Kongernes Nordsjælland National Park
Kongernes Nordsjælland, or in English - the North Zealand of Kings, is a National park in the making in Nordsjælland, Denmark. The National Park status has yet to take full effect, due to disagreements on the parks boundaries, but the necessary law passed through parliament in 2008.
A large portion of the national park is taken up by Gribskov, Denmark's 4th largest forest, covering some 5600 hectares (ca 14.000 acres), the landscape here is undulating with varied vegetation, but mostly pine, beech and some majestic old oak trees. The forest is bordered by Esrum Sø to the east, Denmark's 3rd largest lake by area, and largest by water volume, at the southern corner is a protected bay rich on birds, further east through an area of farms and fields lies the shallow, 2 km2 Gurre Sø surrounded by relatively untouched forest. South of Gribskov is the expansive deer garden Store Dyrehave where the star shaped trail system used for the royal Par force hunts still dominates. To the north you will find Tisvilde hegn Arresø
Flora and fauna
While not exactly rich on fauna by most standards, for a densely populated area like Denmark - and Zealand in particular, the range of animals to be spotted here is richer than most everywhere else in the country outside the wadden sea. Mammals living in the park includes many species of deer (red-, roe-, fallow- and sika deer) which constituted a large part of the royal interests in the northern forests. You can also see foxes as well as the European Badger, and if you are extremely lucky you can sometimes spot Osprey or the White Tailed Eagles, but more common sightings up in the air includes the Common Buzzard and to some extend the Honey Buzzard and Sparrow Hawk.
Gribskovbanen (The Grib forest railway) is one of the oldest private railways in the country. It was build between 1880 and 1924, mainly to haul lumber between Grib Forest and Copenhagen, which was a tedious venture to do over land, but it has also carried passengers nearly since its beginnings. Today it mainly carries commuters to Hillerød where passengers can continue with the S-train to and from Copenhagen, but during the summer its also packed with vacationers going to their holiday homes or the beaches on the North Coast, or on small treks in Gribskov (Stops: Gribsø, Kagerup & Mårum).
Since you're in Denmark, naturally another way of getting around would be on a Bike, from Hillerød two marked bicycle routes takes you towards the North Coast. Route 32 towards Helsinge and Tisvildeleje (Tisvilde Hegn) takes you along the western boundary of Gribskov, and route 33 takes you directly through Gribskov to Gilleleje. Besides those two bicycle routes there are ample of paths through the forests, and scenic thinly trafficked roads to take you throughout the park.
While the royal connotations in the parks name mainly refers to the 3 grand royal palaces of Northern Zealand; Kronborg in Elsinore, Fredensborg Slot in Fredensborg and Frederiksborg Slot in Hillerød, these are actually located inside the respective cities, and are as such not part of the national park itself - although they are perfectly feasible to visit as part of an excursion to the park. There are however, also a number of ruins related to the royal history of the lands contained in the park, that relates to the kings of old, though you'd probably need an interest in archeology or history to go out of your way to see these sites.
- Asserbo Slotsruin, Bisp Absalonsvej 31 (nearest address). Erected as a monastery by Absalon, the founder of Copenhagen, in the 11th century for the Carthusian Order, it was since converted to a palace, taken over by the king, and abandoned after a fire. Archaeological excavations have since exposed the foundations and remaining parts of the walls, and the old moat also remains. Nearby is another excavation of an abandoned village and a number of Tumulus inside the forest
- Dronningholm Slotsruin, Auderødvej 40 (nearest address). A castle ruin. Originally build by King Valdemar II (1170-1241) for his wife Dagmar in the 12th century. It was since passed on to Seignory, and eventually to decay. Many of building materials was used to reconstruct a local mill after a fire, and so only the foundations remains, but there is nice views over the lake.
- Gurre Slotsruin, Gurrevej 425 (nearest address). Arguably the most impressive of the parks ruins, its origins are hazy, but it gained prominence under King Valdemar IV (Valdemar Atterdag), who also expanded the castle significantly in 14th century. According the legend he became so attached to it that he "would give up his place in heaven to keep it", something not lost on various Danish poets throughout the ages. The only real visible part remaining is the bast of the main tower, which still rises up to 3 meters above the foundations.
