When in Denmark: Embracing a great outdoors swimming with pursuits

For the water lovers: sailing, surfing and spear fishing; for the landlubbers: biking, hiking and hunting

You wouldn’t live in Surfers Paradise in Queensland, Australia and not surf, would you? Likewise, you wouldn’t be a resident of Monaco and not like a flutter in the casino.

But hundreds of thousands live in Denmark without ever really spending quality time in its beautiful nature, where a host of different activities await you.

The big outdoors
While over half of Denmark is taken up by arable land – it was, after all, often referred to as Germany’s larder during the first half of the 20th century – 16 percent consists of forest and heath, and 7 percent of wilderness areas such as lakes, bogs and meadows.

And then there is the coastline. Some 7,314 kilometres long, it has the 16th longest in the world – outstripping Chile and even India!

Get cracking!
So for those of you who feel that these opportunities are a little wasted, now’s the time to step up and introduce a shot of adrenaline into your life and embrace these activities.

Looking for an outdoor pursuit that doesn’t involve a ball but in which you can still pull together as a team? The rowing community is always looking for more members, and it’s a complete myth that only giants fit in. After all, 2012 Olympic gold medalist Rasmus Quist was only 173 cm! So why not try it out at a special free trial session organised by Roforeningen KVIK (Strandvænget 53, Cph Ø) on April 5. It will provide you with everything you need to know about rowing and the club, and a chance to try it out!
What you need:
*Wear running clothes or similar
*Be able to swim 300 metres and be at least 12!

Denmark isn’t the next Hawaii or Australia, but given its weather conditions, big waves aren’t an abnormality along the west coast of Jutland, especially between Klitmøller and Agger, where you’ll find plenty of would-be surfers cutting their teeth ahead of heading off to sunnier climes. Conversely perhaps, the tendency for strong wind but small waves in Danish waters favours windsurfing, although the country is yet to produce a serious challenger in the sport. Kitesurfing, in which competitors perform tricks as opposed to race each other, is another popular surfing pastime. Combining aspects from snowboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, skateboarding and gymnastics, it is becoming one of the ultimate sports for adrenaline junkies.
What you need:
*A surfboard
*A wetsuit
*Understanding of currents

With all the fishing, spear fishing and surfing going on, it would be foolhardy (but don’t “kiss me Hardy”) not to mention sailing. Whether it’s a rowing, sailing or speedboat, a kayak, canoe or pedalo, or even a floating spa, given the proximity of water, you’re never far away from a rental company in this country. But most of that is child’s play, so given that this is the home of the Vikings and Olympic gold medalist Paul Elvstrøm, isn’t it time you learned how to sail – like properly. The Royal Danish Yacht Club is offering a 16-week sailing course starting on April 27 (prices start at 2,400 kroner – learn more at kdy.dk). Completing the course will earn you a sailing licence. But if you insist on kayaking, you must try Amager Rundt, a 45 km course around the capital island.
What you need:
*A licence if your boat has an engine
*A life jacket
*Knowledge of steering a boat

With its ludicrously long coastline, and over 5,000 lakes, Denmark has a great selection of places to fish. Whether it’s spin fishing, fly fishing or beginner level fishing, or big fish lakes, ordinary freshwater lakes, freshwater streams, the sea or out at sea, Denmark has the perfect conditions.
Along the seashore, Jutland’s west coast offers the best conditions thanks to its large population of cod, flatfish, and mackerel. From there, sail a cutter to the Yellow Reef – remember your motion sickness pills because it’s going to get rough! – where most of the country’s biggest fish records have been set. Heading freshwater, but staying in Jutland, the Brede Å, Kongeå, Skjernå and Varde Å streams are all recommended for monster trout and salmon. Fyn’s seashore is also highly recommended, particularly for trout, while the Øresund is good for trout and cod – especially during the winter. Staying in Zealand, the freshwater lakes at Furesø and Esrum are famed for their recordbreaking pike and perch, and Isefjorden is another excellent location for trout.
What you need:
*A Danish fishing licence
*A rod, fishing line, fly/hook
*Rubber boots (recommended)
*Waders (for sea fishing)

