KYST 03 – from Blykobbe Å (Skovly) to Levka 19/01/18

For at læse denne KYST 04 blog på DANSK se her

For an introduction to the KYST project, see here

KYST 03 After a brief walk through the murky woods at Skovly, I arrived at the coast and found the patch of grass where I had concluded KYST 02 the week before. The sun was not yet risen, but already it was apparent that the weather was mild and the snow and ice that covered most of the rest of the island was nowhere to be seen. Even better, there was no wind, and looking up I could see patches of cloudless sky. I sat still as a pair of buzzards drifted just over me, calling plaintively, one settling on the twisted branches of a nearby birch. A jay shrieked just as an energetic flock of siskin bounced past. No one else about. A good start to the day.


I headed north, facing the ragged collection of fishermens’ huts at ‘Sorthat Odde’. The sun had broken the horizon now, and the fine colours together with the contour-like lines of shingle and seaweed left by the waves caught my eye. I made an unsuccessful study of some mosses, lichen and a small dead fish which I found on the water’s edge (a sea trout, a smolt?), and then a charcoal drawing of an incredible root system of a pine tree, perched on the edge of the dune between the beach and the forest. The black centre surrounded by twisted roots looked like a portal to the underworld.

Eventually I continued north, past the huts and the rather feeble but lovingly restored gun emplacements, and up to the edge of ‘Pyritesø’ (Pyrite Lake) an old clay pit now filled with fresh water and separated from the sea by a thin wall of mud, clay and sandstone. It is here, specifically in the Jurassic ironstone deposited as a by-product of the clay extraction, that Bornholm’s dinosaurs have been found (well, their teeth and the odd footprint). I had a quick look for any fossils, but, no luck. Instead I settled on the wall and made some studies of the tufted ducks and Goosanders resting in the calm waters of the lake. Before my lunch I made by a study of the reflections on the far side of the lake. The waves will eventually break through the wall and then the lake’s present shoreline will become part of Bornholm’s coast.


Incredible to think that just a few hundred meters away, deep in the woods, lies the derelict remains of the ‘Hasle Klinker og Charmottesten Fabrik’ a factory extracting first coal, then clay and kaolin, and producing tiles and refractory mateirals. Closed only in 1980, it was the island’s biggest employer, at one point providing the livelihood for over 600 families.

But now, just the odd dog-walker, a few joggers, some canoeists paddling by, and a birdwatcher friend. Looking to the sea I could see bands of rain passing slowly northwards. The edge of one cloud must have just clipped the island, and for a pair of minutes it sleeted a little, followed by a ten minute burst of bright sunlight. Packing up the M60 I trudged northwards again. Here the coast is rather straight and at one point I could see the distant chimneys of Rønne to the South and Hasle to the North, both about 5km distant. Over-heating in all my gear I sat on the beach and watched a male Long-Tailed Duck feeding not far from the shore. It is a fantastic privilege to share time, to really observe a wild creature going about its business. To watch it struggle for survival, a perfectly evolved amalgamation of form and function. The Long Tailed Duck is an tough little bird, and it was extraordinary to imagine it swimming underwater looking for food on the sea bed, as it periodically disappeared from my view with a rather flamboyant dive.


Reaching my destination, Levka, I was tired now and the wind had picked up. The sky and sea were huge and almost absurdly dramatic. I made a painting in ‘strips’, trying in vain to capture, tame or follow the ever changing movement of tone and colour as the sun set behind the clouds. Each time I looked I became aware of new colours and new movement and the overwhelming hugeness of it all together with my tiredness resulted in a complete and thorough exhaustion. This time I was, thankfully, picked up.



Weather report = overcast, but some very brief sunny spells in the afternoon. 0 – 3 °C. Wind 0 – 3 m/s from West. Visibility: Good. Hours of sunshine: 15 minutes.

Lessons learned – Walk slowly. Before you pack up completely, walk ahead a little just to check that something good is not just around the corner.

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometres walked = 5.51km (again!)

Day lasted = 8 hours, 16 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 29 species (12 new ones = running total 35)

Other stuff = A flock of 7 Whooper Swans flew right over my head.

People talked to = 1

In my head = the difference between recording the coastline in a sort of objective and didactic way, and recording my own subjective experiences. The two possible extremes, and the balance between the two. Relationship between observation and perception. Francis Ngannou vs Stipe Miocic. Glad for some birds. Feeling that I’m ‘owed’ some bad weather…

For the full updated map see here

KYST 02 – from Hvideodde to Blykobbe Å, 12/01/18

se denne side på DANSK her

(see here for introduction to the Kyst project)

KYST 02 From the moment I sat down on the grassy knoll where I had finished KYST 01 the previous week, I was aware of the peculiar weather conditions. There was no wind at all and the sea was glassy and mirror-like. A thick layer of low cloud meant that the rising sun was completely hidden. Instead the day started with a slow and almost imperceptible brightening. I could just about make out some feint orange edges on some of the lower clouds, but otherwise it was an almost apologetic start to the day.

