In 2008 Denmark got it’s first National Park, National Park Thy. We adore this stretch of land and at least once a year we are road tripping through this outstanding, beautiful and kind of strange landscape.
The national park stretches in a strip along the northwest coast of Jutland. Close to the
Inland you will find forest-like areas. Before the eighteenth century, there were major problems with sandblasting but a targeted effort with massive planting of mountain pine stopped the sand and created the dune plantations that today exist throughout the park.
It is not only the harsh landscape that fascinates us but also the exciting wildlife. Here in Thy you will find the largest colony of breeding cranes. At the end of March you can see the dancing birds and hear their trumpet fanfare when they come to breed.
You can also meet northern Europe’s biggest bird of prey, the sea eagle. It’s a fascinating sight when it chases waterfowl and fish or maybe gets lucky and finds a mess it can have for lunch.
In the national park we have also seen red deer, Denmark’s largest deer species, which can weigh up to 200 kg. Especially during autumn you will have the opportunity to see large flocks of deer as they gather to mate. The males are fighting for the favor of the females and you can hear how their antlers beat each other over and over again. And occasionally, their roar gets your eardrums to flutter.
Along the coast, you can see harbour seals as they occasionally pop their heads out of the the water or as they lie and sunbathe on a sandpit after they have eaten large amounts of herring. We have even spotted flocks of harbor porpoises playing in the shallow waters a few meters from the shoreline.
The national park covers an area of almost 25000 hectares. It is quite much in a small country like Denmark. There are many different things to experience here. The National Park’s website contains a list of more than 30 natural and cultural historical sites.
Below we give you our idea of the perfect road trip through Thy.
A road trip
There is no main gate to the park and entrance is free. You can enter from where you would like. We live north of the park and therefore always enter from there but you can just as well enter from the south.
We think a road trip through Thy should start at Denmarks only bird cliff, Bulbjerg. In fact Bulbjerg isn’t within the parks boundaries but we love this steep cliff with the many small shelves on which kittiwakes breed during spring and summer.
Kittiwakes are rare guests in Denmark but here they come to nest. It’s a fascinating sight when they elegantly come floating from the ocean with their beaks full of food for their chicks who are clinging to the barren rock shelves.
The weather can get quite stormy at the west coast and it fascinates us again and again that the little ones don’t get blown out to sea. All you need to be aware of when standing at the foot of Bulbjerg is not to be hit by bird droppings. They will hit you if they can. As a precaution….. just close your mouth and enjoy this incredible sight.
On route towards the park you should definitely make a stop at Thylejren.
It is not quite easy to describe Thylejren but we find it to be a colourful community with space for everyone. You can walk freely around the camp, watch the daily life and maybe talk to the residents. Just keep in mind that you are a guest here and you will be welcomed.
The best introduction to Thylejren is given by the residents themselves:
“Thylejren (the Thy Camp) is a free place in the sense that it contains Life, displays Life, it’s complications, it’s developments. It has space for odd characters, imaginative artists, caring mothers and fathers, shamans, horsewomen and many more. It is both part of Denmark and the society we are all part of and at the same time withdrawn from unconscious consumer’s race and “conversational kitchen’s” culture”.
Thylejren is a social experiment in it’s 47th year.
After a visit to the camp it is probably getting time for lunch and a cold beer.
We give Hanstholm Madbar our warmest recommendations. They serve delicious homemade food, have the most welcoming funny staff, play beautiful music from vinyl records on an old gramophone and have amazing views towards the harbor and the coastline. They even offer free use of binoculars giving you the opportunity to follow the big tankers and coasters located far out in the North Sea.
It isn’t until you leave Hanstholm and drive south you actually enter The NationalPark. Driving along the scenic costal road you will have the north sea to your right and the park’s beautiful moorland on your left. This part of the coastline is also known as “Cold Hawaii”. The surfer community has come up with this rather exotic name for the coastline from Hanstholm in the north to Agger in the south. The area has favorable wind conditions that resembles the ones found on Hawaii and every year “Cold Hawaii” and especially the small costal town of Klitmøller is visited by surfers from around the world. Here you will find more than 30 amazing surf spots.
We like to visit the small town of Klitmøller, best described as a little surfer colony. There is a good atmosphere in the town and it is fascinating to watch the surfers perform neck-breaking maneuvers on their boards on the untamable waves.
The Danish west coast can be quite harsh, very windy and with rough seas. In “Cold Hawaii” it is as if the ocean roars even louder and more powerful that any other place on the shores of Denmark. We love this show of force where Mother Nature really poses her muscles.
Even if you don’t fancy surfing you will have a blast on the shores of northern Jutland. The endless beaches invite you to all kinds of activities like hiking, swimming, sea-shelling, fishing, sunset watching. The list goes on and on.
South of Klitmøller you will find Stenbjerg Landingsplads, Stenbjerg Landing. The picturesque houses at the landing site were built by the local fishermen more than a hundred years ago. Nowadays they are well restored and you will find a small museum that tells the story of the harsh life of the fishermen at that time.
Commercial fishing ceased more than 40 years ago and today the small white houses are used by local recreational fishermen. To us Stenbjerg has a very special atmosphere and when we visit we can feel the breath of history. It is as if we can almost hear the fishermen talking to each as they prepare their small boats before going to sea. Many of them never returned but were taken by the wild and unpredictable North Sea.
We love this little gem surrounded by dunes and where the nose is filled with the beautiful scent of salted sea air, pine and lush farmland. Do as travellers have done for hundreds of years, stay at Stenbjerg Kro and be spoiled with fine food from fresh local produce. Herbs picked in nature, fish directly from the North Sea and delicious beef from cattle raised in Thy National Park. In high season we recon it’s a good idea to make reservations in advance.
Not far from The Inn you will find Isbjerg, Ice mountain. The highest point of the National Park raises 56 meters above sea level and provides a magnificent view beyond large parts of the park. From here you can admire the quite unique nature and maybe get a glimpse of the park’s wildlife.
It is also from the “mountain” that you get the best view over Nors sø, Lake Nors. The lake is amongst the cleanest in Denmark and mainly gets its water from influx from cracks in the limestone basin. It has an exceptionally rich and varied flora and fauna in fact it has more than 150 different species of small animals, the largest number of all lakes in Jutland. As an extra win you can swim in the lake and a good swim was exactly what we needed after the extraordinary delicious lunch in Stenbjerg and the climbing of Isbjerg.
There are so many things to do and experience in Thy National Park and its surroundings. We have been there more than once and still haven’t seen it all. We already look forward to our next visit.