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Where Nature Meets Cultural Heritage: The Crown of Denmark's Hiking Trails

Article by: Stella Cowey

A Place of Plenty

Denmark’s “Little Belt” is the stretch of water flowing between the Jutland peninsula, Denmark’s connection to continental Europe and the island of Fyn. In the Lillebælt area, you will find the largest nature park in Denmark. This marine nature park is home to one of the world’s most dense whale populations. It is a corner of the world with an intricate cultural history, beautiful nature and wildlife, and a whole host of hiking trails to explore. All of Lillebælt’s main attractions are concentrated within this region, making them easy to visit, and easy to appreciate. What’s more, the region is accessible by public transport from several of Denmark’s largest cities, with a direct train from Copenhagen, and other train and bus links from cities such as Århus and Odense. This article will highlight some of what the Lillebælt region has to offer and give information on four of the region’s hiking trails.

The Hindsgavl Peninsula: Stately Beauty Meets Natural Beauty

The Hindsgavl peninsula is the westernmost point of Fyn and reaches out from the medieval trading town of Middelfart. On the peninsula, you will find the Hindsgavl Slot, a stately castle with a history dating back to the 12th century. Likewise, you will find the Hindsgavl Dyrepark, a deer park boasting 165 acres of serene and open pastures. It is home to large herds of red and fallow deer, which are easy to spot on a walk through the area. These deer are responsible for shaping and maintaining the area, keeping the paddocks naturally light and open. A recommended walking route is a hike around the peninsula, along the coast from the old harbour, Gammelhavn, southwards to Teglgård, and then clockwise around the peninsula.

Røjle Klint: Traces of History

Moving northwards and slightly to the east of Hindsgavl and Middelfart are the cliffs of Røjle. These impressive cliffs reach up to 45m in height and are geologically fascinating as they showcase the effects of the Ice Age on the country’s landscape. Not least due to that, Røjle Klint became a protected area in 1939 to preserve and look after this unique geology. Likewise due to the ice age, this area is known for being an ideal place to find fossils. Examples of fossils range from shark teeth to walrus bones. A popular hiking route takes you from the town of Strib and along the coast of the Lillebælt, leading you to the cliffs themselves. It is possible to follow the coast for around 5km, offering you great viewpoints of both the cliffs and the surrounding area, before heading back towards Strib.

Hagenør: Fit for a King

On the other side of the Lillebælt, and now on the Jutland peninsula, is Hagenør. It is a nature reserve whose coastal landscape is protected. The slopes of Hagenør were formed of sedimentary layers 18 million years ago. It boasts a varied landscape with coastal forests, deciduous forests, meadows, bogs, and pastures. The wildlife here is similarly diverse, as up to 60 different bird species have been registered in the area. This natural diversity and beauty is matched by its cultural offerings: A walk through the nature reserve will take you past Hagenør castle hill, where a castle of the same name once stood. King Christian II of Denmark, Sweden and Norway (during the time of the Kalmar Union) stayed here when the Danish nobility and Sweden rebelled against him in 1523. The castle itself was ruined during the civil war ‘The Count’s Feud’ (1534-36) and was never rebuilt. However, the castle hill, built as a foundation for this royal castle, remains, standing proud after all these centuries. A recommended hiking route through the area is a 4km loop of the reserve, which will take you past all of Hagenør’s highlights. The route will take you first through some forest and then along the coast following the Lillebælt, then back through forestry back to the start point.

The Lillebælt Path

If you cannot decide which hiking trail appeals the most, there is the option to take the Lillebæltssti, hailed as Denmark’s “most scenic walking trail”. The trail follows the western coast of Fyn, starting in Strib and ending just south of Gamborg. The 27km route takes you through urban environments, untouched forestry, along the coast, stunning beaches, and idyllic pastures. Along the trail, you will find Strib lighthouse, Middelfart’s old harbour, and the Hindsgavl peninsula, mentioned earlier in the article. The trail is clearly marked with easy-to-follow signs, and there is the option to stay at campsites along the way and to visit private beaches. This trail has been created so that it follows the Leading Quality Trails (LQT) standard (established by the European Ramblers Association) as some of the best trails in Europe. Once the trail reaches at least 50km, it will seek LQT certification. This trail is the best option to get a full overview of exactly what it is that the Lillebælt has to offer.

More to Offer

These are just four of the many hiking trails in this area. They exemplify Denmark’s rich cultural history, from grand castles to remnants of civil wars. The geology of this area is rich, diverse, and of impressive beauty. While Denmark is known as a contemporary and modern country, often on the cutting edge of design and fashion, the rural areas of the Lillebælt area are a fantastic place to appreciate a version of Denmark that is stripped-back and simpler, the way it once was. This is an area where Denmark’s natural beauty meets its diverse and cultural history.

For more information, please click here to learn about all of the hiking opportunities Lillebælt has to offer.

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