From Gammelmark to Høruphav
|Stage length:||19.2 km.|
|Loops and detours:||Dybbøl entrenchments, Sights in Sønderborg city, hearth path “Hjertestien”, ”Brudgomskobler” and burial mounds in forest Sønderskoven, Trillen, burial mounds in forest Lambjerg Indtægt.|
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 Beach 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
From Gammelmark you follow the beach to Vemmingbund. At high tide and wintertime, we recommend you to follow the actual road from Gammelmark and turn right towards Vemmingbund.
At Vemmingbund, follow the footpath up in the grass, so you do not go too far in relation to getting up at Tjørnevænget and continuing along Havtornevej.
From Vemmingbund the Gendarme Path leads you up along the cliffs at Dybbøl. The path passes the beautiful wetland “Viemose” on its way towards Sønderborg, through the area owned by “Naturstyrelsen” – the Danish nature agency.
If you like to make a little detour from the Gendarme Path, you can follow the track from the entrenchment “Skanse 1” to the mill “Dybbøl Mølle” and the History Centre Dybbøl Banke. A network of paths connects the entrenchments surrounding Dybbøl Banke all the way to the road “Aabenraavej”. The yellow run route follows the Gendarme Path up towards Dybbøl Banke before continuing to the allotment society “Sundeved Haveforening”
At the harbour promenade, you will find the hearth path “Hjertestien”, which leads through the two parks “Mølledam” and “Kongevejsparken”, past the tilting ground “Ringriderpladsen” and through the small forest “Kurhusskoven”. Its own signs mark the path “Hjertestien”.
From “Vikingeklubben”, the Gendarme Path follows the sloop at the forest ”Kurhusskoven”. Here you pass the driveway to the yacht harbour “Sønderborg Lystbådehavn” and the path continues by a gravel road, leading you pass the beach “Den sorte Badestrand” and the former shooting lane “den gamle skydebane”.
From the old shooting lane, you follow the coastline into the forest “Sønderskoven” to the old thatched house “Fiskerhytten”. Here the path leaves the water, leading you to the forest edge by forest roads. Here the path leads you back down to the coast and you follow the water to “Lambjerglund” where the route leads you further on asphalt for a short while before it goes into a gravel path through the forest “Lambjerg Indtægt”. If the weather is good and there is not high tide, you can leave the Gendarme Path and take a turn past the bird sanctuary “Trillen” by following the water.
In the forest “Lambjerg Indtægt” the Gendarme Path goes into a forest road, which makes a swing around a dolmen. At one point, the path follows the old earth dike, used in the old days to keep the animals inside the forest.
At the end of the Beach Stage, the Gendarme Path leads you down towards the water and out of the forest, where you follow the yacht harbour to the Gendarmerie's old guardhouse
Enjoy the frog concerts and the beautiful nature at “Trillen”
The majority of monuments on the stage is manmade – but “Vemmingbund” is self is created by the movements and melting of the enormous amounts of ice during the Ice Age. The lovely sand beach has drawn a huge number of bathing guests through the time and all the way long side the bay holiday cottages is laying side by side like pearls on a string.
In April, May and June you can experience “frog concerts” as the amphibians from the nearby fields and waterholes try to attract a mate. At “Dybbøl” you can experience all three frogs. The natterjack also holds concerts at “Gammelmark”, whilst the European tree frog puts on performances in the forest at “Sønderskoven” on the island of Als.
The natterjack toad is small and thickset and grows to a length of 4-8 cm. It has a grey or brown back with a distinctive yellow stripe. Because it has very short hind legs, the natterjack toad runs more than it hops. Its croak sounds almost like a cicada or the sound you get when using a comb as an instrument – a rapid repeated chattering (nattering), from which the toad (jack) gets its common name.
European tree frog
This small green frog, whose name is due to its propensity to sit in trees, is the smallest species of frog in Denmark. At dusk the European tree frog croaks with short, rapid, repeated croaks. In hot weather the frog takes on an almost yellow hue, but is darker at lower temperatures
The edible frog can grow up to 10 cm in length and has long, muscular hind legs. It is also known as the green frog due to its colour, but will often have black-brown spots, which give it an effective camouflage. Its abdomen ranges from white to grey with dark marbling. The edible frog makes short, sharp croaks that can come in bursts that sound almost like a machine gun.
Ecology at Dybbøl Banke
In co-operation with the agriculture society “Landbo Syd”, the nature agency “Naturstyrelsen” is making an experiment on Dybbøl Banke within ecological farming. On these historical fields an investigation is made within the possibilities of growing old sorts of wheat like spelt, einkorn and emmer. At each field, a sign show what kind of grain is grown there.
