Isbjerg is Hanstholm Wildlife Sanctuary’s (26) highest point at 56 metres above sea level. From here there is a magnificent view across the northern part of Thy National Park, framed by the North Sea, Hanstholmen to the north, Tved Dune Plantation to the east and Nors Lake and Vilsbøl Plantation to the south.
The sheer greatness of the sanctuary is impressive according to Danish standards. There is practically wilderness as far as the eye can see. Due to the fact that the area has designated zones with limited access to the public, the sanctuary is also an oasis for animals and birds. This means, among other things, that common crane, wood sandpiper and curlew breed here. It also means that you can – even in full daylight – see large herds of red deer grazing undisturbed in the open countryside. If you’re really lucky, you might see a golden eagle, white-tailed eagle or osprey hovering above the landscape.
Hanstholm Wildlife Sanctuary is, with its 3900 hectares, an area of central importance to the National Park. Most of it lies upon the former sea bed and consists of dunes and duneheath. Between the dunes lie swamps, numerous shallow ponds and lakes which brighten up the otherwise barren and monotonous dune heath.
The plants of the dune heath typically include heather, crowberry, marram grass and lichens in the drier areas, while cross-leaved heath, bog myrtle and willow grow in the wet areas. The small pine plantations bind the sand and present a vivid reminder of the cultural history of the area with its former dunes. In order to prevent the dune becoming overgrown with pine trees, self-sown trees have to be removed regularly.
The trip up and the trip down Isbjerg provide many views of Nors Lake resplendent in all its beauty.
Hanstholm is situated on top of Jutland’s “shoulder”, surrounded by sea on two sides and high up on a limestone cliff that used to be an island in the Stone Age. The view from the high cliffs or up from the lighthouse is unique and you will find yourself becoming transfixed by the splendour of the elements. Just as impressive is the view you get standing at the bottom of the cliff looking up at the top of the dramatic slope, where houses and concrete shelters lie right at the very edge, almost clinging on to it. In this landscape, nature and man have cohabited for
Krik lies at the northern end of Nissum Bredning, at safe distance away from the wrath of the North Sea. In the 1700s this used to be a loading area for corn, timber and iron for the merchants in Thisted and Aalborg.
When the sea broke through the Agger isthmus in 1825 it became possible during the years after to sail into the Limfjord from the west and, because of the favourable depth of the sea near Krik, the loading area was very popular. Unlike before, where shipping trade took place directly off the west coast of Jutland, loading and unloading of the ships could take place under safe conditions and a jetty was built for this purpose.
The fishermen were also able to take advantage of sailing through the channel and bring their haul inland in calmer waters. The fishing harbour at Thyborøn was built during 1915-18 and a small town quickly grew up around it. A natural harbour was built on the Agger side in 1926 and Agger Harbour was established in 1971. Today, the harbour is mainly used by yachtsmen; in the same way that Krik Vig is known to be a good spot for windsurfing and kite-surfing.
In the mid-1800s, warehouses were built in Krik in connection with the export of corn; later these warehouses were used for storing imported timber, coal, cement and fertilizer. There was a timber yard with accompanying saw mill and storage buildings. The coal used for lighting the lighthouse was landed here and transported to Lodbjerg by cart. When the Department of Hydraulic Engineering started on the extensive coastal protection work at Agger, all the materials were also shipped to Krik. Stones and cement were transported along the jetty to the breakwaters on a dump wagon track.
One of the warehouses has been preserved and lies in a picturesque setting a mere stone’s throw from the coast. This warehouse was carefully restored in 1999 and now houses a gallery where you can see and buy art and antiques. The gallery is open during the summer.
To the west of the warehouse you will find a building called Kulhuset – The Coal house – which was built in 2012 and named after a warehouse that used to be on that site. The building’s design and decoration is inspired by the old warehouses of the area. Kulhuset acts as a hub for outdoor recreational activities and houses facilities for surfers, swimmers and bird watchers. Primitive accommodation is available in the house and there are plans for a nature camp ground in the surrounding area. On the other side of the road you can walk out onto the paved jetty from the heydays of the loading site.
The lone standing Lodbjerg Church is one of Denmark’s smallest. When the church was built, the village of Skovsted and Rotbøl manor existed within the parish, but in 1555 the parish priest could report that the parish of Lodbjerg was “tainted” by sand. Eventually the farms had to move. The church and cemetery were maintained, but it was sometimes necessary to shovel sand out of the cemetery. Despite its solitary position the church still serves as parish church. Many visitors come here, drawn by the little church in the great, desolate landscape.
Right at the very south of the National Park lies Agger Tange, surrounded by embankments and protected against the North Sea by breakwaters. From the sea walls and the inlet embankments there are wide views of the sea, the Limfjord and the beautiful moraine formations to the north and the east. Between the embankments there are extensive salt marshes interspersed with shallow lagoons, surrounded by reeds.
