By Søren Sorgenfri
Content paid by Places Bornholm
A hike in Hell can feel heavenly. Helvedsbakkerne (The Hell Hills), three kilometres from Nexø, are Paradisbakkernes (The Paradise Hills’) lesser-known evil ‘twin’ and offers a wide-ranging network of hiking trails for everyone.
Hiking is an increasingly popular activity. Hiking can be many kilometres and hours of brisk trotting for the trained, but a hike in this part of the green unspoilt Bornholm is for everyone.
Coming from Ibskervej, turn down Oksemyrevej which ends blindly at a parking area. The paved Lindsvej leads into the eastern part of the forest from here.
People with difficulty walking or families with strollers can stick to this road and get a nice trip without stones in their shoes or mischievous roots on the path.
The whole area was formerly covered by heather, but the planting of the forest has reduced the sizes of heather to insulated regions, which are worth detouring to experience.
Signs explain the path and length of the individual trails with colours and geometric shapes, and they can be combined without much difficulty. Follow the tracks and the signs marked with the colour that suits you.
It is hilly terrain, where plants, stones and pieces of rock prevail under the green layers. Wear suitable footwear for the hike and bring food and other supplies.
On this day, the sun is high above the forest, and the distorted terrain is filled with rocks, gorges and other features from a bygone ice age. There is no cloud in the sky on a bright, beautiful day with sunlight that almost seems crisp.
It’s not quiet. The treetops produce a sound, not unlike the roar of the sea, accompanied by birds singing as a pleasant soundtrack to the hardships that await.
The first part of the path is surrounded by a bog and then continues towards Gammeldam and Piltene. Piltene is large piles of stones strategically placed in high ground positions in the terrain. They were used as landmarks from when heather covered the area, and the rocks could be seen from a long distance.
The hiking trails lead you through a forest area with a wide variety of flora and fauna as well as fungi – you’ll have great opportunities to see the poisonous red fly agaric. (If not growing in the Hills of Hell, where then), but remember only to look at it, do not touch it. There are many stories of the Vikings using this poisonous fungus to go berserk.
The area’s many rift gorges make the terrain look like a large and furious child has either punched holes in the landscape or picked up huge pieces of rock and thrown them around.
It is in every way an adventurous and unique piece of the natural landscape that you’ll not find at any other place in Denmark. The rift valleys also make the area geologically interesting with, among other things, the exceptional Svaneke granite.
We are following the path marked with the yellow triangle. Here you come through the pine forest at Dybedal and Gammeldam, and you pass the boulder called ‘Trommerstenene’ (Drum stones). Dybedal is a beautiful eight-meter-deep rock crevice. The moist bottom provides a wealth of ferns, blueberries and blackberries when in season. This is also where you find the fallen boulders called ‘Troldstauerne’.
Every time the path turns, the terrain changes. It goes up, down, and even though there is a trampled path, the vegetation is dense in some places, but it is surprisingly easy to find your way around.
You travel only a few kilometres from the nearby towns. Still, you rarely see other hikers on these trails, and the feeling of isolation and unspoiled nature is almost overwhelmingly good.
Whether you are used to easy access to nature or not, you feel like something close to an explorer. Has the moss-covered forest floor been trodden at all – ever? In the privately-owned forest, nature takes care of itself.
The path leads over the edge of Årsdale Ret. A large clearing covered with heather. This area is also very hilly and covered in rocks, but seeing the clearing after walking in the dense forest is magnificent.
The many large rock surfaces serve as natural tables and benches for a coffee break. The air is clean, and there is no noise pollution. The purple heather is a spectacular view.
The path runs windingly through the heather and leads to Majdalen, another rift gorge, the largest in the area and here grow different types of lichens and ferns. It’s another spectacular sight and brings the mind to fantasy novels or magnificent adventure films such as ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
Like an actual twin, the Hell Hills are connected to the Paradise Hills, and the many signs and markings show routes towards Rokkestenen (the Rocking Stone) in the Paradise Hills. From here, new trails lead you further inwards to the central part of Almindingen.
For those who want to go for long walks with stages over several days, the area’s trails are connected to the new Højlyngsti across Bornholm.
But just a one-hour walk at your own pace and length can recharge your energy. The island has lots of sights, but the biggest must be the unique nature of Bornholm just waiting to be explored.
And the trails change character depending on the season. Summer has its beauty, autumn comes with colours, winter takes over the forest with harsh nature, and spring brings life. But no matter when you come home to the cottage or the holiday apartment, get a fire in the woodstove, after a brisk walk in the countryside, you are a holiday memory richer.