LAND 06 – Lyrehøj to ibsker church – 10.02.23

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LAND 06 From my vantage point at the bend of the road I counted no less than seven hares together in one field – first resting, then energetically chasing each other across the stubble and disturbing the feeding rooks and wood pigeons. Not quite a sign of spring, but certainly a sign of late winter and longer days.

Dawn an hour or so earlier had started with the sunrise hidden behind the clouds, but now the sun was shining, and I was excited to see what the day would bring. I headed north and then east, firstly making some small sketches of interesting geometric shapes, then spending far too long trying to capture the tonal and chromatic relationships between the sky, the sea and the fields.

A well-mown dog walkers’ path took me to the Vasa stream, which I followed upstream for a while, soon arriving at the mighty ‘Great Oak’ of Vasa – in whose company I spent several devotional hours, marveling at the deeply rutted bark and expansive crooked limbs. Well over 300 years old, this is officially Bornholm’s thickest tree and well deserving of its title.

Feeling energised and positive, I headed south again, up into an expansive and gently undulating landscape, cloaked in a patchwork of ochres, umbers and greens and framed by the steely blue of the Baltic Sea. I stopped to sketch one of the many ‘høje’ – burial mounds – that were scattered across the landscape. This area had been the site of ‘Sorte Muld’ an important religious centre in the years 300 – 600 AD and is today an important archaeological location where thousands of tiny gold amulets have been discovered.

As I stood sketching, I became aware of a very distant high-pitched sound. My first thought was lapwings, but it was much too early in the year, and the sound was much more insistent and melodic. Perhaps it was the wind blowing through overhead cables – but again, far too melodious, and intricate. Perhaps it was the chanting of iron-age druids carried through time? Then suddenly it dawned on me – the noise I was hearing was the singing of the gibbons that lived in ‘Brændegaardshaven’ a nearby zoo/amusement park. The wind was blowing their incredible and mournful song across the valley right to where I was standing. It was unsettling and enormously incongruous to hear their calls carried across the freezing Baltic wind, so far from their steamy rainforest home in Southeast Asia. But it was also incredibly moving and beautiful.

I walked on. Down and closer to Svaneke again, where I was attracted by the jumbled skyline of sheds, silos, the windmill and farms.

Svaneke seen from Korshøje

For the last time, I doubled back and headed southwest again. Soon I arrived at Hallebrøndshøj passage grave. Long before Sorte Muld emerged as a power, this area had been settled, and some time around 5.500 years ago the local farming community had constructed this burial site. Incredibly I could crawl into the grave chamber where, on a bed of dry leaves and protected from the burgeoning winds, I sat and enjoyed a warm coffee and got to work.

From the inside looking out
From the outside looking in

A few hours later a fine mist descended, and the day was over. I trudged all the way back to where I had left the car as dusk fell, exhausted but full of extraordinary memories and experiences.


WEATHER REPORT – cloudy start, then some hazy sunshine, then cloudy in the afternoon. Temperature between 4 and 6 degrees. Wind 8 – 10 m/s from the southwest and northwest. Hours of precipitation: 0 hours. Hours of sunshine: 5 hours.

STOPS with the BIVVY – 0


DAY LASTED – 9h and 28 m

PEOPLE TALKED TO – 1 (while sitting in the passage grave, I heard voices – a man and his young son were visiting. They got quite a shock when they saw me inside. They were the only people I saw all day).

BIRDS SEEN and HEARD – 24 species: two new (grey heron and starling, running total = 47 species)


IN MY HEAD – I was thinking of how different LAND is from my KYST trip, in so many ways. I feel like I’m starting to get a feel for rural Bornholm – the fields, valleys, woods and farms – and the LAND project has completely taken over my life.