Coloured posts along the roads mark 6 different routes. The colour as well as the length of the trip is noted on the map. Bicycle rentals are available in Ribe as well as on Mandø. Bicycling to Mandø along Låningsvejen is not recommended. A bicycle ticket must be purchased for the Mandø bus.
1. We have chosen to describe the longest route (black, 10 km.), that starts in Mandø town and goes all the way around the island. Cars are a rarity and the sea dike perimeter keeps you in the lee. Most of the route is paved, and the trip takes between 1 and 2 hours depending on stops along the way.
2. Before you start, you ought to “climb” the tallest dune right beside the storm surge column. Looking southwest, you will have a view of Denmark’s largest desert, the sandbank Koresand, which is situated above the medium high tide and traversed by intersecting tidal channels. Rømø is seen to the south and Fanø to the northwest. The trip starts in Mandø town in the north and past Mandø Mill (10). Just past, turn left at the sandy wheel tracks that will take you up and across the town dike. A little ways along this dike you will find the
3. Ribe ramp, which is a paved road running through the old town dike that was built in 1887. The ramp will be closed off with planks and sandbags in case of a storm surge. North of the town dike, you will find the farm smallholdings from the 1950es. They were damaged during the storm surge in 1981 when the water destroyed both the sea and the town dike. Continue alongside the sea dike while going north, and within a few minutes we have “The Big Channel” on the right. The channel runs across the island, and, until 1938, when the sea dike was built, divided the northern part, Old Mandø, from the southern part.
4. In the north-eastern corner of the island you will find Skællebankerampen, a name derived from the word shells (skaller). When standing on the dike at the low tide and looking a few kilometers in an easterly direction, you can see large banks of the common mussel. Towards the northeast, in the direction of the windturbines in Tjæreborg (on the mainland) you will see, on a clear day and only during the low tide, a huge seal bank with up to hundreds of seals during the breeding season. The seals cannot be disturbed since until August the seal pups must gain up to a kilo per day during the first few weeks of their lives if they are to make it through the winter. Close to Skællebankerampen lies the island’s most northern clay pit, where, during the breeding seasons, you will see brooding eiders, great black-backed gulls and other birds.
Continuing along, it is a good idea to stop and walk up on the sea dike by the crossing to the mainland. The foreland here is still growing towards the east, and during the breeding season you will see oyster catchers, piet avocets, terns, and a huge colony of black-headed gulls. The birds have learned that it pays to seek the fenced in area, the higher lying foreland. The fence provides protection against the sheep that will always climb into a higher lying area during the high tide, and in so doing, step on or lie on eggs and nestlings.
5. At the lock, the drain water goes into the sea, and now The Big Channel (see point 3), has reached around to the east side of Mandø. The lock is semi-automatic, thus the high tide closes the gates. From the sea dike, looking in the direction of Vester Vedsted church on the mainland, you will note, but only at the low tide, a smaller seal bank with 5 to 12 seals fairly close by.
Østerdyb, situated opposite the lock, is the old tidal channel used for sailing into Ribe, and at the low tide, you can see the waddens on the mainland side. At the lock, huge numbers of oyster-catchers, Brent geese and eiders often congregate. Going from point 5 to 7, you will see a few round expansions of the water gully behind the dike. These emerged where the dike did not hold during the 1981 storm surge. A water level of 4.11 metres on the inside of the dike, most of the island flooded and hundreds of drowned sheep, made the 1981 storm surge one of the worst in the newer history of Mandø. Just before the town dike, and using the yellow route, you can make a little trip to.
6. Mandø’s "weele" is a term used in several areas along the Wadden Sea coast to denote storm flood holes. That is to say, the dike was built around a hole made by the storm surge in 1923. The grain in the fields had not yet been harvested, so the winterfeed and crops were totally destroyed. The saline seawater stayed in the soil and ruined cultivation for many years. During the breeding season one should move carefully around the hole since many eiders nest here just as the marsh harrier often makes its nest in the tall reeds.
7. Here the sea dike meets the town dike again.
8. Continue to Sønderrampe where there is an exit to the sandbank Koresand that today comprise an area of 30 km2, yet still growing. From here, during the migrating season, it is possible to see large concentrations of migratory birds on the edge of Kanes Lunde - the channel that flows into the North Sea.
9. After a short stretch on gravel road, you return to Mandø town, where you drive past Mandø church which is surrounded by a low wall. The church, in its current form, was built in 1727. The reindeer antlers on the interior south wall were found in the sea west of Mandø and are estimated to be 10,000 years old. The area south of the church is used as a landing ground for helicopters when immediate help from the mainland is a must.
Panorama cycle route