I started right where I left off, looking south to the chimneys and church spires of Rønne. My first painting out of the way, I headed north, around the ‘corner’ of Hvidodde and left the town behind me. Now I found myself on ‘Antoinette Beach’, a narrow and gently sloping sandy stretch of coastline stretching north for 10km all the way to Hasle and bordered by a forest of mostly pine, birch and spruce, planted in the 19th century to halt the spread of the migrating sand dunes which threatened the coastal farms at that time. The forest bordering the beach is criss-crossed with innumerable paths for dog walkers, joggers and mountain bikers and, in the summer at least, is Bornholm’s unofficial nudist beach. No luck today though as the beach was almost empty, and I trudged on northwards.

The complete lack of wind meant that it was easy to keep warm, and I didn’t even need to put up the ‘M60’. Stopping by one of the huge granite erratic boulders (‘vandreblokker’) that dot the shore – deposited by retreating glaciers in the last ice age – I struggled to depict the huge sky and sea in all its subtle glory. At first glance, the mirror-like sea seemed to blend almost imperceptibly into the cloud covered sky, but over time I became aware of the incredible and delicate variation in tone and colour. Even more challenging, the everything was changing over time – but so slowly you hardly noticed it. At one point the sea at the horizon would be bronze and darker than the deep violet blue of the clouds it bisected, a moment later, it would be lighter than the clouds and silvery grey. But everything happened so slowly, it was incredible to just sit there at watch it all unfold right in front of me. Amazing.

I had my telescope with me, and the tranquil sea meant I was able to see much further than usual – for miles and miles in all directions. Groups of graceful Great Crested Grebes (store lappedykker) were preening and resting on the undulating waves, and further out a large and active flock of Long Tailed Ducks milled around. A solitary Common Scooter rested close by some Goldeneye. The huge vista, the glass-like sea and the gentle lapping of the wavelets at the water’s edge, together with mournful calls of the Long Tailed Ducks created for a calming, almost soporific spectacle.

The traces of mica and patterns left by retreating waves is definitely something I want to return to.

In the afternoon the sun tried to break thorough, but to no avail. Eventually I reached the mouth of the Blykobbe river, my destination, but the day had passed too quickly again and I had little time to really explore the area. This is one of the places where a kingfisher might turn up in the winter, but no such luck today. I wandered around, tried to get something down but with no great success. But I’ll be back next week, and that is a wonderful thought.

No pick up today, so I had a retrace my steps in the dusk, all the way back to Hvidodde and my waiting car. Thankfully, compared to KYST 01, I had lightened my load a little and the going was not too difficult. The walk back gave me time to reflect on the challenges and encounters of the day. A strange day, a dreamy day, and a real contrast to the frenetic and soggy KYST 01. As before, the question of what and why and how dominated my thoughts. Little or no progress was made in any of those regards, but find solace in the fact that there are still 50 weeks to go…


Weather report = overcast, thick layer of cloud. 1 – 3 °C. Wind 0 – 3 m/s from East. Visibility: Good. Hours of sunshine: none.

Lessons learned – not sure… get there earlier

Stops with the M60 = 0

Kilometres walked = 5.51km (not including walk back)

Day lasted = 7 hours, 17 minutes (ditto)

Birds seen and heard = 17 species (8 new ones = running total 23)

Other stuff = mica lines left by waves

People talked to = 2

In my head = why am I doing this? what am I (supposed to be) looking at/for? relationship between seeing and remembering, poker, trip to Brussels, NaturBornholm commission, dinosaurs, etc, etc,

KYST 01 – from Rønne Havn to Hvideodde, 05/01/18

(See her for an introduction to the KYST project)

KYST 01 began with a touch of the ‘man flu’ and an unfamiliar feeling of apprehension – somewhere between anxiousness and excitement, almost as if I was starting a new job or something. I had arranged to meet Steffan from TV2 Bornholm and Kathrine from Radio P4 Bornholm – both there to cover the start of the ‘journey’. The sun was due to rise at 8:27am, so the plan was to be at the end of the northern pier of Rønne Harbour a little bit before to give me time to set up. On the way down to Rønne Kathrine called to say that there was no public access to the pier, so we raced around to find an alternative start point, which made for a rather farcical start to the project. In the grey drizzling rain, with my ridiculously overpacked rucksack, my ‘M60 Brolly’ (a giant umbrella) and huge chair, it all felt a bit weird, absurd even.

