøbing at 13:00 pm (arrived 13:26 pm). On the island of Ærø, the buses are operated by the Municipality of Ærø and are free for everyone.
- Rode the same bus from Ærøskøbing to Søby at 13:30 pm (arrived 13:55 pm)
- Walked to Ulveholm (Boy Scout Hall) 11.4 km from Søby
- Camped at Ulveholm
- Walked 8.4 km to Ærøskøbing from Ulveholm
- Arrived Ærøskøbing at 10:45 am and took the ferry back to Svendborg at 11:35 am
- (75 min journey / 43, kr. ea.)
- arrived Svendborg at 12:50 pm
- drove over the 18 km long bridge across the Great Belt (Storebælt) which links together the eastern and western parts of Denmark / cost 145, kr. (cheaper on Sunday)
- arrived home in Copenhagen at 15:00 pm
Friday June 19, 2020
Mikkel arrived at 12:35 pm. We talked a little, catching up while Mikkel ate some lunch. We hadn’t seen each other since Mikkel departed in early 2019 to travel to USA. He hiked over 4,000 km on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from the American/Mexican border and up to Canada.
Departure time from Copenhagen was at 13:00 pm. After the drive over the 18 km long bridge across the Great Belt (Storebælt) we then continued to the harbour in Svendborg arriving at 15:05 pm. There were no long-term parking places at the harbour so we drove 700 metres south to Svendborg Lystbådehavn and parked the car on Otto Ruds Vej. There were no signs indicating that there were any parking restrictions and when we came back to the car on Sunday there was no parking fine 👍.
Mikkel had to eat again which didn’t surprise me; my son is 20 years old and he has to eat all the time too 😂. There was plenty of time before the boat was planned to leave so we found a takeaway place where Mikkel ordered a chicken sandwich. Boarding our ferry at 16:05 pm we then sailed the 75 min journey to Ærø where we arrived at Ærøskøbing at 17:20 pm.
Ærøskøbing is the capital of Ærø. The town was awarded market privileges in 1563, but was probably originally established in the 1200’s as a fishing town close to the water. The oldest house in Ærøskøbing dates back to 1645 and stands on Søndergade nr. 36.
There were a few drops of rain falling from the skies so we decided to don our rain gear. After studying the map we agreed to change our route, diverting from Øhavsstien and instead to follow the coastline path until we were located just north of our planned campsite. The path was called Nevrestien. The last kilometre up to Lille Rise was mainly on a track in between some cultivated fields. At the village called Lille Rise we re-joined Øhavsstien until we were located on the track just north of Lille Rise Forest where our campsite was only 170 metres away. That was easier said than done because the track seemed to disappear forcing us to do some bush-whacking. We would of been better off following the road from Lille Rise village up to the campsite entering the forest from the south on the road side instead. The walk was 5.6 km from Ærøskøbing to Lille Rise forest where wild camping is allowed.
We were a little wet when we arrived, but that was more due to the forest that we bush-whacked through rather than the rain that fell from the skies. There were two other occupants who were already camped at the site. They had arrived by bicycles. Once we set-up camp the skies opened up, almost on cue, and we were forced to sit in our respective shelters until we both retired to bed for the night.
HINT – remember to bring some water if you are planning on staying at Lille Rise as there is no water available at the site. The primitive campsite in Lille Rise Forest is a simple one but it has a great view of the Archipelago. You can just make out the water in front of Nørreholm in the middle right of the below photo. Lille Rise was originally a village built around a common meadow and the Archipelago Trail (Øhavsstien) passes across this meadow.
I had packed some whisky that I shared with Mikkel. Luckily, we experienced warm weather even though it rained a lot and hard on the first night. The whisky went down well and around 21:00 pm I retired to bed falling asleep to the sound of heaving rain hitting the roof on my DCF shelter.
Saturday June 20, 2020 – 1st leg
It rained heavily through the night but at around 04:20 am the skies cleared and the birds started calling to each other making quite a noise and enough to wake me up. At that time it was fairly light and I could see some blue skies above through the clouds. I heard a pheasant calling at one stage. Nodding off to sleep again I awoke for a second time around 06:15 am, and finally I got out of bed at 06:30 am. The sun was trying to burn it’s way through the clouds. We never experienced any more rain the rest of the weekend. The forecast was for torrential downfalls all weekend; we were happy that they got that wrong!
