I had high hopes for this part of the journey, knowing full well it was taking in some of my favourite areas to hike on Sjælland. Another fun element of the hike was that two friends were joining me. A camping sesh with friends is rarely ever a dull experience.
Here is a quick overview of the distances for this route.
Lejre Station - Haraldstedsø 22km
Haraldstedsø - Kongskilde 25km
LEJRE - HARALDSTED
We met at Lejre Station on a half sunny half cloudy Friday morning in June, excited to immerse ourselves in nature. From here we took the main road that leads you to Ledreborg Slot (Castle). It is an uphill walk along a beautiful tree-lined private road. Ledreborg Slotspark is surprisingly large and we walked a good deal in this area before leaving the estate to continue on the Skjoldungerstien that follows the railway track.
This path doesn't last too long so no panic if you are hiking this on a blazing hot day, you soon get some cover again and if you are lucky you will get to meet some fur friends along the way.
We had some meet and greet time with these horses for a few moments before heading into a small woodland. The trees were really fresh with early summer green leaves and we were feeling pretty happy and had a good pace on.
After the woods, you get your first glimpse of the hilly terrain that takes you into Bidstrup Forest territory. I say hilly, please remember I'm talking Danish standard, which may not seem hilly to people that come from mountainous homelands.
It is a beautiful section to hike here, taking you around the edges of grazing horses in their fields, along a river and then through Skov Hastrup towards my favourite forest, Bidstrup Skov.
It was a pleasure to walk under the full blooming trees, making the most of the shade they provide. The hilly track led us through this large blanket of green, past small homes tucked secretly away from the rest of the world and showing us shelters that we dream of using in the future.
We passed a scouts hut and over a lake that was teaming with frogs and activity. After that, we came out at the top of a slope that led us down to Avnsø, a large open swimming lake that was carved from the Ice Age.
"...a place we could wash off the mud from our bodies."
As we got close to the lake Morten slipped into a muddy puddle, trying to walk around the edge, that I was just jumping over. He timed the splash perfectly, splattering my entire lower half with mud and dowsing his foot deep down into the soggy brown stuff. Ben had taken the higher ground and could just enjoy the show as we all fell about laughing until our sides hurt.
The lake doubled up as not only a nice lunch spot but also a place we could wash off the mud from our bodies. It is one of those moments that stick with you forever and make you smile when you reminisce.
With nut fuelled bodies, we were ready to crush the rest of the hike. We had a long way to go before we could set up camp for the night. We dried our feet and put our shoes back on. I think if we had the chance we would have chilled at the lake all afternoon. Avnsø has a very zen atmosphere and if you ever get the chance to go there, take a picnic and really relax near the water. Children have space to paddle from the shore and adults can run and jump off the jetty, or sit like the guys above, with your toes in the cool water.
You leave Bidstrup Skov via a cosy woodland path that leads you to Skjoldenæsholm, a beautiful area set around a large lake that houses a hotel on the far bank next to the road. It was such a nice part of the hike, with a section of raised walkway to add variation, old fallen trees to play around on and calm watery views across the lake. We stopped just before the road to take our lunch break and relax on the grass overlooking the lake.
Apart from the ticks trying to grab a free ride on Morten (not sure why they didn't like me or Ben), this break time was really nice. Alas, we had to continue and were set to smash the last part of the hike with no breaks.
"we soon began to feel the wear and tear of the asphalt"
Rolling on we took stepped onto the asphalt and began the road journey. Although the road had nature on either side, we soon began to feel the wear and tear of the asphalt and started dreaming of our shelter spot ahead, wondering what delights were in store for us.
We took some time to goof around a little along the road. All photographers want to grab the opportunity of a fun shot, so we had fun doing handstands and jumping. It felt good for our bodies to move in a different way after walking kilometres of asphalt.
The Pilgrim Route specifically takes the road route to Haraldsted village, however, I would highly recommend taking the forest trail that you walk parallel to. We were a bit nervous it would take us the wrong direction but if I walked this route again, I would definitely take the forest, especially if you plan to camp at Haraldsted Lake.
We eventually came to our destination town, Haraldsted. I had found a shelter located on an app, literally called 'Shelter', but, first, we walked up to the church and took a look around before heading a little in the opposite direction to find our overnight spot. We had to take a path across a field and felt a bit concerned when we met a large area of stinging nettles to get to the shelter and path that lead around Haraldsted Lake. Sending Ben in first, because he was the only one with hiking sticks, we progressed through the stinging jungle to get to the open path. Now with itchy blotchy legs, we explored the spot that the shelter was located on the app. Problem was, no shelter existed!
