From Sønderhav to Brunsnæs
|Stage length:||20.3 km.|
|Difficulty:||Slightly on the verge of moderate.
|Loops and detours:||The forests Hønsnap and Kelstrup Skov, the brickworks district at Marina Minde, Nejs Bjerg, Broager Church and memorial mound, the Brickwork Path, “Æ Feltbjerresti”.|
Use "See map" and "Practical information" in the menu for information on transport, accommodation and shopping a.m. o.
Bring along the route on your phone:
Scan the QR-code and get access to the Web-App, showing the route and special spots on the Brick Stage - if you want the Web-APP of the entire Gendarme Path, you can find it under "See map".
If you wish to have a look at the Web-App - you can find it here
You get on the Brick Stage in “Sønderhav” by following the road alongside the water. The road soon goes into a path to “Rønshoved”; here you follow the asphalt road, leading you around the boarding school “Rønshoved Højskole”.
From “Sønderhav” you can also choose to go up through the forests “Hønsnap” and “Kelstrup Skov”. The path enters the forest from the road “Sønderhavvej”. Continue on the “yellow route” (marked with yellow paint on trees) past the carpe ponds and up to the forest “Rønshovedskovene”. From here, you walk down to the boarding school “Rønshoved Højskole” and continues on the Gendarme Path.
After “Rønshoved Højskole” the Gendarme Path leads you down to the water again and follows the coast all the way to “Huk”. On the way, you pass several ruins from old brick works.
In case of bad weather you can leave the Gendarme Path at the point “Knudsmade” and go north around the tongue. You can also choose a detour to hotel and restaurant “Benniksgaard” using the paths at the golf course and passing through the gate. You have to stay on the paths and it is a very good idea to keep a look out for flying golf balls. The route is marked with signs of white men on a blue background.
On your way back to the water you pass the light “Rinkenæs Forfyr”, the first light of three on this part of the route. At “Lærkelunden Camping” you follow the coastline passing the two bridges and continues alongside the water until the small park “Alnor Strandpark”.
During winter months or at high water you can choose the alternative route after passing “Lærkelunden”, since the area long side the coastline can be very swamp like. The alternative route is marked by white men on a blue background and leads you past the shop for the creative people “Karen Marie Klip” in Alnor.
At the bridge over the sound “Egernsund” you take the staircase on the southern side of the bridge and at the other side you go down the winding staircase. The Gendarme Path goes through the village “Egernsund”, past the church “Egernsund Kirke”, the light “Lågemade Forfyr” and continues past the yacht harbour “Marina Minde” named after the brickwork “Mindes Teglværk”, once situated at the same site and it is possible to go through the quarter of the tile workers.
At “Rendbjerg” the Gendarme Path turns inlands and you go up over the hill “Munkebakke” with view on the light “Skodsbøl Forfyr”. From here, the path goes through the system of paths in the town “Broager”. On the way, you can climb the hill “Nejs Bjerg” to enjoy the view. The Gendarme Path passes the brickwork museum “Cathrinesminde Teglværksmuseum” and continues on the old road long side the former houses of fishermen and tile workers to the hamlet “Brunsnæs”.
The Brick Work Path “Teglværksstien” begins at the brickwork museum “Cathrinesminde Teglværksmuseum” and follows the Gendarme Path to “Brunsnæs”.
Shortly before “Brunsnæs” you can take a small detour up the road “Klør Fire” and enjoy the best view of the area via the path “Æ Feltbjerresti”.
Rare orchids, the National-apple of Denmark and beautiful butterflies is only a tiny part of the Brick Stage of the Gendarme Path.
The Ice Age shaped the landscape...
It can be difficult to imagine, but 17,000 years ago the inlet “Flensburg Fjord” was covered by glaciers. An ice sheet covered the entire Baltic Sea region, with the Ice Age having lasted almost 100,000 years. On its march southwards, the ice had ploughed up the landscape in front of it and pushed layers of earth into extensive curved ranges of hills. However, warmer times were now on the way. The ice, which in places was several hundred metres thick, began to melt more quickly and powerful forces were unleashed. Large volumes of meltwater flowed out, carrying large quantities of stones, sand and gravel with it. The landscape as we know it today began to take shape.
