Skjern River Walking

In late August I will walk for several days along Skjern River with my colleague and good friend Thomas Juel Clemmensen. We will walk some 100 km from the source of the river towards the windbeaten west coast of Denmark where the river flows into Ringkøbing Fjord and the North Sea.

Our walk will begin in Tinnet Krat and end in the Skjern River Delta.

For a river walker Tinnet Krat is a special, almost mythical, place. Here both Skjern River, Denmark’s largest river in terms of flow, and Gudenåen, Denmark’s longest river, begin their watery journeys only a few 100m from each other. The two rivers are seperated by the watershed running along the topographical spine of Jutland. While Skjern River flows westward crossing the flat plains of western Jutland, Gudenåen flows northeastward through the hilly and forested countryside of the Danish lakeland district towards the east coast.

After three days of westbound walking we expect to reach the Skjern River Delta, where the largest, and most advanced, drainage and land reclamation project in Denmark’s history took place in the 1960es. Thomas has been working extensively with the nature restoration of the river delta, which was initiated only a few decades after the completion of the land reclamation in 1968. In his research, some of which was recently published in the Journal of Landscape Architecture, he has questioned how nature is referred to as ‘the nature’ or simply ‘nature’, as if it was something objective or selfevident:

[…] who defines, or decides, what nature is, and what kind of nature should be restored? And is not ‘nature restoration’ a contradiction in terms with regard to our deeply cultivated landscapes?” (Clemmensen, 2014)

Some of his research builds upon the renaturalisation of the Aire River outside Geneva, which we visited together for the second time in 2013. Here we walked the river from its source in Mont Saléve to Geneva. During this walk I completed my Aire Walk Series, the first of several series of photographs on rivers – and the highly cultivated landscapes they traverse. So walking Skjern River together with Thomas seems to be a fitting sequal for our shared river walking and a photographical continuation of my expanding river series.

Two rivers, two watersheds, two walks.