Below the surface

It had become time to head west and south from Viborg to Varde. Varde is a town in the southwestern part of Denmark, and this small town, (app. 14.000 inhabitants) was to be the second to last stop on our vacation. But we still had a lot to see and experience, and the first thing came right after we had left Viborg.

In the article "All God's churches, great and small" I mentioned the calcium mines near Viborg. As we hadn't visited them on the first two days in and around town, we felt that now was the time. Both Mønsted Kalkgruber og Daugbjerg Kalkgruber is near the road from Viborg to Holstebro, and as we were heading in that direction anyway, it wouldn't be much of a detour. From our hotel to Mønsted were only about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles), so that was our first goal. When we got there, the mines weren't open yet, so we just stayed in the car until opening time. When a guy came out and hoisted the flag, we decided, that now was the time.

We bought our tickets, including tickets to a small mine train, that would take us to the actual mine. It's extra, as you can walk as well. The train was leaving 20 minutes later, so we spent some time in the museum, that was telling about the calcium production, that has taken place in the area for more than 500 years, but it stopped in 1953. After looking at the museum, we returned to the train for the 5 minute trip to the mine. The calcium mines in Mønsted is the largest of it's kind in Europe. 60 kilometers (40 miles) of mine tunnels on six levels. Only a couple of kilometers are open to the public though. We left the train and walked around the mine tunnels, enjoying the 12 degree centigrade and the many small lakes made from water dripping from the ceiling of the tunnels. A part of the mine is used to mature cheese for the large Danish dairy company, Arla. It is later sold in shops as "Grubeost" ("mine cheese"). I went to look at the facility, but as Tim doesn't like cheese, he didn't come along. When I returned we saw the rest of the open tunnels, then returned to the small station and took the train back to the entrance.

Next stop was only a few miles further down the road. In Daugbjerg there is no mine train, so you have to walk a bit. On that particular day it was very humid and hot, and I felt like being in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina on a rainy summers day. Once more we paid the entrance fee, and entered the mine. It is not as big as the one in Mønsted - of course as those was the largest in Europe. But Daugbjerg Kalkgruber is much older. Calcium has been mined here since the 6th century, making it a continuous mine for almost 1.500 years. In the early 17th century, the mines was a hideout for a famous Danish outlaw, Jens Langkniv (Jens Long Knife), whom later legends has turned into a Danish version of Robin Hood, which he actually was not. Probably I will tell about Jens Langkniv on my Historic Story page some day. Also in Daugbjerg cheese are matured, but for a small dairy and in much smaller scale. Both mines are a refuge for several species of bats, mostly pond bats, but we didn't se any as they stay in the deeper parts of the mines, that are not open to the public.

After our visit to the mines we continued west through the town of Holstebro, and then turned south. Not too far south of Holstebro is a small village called Tim, and Tim wanted to visit that village, so that he could have his picture taken next to the entry sign. So we did and put it on his Facebook profile naming it "Tim in Tim". From Tim we continued south and west. Tim would like to see a place where he had spent some holidays with his grandparents years ago, and I wanted so see a lake. The lake was closer, so we did make our first stop here. In spite of the name, Stadil Fjord, it is not a fjord but a freshwater lake - actually the second largest lake in Denmark, when it comes to surface area. It is rather shallow though, so many lakes has a larger volume. When we saw a sign directing to the lake, we took that road. It ended at a narrow causeway leading to an island, called Hindø. We left the car and crossed the causeway on foot. The island is protected due to the birds nesting here, but we didn't se many as they were hiding in the reeds, that surrounded the island. We didn't stay long on the island, but returned to the mainland, and headed for Søndervig, Tims goal. On our way there we stopped in Ringkøbing, another small town, to get something to eat.

When we got to Søndervig, Tim wanted to see two tings. First of all the hotel where he had stayed with his grandparents, and second a German World War II bunker of which there are plenty along the west coast of Jylland. After our visit here, we continued south across a narrow isthmus between Ringkøbing Fjord and The North Sea. The isthmus is called Holmslands Klit, and around half the way is the small fishing town of Hvide Sande, where we made a stop, so I could take some pictures.

When we had passed the isthmus, we took a detour to Tipperne, a bird sanctuary, where saw some birds, and an even larger number of tourists. From there we continued to our hotel in Varde. When we had gotten our room, we drove to the center of town and had dinner at an excellent restaurant called Kong Svends Bøfhus (King Svend's Steakhouse). After we dinner we returned to the hotel and relaxed for the rest of the evening.

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