The open landscape of the isthmus is an eldorado for many birds, not least every spring and autumn, when tens of thousands of web-footed and wading birds stop over on their way to their breeding areas and winter quarters. The rich birdlife on the isthmus is partially owed to the fact that the area lies within the birds’ migratory route along the western coast of Jutland, and it is not without reason that Agger Tange has been appointed as an EU Bird Protection Area.
Flocks of mallards, teals and widgeons – and in autumn also pochards and goldeneyes – take up residence in the shallow lagoons. You will also find flocks of mute swans, Bewick’s swans and whooper swans here. Pink-footed geese and Brent geese can be seen during both spring and autumn. The wading birds also use the salt marshes and the flat coasts of the lagoons, where you can see flocks of golden plovers, lapwings, oystercatchers, dunlins, whimbrels, curlews and snipes. There are not that many birds present during the breeding season, however you might see some of the web-footed birds such as mute swans, mallards, shelducks, pintails and coots and some of the wading birds such as dunlins, oystercatchers, avocets, reeves and black-tailed godwits that all breed in this area. You will also find colonies of gulls and terns here.
The purpose of the preservation of the isthmuses of Agger and Harboøre is to improve the habitat conditions for the birds. The preservation, which is carried out by the Danish Nature Agency, consists primarily of grazing the salt marshes to prevent them becoming overgrown by reeds, willow and sea buckthorn.
The cattle used to graze the land develop good quality meat, which you can taste if you visit the butcher’s in Vorupør.
Lyngby is situated so far out in the dunes that you could feel like you had reached the end of the world. If you continue through the town further to the west you will come along a winding road arriving at the coastal slope and the beach.
Lyngby arose in 1864, when six families from the Agger area decided that they wanted to move somewhere else. They migrated to the north, where they found a place to settle down on the heather plains of Hvidbjerg Dune. The soil was good for growing crops and the spot lay well sheltered behind the dunes yet still close enough to the sea for them to be able to fish. It is said that on arrival, one of the wives had exclaimed, “We have walked straight into Heaven”.
More families arrived during the years that followed. Their main occupation was fishing. The landing conditions at Lyngby were not very good however, so in the early 1930’s a breakwater was built in order to protect against the waves and the strong current. The difficulties continued though, and the fishermen ended up sailing in and out of Thyborøn Harbour instead.
Tourists were already attracted to Lyngby during the years between the First and Second World War, but certainly not due to any modern amenities - electricity was not installed until 1965. Many families moved away in the 1970’s; there are only a few permanent residents left now and the old houses are much sought after as holiday homes for those looking for tranquility and splendid scenery – qualities that the area in and around Lyngby incessantly has to offer.
Close to Stenbjerg Landing Area lie a collection of the typical white tool houses from the time when there was coastal fishing off the shore. The fishermen pulled their boats ashore here on the shore line between sea and land using a winch and the fish were then made ready for selling inside one of the tool houses. Coastal fishing was dangerous and exposed to the forces of nature and starting in the 1970’s the commercial fishermen moved their activities from Stenbjerg to the harbour at Hanstholm.
Thanks to local effort the buildings have been maintained and the landing area still represents an authentic environment. Many people are drawn to the picturesque houses and the sometimes violent waves. On a good day it is possible to go swimming at Stenbjerg and a walk along the coast is always popular. One of the houses has recently been made into a small visitor centre for Thy National Park.
At the landing area you will also see the characteristic lifeboat house, built in 1931 using red brick and with a flag on the green door in the gable. The lifeboat station in Stenbjerg was established in 1894 in the middle of town as it was where the rescue workers lived. From the 1920s ship wrecks and strandings became rarer along the west coast and there was talk of closing down the rescue station in Stenbjerg. Instead they decided in 1931 to build a new lifeboat house near the landing area and the main job for the lifeboat was thereafter more a case of helping fishermen in distress. The last rescue action for the lifeboat station in Stenbjerg was in 1969.
The lifeboat house, which is a listed building, hosts an exhibition about the rescue service. The exhibition is open during the summer. 9
Bøgsted Rende is where the plantation comes closest to the sea along the coast of Thy. Only the sea dunes separate the vegetation from the beach and the drastic contrast is probably one of the reasons why this spot has gained a historic reputation as being somewhere worth visiting.
The beach attracts many bathers, especially on days where the sea is on its best behaviour. At other times, when a strong wind heads in from the west, we recommend you dress up warm and take a brisk walk along the beach. After a walk in the wind it is a relief to climb up the sea dunes and seek shelter under the trees along the trench, where everything is peaceful, idyllic and full of birdsong.
The name Bøgsted Rende means »The building site by the trench« and does not, as many may wrongly translate, have anything to do with beech (bøg) trees. In the 1600s and the 1700s there was a water mill by the beck that flows into the sea. It was probably sand drift that made it impossible to continue running a water mill here. Sand filled the water channels, blocking the water pressure needed for powering the mill. The browny-red colour of the water is due to ochre, oxidised iron compounds from the forest ditches adjacent to the trench. The oldest living trees in the area today were planted in the late 1800s. Furthest west you will see mountain pine and a thicket of oak trees no taller than people, so you have to bend down to pick acorns! Further in along the trench you will find fir and Austrian pine of sizeable thickness. It is evident that their roots have solid hold in the good clay soil beneath the sand.