I found my trowel and some toilet paper and headed up into the forest. When I returned to camp Mikkel was out of bed and was boiling some water for coffee. We were both excited that the weather had turned for the better. After breakfast I managed to pack my Zpacks Duplex tent away almost completely dry. The sun and fresh winds were enough to dry off most of the moisture.
There were two planned routes for today. The first leg would take us from Lille Rise to Marstal 11.1 km. This time we walked on the easier way out of Lille Rise forest and followed the road down to the village called Lille Rise. We walked back to the same location where we had diverted from the track yesterday on the north side of the forest to walk up to the campsite and from here we continued to Marstal.
There is one problem when there are two hikers and you are both talking all the time; no-one pays any attention to where they are going and that is precisely what happened to us. At the 2 km mark we should of turned left at Gråsten Nor but we turned right and headed south towards the dike. We stopped at some stage and realised that we were heading in the wrong direction and then backtracked to the turn-off again.
This giant flat area we were located at is known as Gråsten Nor (cove). This was once a large shallow cove. In 1854, Edward Biering, the doctor on Ærø who lived at Marstal, sought permission to drain Gråsten Nor, The causeway was built in 1856, a pump was installed and the cove was gradually pumped dry and that was what we were walking on.
When we reached the bay at Kleven we then hiked on an old church path towards Ommel around the bay. The bay was once the site of Kleven winter harbour, where sailing ships were laid up during the winter months. The shipyard stood here at the end of the cove in the 1800’s.
At Marstal we reached the coastline once again where I took the above photo at Klinten. We found the bus stop at the harbour and checked the bus timetable. The next bus would be leaving at 13:00 pm. It was 11:30 am when we arrived so we had plenty of time to check the town out and find somewhere to eat lunch at.
At the harbour, where the bus stop is located, there is also a nice amenities building where there are clean toilets and showers available. They are maintained by the harbour master and funded by the visitors who sail there with their boats and choose to dock there a while. We filled up on our water supplies here because we did not know what to find at Ulveholm where we planned to camp tonight. All the information we could gather online indicated that there was pump water at the site that one should boil before use.
I noticed that all the flags were at half mast on the island. Apparently there was a funeral service being conducted today. After walking up and down the main street we finally decided that the local Chinese restaurant would have the pleasure of our company. While we waited for our meals to be served I noticed a crowd of people entering the church yard all dressed in black.
After lunch we found our way down to Marstal Harbour once again where our bus was waiting and it departed precisely on time BTW, if not a little before at 13:00 pm. We arrived at Ærøskøbing at 13:26 pm where we waited on the same bus until it departed once again with a heading of Søby on the north-west end of the island at 13:30 pm. On the island of Ærø, the buses are operated by the Municipality of Ærø and are free for everyone.
Saturday June 20, 2020 – 2nd leg
We arrived at Søby at 13:55 pm. We managed to doze off a little on the bus and when we stepped off the winds felt slightly coolish. Mikkel just had to put on his new Patagonia Micro Puff synthetic jacket. I told him to stop being a girl 🤣 and to take it off so we could start our south-east bound afternoon leg.
Søby is a charming town, with plenty of winding streets and alleys to explore. There are plenty of places to stock up on provisions in Søby.
We headed south-west out of town down towards Vitsø Nor (cove). Once again we got started in conversation and we weren’t concentrating on where we were going, although we did see the Øhavsstien blazers on the path. A windmill soon became visible in the distance. On referring to the map we realised that we had in fact walked further than planned. It was not because we were not on Øhavsstien because we were, but it was the detour that takes you to the old Dutch windmill from 1838.
Vitsø Nor was originally a shallow cove, but the Land Commission of Schleswig-Holstein decided to dewater it in 1773. The first step was to build a mill at the site where the windmill stands today. In 2009, Vitsø Nor was purchased by the Aage V. Jensens Naturfonde foundation, after which it was restored as an environmental project run jointly with the Danish Nature Agency. The three “bird islands” in the lake are used as breeding grounds by several species.
