I’d been on the Baltic Sea Cycle Route for about 120 miles when I went off the popular path again, and strayed inland Denmark to visit the Tystrup-Bavelse lakes, which are located about 60 miles West of Møns Klint. I’d read about this area as being exceptionally picturesque and equipped with some sweet primitive camping, so I really wanted to see it.
Denmark doesn’t have the freedom to roam law that Sweden does, which allows you to camp anywhere on both public and private land, as long as you don’t cause a disturbance. I’ve seen Denmark to be quite protective of private property (“privat” signs everywhere) and I was very curious about what this Sweden-style free primitive camping on public land was going to be like.
If I needed any more proof that Denmark is not flat, the 60 miles from Møns Klint to Tystrup Lake punched me in the face with this evidence. Between the relieving descents and the hopeful ascents (I hope this is the last climb, please let this be the last climb!), it was impossible not to laugh at my own ignorance about the rolling hills of Denmark. No wonder so few touring cyclists roam here except by the sea, where it’s all flat!
I arrived at Tystrup Lake around 7 pm and, polyglot that I am, followed the Danish instructions on a small sign explaining how to find the tent pitches. Following a gravel road that leads straight to the lake, a grassy path to the left points you to the pitches which are located in the clearing of a mini-forest. There were 3 sites there, spacious and protected from the wind, and they came with instructions! With my dictionary I gathered the essentials: there’s potable water, bathroom, and you can’t stay more than 3 nights.
To my great surprise I spotted the Coleman 1-person tent of another bike-in camper at the site, and I was very excited at the thought that they may be American (Coleman tent, Walmart?) and I’d finally have a conversation partner. Despite my severe exhaustion I stayed up until well after 11 pm (which is still broad daylight in these Nordic countries) waiting for this person to either emerge from the tent or return from a late hike. Neither happened and sleep got the best of me. When I woke up in the morning, the mysterious camper was gone and I was alone again, and sadly conversationless.
I spent my day off by the lake enjoying a vertical, homo-erectus position. It’s amazing how much you can miss walking! I outlined a 10 mile hike on my map through the forest, where the trail played hike and seek with the lake. Tall trees rose on every side of me, sometimes thinning out in a clearing, and I didn’t meet a single soul. Forests are magical wherever you go.
After hanging out in organized camping grounds where the levels of noise and solitude are variable, being disconnected and remote at Tystrup was incredible. What I love in Denmark is that there is infrastructure everywhere for you to have at least a decent experience. “Primitive camping” in Denmark means there is a trash can by your site (collected regularly), a picnic table, a nearby bathroom which is clean, equipped with lots of toilet paper, hand soap and even an antediluvian hand drier. All of these are things you need as a camper, and somebody put them there for you to use. How many times have I been to a campground in the States and there is no toilet paper, though I pay a fee to stay there? Sadly, many. Toilet paper is kind of essential if you ask me, especially when it’s missing at a critical time!
Someone thought about the experience that one would have camping here, and made it comfortable. I’m impressed, and grateful for places like this.