LAND 22 The dry sunny weather on Bornholm continues. Bleary-eyed and underslept I continued along the path following the Læså downstream. The cool morning air was bursting with wren song and the heavy scent of wild garlic. The first golden beams of light from the rising sun glowed ember-like on the twisted tree trunks and branches.
To my left, the fields and to my right, the densely wooded valley down to the stream – now appreciably lower since last Friday.
I arrived at Limensgadebrud, an overgrown quarry where layers of slate and limestone meet. I basked in the sun, trying to warm up. A white wagtail flitted about.
I headed north and then east, headed towards the pastures of Ugleenge, where horses grazed, surrounded by dense swathes of cow parsley and blossoming hawthorns. I tried to walk to Bosthøj, but the path ended suddenly. Returning to Ugleenge, I tried to capture the dizzying abundance of the blossoming hawthorn bushes. The hypnotic and rather grating song of whitethroats filled the air.
Close to the road I stopped by another small and overgrown quarry – sandstone this time. The view south, all the way to the sea, encompassed the site where an army of Bornholmians had fought against their Lubeckian overlords in 1625. This area is also botanically significant – the thin soils have meant it has never been ploughed – but I was not able to find any orchids in the tall grass.
Heading north on a track through an oilseed rape field I crossed the old railway track – completely erased now, with only a small line of trees betraying its presence. In front of some overgrown farm outbuildings, I saw a hare nibbling on some weeds. Instead of hunkering down or bolting as I approached, it carried on eating. Through my binoculars I was close enough to see that it was blind in one eye.
I had reached Klintebakken, one of the areas on Bornholm where the geological fault zone running through the island is particularly obvious. Here granite and sandstone, divided by 1.2 billion geological years, meet. This is fittingly the site of ‘NaturBornholm’, the island’s Discovery, Science and Nature centre. In their small pond I watched smooth and great-crested newts swimming and cavorting in the water like tiny dragons. In front of the visitor centre even larger dragons were lurking.
The gneiss bedrock sits high over the flat landscape of Bornholm.
Layers of Balka and Nexø sandstone have been lifted by powerful forces.
I arrived at the Strøby sandstone quarry, well known for its fossilised seabed, where I had been looking forward to exploring and painting the pondlife – but time was running out. I made a quick sketch of the stony ripples, perfectly side-lit by the low sun.
The last hour or so was a delicious brisk evening walk through quiet country roads up towards the village of Aakirkeby. The wind had died down now and the sun cast a golden light. Nightingale song mixed with the heady aroma of hawthorn. Some poppy flowers blushed impossibly bright in a field, but I had only time enough to make a quick sketch.
Though I was only a five-minute drive from my house, I’d never walked to Aakirkeby before, and I felt somehow connected to Bornholm-past – walking over the fields towards the church. Just before I arrived at my destination I walked through a small wood where the last rays of the sun were cast – like glowing embers no less – on the twisted trunks and branches of the trees. The day was over and had ended just as it had begun, 17 hours earlier.
WEATHER REPORT – Sunny most of the day. Temperature 7 – 15 degrees. Wind 2 – 6 m/s changeable. Hours of precipitation: 0 hours. Hours of sunshine: 15.5 hours.
STOPS with the BIVVY – 0
KILOMETRES WALKED – 15.92 km
DAY LASTED – 17h and 1 m
PEOPLE TALKED TO – 2
BIRDS SEEN and HEARD – 45 species: 1 new (sedge warbler) running total = 112 species
LESSONS LEARNED – shoes and legs get completely soaked walking through wet grass
IN MY HEAD – newts