Attractions in Gribskov

1. Sandskredssøen

Sandskredssøen, in the middle of Gribskov, is the third largest lake in the forest and is also known as Sandskredsmose. The 3.5-hectare wetland was originally a peat bog that was drained and planted with spruce in the mid-1800's and again in 1948.

In the 1990s, the common spruces were removed north of Pælevej and the drainage ditch to the drain hole was blocked. In a short span of time, the moor developed into a lake because the water level rose dramatically, and the bog peat had subsided. 

In 2002, the area south of Pælevej was also cleared. Now peat bogs and cotton grass are spreading and are gradually forming a bog.

A few years ago, an area equivalent to ​​55 football pitches was cleared near the lake. It is called Ulvedalssletterne, and here a score of Iceland ponies graze all year round, acting as four-legged nature conservationists. They ensure that the area, which was formerly a dark spruce forest, is transformed into a bright commons landscape with a richer plant- and insect life.

2. Store og Lille Hessemose

Until 200 years ago, Store and Lille Hessemose, which take up a total of 19 hectares between Kagerup and Mårum, made up one of the largest bogs of the forest, called Hestehave Mose; however, only the northernmost part was converted into agricultural land and, in the middle of the 1800s, large parts of the rest of the area were drained and used for harvesting hay until birch and alder were planted there.

The trees did not flourish and, today, most of the nature of Hessemosen with its bright meadows, grazing forests, ponds and water-filled peat bogs which arose when peat was dug during the occupation. Horses graze in the meadows and, thus, help keep the area open. In 2016, bright corridors were constructed along several roads in Gribskov, amongst others, in the Hessemose area to benefit insect life, not least the butterflies of the forest.

3. Store Gribsø

Covering an area of 10.1 hectares, Store Gribsø is the largest lake in Gribskov, only outdone by Esrum Sø.

It is 5.5 km long, 1.8 km wide and 11 metres deep at its deepest location and is located 50 metres above sea level.

Store Gribsø is formed in a kettle hole and no longer has drainage; however, due to the water’s depth it does not become overgrown in the way a bog may. On the other hand, until a relatively recently, the water was very acidic when the supply of water from the area's largest bog was closed. Ditches being closed has meant that new bogs have formed and that existing ones have become wetter. The kettle hole was formed during the most recent ice age by the glacier leaving huge lumps of ice which packed in soil and gravel and, therefore, only melted slowly, leaving a large hole.

Store Gribsø is a so-called humus lake. This means that it is coloured brown by humus particles from the bog drainage water that was led into it. This makes it look bottomless. This is a rare type of lake type in Denmark and, for this reason, it has been observed by researchers since the 1930s.

In the 1700s, when the lake was drained, it formed an important part of the royal freshwater fishing and it supplied the court with, amongst others, crayfish.

Legend has it that, on quiet evenings, you can hear a bell tolling at the bottom of the lake. Allegedly, it comes from a nunnery that was swallowed by the lake because the nuns were more interested in the monks at the Esrum Monastery than they were in the Lord.

4. Pibervang

Pibervang - north of Dronningens Bøge at Esrum Sø - is one of the many stud farmfields in the area. Here, the famous Frederiksborgheste grazed for 300 years. King Christian the 4th was responsible for really organising the breeding, as he had the horses organised in groups - so-called studs – comprising one a stallion and 12-18 mares, divided by colour. The whites being the most precious.

11 of the fields, surrounded by stone fences, were located in Gribskov and, of these, 6 were located along the western shore of Esrum Sø where a mile-long edge of the forest was set aside for them.

Each field had a field man who looked after the horses and lived in a house by the field.

The present Pibervang was restored in 1987 and, although the horses grazing there today are not Frederiksborgheste, the landscape looks like the original fields did.

5. Mor Gribs Hule

Gribskov is very rich in ancient monuments. The most impressive is Mor Gribs Hule, also known as Mutter Gribs Hule, on the other side of Helsingevej opposite the car park, west of Store Gribsø. It is a well-preserved megalithic tomb from the late Stone Age about 5,000 years ago.