- Søborg Slotsruin, Bygaden 58, Gilleleje (nearest address). An important locality from the viking age and up to its days as a royal castle from the 12th to the mid 16th century when it was disbanded following the Count's Feud civil war. Many of the stones were used during the construction of Kronborg castle in Elsinore. The moat and ground layout of the old castle is still visible
- Esrum Canal. a 9 km canal between Esrum Sø lake and the north coast at Dronningmølle, build in 1805 to transport timber from the forests to Copenhagen. The canal lost it's importance when the railway was build, and was subsequently abandoned. However, It's still visible in the landscape, and while partly overgrown, parts still carry water and many of the old installations related to the canal is still there. The trail where horses used to haul the prams along the canal, still exists, and offers a fantastic walk.
- Fruebjerg. is a historic 65 meter hill-top in the middle of the forest, which towers (well at least for Denmark) above the surrounding area's and offers some nice views over Northern Zealand. The site was home of the massive fruebjergmødere gatherings at the turn of the 19th century, closely related to Grundtvigs folk high school movement. A tradition that has recently been revived.
- Troldeskoven. a special area of Tisvilde Hegn where 100-200 years old weather worn Scots Pines with twisted and crooked branches creates a peculiar atmosphere, which has prompted locals to dub the area the - enchanted or troll - forest. The phonemon is caused by strong winds and poor soil conditions.
- Esrum Monastery, Klostergade 11, Esrum (North of Esrum lake), ☎ +45 48 36 04 00, e-mail: email@example.com. Summer Tu-Su 11:00-17:00;Vinter: Sa.Su 11:00-17:00. This used to be the biggest monastery in Scandinavis. Only a few building remains. Shops, restaurant, and many activities for children Free, but DKK for some exhibitions.
- Æbelholt Kloster museum (Æbelholt Abbey Museum), Æbeltholt 4, ☎ +45 4824 3448. May - Oct: 11 - 16 (Monday closed).. The ruins of the largest medieval Augustinian abbey in the Nordic countries. The small museum on the grounds, has exhibitions about the medical history of the Augustinian order, including a garden with medical herbs, and some 300 skeletons on display! Once every year there is a middle age themed market day held, at the grounds around mid June.
- Canoe and Kayak at Esrum Lake, Sørupvej 1, Fredensborg, ☎ +45 2712 4909. Spring-Fall Sa-Su 10:00-17:00. Rent a canoe or a kayak for an our or a few days. From DKK 150.
- Restaurant Skipperhuset, Skipperálle 6, Fredensborg, ☎ +45 4848 1012, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Søåsegård Ferielejligheder, Sørupvej 23, Sørup, Fredensborg, ☎ +45 2361 5516, fax: +45 4848 1360, e-mail: email@example.com. Flats from 680 DKK.
In Nyrup Hegn and Klosteris Hegn there is free camping which is rare in Denmark
- Dronningholm (Arresø) (Shortly after you pass the castle ruins there i a small parking lot on the right, the grounds are 200 meters on the south side of the small lake), ☎ +45 47 72 30 01. A campground for up to 10 people near the Dronningholm castle ruins near Arresø lake
- Nordhuse (Arresø) (Follow Nordhusvej around 900 meters and turn left down a small unnamed road - look for a yellow marker - from the parking lot its 300 meters ahead.), ☎ +45 47 72 30 01. a small campground right by Arresø lake lat=.
- Hvidkilde (Gribskov) (From Kagerup station follow Hærvejen around 1 km east, and turn left on Hvidkildevej, it will be on your left after crossing the train tracks.), ☎ +45 32 50 00 17. a campground in an abandoned gravel pit, close to a small spring of the same name. lat=.
- Ornedvej (Gribskov) (From the bridge at Orned plantation where biking route 32 passes the Pøleåen stream, continue 300 meters to the east), ☎ +45 32 50 00 17. A small campground in a beech forest lat=.
- Nødebo Holt (Gribskov) (From Nødebo village down the Holtevej road to the lake), ☎ +45 32 50 00 17. Close to the southern end of Esrum sø (lake). Views over the bird reserve, bathing in the lake is possible, and there are tables, benches and a barbecue/campfire lat=.
- Endrup Hegn (Follow Davidsvænge road to the forest, once there, follow the left path for around 400 meters, the site will be on your left), ☎ +45 48 48 21 00. Two shelters in a small forest area near a small village near Fredensborg. around 3 km from the castle, with room for 5 in each shelter lat=.
- Ravnebakken (Krogenberg Hegn) (Follow the Ravnebakkevej road to the old ranger house called Ravnebakkehus, and turn up the small path opposite). Shelter in the eastern part of the Krogenberg Hegn area, well protected from the wind, around 10 sleeping places.
- Edens Have (Hellebæk) (From the parking lot at Skindersøvej follow the gravel road around 150 meters). Really good shelter for up 20 people just around a km from the beach with electricity and toilet facilities, but it requires reservation. lat=.