I pulled out my phone and checked the app for another potential camping spot. Lucky for us, the lake provided a camping area just east of our current location. We were really tired and drained from the road hiking but we also really wanted to have a good place to camp, so we continued east and found a fantastic spot near the water.
Morten and I set up our hammocks close to the picnic tables and Ben found a good flat spot just a little further behind us for his tent. My husband was awesome and met us with Pizza and Pasta for dinner that he picked up at the local Italien Takeaway. I got to have snuggles and dinner with my children before they reluctantly said 'Good-bye' for the evening.
We lit a fire and enjoyed some hot tea before retiring for the night. The location of this campsite was superb, right on the bank of the river, with a jetty to walk out on and lots of seating space. If you want to find it, just park at the Haraldsted Sø car park and walk directly south and down the hill to the water. There is no need to prebook, just turn up.
HARALSTED SØ - KONGSKILDE
The next morning was overcast and cold. Morten and I were having problems sleeping from about 4 am and ended up just chilling in our hammocks with warm drinks and friendly conversations. I always wish for impressive sunrises to photograph when camping wild in nature, I rarely seem to get it though.
Ben woke around 7 am and we sat around drinking coffee and eating breakfast. Once we had packed all the camp away and made sure we had left no trace of our stay, we set off on the path around the lake to take us to Ringsted.
The forest we started in, which starts by the lake and heads northwards, offers mountain bike trails as well as hiking paths. It had a really cosy feel and we felt good walking here. The trees are tall, the leaves were a nice summer green, the paths are well maintained and there is a lot of activity around the lake with birds, cattle and humans going about their morning routines.
Starting your day with hiking trails like this does something to your soul. When I wake up in nature, I feel light and relaxed knowing that all I need to do is chill in my hammock and have some breakfast, listen to the birds and pack later. Life seems so uncomplicated. I think that is part of the addiction to hiking and camping, the simplicity of it all.
Once you reach the far end of the lake there are some public toilets where you can refill your water and freshen up before venturing off towards Ringsted.
The hiking from Haralsdted Sø to Ringsted is pleasant and consists of fields, rivers and paths that you meet the morning dog walkers and joggers. There are no more forests though, so shade can be a problem on a hot day.
Once you reach Ringsted you follow a really nice open path along the river just downhill from the main town. If you wanted to call it a day here, you could easily take the train home from Ringsted at this point. However, we were pushing on to reach Kongskilde, so we had a lot more to walk yet. We took a short break near a public toilet before leaving Ringsted and heading to the farm roads.
There isn't a lot to report about walking the roads out of Ringsted. They are long and tiring and the only relief you get is when you cross a nice bridge or experience a great view over the land. In fact, we didn't make it to Kongskilde because the roads killed us. Mentally we were drained and physically some of us were in pain so we decided to sit down and call the cavalry, my husband, to collect us in the car. Guess we should have just stopped at Ringsted. Oh well, you live and you learn.
FINAL DISTANCE OVERVIEWS & MAPS
The final distances were a little off from my original calculations but all in all, it was a success until we hit the farm roads after Ringsted. Do not underestimate how much Denmark is covered in farmland as I did.
LEJRE - HARALDSTED SØ: 29.7KM
We started at Lejre train station to pick up this route, simply for the ease of it, rather than meet at the museum where we finished the last hike.
I mentioned earlier that we took the long road down to Haraldsted and that if I did it again I would walk in the forest instead. You can see by the map here what I mean. That last bit of straight road that runs along the deeper green is the section I am referring to.
By far, the best part of this hike is on the Skjoldungerstien, through Bidstrup Skov and to Skjoldenæsholm.
HARALDSTED SØ - KONGSKILDE: 22.9KM
Phew, what a nice fat bunch of numbers for us over these two days. That is a total of 52.6KM with loaded packs and boy did we feel it.
This second day was most enjoyable at the start, or at least until the other side of Ringsted. If I was walking this again I would stop at Ringsted, especially if I was using any public transport to get home. Where we finished was out in the middle of nowhere, so the chance of grabbing a bus is pretty slim.
Be prepared, that these long farm roads with no pedestrian paths are gruelling. You bake in the sun and have no shade, oh and, they seem to never end!
It was a good experience regardless of the problems we met along the way. It is always a good idea to hike with the mindset that; things may need to change.
Having the opportunity to camp with friends means you are not alone in the thick of a bad situation and I'm always grateful for that. I'm a tough cookie, but it's always nicer to have someone else around to support you and have your back if the shit hits the fan. Having company along those farm roads is a saviour of the mind!
If you haven't read any of the other sections of this Pilgrim Route, hop over to the one that interests you the most and let me know in the comments what you think. I'm always happy to answer any questions you may have.
Thank you for following my journey and I look forward to releasing the last few stages of the Pilgrim Route on Sjælland soon.