Legend has it that the megalithic tomb was inhabited by the witch Mor Grib and her sons. She lured travellers to her by whistling, after which her sons killed and robbed them.

6. Fruebjerg

With its 65,45 metres, Fruebjerg is the steepest hill in Gribskov. From its summit, there is a good view of Denmark's largest lake, Arresø. King Frederik the 2nd’s Kanal, which was constructed in the late 16th century to lead water into Frederiksborg Slotssø, cuts through the western base of Fruebjerg and, below it, is Fruebjerg Sø which, today, is nearly overgrown.

Earlier, the area sported several springs. Other than those, Fruebjerg is best known for the Fruebjerg meetings of the period 1896-1935, which were started by Holger Begtrup, who was involved in the Danish folk high school. Up to 5,000 people met to hear politicians and cultural figures speak here. At the 100th anniversary of the first meeting, the tradition was revived with a meeting being held every year in August.

7. Væltningen

Væltningen in Snevret Skov is part of the story of the now dried-out bargeman canal which was dug between Esrum Sø and Dronningemølle in 1802 to ship firewood from Gribskov to Copenhagen.

The firewood was transported on barges drawn by horses along the nine-kilometre canal. The upper canal cut from Sølyst on the north bank of the lake to Væltningen, where the firewood was left to slide down a four-metre skidway to lower terrain. The firewood was then reloaded onto a narrower barge and drawn by men along the lower canal to the beach at Dronningemølle. Here, it was loaded onto small boats that sailed it out to waiting ships which shipped it to the capital.

On Sundays, the upper classes used the canal for excursions with coffee and cake through the beautiful landscape. Esrum Kanal was decommissioned in 1873, but there are still clear traces of it, even though it has become overgrown. In 1897, the railway opened which then took over the transportation of firewood.

8. Kollerup Enghave

Kollerup Enghave between Kagerup and Mårum is one of Gribskov's large, bright meadows which, from ancient times and until the 1990s, was used for grazing.

There are springs in both the northern and southern ends of the meadow. Every year, to show humility, the monks of Esrum Monastery washed the feet of the poor in Grønnekilde. It was believed that the water had healing effects.

When Gribskov's most famous poacher, Jens Omgang, was surprised by the forest supervisor, he hid his gun by pushing it into the bank and, after his death in 1869, it was incorporated into the wall at Grønnekilde, so the water ran out of the rifle.

At the southern end of the meadow, you find the spring Hvidekilde in which, every Easter, the monks baptised all the sinners and heathen charcoal burners who had found a home at the monastery. It is said that there will be peace in the country as long as the spring wells.

There is a bonfire hut and pen where horses may rest at Grønnekilde and a barbecue area with a bonfire hut at Hvidkilde.

9. UNESCO World Heritage

Ottevejskorset and Stjernen

Ottevejskrydset between Gadevang and Nødebo and Rødepælsstjernen a little further north are the stars in a crossroads where eight straight roads meet. They were constructed during the period 1680-90 by King Christian the 5th for the par force hunt he had gotten to know in France as a Crown Prince. This par force hunting landscape, together with the corresponding part of Store Dyrehave and the landscape of Jægersborg Dyrehave, were added to UNESCO's World Heritage in the summer of 2015. The unique feature of this hunting landscape is the stringent square network on which the roads are built and which, in principle, can expanded indefinitely. At the same time, it had a symbolic meaning since mathematics was the expression of the common sense of God and the absolute King was God's representative on earth and, thus, in control of the wild nature.

The par force hunt

While the King and his company waited in the star, 20-30 riders with dogs and bugles would drive on a deer until it was completely exhausted. The King was summoned so that he could give it the coup de grace with his hirschfänger, a long-bladed hunting knife.

