LAND 03 – Studeby to Østermarie church, 20.01.23

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LAND 03 In the frigid dawn, as I unpacked my gear on the corner of Studebyvej and Flæskedalsvej, I heard the evocative call of a crane for the first time this year. A hundred metres or so away, the crane paced slowly around a field, pausing periodically to trumpet into the grey sky. The crane’s mournful and haunting call would follow me for several hours as I wandered slowly eastward, echoing over the frozen fields and through the cold, still air.

There was no wind, it was dry and just over 0 degrees – perfect weather for a day painting in the field. All week I had been struggling with oil paintings in the studio, so I was looking forward to watercolours and being in the landscape. The sky was a heavy pewter grey, the sodden fields were umber, ochre, and green. The previous week’s rainfall had collected and frozen in the fields.

Flæskedalsvej, looking North
Studebyvej, looking North

I headed east on Flæskedalsvej, a narrow and very quiet road with a patchwork of small farms, cottages, woods, and fields. I walked into a small private woodland that felt very seldom visited. I focused on the sounds – the Cretaceous screech of a jay, the ‘chup…chup’ of the Greater Spotted Woodpecker, the distant mewing of a buzzard – but there were long periods of silence, and it was incredibly peaceful.

Looking North from the corner of Åløsevej and Flæskedalsvej

Later I crossed the main road and headed south again, skirting ‘Almindingen’ the large forest in the centre of the island which I will be visiting several times during the course of this year. I made camp and watched the fields from inside the shelter of the woods.

From the wood, looking East

Despite the dry forecast, there had been periodic snow and sheet showers all morning, and now a fine misty rain set in. I headed east again over a more flat and open landscape – less shelter and larger fields. As the weather worsened my mood darkened and my eye was dragged repeatedly towards the huge industrial silos, mobile phone masts, and gigantic pig sheds that dominated the horizon.

Ellebygård, from Kirkeskolevej

Eventually I arrived at my destination – Østermarie Church. I drifted around the beautifully maintained graveyard before settling within the shelter of the womb-like apse of the original, ruined, church, dating from the 12th century. From here I was able to see the tower of the new church, built at the end of the 19th century. Soon after the clock struck 4 pm, the sun slipped imperceptibly behind the horizon and my day was done.

From the apse of the ruined church

LAND 03

WEATHER REPORT – Overcast with snow, sleet and rainy periods. Temperature between 0 and 2 degrees. Wind 4 m/s from the southwest and west. Hours of precipitation: 3 hours. Hours of sunshine: 0 hours.

STOPS with the BIVVY – 1

KILOMETRES WALKED – 10.30 km

DAY LASTED – 8h and 6 m

PEOPLE TALKED TO – 0 (I don’t think I even saw a living person the whole day, apart from a few motorists and couple of mountain bikers)

BIRDS SEEN and HEARD – 26 species: Six new (Canada goose, Common crane, Woodcock, Siskin, Goldcrest, Treecreeper, running total = 35 species)

LESSONS LEARNED – If your tracksuit bottoms get knotted, untie the knot there and then – instead of waiting until you need to go to the loo again.

IN MY HEAD – In the morning, when not painting, my thoughts drifted to Downton Abbey (aaagh!), ‘Song 1’ by Superbandet, and my children in Nepal, Paris and Copenhagen – and in the afternoon, Biogas, intensive agriculture, environmental pollution, the power and interests of the individual, business, the state, compensation, greenwashing, capitalism, growth, equitable society, and a lot more…

LAND 02 – Skrullevej to Studeby, 13.01.23

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LAND 02 After last week’s frigid baptism, I was relieved to see that a dry day with sunny spells was forecast. As I walked along the empty country road the sun eventually rose above the clouds and cast a golden light across the waterlogged fields.

Skrullevej mod syd

Turning left at Risenholmvej I found myself in a more sheltered area with some fine old Black Poplar trees bordering the meandering road. I walked along a track towards Risen, a small, forested remnant of a once much larger network of woodlands that stretched along the eastern side of Bornholm. Deep in the wood I came across Bøgebjerg, a burial mound dating from the Bronze age. On top of the mound some small stone graves were not particularly impressive in themselves, but nevertheless the area felt wonderfully ancient and peaceful. I still had not seen a living person.

View from the top of Bøgebjerg

Coming out of the wood at Åløsevej, I had hoped to continue into Kløvedal, but the area was closed for hunting. Instead, I headed back into the wood and stopped by a small stream. I had never been there before, much less known of its existence, and I made a mental note to return in the Spring.

