Denmark 1999
A week in May, staying in three locations

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SAND stretches away as far as the eye can see. Piled into deep drifts, soaring into mountainous dunes, falling away beneath your feet as you stumble down treacherous slopes.With the sun blazing from a cloudless blue sky, this could be the Sahara or the Mojave Desert.
Who’s that looming through the heat haze? Omar Sharif on his camel? Clint Eastwood in his poncho? Not quite. Just one of the children playing a noisy game of roly-poly down one of these towering mountains of sand.
That's when we remember that we are, in fact, in the far north of Denmark. Few people expect to find a miniature desert on a Scandinavian holiday, but Denmark is a country that’s full of surprises. This strange formation is the Råbjerg Mile. It’s billed in the guide books as “the largest migrating sand dune in Europe” but that doesn't convey the sheer wonder of a mountain of sand which is slowly making its way across country from the North Sea to the Baltic.
For our three children, tumbling down its endless slopes was the highlight of a week which combined luxury accommodation in beautiful old manor houses with the freedom to roam all over Denmark.
Starting at the seaside town of Faborg on the island of Fyn, or Funen (the middle bit of this scattered country), we fell in love straight away with the lakeside grandeur of the Hvedholm Slot Hotel, with our red and gilt four-poster bed, and with the truly superb food every evening.
We were also impressed by nearby Egeskov Castle, which has the immaculate gardens, beautifully preserved buildings you expect - and also a spectacular treetop walk across steel-rope bridges, a genuinely scary Dracula's Crypt, two large mazes and a gleaming collection of classic cars.
And a short drive away the pretty holiday island of Langeland, which has so many quiet sandy beaches you could spend a lifetime trying them all. Before leaving Funen we made detour to see the Great Belt Bridge, opened in 1998 to link Funen with the larger island of Sjaeland across a 13-mile channel. Its four-mile eastern section is the longest suspension bridge in Europe – and driving over it just to have a look was a big mistake financially. The toll was £20 each way -- with no exceptions for gawking tourists.