Although not right at the pier’s end, we found a good spot at the entrance of the harbour in the carpark. It seemed like a fitting point to start the journey – the main point of entry to Bornholm with a view of the ‘capital’ Rønne, and its industrial surroundings. I managed a couple of drizzly watercolours, and abandoned a drawing. After an hour or so, Steffan and Kathrine left and I started walking towards the ‘fyldområde’ (loading area) of the harbour, where there are often some quite exciting birds (long and short eared owls, twite and so on) in the colder months. Soon after I started, however, a car pulled up alongside and a rather nervous, but polite, harbour security guard asked me what I was doing. My giant umbrella (well it is called a ‘M60’) had evidently caused some alarm. No problem, I explained what I was doing and he left me to my own devices.

The loading area was rather bleak. It was cold, but thankfully not windy, with bands of fine rain regularly passing through. I put up the M60 and tried to look around and see what was about.

Almost no birds, just a few hooded crows and some distant gulls. So began a bit of soul searching, which was to become a bit of a theme – ‘…What on earth am I doing here? What am I looking at? Where shall I start? Why? and so on. The need to ‘record’ something and the need to let my eye be drawn in. It is very easy to chew over these sort of questions too much, and I always find it best just to do something when paralysed by self-doubt and indecision. So I just lookled around and was drawn into the contrasts between the dull ochres and browns of the grasses and colours of the loading sheds and harbour infrastructure.

After a while I wandered a little around the nearby Nørrekås Marina, where I saw a diseased sea trout floundering around in the shallows. Apprarently it’s normal for this time of the year for their mating-induced abrasions to get infected with bacteria – due in part to the low-saline content of the Baltic Sea.

Next, a brisk walk along the seafront heading north, where I began to regret the fact that I had taken so much gear. I stopped again to sketch my destination point ‘Hvidodde’ in the misty rain, but it was all proving a bit challenging.


Continuing North, just before Rønne’s abbatoir I was forced to a make a diversion ‘inland’ for a little while before I came out on to the coast again, where I set up the M60 again for a quick lunch. The view here is commanding – looking south you can see all of Rønne, while the forested point of Hvidodde can be seen looking north. Only it couldn’t, because at this point visibility was reduced to just a few hundred metres through the misty rain. Looking out over the ocean, enjoying my pot noodle, I did however, manage to see a grey seal bobbing around in the surf, just 20 metres or so from the shore. This is the first time I have ever heard of a seal seen from Bornholm – on the nearby ‘Ertholmer’ islands their incresing numbers are causing much distress to some (and joy to others). Not enough time to sketch it though.

Time was racing and the whole day went by much more quickly than I had imagined. The last leg of my journey was to take me to the final destination at Hvidodde in time for the sunset at 3:44pm. The coast here is wild – there is no beach to speak of, just huge boulders, and there is not really any public access. Some of those lucky enough to have a garden leading down to the coast have built wooden steps down to the sea. Perhaps in the summer at low tide there it is possible to swim from there, but today the water was high and there was very little room. After a while the going got really tough and I began to curse the comfort of my M60 and padded chair. Jumping over slippery boulders with the sea crashing in is no joke (OK it is), and at one point I had to jettison the M60 and chair and take the rucksack on alone. Once I had reached the rather broader beach at Hvidodde I turned back to collect the M60. Then back for the chair. By the end of it I was drenched in sweat and laughing at the utter ridiculousness of the whole situation.

At Hvidodde I quickly set up my gear and looked south back towards Rønne to make one last painting. Working from the left of the paper in 10 minute strips, I had no option other than to try and capture the fading light and rawness of the whole experience – the cold, the rain, my aching limbs and my (now forgotten) man flu…


Weather report = overcast, light rain in morning and afternoon. 3 °C. Wind 2 – 3 m/s. Visibility: poor. Hours of sunshine: none.

Lessons learned – less gear, more painting, day goes more quickly than you think, pay more attention to stuff nearby

Stops with the M60 = 2

Kilometres walked = 7.19km

Day lasted = 7 hours, 25 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 15 species (!)

Other stuff = trout, seal

People talked to = 3

In my head = why am I doing this? what am I (supposed to be) looking at/for? relationship between seeing and remembering, pros and cons of technology and social media, , Black Mirror, Trump, etc, etc, etc

(see here for the updated map in more detail…)