We now found ourselves on the south side of the lake; we should of been on the north side. After studying the map, we agreed that we would follow the “bird watching” trail that we were on until we reached Søbygård where we would rejoin the Øhavsstien trail once again.
Søbygård was built by Hans the Younger (1545 – 1622), the Duke of Schleswig, who had been given life tenancy of the islands of Ærø and Als in 1579 by his older brother, King Frederik II.
Three kilometres from Søbygård there is a T-section in the road where one should turn right, but if you take a left and head down to the coastline only 200 metres you come to the Skåret shelter place. You can sleep in the shelter if you wish. The shelter has to be booked and paid for before hand here. The cost is 30 kr,- per person per night. There is also a small site where you may pitch a tent if you wish.
We rested at Skåret for a while where Mikkel didn’t waste any time removing his stove from his pack to heat up some water to make himself some noodles. Yes, he had to feed the worms again 😂. It’s a nice location and the shelter is located only 10 metres from the water.
From Skåret there was only 3.8 km to Ulveholm at Øster Bregninge Mark where three private property owners have established Ærø Nature Park. We camped for the night out the back on the grassed terraced area. Ulveholm is located 11.4 km from Søby and I believe that the local boy scouts use the building as a base. There is a toilet at the site which was nice and clean BTW. In my guidebook see bottom ⍘, it reads “You can fill your water bottles with water (to be boiled) from the tap in the garden here”. I can’t find any other information about this online, but there is now a tap on the outside of the building at the front of the house. It certainly appears to be town water to me and thus wouldn’t require any boiling. If someone can confirm that then please leave a comment below, thank you.
We had packed in our water supply anyway so we didn’t require any. I was here 5 years ago and I couldn’t remember that any water was available at that time. Better safe than sorry. We pitched our tents, made some dinner and then hit the sack after downing the rest of the remaining whisky.
Sunday June 21, 2020
No rain fell through the night and the birds came into action again just after 04:00 am followed by a farmer who parked his tractor just outside our camp with the motor running for about 15 minutes. I think he had to take a phone call because I could hear him talking loudly to someone over the noise of the motor so it must of been on the phone I presume 😡.
Today’s journey takes us due west 8.4 km to Ærøskøbing, but first we walk 500 m through the shooting range in Ærø Nature Park where the Danish Home Guard practice their skills. Luckily, we did not have to dodge any flying bullets on this morning.
The trail then follows the coastline for 3 km from the shooting range to Borgnæs. At the west end of the Stokkeby Nor causeway the Archipelago Trail (Øhavsstien) runs past Borgnæs, which is the holiday house area on Ærø.
The causeway between Stokkeby Nor (cove) and Revkrog was built between 1855 – 56 because plans had been laid to dry out the shallow cove and cultivate the reclaimed land.
From the end of the causeway the trail follows small B roads for some two kilometres until we reach the beach huts at Vesterstrand. Just as we arrive a police car drives by. The police office on Ærø is located in Ærøskøbing and they have opening hours listed as the first Thursday of the month between 15.00-17.00. The area of Ærø is 88 km² and the population in 2019 was 6,050.
The famous beach huts of Ærøskøbing are privately owned and handed down from generation to generation. The first beach huts at Ærøskøbing were built near the harbour in the mid 1800’s.
At 10:45 am we arrived in Ærøskøbing. We had booked some tickets for the 14:35 pm ferry so we had a lot of time to kill. Mikkel got on the phone and re-booked our tickets to 11:35 am. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak all tickets had to be pre-booked. When I visited the island back in 2015 one could just come on board and purchase a ticket.
We purchased some sandwiches and a drink while we waited for the ferry to arrive. Sitting at a picnic table we baked in the hot sun. After arriving back in Svendborg at 12:50 pm we still had to we walked back to the car at Svendborg Lystbådehavn. Departure time for us was around 13:05 pm and we arrived back in Copenhagen at 15:05 pm.
A big thanks and shoutout to Mikkel for accompanying me on this adventure and making it a most enjoyable hike!
You can view and download my map here on AllTrails
⍘ The Archipelago Trail – A walking tour of the South Fyn Archipelago, a guidebook published by Naturturisme I/S ISBN: 9788799399291