The most recent Ice Age is called the Weichsel Ice Age – it began around 117,000 years ago and lasted until approximately 11,000 years ago.
When the ice began to melt, it left huge lumps of ice that lay in “dead ice areas”, where the active ice front had now disappeared. Such a lump of ice and the glacial lake that surrounded it ended up having crucial importance for the area. In the still waters of the glacial lake, very fine, stone-free clay was deposited. This clay has made up the backbone of a booming brick industry that has existed for centuries. Thus, the Ice Age did not only shape the landscape, it also shaped the lives of many of the people that settled here many years later. Everywhere along the Gendarme Path, you will be able to see traces of the Ice Age – in the landscape and in the many remnants of the golden age of brick production.
”Munkemølle Slugt” – Knudsmade
The landscape around ”Keldsbjerg”, ”Bækken”, ”Munkemølle” and ”Knudsmade” is of great interest within the areas of geology, botany and fresh-water-biology with special emphasis on the rather long and very characteristically subglacial stream trench ”Munkemølle Slugt”, stretching from ”Keldsbjerg” to the bay ”Møllebugten”.
”Knudsmade” is a tidal meadow and at times during the winter months it becomes flooded. The result of the flooding is a very special type of nature, only plants that can endure salt grows here. ”Knudsmade” is grassed by cattle.
You can find scattered tufts of heather as well as many other plants that are rare in our area like dyer´s green weed, petty whin, devil´s-bit and meadow saxifrage. All plants that require a sandy and dry soil to grow.
The cove “Nybøl Nor” lies east of “Gråsten”. The waters is 6.5 km2 and connected to the inlet “Flensborg Fjord” by the narrow “Egernsund”. The basin is formed like a trough and up to 8 metres deep. “Nybøl Nor” is the result of huge lump of dead-ice in a glacial lake. Most of the banks are made of thick layers of stone-free clay, which has been the basis of the large brick production; six brickworks a still found at the eastern shore. The cove is an EU-bird-sanctuary and an area of national geological interest.
The Gravenstein apple from “Gråsten”
In 1669 in the vicinity of the abbey at L’Abaye de Hautcombe at Lac du Bourget in Savoy, Count Frederik Ahlefeldt the Younger found a very special apple tree. Fascinated by the sweetness of the juicy apple, the count decided to buy a couple of the trees for his palace in “Gråsten” – and he thereby sowed the seed of what many years later became Denmark’s national apple. The apple, known internationally as the Gravenstein, has been cultivated in the palace gardens at Gråsten Palace for centuries. Cuttings have been sold worldwide, and a “Gravenstein Apple Fair” is held every year as far away as California.
On the wings of the butterfly
During your hike, you can see several different species of butterfly.
The speckled wood
The speckled wood is easy to recognise due to its dark brown colour and creamy white spots. It lives in deciduous woodland, where it can be seen from May until the beginning of August.
The small heath
The small heath has a small wingspan of about 30 mm. Its wings are yellow on the upper side and grey on the underside. You can find the small heath on dry pastures and in grass fields.
The small copper
The small copper is easy to spot when flying or basking in the sun thanks to its shiny golden orange wings. When resting, the folded wings have a uniform grey colour.
The orange tip
The orange tip heralds the onset of spring and is active from April until the end of June. The male has very distinctive orange wingtips, whilst the female is less colourful and can easily be mistaken for a cabbage white.
Orchids along the Gendarme Path
If you are lucky, you can meet several different species of orchid along the Gendarme Path. However, be careful – all orchids are protected and may not be picked, dug up or damaged.
The early-purple orchid
In chalky soil on meadows and in woodland you find the early-purple orchid. It has broad purple flowers and grows to a height of between 15 and 40 cm.