The cliffs at Dybbøl Banke
Plastic clay is a geological term used to describe the context of the cliffs at Dybbøl Banke. The plastic clay is the reason why the cliffs at the coast sometimes give away. The area lies untouched by human hands and through the time the cliffs and the landslips has been covered by a non-penetrable thicket and untouched forest providing living space for many kinds of plants and animals. Newly arose landslips also means that the route of the Gendarme Path has to move land inwards.
The yellow Beach – Sønderborg´s old yacht harbour
The sandy beach at the castle has risen on its own. In the old days, there was a yacht harbour near the castle and sand deposits alongside the old breakwater formed the new beach.
The stone riff is laying on shallow water and has become a very rare type of nature in Denmark. Many years of extensive exploitation of stones from the seabed for moles, breakwaters, coast protection and other kind of constructions has reduced the number of cave providing stone riffs.
This is now being corrected and at the “Middelgrunden” in the bay “Sønderborg Bugt” a new stone riff has been erected, providing living space for fish and thus “Sønderborg Bugt” benefits from a much richer and more diverse fishing life for the benefit of bird life and anglers.
The riff is located at a depth of 6 meters and consists of 2 large riffs of 120 meters each and 10 smaller riffs.
“Sønderskoven” (burial mounds)
The south-eastern part of “Sønderskoven” and the surrounding fields are amongst the areas most rich on burial mounds at the island of Als.
In the southern and eastern part of the forest, there are more than 40 burial mounds. With their 3-4 meters, the group “Helshøje” is among the highest burial mounds. Elsewhere in the forest, there are smaller burial mounds, from very small tufts up to 2-3 meters in height. Only a single burial mound “Rævehøj” measures 6.50 m in height.
Up through the Middle Ages, the hunt for wood went hard on the forests of southern Jutland. At the same time, the forests were used as pastures for the livestock, and this meant that new shoots did not have the opportunity to grow large and strong. Wood became a scarce commodity. At the end of the 17th century, the duke decided to do something about it, and it was decided that the peasants would only get married after planting trees in the duke's forests. Each farmer had to plant 10 oak trees or 15 beeches and care for them for three years before he could lead his bride to the altar. The scheme continued for more than 100 years, and to this day you can still find “Brudgomsalleer” (Bridegrooms avenues) in some places, including in “Sønderskoven” where there are several “Brudgomsege” (Bridegrooms oaks) along the roads.
“Fredsmaj” - a bird paradise
The lake is a shallow, rush-encircled lake in the deciduous forest. Today it is a valuable wetland with an open water surface, and an important breeding and resting area for birds. At “Fredsmaj” there is a bird tower from which you can study the many bird species.
Unique countryside at “Trillen”
Just before you reach “Høruphav”, you’ll arrive at the nature reserve at “Trillen”. Originally, the reserve consisted of the islands of “Store Trille” and “Lille Trille”, which later – due to deposition of sand – gradually merged with the mainland. This has created “Vælddam” – a wonderful lake in the centre – that today is a wetland with particularly rich birdlife. At high tide the sea can wash in and fill the lakes with saltwater. When the water evaporates, the salt remains. “Vælddam” is thus very salty, and the vegetation consists of plants that can withstand the salty water.
On both of the former islands, remains have been found from the Stone Age. It’s assumed that during this period people headed out to the islands in the summer in order to hunt and fish. Perhaps you will be fortunate enough to find the remains of flint tools at the water’s edge?
The municipal authority in Sønderborg has set up nest boxes at “Trillen” in order to encourage the goosander to breed
The Beach stage of the Gendarme Path has witnessed some of the most bloody and landmark events in Denmark's history.
Within range of the war in 1864
From anywhere along this section of the Gendarme Path you can see up over Dybbøl Bank, which in April 1864 was the site of the Siege of Dybbøl. The battle was disastrous for Denmark. The Prussian army was superior in every respect and the intransigence of the Danish government only made matters worse. The background for the war was the extremely complex relationship between the Kingdom of Denmark and the duchies. British Foreign Secretary Palmerston had apparently tried to explain the conflict to Queen Victoria as follows: “There are only three people who understand the Schleswig-Holstein problem. The first is the Duke of Augustenborg, but he’s dead; the second is a German professor, but it’s driven him mad; and the third is me – and I’ve forgotten everything about it.”
For centuries, the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein had been a melting pot of international and domestic interests. The war in 1864 was thus a culmination of a succession of European power games that collided with Danish political complications
The Siege of Dybbøl, 18 April 1864
After the German Federation had declared war on Denmark at the end of 1863 and deployed troops to the duchies, the Danish army had abandoned its positions at Dannevirke and retreated to the entrenchments at Dybbøl. These entrenchments were in no way ready for battle when the Prussian troops set up long-range rifled rear-loaded guns at Gammelmark on Broagerland in March 1864. From 2 April and for the next 16 days Prussian shells rained down on the entrenchments in Dybbøl. The Danish general staffs requested permission to retreat, however the government, who believed that Denmark would be in a better position in any future peace negotiations if the soldiers had exhibited courage on the battlefield, denied this. This proved to be a costly assumption.