Small stream in Risen

I continued northwards along the empty country road. I’m beginning to recognize the rhythms of the agricultural landscape – the fields: ploughed and unploughed, browns and greens, the small woods, the distant gables of the scattered houses and the industrial farms with huge sheds and silo towers. I thought about how the agricultural landscape has always been changing and our relationship with the land. I thought about how different LAND is to KYST.

Eventually I doubled back on myself and walked along the cycle path across some fields and into a wooded area, where the recent rain had flooded some meadows. I ambled along. Very few birds were about, and none sang. It was deep winter. As I approached my pickup point at Studeby I was rewarded with a brief but intense sunset.

Some strange fungi growing on an old tree stump

LAND 02

WEATHER REPORT – Windy and mostly sunny. Temperature around 6 degrees. Wind 10 – 15 m/s from the southwest and west. Hours of precipitation: 0 hours. Hours of sunshine: 5 hours.

STOPS with the BIVVY – 1

KILOMETRES WALKED – 11.14 km

DAY LASTED – 7h and 45 m

PEOPLE TALKED TO – 1

BIRDS SEEN and HEARD – 23 species: Five new (Long-tailed tit, Greater spotted woodpecker, Hawfinch, Tree Sparrow, Red kite, Greylag goose) running total = 28 species

LESSONS LEARNED – My fold-out chair has pointed feet that sink into the mud as soon as I sit on it. I need to sort that out.

IN MY HEAD – Biogas. And I was thinking and worrying about my youngest daughter’s imminent departure to Nepal – alone.

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LAND 01 – The beach at Saltuna to Skrullevej, 06.01.23

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LAND 01 I walked from the main road down to the beach. As I unpacked my gear and looked around at the boiling waves and leaden sky, a lone sparrowhawk suddenly flew low and fast across the beach before disappearing into a nearby wood. I took that as a good omen and the official start of the LAND project.

The Kelse stream emptying out onto the beach at Saltuna

Packing up my gear I started walking inland up a small road, not along the coastline as I had done during the KYST project – this felt very strange and significant. The road climbed quite steeply, and I turned often and looked back at the horizon and the sea. It was cold and windy and soon started sleeting.

Looking down Saltunavej towards the sea

I managed to make a few small sketches, but soon found myself in the middle of a sleety blizzard. I walked through a dull grey landscape of fields and farms, the sea no longer visible. The road continued to rise, eventually flattening out into an undulating terrain divided by the deep and narrow forested dells of the Kelse and Rise streams. Through the curtains of sleet and rain I could intermittently make out huge industrial agricultural buildings and silos silhouetted against the sky.

Risegaard seen from Kirkebyvej
Risegaard seen from Risevej

The weather conditions were brutal, and the visibility was poor. I eventually made camp with my new ‘bivvy’ in a small wood where I heated up some food. Though I was glad for some shelter I struggled to keep dry, warm, and positive. I thought about the landscape and how it has been transformed by industrial agriculture – my negative thoughts doubtlessly influenced by the news that the huge biogas plant right next to my home is planning to expand.

my new ‘Bivvy’ shelter and chair – much lighter than the old M60…
The view from the edge of the wood

I walked over slushy waterlogged fields and found myself at Solhøj, an old ‘Bavnehøj’ where in times gone by people would light fires to warn of each other of impending danger.

Risehøj

I trudged on, my walking boots waterlogged now, and made camp again in a small wood on Skrullevej, where I had arranged to be picked up. A single male bullfinch perched nearby, his brilliant carmine breast shockingly pink against all the whites, browns and greys. Of course, no sunset or indeed any sign that the day was over, other than a gradual darkening of the gunmetal sky.

View from the edge of the wood

LAND 01

WEATHER REPORT – Snow, sleet and rain for most of the day. Temperature between 2 and 4 degrees. Wind 10 – 15 m/s from the south and then south west. Hours of precipitation: 6.5 hours. Hours of sunshine: 0 hours.

STOPS with the BIVVY – 2

KILOMETRES WALKED – 11.34 km

DAY LASTED – 7h and 35 m

PEOPLE TALKED TO – 1

BIRDS SEEN and HEARD – 22 species

LESSONS LEARNED – I was trying out loads of new gear, so learned loads. Most of all, however, I learned that my gloves, boots and waterproof trousers, are not as waterproof as I thought.

IN MY HEAD – mostly I was struggling to keep my spirits up: on the one hand happy to be out, but on the other hand wishing to be home and dry. I thought often about the Biogas expansion plans and what I was going to do about it.

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