The Marguerite Trail along the west coast of Jutland
The Marguerite Trail is a route that leads motorists all over Denmark, following only the most attractive roads. It was officially opened in 1991 by HRH Queen Margrethe II. It is almost 3,600 km long, of which 550 km are in West Jutland.
The route of the Marguerite Trail through West Jutland starts in the small town of Rudbøl, where the border between Denmark and Germany actually runs right along the main street. Travelling north, you will first pass through the marshes that border the Wadden Sea – a unique landscape that is to be elevated to National Park status in 2010.
From here, it is not far to Ribe, the oldest city in Denmark in its present form. Ribe, which will celebrate its 1300th anniversary in 2010, is still dominated today by the magnificent cathedral that towers protectively above all the old houses that line the narrow, mediaeval streets. The next stop is Esbjerg, the fi fth-largest city in Denmark, and as you continue north, you will encounter the typical West Jutland landscape of sand, heaths and planted woodland leading west to the dunes and broad sandy beaches.
In ages past, the numerous lighthouses that line the Danish coasts played a crucial role for shipping, and a 17-metre-high dune in Nørre Lyngvig on Holmsland Klit, provides the highest location for a lighthouse in Denmark. The lighthouse itself is 38 metres high, and, weather permitting, you can go inside. You can also to climb to the very top if you want – but remember that there are 228 stairs!
Before the Marguerite Trail continues north, it takes a detour inland to the charming little town of Ringkøbing, which simply oozes charm and is famous for its cobbled streets and its numerous small townhouses. A few km north of Ringkøbing, the Marguerite Trail passes Stadil Church – which is a very special church. It is actually one of only two churches in Denmark where you can admire the famous and absolutely beautiful golden altars, which date all the way back to the Romanesque period – i.e. around 1200. These altars feature a wooden front panel covered with gilded copper reliefs and decorated with rock crystals.
The Marguerite Trail seems to balance along the narrow tongue of land between the North Sea and Nissum Fjord. The local population is largely made up of sailors and fishermen, and has, over the centuries, become accustomed to living alongside the North Sea. Experience has taught the locals that the sea can be a ruthless employer, and the churchyards are dotted with monuments telling stories of people lost at sea, and of ships that went down with all hands.
Early in the morning of 24 December 1811, one of the most terrible maritime disasters of all time occurred off the coast of Thorsminde, when two British ships of the line – the St. George and the Defence – both sank. Of their combined crews, which numbered almost 1,400, only 18 survived. The wreck of the St. George was discovered in around 1970 by local divers, and thousands of fascinating finds have since been recovered from the seabed. In 1992, the St. George Shipwreck Museum was opened in Thorsminde. The museum presents exhibitions of the finest porcelain, cannon, leather shoes and thousands of other items from the wrecks.
The Marguerite Trail crosses the Limfjord via the ferry from Thyborøn to Agger, and the final leg of the route heads north through Hanstholm Nature Reserve, an outstanding area of dunes and heath. The area is now part of Denmark’s fi rst National Park in Thy, which was opened in 2008.