The broad-leaved helleborine
The broad-leaved helleborine grows in forests and thicket. It is one of the more common orchids, but also protected. The plant can grow to a height of one metre and can have up to a hundred green flowers with brown or violet inner petals.
The eggleaf twayblade can reach a height of one metre, yet is often overlooked because the flowers are small and light green. It flowers in June and July, and at the bottom of the long stalk are the two egg-shaped leaves that have given the plant its name.
The Brick Stage winds through times past, were the area buzzed with life and activities at the brickworks and the many landing stages – and the special atmosphere provided the ground for an artist colony
Life as a border gendarme
On the route from “Sønderhav” to “Sandager” you’ll pass several small houses that were once built as dwellings for the border gendarmes. The border gendarmes have for the most part enjoyed a peaceful existence. On their daily patrols on foot or by bicycle, they would have seen the seasons change and perhaps chatted to the locals.
However, life as a border gendarme could also be perilous, not least during the Second World War. The first shots had already been fired before Nazi Germany officially launched its attack on Denmark when troops landed at a number of key Danish ports at 4.15 on the morning of 9 April 1940. Two senior gendarme officers had been on duty from the early hours of the morning at the viaduct under the railway in “Padborg”, and shortly before 4 a.m., they were joined by a third. The three gendarmes had received orders to meet in “Bov”, from where they were due to be transported north with their colleagues. However, they never got that far: a group dressed in civilian clothes shot and killed the gendarmes, who thus became the first Danish victims of the occupation.
The occupying forces denied all knowledge of the murders, and it was not until after the war that responsibility was determined. The Germans had deployed two groups of Special Forces in order to prevent the railway bridges in “Padborg” and at the stream “Vidå”, south of “Tønder” from being blown up. It is not clear whether the three gendarmes had plans to blow up the bridges, but both bridges had been prepared for detonation, with holes for explosives having been drilled in the concrete.
At the railway bridges in “Padborg” a stone is placed in honour of the three gendarmes, who lost their lives on the 9th April 1940.
S.B. Paludan-Müller: The commander-in-chief who fought and fell
Colonel Svend Bartholin Paludan-Müller was head of the border gendarmes from 1934 until 1944. Paludan-Müller had been raised the son of a pastor on the island of Zealand, but later lived in “Gråsten”. From the start of the German occupation, he was heavily critical of the Danish government’s policy of cooperation with the occupying forces. On 26 May 1944, the Germans arrested a number of prominent police officers in Southern Jutland. They suspected – correctly – that Colonel Paludan-Müller was active in the Danish resistance movement, but when they arrived at his home at mid-morning, Paludan-Müller barricaded himself in his attic. Following an exchange of fire, the town’s pastor tried to mediate, but the colonel refused to surrender. His wife and daughter were escorted from the house, and the German soldiers set the house on fire. After another three hours, no more shots were fired from the attic. Everywhere in “Gråsten” flags flew at half-mast and in spite of strong protests from the occupying forces, the town’s shops closed as a mark of respect. The Germans would not allow the colonel to be buried in Southern Jutland, but today a memorial wall has been erected at the site of his house in “Gråsten”.
When the German occupying forces arrested police officers all over the country in 1944, 291 border gendarmes were sent to the prisoner of war camp at “Frøslev”. 141 were then deported to the concentration camp at “Neuengamme”, where 36 of these gendarmes subsequently died.
Bricks, bricks, bricks…
When you cross the bridge at “Egernsund”, you can look into the cove “Nybøl Nor”. For generations, the brickworks here had crucial importance – both for the surrounding countryside and for the people that lived and worked here.
From the Middle Ages and right up until the present day, “Egernsund” was the heart of not only the region’s, but also the whole of Northern Europe’s, brick industry. Although brickworks are still found in the area today, the heyday of the industry is over. The stories remain, however, and the remnants are easy to spot. If the stones produced by the brickworks were not perfect, they were thrown onto the beach. Not only was this an easy way of disposing of waste, but the foundations were laid for the many jetties and piers that enabled ships to take cargo on board.
