KYST 07 – from Helligpeder to Jons Kapel, 16/2/18

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KYST 07 Overcast, cold and facing an onshore wind, Helligpeder presented a bleaker prospect than it had during last week’s visit. Squadrons of cormorants flew over the agitated waves. A pair of swans took shelter in the harbour, the only noise the grinding of a digger repairing one of the harbor arms. There was not a soul to be seen save the digger operator, who must have started work even earlier than me.


I walked northwards, at first on the beach and then on the road when the going was too hard. Groups of flightly mallards sheltered from the waves amongst the huge erratic boulders that skirted the shore. Soon I had reached Teglkås, another tiny fishing harbour, almost a carbon copy of Helligpeder. Here too generations of fisherman and their families had based their lives around the catching and processing of herring, cod and salmon. According to an information panel in the harbor, there was only one commercial vessel still registered at the harbor.

At some point between Helligpeder and Teglkås I must have crossed the ‘Tornquist Zone’, a geological boundary between the younger rocks of south of the island and the older bedrock of the north – a crustal boundary that runs from Norway all the way to the Caspian Sea. Stepping from the Jurassic sandstone of Hellipeder to the gneiss of Teglkås was effectively a journey of a thousand million years. I stopped just before Ginesminde, the last house before the cliffs really started, and previously a cafe.


At this point the coastal path turns into the woods and up over the cliffs. I thought I’d try to see if I could walk all along the shore to my destination Jons Kapel, where I knew there was a wooden staircase that would take me up the cliffs and back to my pick-up point. The shore was strewn with slippery granite boulders of all shapes and sizes and hard going. I stumbled and tripped, laden with my ridiculous unwieldy rucksack, chair, drawing panels and umbrella. I stopped for some food and marveled at the lichen diversity on the boulders. Here I really felt far from the madding crowd.


Finally I rounded a small cape and could see the strange and impressive granite formation of Jons Kapel (‘John’s Church’), framed by the vertical white cliffs of ‘Hvidkleven’ further north.


As I settled down in front of Jons Kapel the sun suddenly started to shine – surely a good omen, for here I was supposedly at the site of Bornholm’s conversion to Christianity. According to legend, Jon was a hermit who gave sermons from the cave at the bottom of the cliff, eventually climbing to the ‘pulpit’ at the top of the cliff, when space ran out. With the constant roar of the waves, the awkward boulders and the steep cliffs, it is difficult to imagine a less agreeable spot for introducing a new religion. In any case, the ‘church’ lit by the sun was a marvelous sight, clad in a rainbow of lichens and mosses (see image at top)


Soon the sun retreated behind a band of clouds and the wind increased in intensity. I retraced my steps a little and made some studies of the cormorants perching on the cliffs. Many of the birds were engaged in a rather half-hearted courtship display, arching their backs and wafting their wings provocatively, before giving up and looking around, seemingly a litte embarrassed. Still, a sign of the impeding spring, though spring itself still feels very far way.


By now it was spitting and I made my way back to the Jons Kapel and climbed up the huge wooden staircase to the top of the cliffs. Here, gazing down at the granite cliffs, I made my last painting in the gloom and the rain, and trudged off, absolutely exhausted, to my lift home. For the first time, I had not seen or spoken to a single soul all day.



Weather report: overcast with some sunny spells in the afternoon, 2 to 4 °C, wind 6 to 9 m/s from west. Visibility: bad. Hours of sunshine: 2

Lessons learned – walking on granite boulders is not fun. You need to peg the brolly down in even minimal winds (boulders are not good enough)

Stops with the M60 = 2

Kilometers walked = 8.18km

Day lasted = 9 hours, 52 minutes

Birds seen and heard = only 17 species (1 new one, a razorbill, though not perching on the cliffs unfortunately = running total 42)

Other stuff = looked for ‘dragons gold’ moss, but couldn’t find any

People talked to = 0

In my head = chess moves constantly running in an unarticulated way in the background of my consciousness (without actually thinking, I move boulders across my vision as if playing a game of chess)