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 in 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 almost 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 and the European Badger, and if you are extremely lucky you can sometimes spot Osprey or the White Tailed Eagles. More common sightings are the Common Buzzard and to some extent the Honey Buzzard and Sparrow Hawk.
The national park borders Helsingør to the east, the Zealand North Coast to the north, Frederiksværk and Hundested to the west and Hillerød and Fredensborg to the south, and can be easily accessed by bike or even by foot from these cities.
Route 205 between Helsingør and Frederiksværk pass through the northern part of the park, while routes 6 and 16 between the same destinations pass through the southern part of the park. Routes 213, 235, 227 and 267 pass through the park in a north-south direction.
Bus 362 from Helsingør stop by Esrum Møllegård. Bus 940R between Hillerum and Gilleleje on the north coast stops at the bus station Mårum Station in the park area.
Fees and permits
There are no fees to enter the park, and the only fee you are likely to encounter is the compulsory angling license if you plan on fishing in any of the lakes; 35 kr/day, 100 kr/week or 140 kr/year.
Gribskovbanen (The Grib forest railway) is one of the oldest private railways in the country. It was built 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).
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 Helsingør, Fredensborg Slot in Fredensborg and Frederiksborg Slot in Hillerød, these are in the respective cities, and are not part of the national park - although they can be visited as part of an excursion to the park. There are ruins related to the royal history of the lands contained in the park, that relate to the kings of old, though you'd probably need a strong interest in archaeology or history to go out of your way to see these sites.
- 1 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 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
- 2 Dronningholm Slotsruin, Auderødvej 40 (nearest address). A castle ruin. Built by King Valdemar II (1170-1241) for his wife Dagmar in the 12th century. It was passed on to Seignory, and eventually to decay. Many of building materials were used to reconstruct a local mill after a fire, and so only the foundations remains, but there are nice views over the lake.
- 3 Gurre Slotsruin, Gurrevej 425 (nearest address). May be 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 visible part remaining is the bast of the main tower, which still rises up to 3 meters above the foundations.
- 4 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 Helsingør. The moat and ground layout of the old castle is still visible
- 5 Esrum Canal. A 9-km canal between Esrum Sø lake and the north coast at Dronningmølle, built in 1805 to transport timber from the forests to Copenhagen. The canal lost its importance when the railway was built, and was subsequently abandoned. However, it is 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.
- 6 Fruebjerg. 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 been revived.
- 7 Troldeskoven. A special area of Tisvilde Hegn where 100–200-year-old weather-worn Scots pines with twisted and crooked branches create a peculiar atmosphere, which has prompted locals to dub the area the - enchanted or troll - forest. The phenomenon is caused by strong winds and poor soil conditions.
- 8 Esrum Møllegård, Klostergade 11, Græsted, ☏ . Nature centre.
- 9 Esrum Monastery, Klostergade 11, Esrum (North of Esrum lake), ☏ , email@example.com. Summer Tu-Su 11:00-17:00; winter: Sa Su 11:00-17:00. This used to be the biggest monastery in Scandinavis. Only a few buildings remain. Shops, restaurant, and many activities for children Free, but costs for some exhibitions.
- 10 Æbelholt Kloster museum (Æbelholt Abbey Museum), Æbeltholt 4, ☏ . May - Oct: Tu-Su 11:00-16:00. 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.
- 1 Bærhaven, Danstrupvej 5, Danstrup. 3480 Fredensborg, ☏ .
- 2 [dead link] Canoe and Kayak at Esrum Lake, Sørupvej 1, Fredensborg, ☏ . Spring-Fall: Sa-Su 10:00-17:00. Rent a canoe or a kayak for an our or a few days. From 150 kr.
- 3 Fredensborg Falkonergård, Davidsvænge 11, ☏ . 90 kr.
- 4 Fredensborg Golf Club, Skovsvinget 25, Fredensborg, ☏ .
- Søåsegård Ferielejligheder, Sørupvej 23, Sørup, Fredensborg, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Flats from 680 kr.
In Nyrup Hegn and Klosteris Hegn there is free camping which is rare in Denmark
- 1 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), ☏ . A campground for up to 10 people near the Dronningholm castle ruins near Arresø lake
- 2 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.), ☏ . 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.), ☏ , email@example.com. 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), ☏ . A small campground in a beech forest lat=.
- Nødebo Holt (Gribskov) (From Nødebo village down the Holtevej road to the lake), ☏ . 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, a barbecue and 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), ☏ . 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=.
- 3 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=.