Last month I left you with the vision of me exhausted on the side of a road coming into Høj Taastrup. This time I start where I stopped, at the same spot just before a tunnel under the motorway to bring me into Høj Taastrup. Less burning sunshine but a promisingly nice day, plus the added bonus of guest hikers! When I started this journey, it was purely for my own entertainment and imaginary badge of achievement. I had no idea that my micro-adventures were gaining traction and interest, sparking motivation in my social media followers. Considering my last portion of this hike was completed alone, it was quite the contrast to have 3 comrades along for the journey.
A quick overview of the original distances planned for this route, based on information from the Santiago Camino Pilgrim Route Website.
Høj Taastrup - Gammel Lejre 24km
Gamel Lejre - Skjoldenæsholm 15km
Due to the changes from the previous hikes, my new plan now looked like this. The distances in this planning are projections based on my watch app from Suunto.
Høj Taastrup - Roskilde 20km
Roskilde - Gammel Lejre 12km
HØJ TAASTRUP - ROSKILDE
When I originally planned this route I should have started from Taastrup Church but due to where I aborted the hike a few weeks before, I had to shift the route design to start a couple of kilometres further back. The days were getting warmer now as June was approaching and I knew this section of the route would be on a lot of asphalt, my pet hate.
"...a dog wearing a backpack turns out to be quite the attention whore..."
So here we go! My friend Sarah joined me from the starting point and we met up with Morten (my usual hiking buddy) and Judith (my hiking enthusiast friend who brought along her dog which was a nice addition) at Taastrup Church. Hiking with a dog wearing a backpack turns out to be quite the attention whore and we received an unending stream of smiles from strangers as they admired this unusual sight.
Taastrup was quite cute and we stopped at this lake for a quick water break for Storm (the dog). This was the last nature spot though before we hit hot asphalt.
Honestly, this section of the hike was easily the most uninteresting. There was a lot of street walking and we generally felt like we were just getting from one town to the next. Sure we passed a few nice spots but in general, it was a hot day in tarmac city.
From Taastrup you walk through Hedehusene along one big long straight road. That road did have a bakery on which we grabbed some motivation in the form of cookies and pastries. Then you pass the motorway into Roskilde and enter in National Park Skjoldungerenes Land territory.
Seeing the graffiti on this train tunnel felt quite relevant as we melted in the glaring sunshine. Poor Storm was needing lots of water breaks and luckily our humour was getting us through the countless hard impact steps. I'm so grateful that my friends joined me for this section otherwise I would have turned it into a power hike and just pushed hard to get it done. Which is never that enjoyable and turns it into a horrid chore rather than my usual motto of enjoying the journey.
But salvation was just ahead and we breathed a sigh of relief as we entered Østre Kirkegard (church cemetery) with beautiful gardens and grass we could sit on under the shade of trees. We decided to take our lunch break here, needing a rest from the heat and knowing we didn't have a huge amount left until the finish line. We collapsed on the grass and broke open our lunches.
The smell of newly blossoming flowers was in the air mixed with the sound of bees buzzing about on their collection duties. It was really quite the summers day and although the hike was hard going on the asphalt, we were still smiling.
Leaving the cemetery, we walked along the gravel paths lined with gravestones and flourishing nature. Trees were covered with fresh green leaves now and colours were scattered everywhere in the form of blooming flowers. This was such a refreshing sight after the street walking.
Denmark is really good at maintaining beautiful calm cemeteries where people don't just come to visit loved ones who have passed on but also to sit in peace amongst nature. Even in the big cities like Copenhagen, you will see joggers, mothers pushing prams with sleeping babies and couples walking hand-in-hand around the cemeteries. Like a mini nature oasis amongst the busy backdrop of city life.
Back onto the asphalt, we made our way along the cobbled streets towards the iconic Domkirke in Roskilde. It stands tall above all the other buildings in downtown Roskilde, just ignore the incinerator that is built on the edge of town when viewing from a distance.
Domkirke stands majestically at the top of a hill overlooking the fjord and is a grand piece of architecture to observe before you head downhill to the water.
Walking away from the cathedral you pass through Byparken, an open park with a stream bubbling over rocks, a duck pond, grassy slopes and a playground. The park also offers a couple of places to eat or grab a drink if needed. Once you reach the base of the hill you cross over to the Viking Harbour. The smell of wood oil in the air, Viking boats lining the edge of the water and that inviting blue fjord is a welcome sensory overload.
You would think we were sponsored by Osprey with our rucksack collection but alas we are normal paying customers. We dropped our bags down off our backs, flopped on the grass, ate and drank some more, then stripped off our shoes for a paddle. Storm was very happy to get in the water!