Incidentally, Christian the 5th became a victim of this hunting form as he died in 1699 from the injuries he suffered during a hunt in Jægersborg Dyrehave the previous year. Par force hunting was banned in 1777.

Ottevejskrydset was a favourite destination of Soren Kierkegaard, who went there because of the solitude he found there. Here, he philosophised on how to make the right choices in life, choose the right path. He described the place in "Stages on Life’s Way ". On his 100th birthday in 1913, a memorial was erected in his honour. It was not erected at Ottevejskrydset/Ottevejskrogen but at Rødpælsstjernen where eight roads also meet, which may have caused the confusion.

Read more about

Par force hunting in Gribskov and find the par force cycle route 

Soren Kierkegaard

The landscape of par force hunting in Gribskov forest

Read more about the par force huntinglandscape

10. Esrum Abbey

Esrum Abbey was founded in 1151 by the Cistercian monks and was, until the 1536 Reformation, one of the most significant monasteries of Northern Europe and one of Denmark's richest. Eventually, the abbey owned more than one-third of all lands in North Zealand, this much was conveyed to it. This included entire villages, e.g. Nødebo

The catholic abbey was permitted to exist until 1559 at which time the lands were conveyed to the crown and most of the buildings, including the church, were demolished and the material reused, e.g. for the construction of Kronborg.

Today, only the southern wing of the so-called service court is preserved. Its western part is from the late 1300s, the eastern from about 1450.

Like the abbey, the affiliated Esrum Møllegård is owned by the state and leased to Fonden Esrum Kloster & Møllegård (“The Esrum Abbey and Millyard Foundation”) which is based in Gribskov Municipality. It is operated as a culture, faith and nature adventure attraction.

11. Kulsvierstenen

Kulsvierstenen (“the Charcoal burner’s stone”) at the marked route, close to the intersection of Stutterivej and Søndre Skovportsvej near Smørstenen, was erected to commemorate a gun battle between members of the resistance and Germans in the night of April 21, 1945.

The place was used by allied aircraft and the resistance for airdropping weapons and the last weapons drop was revealed by the Germans. They surrounded the 18 men, known as "Kulsvierbataljonen" (“The Charcoal Burner’s Battalion”), who were busy hiding the airdropped firearms, hand grenades and ammunition, which were instead used to answer the fire of the 120 German police soldiers.

Two Germans were shot, four members of the resistance were captured, and the rest fled in dinghies across Esrum Sø or to Hillerød. The four captives were released when the occupation ended two weeks later.

Nearby is Morsestenen, where the leader of the local resistance group sat as he guided the planes over the area. The Morse code for B is carved into the stone (- ...).

12. Soldaterstenen

If you walk from Kongens Bøge at Esrum Sø toward Hvideportevej, about a kilometre along the way, you will see a painted stone on the right side of a crossroad. This is Soldaterstenen (“the soldier’s stone”), which is a reminder of how the 4th company of the 8th battalion escaped German internment when, on 28 August 1943, the Danish government discontinued its collaborative policy with the occupational forces and resigned.

The company commander, Captain J. V. Helk, managed to warn his soldiers in Gribskov allowing them to bury their weapons in the woods and getting help from people in Nødebo to switch into civilian clothes and, thus, avoid the German soldiers.

After the end of the war in 1945, one of the escaped soldiers, Viggo Viding, went to Gribskov with yellow, white and black paint and painted a yellow crown at the top of the stone and a large figure of eight below with the text "4. KOMP." (“4th company”) underneath.

Almost 40 years later, in 1986, some of the members of the company met at a ceremony at the stone and Viggo Viding himself repainted the stone.

13. Eghjorten Skovlegeplads

Eghjorten Skovlegeplads ("Eghjorten Nature Playground”) on Jespersvej south of Nødebo is a large playground, which is open to everyone all year round. Here, children may challenge themselves and their motor skills on exciting equipment made of natural materials, primarily wood and soil. There are hills with tunnels and caves, seesaws and balancing beams and much more.

