map of Denmark with coast walk

Danish Coast Trail Project

I’ve started out on a 2000km. walk (1200 miles) with my watercolors and backpack, sketching, researching and meeting people to find out if it is possible to create ONE Coastal hiking trail all around Denmark by connecting a lot of existing trails and paths. A project and hike, in sections, step by step along the coastline of Denmark

map of Denmark with coast walk

Denmark Coast trail, My planned walk

My route

I started out on April 2015 and will walk south (clockwise direction) from Copenhagen, Down to Gedser (the most southern point of Denmark) then West to the Wadden Sea, then up to Skagen, (most northern Point) and on till I make it on foot around the coastline and back to Copenhagen where I started.

Length and duration of the coastal hike

Not really sure how long my hike around Denmark will be or how much time it will take me.  I have measured the distance I plan to walk to around 2000 km. (1200 miles) in all, a hike I will do in small steps, taking a section at a time, making notes and interviews, taking pictures, painting watercolors and sketches, talking with people about trails, hiking and thrive. Researching how it might be possible to make a complete coastal trail that make it possible to walk small bits or all around Denmark, along the sea.

Between my hikes, back in my basecamp, I will fund-raise the project,  paint and write the stories and publish what I learn about coast trails both in Denmark and other places, as I walk the Danish coastline.

What’s so special about the coastline of Denmark

For a long time Denmark has protected its coastline and kept it accessible, as a free and common land that could be walk by everybody.  The result is that today there is actually more or less a “right of way” all along the Danish coast.

This is a unique experience because (with a few sad exceptions ), today you can actually walk along the beaches and through the coastal landscapes without paying fees or meeting any “no trespassing” or “private” signs. Or at least this is how it used to be. My walk is to find out if it actually still works like this in today’s reality, and to paint, sketch and experience the feel of walking for many days, along the sea.

Keeping the coastline open was something that used to be natural to all generations up till today, but lately, at least in Denmark, money-people has lobbied, with a frightening success, to privatize the coastline, to make money from granting people access to the best parts. If they manage to close down the coast in this way it will have grave consequences, not only for the locals but also for a lot of other species.  And that is one of the reasons it is very important to strengthen the public nature and free access to the coastline, and one of the best ways to do this is by creating a public trail all around the coast.

Idea for a National Coast trail

There are a lot of long and short, narrow, wide and winding coast path fragments in Denmark, because almost all parts of the country has a local coast path… But there is no protected National Danish Coast trail at the moment, where you can see and follow the connected lines all around Denmark.

I hope to take the first steps to help research and maybe even create ideas and sketches for such a national coast trail as an open free project combining open innovation, maps and CreativeCommons licensed art.

Researching possible benefits of a coastal trails

From what I have found out so far there is a lot of good things about keeping and connecting coast trails, and also from building new ones in the parts where they have come missing – so the trails can function as regional and national trails, and not only as local ones.

Some of the benefits I will research along my coast walk are:

  • Can coast trails strengthen the local communities and help people relate and get in touch?
  • Can coast trails work as green corridors that strengthen nature, biodiversity and the survival and mobility of rare species?
  • Can coast trails work as climate defense because they can help keep and secure local values safe from flooding and extreme weather, by functioning as dykes, buffers and/or rescue roads?
  • Can coast trails be important factors to support local income, tourism and sightseeing?
  • Can coast trails and walking support thrive and well-being and boost the health of the locals?

The Plan

The project is a research and art project where I will do my best to keep my eyes and mind open, as I walk and learn more.  Hopefully I will be able to meet a lot of good people and both sketch and see solutions and important ideas, that can be important, not only on a local, but maybe on a much larger scale.

The global importance of coast trails

Most of Earth is covered with water, with coastlines and the coastal areas, waterways and trails (and roads) making the ever changing, important connections between land and sea.  These coastal areas are where most of our planet’s +7 billion people live and where our fastest growing cities, power centers and global industries are situated.

At the same time the same coastal areas also play very important, but gravely endangered roles as habitats and important corridors / migration routes, feeding and resting places for countless of Earth’s many other species.

Maybe it is not too much to say that we all either live on the coastlines, or are connected to it in ways of essential importance, but unfortunately, today, not in sustainable ways.

A lot of people are trying to figure out how to make these places more in balance and there might be a good chance that coast trails, if designed with surrounding nature and habitats can be a very important part of making this connection between land and sea more sustainable.

And more – the trails may even help thrive, because when the coast trails make the landscapes accessible for both locals and tourists, people can better connect, understand, respect and enjoy the places they dwell and visit, using fewer resources and polluting less.

If, on the other hand, the connection-lines and trails between the sea and the land are damaged, fragmented, missing or privatized, it can have grave consequences both for us and for many, many other species. Re-creating and sustaining those lines and trails with art, storytelling, walking and research is what the WalkingAroundDenmark project is about.

Support the Coast Trail Project

I plan to raise the money for my walk along the way, as I hike the coastline,  both by painting, by making talks about hiking and by receiving donations.

Frits Ahlefeldt


About Frits Ahlefeldt

Painting watercolors, researching, writing & sketching up thoughts, understandings and ideas for a sustainable future, connecting thrive, trails, places and technology