Thy National Park and Hanstholm Nature Reserve


Ever since my last trip at Christmas to the south of Stenbjerg I have been planning a return to the northern section of Thy National Park. The stars aligned and the weather looked ideal,  so I headed off to Vorupør Landing a fishing village I had passed through in 2009.

When I alighted from the bus I realised just how cold it was in the biting wind, I was soon attired in all my windproof gear as I headed out of town. After about a kilometre I was turning towards Tvorup klitplantage (Dune plantation), where my first aim was to get out of the wind and to visit a campsite that I had stayed at on my previous trip through the area. Arriving at the campsite (picture from 2009),


I was disappointed to see the deterioration in the campsite shelter area over the past 7 years. In fact it was so bad I would not even consider camping there again. Many trees in the area had been harvested, and the camping area now had the the pit toilet in the middle of what could be best described as a reed covered cow paddock. Furthermore, the stream nearby was only a few metres from the pit toilet.

I moved on.

Recognising that it was not only cold, but the ground was frozen I begun to wonder if I would be able to insert pegs into the ground, time would tell.

For the time being, however, I wandered around through the dunes, keeping an eye open for a campsite as I looked out to sea. It was a clear day and the ships were visible on the horizon whilst on land the vehicle bound travellers explored the area.

Ships of the road and sea  

When planning this trip it was evident to me that there were many marked trails through the forests of Thy National Park and my plan, if you can call it that, was to follow trails or forestry roads north from Vorupør landing, ultimately arriving in Ræhr some 30 km north. The planned route was a somewhat meandering one, taking in places of interest as I headed north.

The first night was to be spent in Tvorup forest, a free tenting area, in other words you can camp anywhere in the forest, so I passed by Bøgested Rende and headed inland ultimately locating a flat piece of mossy ground near Tvorup Skovhuset ruins.

Trig Point above Bøgsted Rende

I slept well.

After a leisurely breakfast I packed up and headed further inland, my next destination was to be Vandet Sø. My planned route followed a road adjacent to the forest heath boundary, and after disturbing a bird of prey I took some time to admire the area around Vangså under the cold blue skies.

Shadows on Vangså Hede Hede

By now I was walking on very icy, and sometimes thick ice covered trails, picking paths that suited my purposes, I wandered through quiet forests and descended to Vang Sø, a reclaimed lake that was drained in the 1880’s.

I crossed over the bituminised Klitmøller road, and returned to the peaceful forests, my path was uncertain at this point but, as before, options appeared in the form of marked trails. The Gul (orange) trail took me over Graves Bakke providing expansive views of the surrounding forests and the coast. Leaving Graves Bakke, I descended along the red trail and then the white trail which quickly led me into a recently clear felled area. Finally, after much scrambling over branches and tree stumps I returned to the forest.

Locating a quiet spot I settled down for a long lunch break.  After which I set off towards Vandet Sø, again chancing my track selection luck, I wandered past grave mounds before descending through the remnants of Herregårdene Nystrup (dating back to the 1400’s). I crossed and then followed the half marathon path (see here for details)  to Vande Sø. The onshore wind was cold and I was soon looking for a more sheltered spot in the sunshine.

Vandet Sø

Note the Heron at the top of the  above photo,

Elusive Heron Vandet Sø

and soon after I took this photo a second heron appeared and then they left for a quieter place, meanwhile I settled down for coffee.

On a sunny afternoon you must have coffee

I continued around the lake to the sound of heavy machinery working in the forest, however, with blues skies the lake easily kept my attention.

Vandet Sø Reeds

The following morning I was awoken by the loud crunching munching sound of a wood chipper swallowing large logs in a single bite. Yes, it was time to move, again chancing my luck I followed a foot trail away from the lake, only to discover that my luck had run out, resulting in  damp feet in a swampy area. I quickly extracted myself from the icy swamp and relocated the lightly used path. The next section can be best described as an icy road walk on frozen ground, however, the reward was the entry gate to Hanstholm Nature Reserve, something I had been eagerly anticipating since the start of the journey.

The nature reserve consist of heath covered dunes, many lakes, as well as large herds of deer. Some of the area is closed all year round, whilst the remainder is closed between April and July. There is an old road which forms the boundary between these 2 zones which I followed northwards.The following photo was taken looking southwards from the end of the road.

Road across Hanstholm Vildtreservet

The roads is about 4 km in length and for the most part avoids the water the area was stunningly quiet, with the only sounds of the birds and the wind in the grass. The vast open spaces appealed to me. Similarly the varying low heath vegetation had me wondering what it would be like when the flowers are out, sadly the area is locked at that time.  As I headed northwards I recognised that crossing this area in winter, whilst potentially cold, also meant that the water was ice and thus reducing the chances of wading. But I also noticed to my dismay, that if the ice cracks under your feet, then cold wet feet soon follow.

I reached the big dune area at the southern end of the road and climbed to the highest point, immediately noticing some movement which I quickly recognised as a large herd of deer, who were intent on getting as much distance between me and them as they could.

The heard was well camouflaged, can you find the deer in the photo below?

Deer, dunes and ship

Looking north (no deer here)

Dunes, ice lakes and Ræhr

The wind remained cold so I spent very little time before descending and navigating my way to Græker Sande with it stunted pines.

I disturbed another herd of deer sheltering in the pines as I made my way towards Sårup campsite.

Finally camped I watched the sun set over the nature reserve,

Sunset over Sokland

Evening Sårup

before returning to my shelter for dinner.

Waters boiling

It was a cold night and the frost lay thick on the ground with Hanstholm lighthouse standing out as a beacon as I headed towards Ræhr in the early morning light.

Hanstholm Lighthouse

I followed the path down and around Ræhr Sø,

Icy Ræhr Sø

After which it was a short walk into the township and the comfort of a warm bus, which also signalled the end of a a very enjoyable walk and the start of the trip home.

This entry was posted in Coastal Walking, Olympus 12-40 mm 1:2.8 Pro, OMD EM 5 II, Thy National Park. Bookmark the permalink.

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