When most people think of spear fishing (or speargun hunting), they remember the James Bond film ‘Thunderball’ – “I think he got the point” – and that lurid red wetsuit deep down underwater off the coast of the Bahamas. After all, there was no bigger fan of the pastime than his creator, Ian Fleming, who hunted daily at Goldeneye, his home in Jamaica. However, in reality speargun hunters don’t use any scuba gear as they rarely leave the surface, surveying the marine wildlife through their masks with a gun that is rubber or air-powered, or a hand-held spear.
This tends to make the pastime tricky during the summer as most fish seek out deeper waters due to the heat – remember that it’s illegal to spear fish in freshwater areas – so your best bet is trying it out in the spring or the autumn. In Zealand, Asnæs is recommended for flatfish, while the north coast is good for mullet, flounder and turbot, as is Sejerø Bay, which also provides good conditions for flatfish and dab. The best place, however, is Jutland, and particularly around Djursland and Hirsholm, which both offer large populations of coal-fish, sea-bass and cod, with the latter also offering superb conditions for mullet. On Funen, Kerteminde and the north shore around Sprogø is excellent for mullet and cod.
What you need:
*A Danish fishing licence
*A spear gun or a hand spear, and a knife
*A wetsuit (highly recommended)
*A diver’s mask, snorkel and swimming fins
*A lead belt and attachable buoy (so boats can see you)

Look away now if you think every species is sacred, because it’s bad news. Despite many being protected by hunting laws, the vast majority of animals in Denmark are fair game – provided it’s the right season. The difficulty is finding somewhere to do it; you can’t just go out into the wilderness and start shooting – this isn’t America. Your first step should be to either join a club or befriend a club member. This will enable you to approach licenced estate owners to receive permission to hunt on their grounds. In Zealand, roe deer and birds (especially mallards, greylag geese, pheasants, pigeons) are the most popular prey. Among the best estates are Bielefeld, Giesegård, Bregentved, Gisselfeldt and Svenstrup gods. But for the Danish ‘big game’, head to Jutland! Wild fallow deer and red deer tick both boxes, as not only is venison an exquisite meat, but they also make good trophies. Especially Skagen and the northern part of Djursland are home to some of the biggest populations of the highly coveted red deer.
What you need:
*A valid hunter’s license
*A rifle, shotgun or bow
*Appropriate clothing
*Knowledge of hunting etiquette and tradition
*Knowledge of Danish wildlife

Hiking is a perfect way of getting fresh air into your lungs without getting exhausted, and while Denmark’s countryside isn’t too hilly, it’s still beautiful, boasting a huge variety of flora and numerous footpaths to follow. For Copenhageners, their first choice should be Jægersborg Dyrehave where 2,000-plus deer inhabit an 11 sq km area full of ancient oak trees. Lille Vildmose in the eastern part of Jutland between Randers and Aalborg is also exceptional and the only part of the country where you might encounter wild boar, eagles, cranes, beavers, red deer and moose. Also recommended are the islands of Bornholm and Møn, and Mols Bjerge.
What you need:
*A pair of comfortable shoes
*Appropriate clothes and a hat
*Water and some food
*Access to a map

Really, it should be called hill biking, as the highest point in Denmark is only 170.86 metres above sea level. Still, there are plenty of off-road tracks in the country that offer good exercise, fresh air and an adrenaline-inducing challenge. A good mountain bike is essential, as its features – such as a shock-absorbing front fork and wide wheels with a rough tread – are designed to enhance durability and performance in rough terrain. Be warned that some locations forbid mountain biking because the rough wheels tear the ground up. While flat Zealand and Fyn have limited possibilities restricted to the odd wood and bog, they still have a number of locations where challenging tracks have been set out. Try the Red Track in Hareskoven, Store Dyrehave in Hillerød and Teglstrup Hegn if you’re near the capital; the Blue Track at Himmerlev or Bidstrup skovene in Roskilde elsewhere; Trunderupskoven, Kongebroskoven and Langesøskoven on Funen; and finally Klinteskoven on Møn. Jutland with its more hilly terrain is the best option if you want to test yourself. Try Mols Bjerge, Hasle Bakker, Rold Skov, Fussing Lake and the Hammer Hills.
What you need:
*A mountain bike, rented or bought
*A helmet
*A good level of fitness