Tuesday 5th July
Leaving for Denmark
After months of waiting, I finally set off for Copenhagen on the morning of Tuesday 5th July. Henry drove me and my 65L rucksack to Gatwick.
I felt pretty confident in my preparation for the trek but worst case scenarios were saturating my mind. What if I got lost to or from the trek? What if it rained a lot and my waterproofs didn’t hold up? Would I be sat shivering in my tent overnight waiting for morning? I knew from the day I booked this in February that the week before I would be very nervous. That’s just how I am. This was very much outside my comfort zone and I was questioning my own sanity for choosing to do it.
The night before I left for the trek, a lovely Swedish woman messaged the facebook group offering a lift from Malmö all the way across Denmark from Copenhagen to the start in Funen. She Kindly collected me and drove me all the way. I kept dozing off in the car as we drove. I remember trying to keep my eyes open as we crossed the amazing Storebælt Bridge. Sleepiness the result of my 3.30am start that morning.
The worst part of my trip was the latter half of the Tuesday before the start. I had to wait for a bus to the campsite in Svendborg station and I couldn’t find any Gluten Free food in the small town. My fear grew as this was the second largest town on the island. As I waited in a grimy train station, hikers began to arrive and after a few hours we all packed into a bus the organisers had arranged to take us the 45minutes to Faldsled, our start point.
The village campsite was really great, a beautiful lawned area overlooking the sea towards Jutland. Unfortunately I was so nervous by this point that I struggled horribly with home sickness and couldn’t eat. It felt strange to be surrounded by people speaking languages that I couldn’t comprehend, it compounded my anxious sensation of feeling very far from home. I zipped myself inside my tent that night, wishing I could press a button and be transported home to my bed.
wednesday 8th july
I had a surprisingly good sleep in my tent given how miserable I felt the night before. I woke to a bright, windy Wednesday morning. My start time wasn’t until 9.30 and I hadn’t met anyone else who was in this group so I was surprised to see other Fjällräven hikers leaving before 8. Not wanting to miss anything I packed up quickly and set off up the road towards Faldsled Havn.
I walked purposely back towards the harbour I’d visited the night before and found a hive of activity. The blue Fjällräven tents (soon to become a welcome sight) held volunteers checking in queues of my fellow walkers. There was a watering station, a Fjällräven pop up shop and a row of tables laden with rations for our first day on the trek. After collecting my food and water for the first day I repacked my back and went to weigh it. At 14.5kg it was the heaviest I’d known but I was reassured by a volunteer that this was an average weight. A welcome board listed the oldest and youngest aged participants as well as the predicted forecast for our first day.
I felt a little on edge watching the first and second groups of walkers set off at 9am and 9.15am. Even knowing I only had 15minutes to wait I still felt insecure about what I was doing and fearful of being left behind. A feeling that stayed with me during the trek, especially when I found myself walking alone. In these moments I kept a forward pace, reluctant to relax and enjoy the surroundings whilst a competitive voice in my head repeated: ’you could be quicker, you could get there sooner’. On day 3 I walked alongside two seasoned veterans of the FJ Classics and they both reminded me what I knew deep down the trek was about; moving through the landscape to experience the beauty of the natural world. This is one trip where I didn’t stop to take lots of photos – very unlike me.
For much of Day 1, I walked within a long spread of hikers, all donning neon orange FC tabards on our rucksacks. It was good to see the orange squares in the distance and know I was headed in the same direction as other walkers. On our first day we covered the longest distance. I appreciate the route managers wisdom of covering the hardest climbs and longest walk when we’re at our freshest; mind, body and feet!
The trek started at the harbour, we walked along the coast before marching back along the village of Faldsled, past the village campsite and into a beautiful forest. The houses in Faldsled and throughout Funen were all charmingly individual. There were old stone barns, thatched cottages and an abundance of colour. Each house looked like a different chocolate box fairy tale cottage.
The first day we walked through the highest landscape of Funen Island. We climbed steadily up Svanninge Bakker moorland hills then down again before ascending up Lerjberg in Svanninge Bjerge, elevated 126m above sea level and affording a magnificent view of the sea below. Although gradual, the climb felt much higher with a heavy rucksack behind me. The day was warm and sunny but a gentle breeze kept me walking. I was pleasantly surprised that I could handle the walk with relative ease and I didn’t stop for any real breaks. Next time I’ll take more time to stop and soak in the surroundings.
Reaching the first Campsite was fantastic. I arrived at approximately 4pm. I had walked the latter part of the day alone and was thrilled to find the Fjällräven flags ahead of me and a welcome smile from volunteers checking weary walkers into camp. Hiking pass stamped, I collected more provisions for the next day and headed towards a second field where more volunteers guided us to our tent pitches. I was pretty tired by this point and I heard warnings of incoming rain at 6pm so with aching legs I set my rucksack down and dragged my tent up. I knew as soon as I stoped and sat down I’d became too stiff to move. There’s something comforting and satisfying about carrying your house around with you like a tortoise. Setting up home as and where you choose. Within a few minutes I was cosied next to my pop up home, happy to lay undisturbed on the ground for the foreseeable future. 26.4km done.