Denmark’s second-largest lake, Lake Esrum, is the country’s largest in terms of water volume, measuring up to 22 meters at its deepest point. A walk along its banks leaves no doubt about the diversity of its birdlife. Previously a rare breeding bird in Denmark, the common goldeneye now rears its chicks in hollow trees or nesting boxes by the lake. White-tailed eagles and ospreys, both of which breed in Gribskov, are often seen circling over the lake. As a neighbour to Fredensborg Palace, Lake Esrum is steeped in history, its water exceptionally clean compared with that of other Danish lakes. This was therefore where the royal family’s laundry was washed back in the 18th century, but today the waters give simple pleasure to ordinary bathers.
Together with Melby Overdrev, Tisvilde Hegn is home to the largest number of natural species in Denmark. It includes Zealand’s biggest expanses of heath and dunes as well as a fascinating variety of woodlands. In addition to its unique natural gems, Tisvilde Hegn also boasts some interesting cultural treasures, such as a forgotten village deep in the woods and an old castle ruin. The landscape and harsh elements of the past have also left their mark, which manifestly appear as you wander among the gnarled trees of Troldeskoven (the Troll Forest), originally planted to prevent sand-drifting.
The grassland at Melby Overdrev is the largest heath landscape on Zealand. For more than a century, the area served as a target range, but it is now a protected site with free access for all. The heath at Melby Overdrev is a fascinating natural area, as it provides habitats for a large number of animals and plants, who are attracted to the dry and sandy life on the heath, e.g. adder, African stonechat and rare species of butterfly. Heather blooms in July, August and September, turning the entire area purple.
Gribskov is one of Denmark’s largest continous forest areas with a wealth of different species of plants, fungi, and rare insects. The forest is managed to establish more and more wild nature. The original forest image is restored with grazing animals, several lakes and bogs and natural processes with both living and dead trees, so that, e.g., the forest marten has more habitat areas. The same applies to all the small forests around Gribskov, which all have the surname “hegn”. This alludes to the fact that the forests were fenced off in the 19th century to prevent grazing livestock from eating the plants.
Hellebæk Kohave and Teglstrup Hegn
Together, the forests Teglstrup Hegn, Hellebæk Skov and Hellebæk Kohave form a natural area of approximately 1,000 hectares, with 500-year-old oak trees, an intact raised bog, a grassland with grazing cows, and lovely forest lakes. There are plenty of opportunities to experience the beauty and diversity of nature. Hellebæk Kohave is managed with aims to develop it into a pasture, which is a nutrient-poor nature on dry soil with many different plants. When the cows graze, nutrients are removed, which gives flowering plants a greater chance of gaining ground for the benefit of butterflies and other insects. Especially in the spring, Hellebæk is one of Eastern Denmark’s best places for birds of prey.
Hornbæk Plantation is located in a landscape characterised by the glacial period and the effects of harsh weather. At the top of the slope, you can see traces from prehistoric times, for example the sacrificial stone; a round dolmen dating back approx. 5,500 years. 25 burial mounds from the Bronze Age have been found in Hornbæk Plantation. They served to display the power and wealth of the area to anyone sailing along the coast before forests were planted. The plantation was established to stop the drifting sand that devastated the area in the 1600s. Due to the very diverse soil, the plantation has a rich flora, and many insects can be seen in the open areas.
Arresø is the largest lake in Denmark, and it offers lots of different outdoor activities.East of Frederiksværk, the peninsula Arrenæs stretches out into Arresø. A place nature and history lovers alike will find fascinating to visit. The area enjoys special bird protection and offers exceptionally beautiful and varied natural countryside. The two bird observation towers on the headland afford views of the rich bird life, and you may also be fortunate enough to spot some of Arrenæs’s newest residents – beavers. You can admire their dam from a beaver hide or discover the old Bronze Age burial mounds with magnificent views of fields, woods and lakeland.
Rusland is a wide-reaching heath and a protected site. The sand drift that devastated the Northern coast in the 16-1700s covered the area in sand, and this has left its mark on the vegetation in the area. A hilly landscape was formed with heather, juniper shrubs and scattered pines characterise the area today. Place names such as Rusland (Russia) and Sibirien (Siberia) can be found in several places in Denmark. They were originally used for remote and deserted places. Rusland in North Zealand lives up to its name, as to this day, it is a secluded natural area in an otherwise densely developed and cultivated region. In the midst of the heather-covered hills lies Rudolph Tegner’s Museum and Statue Park. The museum was built in 1938 by sculptor Rudolph Tegner to house his almost 200 statues and 214 paintings.
Krogerup is a beautiful and well-preserved manorial landscape with fields, open plains, and an avenue leading to the church, the inn, and the fishing village of Gl. Humlebæk by the Sound. The fishing village consists of a row of charming and well-preserved fisherman’s cottages. In 1661, the King donated the area to Hans Rostgaard in acknowledgement of his efforts in battles against the Swedes. For five generations, the area was owned by the Rostgaard family, who lived in the Krogerup manor house. Today, Krogerup accommodates a folk high school. The park around Krogerup, with its many old trees, is well worth a visit. At dusk, you can look for bats in the open park landscape.
Holløse Bredning is a large wetland area, which has been restored after many years of draining and cultivation as farmland. Holløse Bredning, as well as the bog area of Ellemose to the south-west, constitute important breeding sites and resting places for many birds. The wetlands attract large numbers of ducks, geese and wading birds. The white-tailed eagle and the great egret are some of the characteristic birds permanently residing at the lake. There is a bird hide in the reed bed at the lake, and a platform for bird watchers provides good and handicap-friendly access to look over the area.