This was where our journey ended for today, with our feet in the cool fjord. From here we all went home, some in cars, some by train. Ready for a good night rest in our beds before rendezvousing the next morning.
ROSKILDE - GAMMEL LEJRE
With zero begging, the same friends joined me the next morning to continue the hike. In fact, we gained another body. Judith's sweet teenage neighbour wanted in on our hiking adventure and I had promised that it would be a much better route than the day before.
From the Viking Museum, we walked along the Skjoldungerstien along Roskilde Fjord to Boserup Skov (forest). We had another glorious day of blue sky and we were happy to be on nature paths in National Park Skjoldungernes Land versus the asphalt we endured the day before. The island of Sjælland has two national parks, National Park Kongernes Nordsjælland (where the Pilgrim Route started) and National Park Skjoldungernes Land around the fjordlands.
The paths through National Park Skjoldungernes Land are potentially the best on Sjælland. You get a good variety of landscapes ranging from towns to fjord lands to meadows with grazing cattle, lakes, Viking ruins and forests, it really has it all. Yes, it is a fairly flat landscape with some rolling hills here and there but you are mostly offroad and that is the best part, to be immersed in nature. It's what all hikers want, that is why we don our hiking shoes and pack our bags, so we can throw ourselves into nature and leave the hustle and bustle behind.
Once you are through Boserup Skov, which is a lush forest located on the edge of the fjord, you pass a golf course, follow a grassy path through a housing estate then emerge at Svogerslev Sø (lake). The rich greens against the blue sky are beautiful and Storm was definitely needing fewer breaks with all the grass and trees to keep him feeling cool.
We spotted a beekeeper at work as we passed from Svogerslev Sø, following the river to Gammel Lejre. The wonderful sound of buzzing bees hard at work in the summer sunshine, combined with the smell of pollen and warm air was all around us.
The trail opens up as you get closer to Gammel Lejre, bringing us onto a gravel path with no shade but lots of wide-open views of the fields surrounding the village. Grazing cows are enjoying the fresh long grass, grasshoppers can be heard along the path edges and birds are flying overhead. The last part of this journey offers us some fantastic summer vibes as we take in the rolling Viking landscape.
You pass a Viking graveyard, old stones sitting up in the long grass dating back to around AD 900, as you follow the trail towards the museum. The view from on top of the burial mound gives you a great overview of all the boulders below and is a great place for a break if you were to continue.
There is a shelter area here for those wishing to rest for the night, with a firepit and toilet facilities. The valley here is quite calm and beautiful even for an ancient Viking graveyard! You can buy drinks and ice cream from the museum shop and recharge your battery if you choose to hike further. For us though, this is the end of the weekend's adventures. We say goodbye to one another and a few walk to the train station at Lejre, just a short jaunt from the museum car park which is where I was being collected by my family.
FINAL DISTANCE OVERVIEWS & MAPS
After rejigging the plans, let's take a final look at the distances hiked and routes I mapped out. I have been really enjoying the GPS watch it has been a major game changer for me when it comes to navigating my way. I hate reaching for a mobile phone every time I need to check that I haven't missed a turn. I am using the Suunto 5 watch on these hikes and for full transparency, I do not earn any commission from them nor am I sponsored by them, I just love their product.
HØJ TAASTRUP-ROSKILDE FJORD: 20.09KM
Where I started this route was purely to pick up from where I stopped on the previous hike, so I wouldn't recommend it as a good place to start especially if you are taking public transport.
I'm honestly not convinced though that the Pilgrim Route website has the original measurements correct. They estimated 24km from Høj Taastrup to Gammel Lejre. If you add together my routes for this journey it is a total of 32km. I experienced this issue with the website distances and what I actually hiked a few times.
They literally state that this particular section is only 13km!
ROSKILDE-GAMMEL LEJRE: 11.91KM
Starting from the Viking harbour this route is very easy and enjoyable. Skjoldungerstien is my favourite trail on Sjælland and if you can't get to hike all the Pilgrim Route, at least pick this one. You can follow it all the way to Hvalsø and it is made even easier by the fact you have 3 train stops, Roskilde, Lejre & Hvalsø.
I could have easily walked further on this stage but finishing at Lejre made it easy for my friends to get back to their cars or homes. It also made it a nice spot to start the next journey, with 2 friends joining me again, we could meet at the station and go from there.
So far during this entire Pilgrim Route, the long asphalt roads from Høj Taastrup to Roskilde have been the worst I've endured. The route was fairly boring in comparison to the others and hard work for the hips and joints after pounding the pavement.
Another successful hiking weekend in the bag though and I was a happy hiker knowing I would be starting the next journey still deep in National Park Skjoldungernes Land.
Thanks for reading and following along on this journey with me. Be kind to nature and each other.