Along the Gendarmstien: The Vibæk Mølle near Horuphav
The small mill village of Vibæk Mølle is located directly at Høruphav near Skovby near Sønderborg (Sonderborg). Høruphav, on the other hand, is a branch of the Flensburg Fjord, along the coast of which the popular Gendarmstien runs. The border gendarmes once watched the border with Germany on his paths.
Today, both can be discovered: both the Gendarmstien, Denmark’s most popular long-distance hiking trail, and the historic courtyard with a windmill and a water mill. We have currently hiked the Gendarmstien and regardless of that we always stop at Vibæk Mølle. Today is even a day of action.
The location of Vibæk Mølle
The area of Vibæk Mølle, the Vibæk watermill, belongs to Vibøge / Sydal. The small Mühlenhof is well protected from wind and weather by the surrounding slopes and is in a scenic, picturesque setting. The mill is the only remaining one of ten Alsatian water mills in the area. Today Vibæk Mølle has been lovingly restored in all its beauty. She looks as if the farmer has just gone shopping and is about to go back to work.
Where is Vibæk Mølle actually?
Depending on the direction from which you start the Gendarmstien, the mill tour is on the first or last stage of the 84-kilometer tour. But you can of course also come by bike or car from Sonderburg / Sønderborg and follow the small sign just before Skovby to the Baltic Sea. The distance from Høruphav is just four kilometers. Then a narrow road leads through the middle of the cornfields, which thrive on the hillside towards the coast.
Knicks, as we know them in northern Germany, protect the fields from strong winds and protect us from the blazing sun. The small mill village of Vibæk is located in a depression, by a small lake and an almost inconspicuous stream. But the water was just right to set up a plant for grinding grain here.
The story of the small mill village
Vibæk Mølle went into operation in 1756. Previously there was a mill further up the stream, the Vibækken, near Mulhuse in the 16th century. The Vibækken has its source about eight kilometers further north and flows into Høruphav near the former Taskland ship terminal.
But there were some very practical reasons to move it further down and create a new mill pond here: At that time, transports only went by horse and cart over unpaved roads or by boat or ship along the coast. The new location was much closer to a pier at Høruphav, and it took less than 500 meters to send the flour on its way. Taskland Kro was the meeting point for the sailors and packers who reloaded the flour from the horse-drawn carriages onto their barges.
On the other hand, the small stream also offered a higher drop height and thus significantly more power on the operated water wheel. Water was definitely a problem, as the cattle needed it in the summer months. In winter, however, there was enough of it.
The effort has been made to scientifically analyze the age of the wood used in the Vibæk Mølle. It was found that the wood for the mill wheel and cogwheels had already been cut in 1550. So maybe wood or one or the other component of an old mill was still used.
In 1832 a windmill was also built above Vibæk Mølle. The lack of water during the summer months up to the harvest season kept causing failures, which the windmill could now compensate for.
In 1938 Vibæk Mølle ceased operations. There were now more modern systems that were primarily independent of the water level. This also included more modern windmills.
From the beginning, the Vibæk Mølle was intended as an hereditary mill for the Danish king. The miller was allowed to operate this system with his family and even pass it on to it. All he had to do was meet all deadlines, pay all fees and taxes on time, and properly maintain and maintain the mill.
With the lost war against Prussia in 1864, the island of Als was now also under the influence of the German Empire. This also ended the inheritance contract with the king, and Vibæk Mølle went into private ownership.
About life on the farm
The mill village of Vibæk Mølle, also called Møllegården (Mill Farm), consists of a wide variety of buildings. At the top of the narrow street is the windmill that was added later.
Vibæk Mølle also naturally includes the eponymous watermill with its elaborate gearbox and the grinding system with filling funnels. Next to it are the stable building and a small yard workshop. Directly opposite is the large farmhouse with an outbuilding behind it, consisting of a barn, a garage for the coach, a small pigsty and a small bakery.
In the north-west is the dammed mill pond, which offered the most extensive and even water supply possible.
A mill farm like Vibæk Mølle was largely self-sufficient. The carriages and carts had to be maintained, the farm implements repaired and the horses shod. There was also a drying room for grain and malt.
A typical feature of this region is the small sand house. In this sand was dried, which was then used to clean the floors in the buildings.
In the meantime, baskets were woven, laundry was washed outside on a float, sewn, and the bread dough shoved into the coal oven.
The Vibæk Mølle today
With the abandonment of the Vibæk Mølle, the facility visibly deteriorated. In 1983 an arsonist set fire to the windmill in the mill village of Vibæk Mølle. It burned to the ground. A rarity in the entire region was thus destroyed.
When Vibæk Mølle came into the possession of a foundation in 1987, it was extensively restored and partly rebuilt in the following years. Suddenly it was in new condition.
Only the windmill was missing. They searched all over Denmark until they found what they were looking for on Zealand. Finally a windmill had been found that would fit on the preserved foundation of the Vibæk Mølle. The Niløse Mølle near Dianalund was dismantled in 1995, dismantled into individual parts and rebuilt in the small mill town of Vibæk Mølle. On April 30, 1996 this work was done. What was still missing were the hat and wings. Money was collected over the next few years and so in 2008 the hat was put on the windmill.
More information about Vibæk Mølle
The entire mill at Vibæk Mølle is accessible in the summer months. The technical system of the water mill with its exciting wooden gear can also be viewed.
In addition, there are always activity days on which handicrafts and handicrafts are offered. Then there is also delicious food, drinks, music and a good mood. The proceeds go completely to the voluntary work to maintain the facility.
We recommend anyone who would like more information the official website of Vibæk Mølle.