The history of the brickworks
For more than one thousand years, the precious clay has been brought up from the substratum and used to build houses, castles, churches and fortifications. The technique of firing clay to produce bricks and tiles has been refined through the ages, but right up until the middle of the 20th century, both clay excavation and the working-up of the bricks were carried out manually. A worker could hand mould up to 6,000 bricks during a single working day. Work in the clay pits was seasonal work and only took place when there was no frost in the ground. The brickworks were thus often only in operation from April until October. The work was both hard and hazardous, carrying a risk of falling into the clay pits, being burnt on the large kilns, drowning when the bricks were being loaded or being trapped when the heavy loads had to be moved. Women and children lent a hand when the bricks needed to be turned when drying in the open air, with the whole family often working at the brickworks.
The Flensburg Brick ensured greater safety
During the 18th century, the area was particularly well-known for the unique Flensburg brick. The Flensburg brick was a solid, yellow brick and slightly thinner than the bricks, we’re familiar with today. Following the great fire in Copenhagen in 1728, many houses were rebuilt using Flensburg bricks. As the use of brick instead of timber framing became more widespread, the buildings became better at withstanding fire.
The forgotten artists’ colony
Most Danes have heard of the “Skagen” painters, but only a few know that during the same period “Egernsund” was the centre of another blossoming artists’ colony. Just as in “Skagen”, the “Egernsund” painters found their inspiration in the countryside and the surroundings. The brickworks’ bright red colours, the water and the changing light, as well as the peaceful lifestyle with cargo vessels, ferries and fishermen made “Egernsund” an obvious choice for experimenting with painting in the great outdoors.Characterizing the ”Egernsund” painters is their use of many and very powerful colours and their style is considered a transition between naturalism and expressionism.
The painters in the “Egernsund” artists’ colony paid scant attention to national borders, and it was primarily personal and practical conditions that made the majority moved to Germany when “Egernsund” became Danish in 1920. The demarcation of the border did however mean a great deal in terms of how the artists’ colony was remembered north and south of the border respectively. In terms of art history, the colony was regarded as German, and in Germany the “Egernsund” painters are highly acclaimed. During the period following reunification, however, on the Danish side there was general condemnation of anything that was German. The painters and their works are thus practically unknown to the Danish population, despite the fact that several of the artists were actually born in areas that were Danish until 1864.
Today, around 50 of the “Egernsund” painters’ works make up a permanent section of the exhibition at “Museumsberg Flensburg” – and locals are making an effort to create a similar museum in ”Egernsund”. The hope is to open the Danish people’s eyes to the forgotten artist´ colony.
More than 40 artists are believed to have been members of the artists’ colony in “Egernsund” – amongst them are Theodor Sander, Heinrich Rasch, Erich Kubierschky, Heinrich Petersen-Flensburg, Eugéne Dücker and photographer Wilhelm Dreesen.
Meet “Egernsund” painter Jacob Nöbbe
One of the key artists in the artists’ colony was the painter Jacob Nöbbe. Jacob Nöbbe was born in Flensburg in 1850, while the town was Danish – and died in the same town in 1919, when the area was German. In the 1890s, he spent the summer months in “Egernsund” with his family, and both his daughter Elsa and his son Erwin became acclaimed painters. In “Egernsund”, Jacob Nöbbe experimented – like several of the other artists – with landscapes and portraits. Jacob Nöbbe was also a drawing teacher and for a while and gave private lessons to a boy by the name of Emil Hansen among others. He later became famous as Emil Nolde. As far as is known, none of Nöbbe’s paintings are exhibited in Denmark today, although a few of his works are part of Museumsberg Flensburg’s collection.