At 4 o’clock on the morning of 18 April, Prussian forces commenced a massive bombardment. By 10 a.m., the southernmost fortifications had been reduced to piles of earth, and the Prussians launched their assault. One by one, the Danish positions were overrun and at 2 p.m., the battle was lost. The remainder of the Danish troops withdrew to the island of Als, where they had to wait another 2 months for the final blow to be struck. On 29 June, the Prussians conquered the island and the Danish government sought a truce. At the peace negotiations in Vienna in the autumn of 1864 Denmark was forced to surrender the duchies unconditionally. Denmark’s geographical area was reduced by two fifths at a stroke, whilst the population fell from 2.6 million to 1.6 million inhabitants.
Casualties on 18 April 1864: Prussians – 1,201 dead and wounded. Danes – 1,669 dead and wounded, in addition to 3,131 prisoners or deserters.
The harbour tells the history of the town
When you cross the bridge, you have a fantastic view of Sønderborg Harbour – and at the same time, you get an instant picture of the history of the town. From the ancient castle furthest to the right, look to the left along the idyllic harbour promenade to the barracks that were built at the beginning of the last century while the area was under German control. However, you can also see how Sønderborg is now heading into the future. On the mainland side, you can see Alsion, which contains businesses, a concert hall and a department of the University of Southern Denmark, which is home to the largest population of foreign students in Denmark.
Sønderborg wants to be on the world map, and therefore the world-renowned architect Frank Gehry became part of the development of the port area - from the industrial port to the city's cultural heart with lots of life, recreational areas and exciting architecture.
“The Christian side”
In the old days, you had to pay a toll if you wanted to cross the bridge between the mainland and the island of Als. On Sundays, however, it was free of charge in order to enable churchgoers to attend the service at the church on Als. This resulted in what can only be described as a migration from the mainland – and the older generation at island Als still refer to the mainland as “the Christian side”. There’s more than a hint of sarcasm in the term, as many people took the opportunity to visit family – and the inns were also open on Sundays.
The naval base in Sønderborg
Legacy from the two World Wars
On the walk out of Sønderborg, you pass by several relics of the two world wars. You’ll walk past buildings that had significance during the war – and you’ll be able to stop at monuments erected to honour fallen soldiers.
The more indirect traces tell the story of how during the period following reunification, efforts were made to “re-establish” Danishness after many years of German rule. Thanks to local initiatives, folk high schools were set up all over Southern Jutland as part of efforts to teach the younger generation about Danish culture and language.
1952 saw Denmark’s first sports academy “Idrætshøjskolen” being opened. The buildings were designed by architect Thyge Hvass, and the school contains a large number of artistic decorations – Kongegården is decorated with sculptures of athletes and Dronningehaven with mosaics.
The construction of the sports academy wasn’t just the result of the general folk high school line of thinking concerning culture and education – it was also an expression of the ideology at the time as to how sport is able to create a strong sense of community and thereby gather together and boost young people.
“My best wishes to the youth who will add strength and health to the deeds that will create the foundations of the future.”
King Frederik IX at the opening of the sports academy in 1952.
To hike in the footsteps of 1864
Warrior grave at Broager Church
From Vemmingbund you can easily get up to Broager Church. During the bombing of Dybbøl in 1864, the soldiers from the German Confederation must have had a lookout post on a footbridge between the spiers. That they could see the grenade strikes and signal new coordinates to the cannon positions is a tenacious myth. On the other hand, it was an optical telegraph between Broager and Schersberg in Nordangeln, today situated in Germany. At the cemetery, you can find Danish and German warrior graves from 1864 and graves from World War I.
History Centre Dybbøl Banke
At the top of Dybbøl Banke you find the History Centre Dybbøl Banke, where you can learn much more the war in 1864 and about the Siege of Dybbøl.
Historiecenter Dybbøl Banke
Dybbøl Banke 16
Today Dybbøl Mill is newly restored and whitewashed, but after the wars during the 19th century it was frequently just a ruin. The mill has always been rebuilt, however, and over the years many Danes have come to see Dybbøl Mill as a national symbol of Denmark’s determination to defend itself.
Dybbøl Banke 7
The town of Sønderborg was subjected to a violent bombardment in 1864, and in the wall on Rådhustorvet 7, which today houses the town's Business Centre, there is embedded a cannonball.
At Sønderborg’s Ringridermuseum you can learn more about the proud traditions of tilting-at-the-ring during the summer months.
Sønderborg Castle was probably built in around 1200 as part of the defences against the Vends, whom were Slavs living near the southern shore of the Baltic Sea. During medieval times, the castle developed into one of the country’s strongest forts and in 1571, it was assigned to Duke Hans the Younger.