The area around Klitmøller is greatly influenced by the sea that surrounds the settlements to the north and west. To the south and east the landscape consists of heath and dunes, and you have to go quite a way into Thy to find good farmland. Throughout history, the population of Klitmøller have therefore mainly gained their livelihood from the sea, either by fishing or trading goods with Norway.
Klitmøller is now widely known for its coast due to the exceptionally good conditions for wind-surfing, and it is fascinating to watch surfers fearlessly ride the waves.
Klitmøller got its name from the water mills (møller = mills) that used to stand along the stream. This is where the grain was processed ready to be shipped to Norway together with meat, butter, wool and cloth. From 1500/1600s to the early 1800s there was a substantial amount of shipping trade with Norway from Klitmøller and other villages along the west coast of Jutland. Transport took place in so called “sand boats” that were flatbottomed wooden boats, constructed so they could sail right up to the shore and be pulled up onto the sand.
From Norway they could bring back timber and iron, which were in short supply in Thy, but there were more luxurious goods aboard the sand boats too. There are reports of some of the inhabitants of Klitmøller wearing beautiful costumes of silk and lace; there were bear skin muffs, silk scarves and even the most fashionable wigs. These were not exactly normal articles of clothing in Thy at that time, and the shipping trade meant that Klitmøller was a rich community, that surpassed Thisted in terms of economy and trade.
The end of the shipping trade was mainly due to a natural disaster. In November 1825 the North Sea broke through the isthmus of Agger and it thereby became possible to sail from the North Sea into the Limfjord. As it was better to enter a port in relatively calm waters than try to come ashore along the fickle west coast, the shipping business moved to Thisted and trading along the west coast dwindled away.
As a result of that, fishing became of great importance to the inhabitants of Klitmøller. The fishing boats were hauled up onto the beach east of Ørhage and the fish were processed in the houses on the landing place. When the harbour opened in Hanstholm in 1967, a large amount of fishing vessels moved there, however there are still anglers that sail from Klitmøller. On the landing place you will see the typical tool sheds, a legacy of the coastal fishing days, and on the beach you can go aboard the old fishing vessel Bellis.
Today it is mainly the surfers that use the beach and the landing place. Favourable winds and currents have given the area the name »Cold Hawaii« and the town is visited by surfers from numerous countries. The atmosphere in Klitmøller is thus a characteristic mixture of local residents and overseas’ influences – just as it was in the heydays of the shipping trade.
New architecture has also made its mark on the landing place at Klitmøller and, using funding from Realdania, they have tried to emphasise the area’s unique potential for active coast life. In spring 2012 a boardwalk was built and the so-called Hummerhus opened. Hummerhus houses facilities for surfers and biologists, while the boardwalk, called »Foreningsvejen« provides improved access for wheelchairs and prams and links the coast and the town together.
Nors Lake is like Vandet Lake a karst lake. The lake has hardly any reed vegetation as do most other Danish lakes, but on the other hand, it does contain rare aquatic plants. The protected lake is situated in a beautiful landscape that borders Hanstholm Wildlife Sanctuary, and is surrounded by Tved and Vilsbøl Dune Plantations, which are also protected.
In the Stone Age, Nors Lake was part of a gulf, which has since been cut off, and in the landscape around the lake you can see the former coastal slopes. The subsoil is mainly made up of lime and chalk deposits and apart from a small spring on the south side, Nors Lake has no natural inlet, so the supply of water to the lake comes from the underground and precipitation. The lake covers an area of 347 hectares and has a max. depth of 20 metres. The lake´s clean and calcareous water means that it has a unique flora. The little aquatic plant, slender naiad or nodding water nymph, previously thought to be extinct in Denmark, has since been found in Nors Lake and Vandet Lake.
The bathing area, situated on the south-west shore of the lake, is a very popular spot. The plantation provides shelter from the west and there are toilets, bonfire/ barbecue areas and tables and benches. The shifting sand that has settled about 100 metres into the lake has created the finest, child-friendly beach.
From the bathing area there are several marked hiking trails. One of them leads to the bird tower at the west part of the lake, from where you can get a good view of grebes, geese and ducks and sometimes also ospreys and white-tailed eagles.
The lake has a good stock of fish, dominated by perch and roach, but also includes pike, eel and the salmonoid whitefish. Fishing permits for parts of the south shore can be purchased through the Danish Nature Agency Thy or at the Thy Tourist Information Office. The west part of Nors Lake belongs to Hanstholm Wildlife Sanctuary. In order to protect the vulnerable animal and birdlife, all boating and sailing is prohibited, including surfing, canoeing and kayaking.