The easiest route crosses the water
Although today they glide slowly by out on the fjord, the ships were often the quickest way of getting from A to B. In the old days, the majority of roads were almost impassable. You bumped over hedges and ditches in horse-drawn carts and it was difficult to transport large quantities of goods over long distances.
The good access for ships made it possible for the residents to build up a comprehensive brickwork industry using the clay form the Ice Age. The inlet Flensborg Fjord laid as a life-giving vein, bringing progress and development to the cities, and the traffic on the fjord has had a central role through the times. The sea route provided access to the rest of the world and inspiration was gathered from the many visitors arriving by the sea.
When the ships came sailing up through the fjord to pick up bricks, they brought coal for the brickworks’ many kilns. All loading and unloading operations took place manually. Originally, there were not any jetties – so barges were loaded and then sailed out to the waiting ships. Many workers lost their lives in drowning accidents. Although loading was both dangerous and hard, women often did it because the heavy work needed many hands – and women were the cheapest form of labour available. A woman could carry up to 8,000 bricks a day.
In 1924, 12,000 tonnes of coal and 75,000 tonnes of bricks were transported on ships to and from the brickworks.
Barges used to transport troops
Following defeat at Dybbøl in April 1864, the Danish forces entrenched themselves on the island of Als. At the end of June, the Prussians planned to invade the island and therefore gathered all the rowing boats and barges in the area, so that they could be used to transport the Prussian troops across the sound. The brickworks barges were particularly well suited to this task and were therefore much sought after. The Prussians sailed across the sound under cover of darkness on the night of 29 June 1864, and the Battle of Als ended with a stinging Danish defeat.
Steamship ferry services
1866 saw the beginning of the steamship era on Flensburg Fjord. By 1877, the area’s 23 steamships had 50 daily departures from 32 jetties and carried one million passengers. The steamships’ success lasted until the First World War, when a large number of the ships were pressed into service in the conflict.
The historic steamship Alexandra is the maritime landmark of the city Flensburg. The ship was built in 1908 and named after the niece of Emperor Wilhelm II. Steamship Alexandra was in commission until 1975, since it was renovated and today it sails the inlet Flensborg Fjord again during the summer months.
On the Brick Stage, you are walking in the footsteps of the nobles, the royals and the clergy – which has left its mark on the areas many sights
The current site of Glücksborg Castle (today situated in Germany)was home to a monastery in the Middle Ages. Cistercian monks built the monastery at the beginning of the 13th century, and it is believed that the monks later established a watermill at “Munkemølle”. Today the watermill has long since disappeared, although traces of the milldam and millpond can still be seen. In the gorge at “Munkemølle” you can find rare species of plants and snails that the monks apparently brought with them from France.
In 2012, local organisations erected a monument in memory of Queen Margrethe I at “Munkemølle”. As described on pages 11 and 22, historical sources are not in absolute agreement, with some sources suggesting that Queen Margrethe died while her ship was anchored at “Munkemølle” in order to take provisions on board.
Over the years, some of Denmark’s most influential families have owned Gråsten Palace. Count Gregers Ahlefeldt built the first Gråsten Castle at the beginning of the 17th century. During the first half of the 18th century, the ducal family in Augustenborg bought Gråsten Palace. Shortly afterwards a serious fire severely damaged the palace, leaving only the palace chapel unharmed. The palace was rebuilt by Duke Frederik Christian I, who, thanks to his good connections to the Danish royal family, was married to King Christian VII’s daughter, Louise Augusta, in 1786. The alliance was not quite as grand as it seemed, however. It was common knowledge that the princess was the outcome of an affair with the physician-in-ordinary to the King, Johann Friedrich Struensee. An affair, which cost Struensee his life, whilst the queen was expelled from the country.
Gråsten Palace was owned by a succession of dukes all the way up until 1921, when it was bought by the Danish state for DKK 5 million. In 1935, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Ingrid were awarded the right of use of Gråsten Palace as a wedding gift, since when the royal family has gathered here every summer. When the royal family isn’t in residence at the palace, the beautiful palace garden is open to the public.