As the son of King Christian III and Queen Dorothea, he was also a genuine renaissance prince. Under his stewardship, the castle became the centre of a blossoming mini duchy, which in addition to Sønderborg also included a number of other areas of land. In the castle chapel, Queen Dorothea’s Chapel, you can see the duke pictured on a burial monument with his first wife and 14 of his 23 children in all. The castle chapel is one of Scandinavia’s oldest renaissance rooms and is fitted out according to Martin Luther’s instructions for Lutheran royal churches.
During the 19th century, the castle was used as a field hospital during the Schleswig Wars and as a Prussian barracks between 1867 and 1919. Following reunification in 1920, Sønderborg Castle was bought by the Danish state. The castle is fitted out as a museum featuring the history of Southern Jutland from the 16th century up to the present day.
Go on a city walk and find examples of Art Nouveau
In around 1900, architecture in large parts of Europe was characterised by Art Nouveau. In Denmark, on the other hand, there was general scepticism towards this central European-German Art Nouveau, and this type of architecture is more or less exclusive to Southern Jutland, which at the time was in German hands. Throughout Sønderborg, you can see examples of buildings in Art Nouveau style with attractively decorated facades.
Shooting range on the beach at Sønderborg
Today it might look peaceful enough, but during the Second World War, the area was closed to the public and used as a military shooting range for the occupying forces. Between 11 and 14 May 1945, the bodies of five members of the Danish resistance were found, and a monument was later erected in their memory.
Legends and myths
A royal myth, an independent republic and witches who can turn into hares
Was Als once a republic?
According to a much-loved myth, on 6 November 1918 and for the next 70 hours Als held the status of an independent republic. Today we know that this “independence” was largely the result of misunderstandings. When the German Empire collapsed in 1918, a revolution broke out in Germany and all Northern Schleswig towns set up their own soldiers’ council. In Sønderborg the German soldiers’ council was headed by former tailor’s assistant Bruno Topff, who was later called the “President of Als” – but there is no evidence that it was his intention to declare Als an independent republic. It is much more likely that Bruno Topff tried to make Als a part of the new Republic of Germany. Nevertheless, the myth remains.
King Christian II and the round table
In 1532, King Christian II was imprisoned at Sønderborg Castle, where he had good chambers at his disposal and enjoyed excellent food. During his 17 years of imprisonment, rumours abounded that he lived in a cramped prison and endured harsh conditions. This subsequently fostered the myth that in frustration and boredom the king walked round and round a stone table and wore a deep groove in it with his thumb. Financial accounts preserved from the royal imprisonment reveal a rather different picture, but the myth endures – not least due to Carl Bloch’s famous painting from 1871, which is reprinted in many school textbooks. In 2008, a sculpture was erected at Sønderborg harbour. The work of art depicts the round table and is appropriately called “The Myth”.
Witches and hares
In olden days, there were many stories of superstitions, witchcraft and witches in the parish of Hørup. In the parish, there were witches that could turn into hares, and these hares were impossible to shoot with ordinary lead shot. Instead, one of the silver buttons that at the time were sewn into men’s Sunday suits had to be used. One day a hare was shot in the leg with such a silver button and the next morning an old woman was found to have been paralysed in one leg. There wasn’t any doubt amongst the villagers that the old woman was a witch who’d been shot while disguised as a hare the day before.
The Seven Sisters
At Trillen nature reserve, there are six distinctive Austrian pines that are more than 100 years old. Originally, there were seven trees that were known as “The Seven Sisters”, but today there are only six “sisters” left.
Get really close to the story, join the medieval tilting tournament - or keep an eye on a very old worm…
Experience tilting at the ring in Sønderborg in the days around the second weekend of July – and historic tilting at the ring in July to midst August.
Jousting and tilting at the ring were originally elements of medieval tournaments in which knights competed and were popular entertainment for European kings and princes. Such events later fell out of fashion, but when the Duke and Duchess of Augustenborg celebrated their silver wedding in 1845, the tradition was brought back to life. Today you can see tilting at the ring throughout the summer months in more or less every town in Southern Jutland. The festivities begin in June and culminate in the first half of July with a 4-day folk festival, first in Aabenraa and then in Sønderborg.
Producing art from nature
Test your own artistic talents – find materials in the countryside and produce your own art.
Look out for traces of a 500 million year old worm
All along the beaches on the Gendarme Path, you can find traces of some of Denmark’s first inhabitants. More than 500 million years ago, worm-like organisms burrowed in the sand and the traces of their burrows can still be seen in so-called Skolithos-sandstone. The sand in the stone is former seabed like that found at the North Sea coast. Later this layer of seabed was buried under a layer of sediment several kilometres thick and subject to high temperatures and pressures from the layers above. As a result, the sand has been compressed to solid stone. The traces of the worm can be seen as vertical lines that run across the stratifications.