You cannot make a reservation, but you may barbeque any food, which you have brought with you.

Firewood is provided and there is a large bonfire hut where you may keep dry if it is raining.

There is also a Ranger’s Station.

Read more about Økobasen Eghjorten (“the Eco-base Stag Beetle”) (in Danish)

14. Kongens Bøge

Kongens Bøge protrudes into Esrum Sø between Nødebo and Esrum and is named after the popular King Frederik the 7th (1848-63) who loved to put out from there when he went angling.

On 4 June 1849, the King sat with his wife, Countess Danner, and a gamekeeper in a rowboat. The perches took the bait so, when the Countess suddenly asked to be taken back to the shore to take care of something in the brush, the King became angry and responded that she could just "place her arse over the rail of the boat like everyone else."

He should not have done that. The Countess demanded to be taken back to the shore and gave him a right talking-to, reminding him that he had not yet given the people the parliamentary constitution he had promised them the previous year. And she also threatened to move back in with her mother until the King had signed the Danish Constitution - which he did the following day.

Until the 1990s, a very large beech tree which had the monogram of Frederik the 7th cut into the bark was growing in the middle of the beech forest west of Søvejen.

Since the 19th century, the area has been kept as a bright forest park with attention paid to the interests of the public, and today the barbecue area and bonfire hut are still favourite attractions.

15. Lord Nelsons Eg

Lord Nelsons Eg (“Lord Nelson's Oak”) in Krogdalsvang was planted in 1822 after the Danish navy was destroyed during the wars with England (1801-14). The fleet was to be rebuilt and, since the hull of a single line of battle ship required at least 1,500 oak trees, the Danish forests, which were already unable to keep the fleet in wood, were replanted with oak on a large-scale basis.

However, before these would be suitable for shipbuilding within the next couple of hundred years, timber had – already by the mid-1800s - long been displaced by steel.

Lord Nelsons Eg, one of several fleet oaks in the area, is 25 metres tall and measures 435 cm in circumference at chest height. In 1990, a boulder bearing its name was placed at its foot.

16. Skibet

During a storm in 1827, a large beech tree a short way north of the location of Nødebo Forest and Landscape College was knocked over. Instead of dying, the branches of the new sideways tree continued growing and so, over time, a number of new beech trees grew up in a straight line. As the trees grew in a straight line and looked like the masts of a ship, they were nicknamed “Skibet” ("The Ship"). You may see initials cut into the masts of Skibet that are over 100 years old.

However, for a number of years, Skibet has been stranded in a dense scrub of smaller beech trees, meaning that only locals have been able to find the area with the unusual trees. Now, Skibet is out in the open, once again. From the nearby road, Plantagevej, a stone with carved letters indicates the path to Skibet.

17. Spiralstenen

A large erratic boulder in the middle of Gribskov has, since the early 1980s, been decorated with a carved-out spiral. Nobody knows who made it. The spiral is about 40-50 cm in diameter and is found on the southern side of the rock.

The erratic boulder, which was uncovered by a storm in November 1981, is located 175 metres west of Stutterivej and 800 metres north of Stjernen.

Svend Løw, Forest Ranger, who previously worked for the Danish Nature Agency in North Zealand, remembered that, when he first saw the stone, there was no spiral. However, when he planted up the area in 1982, he discovered it: "was completely freshly made, you could almost still see the granite dust," says Svend Løw, guessing that the stone was carved by hand.

Throughout the world, there are spirals carved in stone and it is a ritual tradition that stretches thousands of years back in time. There are spirals in Ireland, on the English island of Isle of Man, in the United States and there is an abundance of Indian spiral ornamentation in Colombia. According to experts in prehistoric art, the broad consensus is that these spirals are usually created by the religious leaders of hunter- and gatherer societies, the shamans, and they have been used in shamanistic ceremonies.

The spirals can turn both clockwise and counter-clockwise. The Gribskov spiral turns clockwise which supposedly depicts the winter sun.