The attractive red seamen’s church faces directly onto Flensburg Fjord and is of course built of bricks produced in the area. A visit to the churchyard also reveals how many of the area’s residents came from near and far to work at the brickworks. German, Polish and Swedish names are found on the gravestones, whilst the dates of birth and death tell their own unique story of the hard and demanding nature of work in the industry.
In 1872, Hans Heinrich Ditmer Jr. at the time manager and joint owner of the brickwork ”Rendbjerg Teglværk”, built a very impressive house at the address ”Rendbjergvej 9”, the house soon was nicknamed ”Rendbjerg Slot” (Rendbjerg Castle) by the locals.
Earlier, there were eight brickworks on the beach at “Iller Strand”, but today “Cathrinesminde” is the only one that remains. In operation from 1732 until 1968, the Brickworks Museum today provides a fascinating insight into the history of the brickworks and life as it was for workers at the plants.
The path of “Teglværksstien”
Along the beach at “Iller Strand” the path called “Teglværksstien” joins a section of the Gendarme Path. Information points have been set up where you can see remnants of the brickworks that have long since disappeared, whilst from the path you can see overgrown clay pits, landing grounds and traces of kilns and pug mills.
Fisherman’s cottages and fishing villages
Several fishing villages raised long side the inlet “Flensborg Fjord”. You can see the remains at “Stranderød”, where three fisherman´s cottages through time was built in to one house, and “Trappen” in “Alnor”.
Broager Church was built as early as the 12th century, although the distinctive Gothic spire was not added until around 1400. Although the church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the decorations inside reflect the martyrdom of St. George, who, according to legend, saved a town and a beautiful virgin from the clutches of a dragon. In medieval times, St. George was invoked against leprosy and it was common for churches along important roads to have a chapel that was dedicated to him.
Legends and myths
Jumping squirrels, magical adder stones and two con-joined sisters…
Adder stones – the gods of chickens
In German, adder stones are known as “Hühnergott” – chicken gods – and the word refers to an ancient popular belief that adder stones had magical powers. They were therefore used to prevent disease amongst livestock, including the chickens in the chicken run.
From branch to branch
In the old days, prior to construction of the bridge, the sound was nowhere near as wide as it is today. On both sides, the forest was dense, and history tells us that the trees could almost touch each other across the sound. As a result, squirrels could jump from treetop to treetop, which according to legend is how “Egernsund” (literally Squirrel Sound) got its name.
Two sisters gave the church its spire
Legend has it that the tower was erected with double spires in memory of the two sisters who lived in a nearby castle. The sisters were con-joined at the lower back, and when one of them died, the other survived for only a few more days. She decided that all of their estate should be sold, with a church to be built instead. It is said that the church’s tallest spire represents the sister who lived the longest.
The spires at the church “Broager Kirke” are actually built in the same height but the west wind make them lean, so it seems like the one of them is higher. Under “Sights” you can read more about the history of the church in “Broager”.
Trace the former brickworks
On the beach, you can find bricks in all shapes and colours. If you are lucky, you may find a brick that indicates from which of the 76 brickworks it originates. The brickworks did not only make their mark on the area in a more general sense, they also embedded their names in the bricks that made “Egernsund” famous throughout Europe.
Look for the “hidden works of art”
In the area around Cathrinesminde Brickwork, three larger works of art are hidden in the landscape. See if you can find them - it's not easy, but without revealing too much, you can say that the works are all made of brick materials…
Make your mark on the Gendarme Path
In earlier times, cairns were used to mark routes on land and at sea – so perhaps you will want to make your mark on the Gendarme Path by building your very own cairn of stones or bricks?
Find adders stones and thread them onto a string
Along the Gendarme Path, you have plenty of opportunity to find adder stones. If you find several stones, you can thread them onto a string that you can hang at your house – according to folklore; this should help protect both humans and animals against disease.