The landscape of Naturpark Vesterhavet

 

 

Blåvands Huk

From the top of the dunes at Blåvand Beach you have a wonderful view of the open sea around Blåvands Huk. The coastline here makes a 90 degree turn, and seen from above the landscape is shaped like a huge arrow pointing to the west. Offshore the landscape continues underwater as Horns Reef,  an area much feared by seafarers, consisting of a number of enormous banks of sand and gravel, brought here by the sea and by the glacial meltwaters from the last two ice-ages! From the dunes it is possible to see the waves breaking over the reef, and see the wind-farm that has been built in the shallow waters.

Horns Reef stretches out over 40km to the west. Migratory birds use the reef as a kind of launching pad, following the reef out to the south west after leaving the coast. To this day the sea still deposits huge amounts of sand onto the reef. Storms will often move vast quantities of sand towards the coast. This can eventually create new land, such as the Skallingen peninsula to the south.

The Dunes

The dunes differ from the other landforms here because they were created by the wind. Some dunes are thousands of years old; others date back only a few centuries, while in some places the dunes change from year to year. In many places along the west coast of Denmark part of the dunes are lost to the sea every, something that a number of summer house owners have learnt to their cost. To counter this efforts have been made along much of the Danish coast to protect the dunes by planting marram grass, which helps to collect sand. This also has the effect of minimising the amount of sand drifting inland, which historically was a major problem. As Denmark if a largely flat country with no mountains and few hills, dunes can provide an excellent viewpoint, for example the top of Denmarks highest dune Blåbjerg has a height of 64m. Even though 64m is high for Denmark, it has a long way to go before it can compete with the sand dunes of the Sahara, which in places are over 200m high. Dunes in Denmark can be split into 3 categories - the white dunes closest to the sea, which are followed by the green dunes then finally the grey dunes. The fauna and flora of the dunes also changes as we move inland.

Vrøgum Kær

Vrøgum Kær has not been cultivated for centuries, perhaps even millennia, includes the south banks on the original Filsø Lake dating from the time when the lake was at its largest extent. Despite of the many studies of the area, it is not known exactly when in history the lake reached its maximum size, but it is though it could be around 2 -3,000 years ago, when the water was 5m higher than it is today.  At Vrøgum Kær you can see the beach lines and terrace slopes formed during the periods when the water of Filsø Lake was being drained. From the mid-1800s the lake was reduced in size from approx. 3,000 ha. to 600 ha. because of agricultural activity. Today the lake has been restored in size, but not to its greatest extent.

The origins of the countryside around Filsø

Around the year 5,100 B.C., during the late stone age - or Neolithic - period, the sea finally reached the present coastline at Houstrup beach, following changes that occurred after the last ice age. From here a stony spit of land formed, running towards the south and reaching as far as the village of Vejers. The flat, rounded stones that you can find on the beach between Kærgård and Henne originate from this spit.

 

Filsø had an open connection to the sea at this time, through a wide trench that ran south from Kærgård. Around 2,500 B.C. Filsø was cut off from the sea and became a freshwater lake. Sand dunes provided an effective barrier against intrusions by the sea, and the lake grew, bring its surface up above sea-level. The present day connection between Filsø and the sea, the stream of Henne Mølleå, presumably formed because it was a low lying part of the former isthmus, where the now elevated water levels of the lake could force an exit. Today Henne Mølleå has been artificially straightened.

The dune Tejnebjerg

Tejnebjerg is the name of the large system of dunes on the west side of Filsø. From the top of the dunes you can see over Filsø Heath and look towards the northern part of the lake.  The dunes and the heath are the result of drifting sand in former times. The sand was originally washed up onto the coast by the sea, and formed a wide tongue of land from Blåbjerg near the town of Henne and south towards Blåvandshuk. In this way Filsø, which after the last ice-age was an open bay on the coast, became landlocked and the freshwater lake came into being. On the tongue of sand, that today forms the current coastline, vegetation was sparse and the wind could blow the sand far inland. 150 years ago trees were a rarity here. The present-day plantations on the dunes were established to help prevent sand drifting inland. The heathland below Tejnebjerg gained protection in connection of the last drainage work on the lake in the mid-1900s. A number of characteristic plant and animal species are found on the heath, which established themselves in the areas landscape when the lake was drained the trees planted.

Leaf-dunes in Kærgaard Plantage

In Kærgård Plantation you can find the protected area of Leaf-dunes. These are the remains of the original area of Jutland oak -scrub woodland that grew here. It consists of oak trees more than one hundred years old that have been largely covered by drifting sand. This scrub, which today appears to consists of individual, small stunted oak trees, are in fact the tops of a smaller number of oak trees growing out of the sand. This can be clearly seen in the spring, when the leaves emerge from the various trees at slightly different times. 

Kløvbakke hill

From Kløvbakke Hill you have a view over the sixth largest lake in Denmark - Filsø. If we turn the clock back to the Stone Age, Filsø was the second largest lake in Denmark after Arresø. Back then it was a saltwater fjord, or a bay on the North Sea coast, but over time drifting sands cut it off from the sea, and Filsø became a freshwater lake. In its heyday the lake covered an area of 3,000ha.


Kløvbakke Hill got its name because back in the Stone Age, the North Sea went around both sides of the hill (dan. = bakke), and up to the area which was once Roldsø lake (north of the Henne road). In this way the sea was cloven (dan. = kløve) in two, hence the name Kløvbakken.

The beach

 

 

The beach here at Nymindegab is very different from the beaches around Blåvand. While there you can find many seashells, here in Nymindegab you can nearly only find stones. There are number of reasons for this. Firstly the remains of an island hill can be found off shore from Nymindegab, while around Blåvand there are large sandbanks. The shape of the coastline and the angle of the beach also play a part. At Nymindegab the water quickly becomes deep, which means that the light seashells rarely remain on the beach, as they tend to be washed back out to sea when the waves retreat.

The beaches around Blåvand have a very shallow incline, which means that anything washed up onto the beach tends to stay there. This is also why there is a much better chance of finding amber around Blåvand, as any pieces of amber arriving at Nymindegab will be washed back out to sea. The reason that you don’t find any stones on the beach around Blåvand is that the landscape around Blåvand has been formed by drifting sands over the last 6,000 years.

Nymindestrømmen

The landscape surrounding Nymindegab has changed dramatically over just a few hundred years. Slowly but surely, the sea has built up a barrier of sand running parallel to the dunes that once formed the coastline. Nymindegab, or Nymindestrømmen as it is sometimes called, was formerly Ringkøbing Fjords outlet to the sea. As the outer sand bar grew steadily southwards, the outlet running into the sea moved with it. By 1845 the outlet had moved as far south as Houstrup. At the same time Nymindestrømmen became narrower, and almost completely sanded-up. During severe storms the sea broke through the dunes several times, forming new, but often temporary outlets to the sea. In 1891 the first artificial outlet was excavated at Hvide Sande, but a storm only a few months later in 1911 open a gap of over 200m, causing widespread flooding. When this gap at Hvide Sand was closed in 1915 it became necessary to create a new opening at Nymindegab. It was only when the locks at Hvide Sand were finished in 1931 that the fjords outlet finally came under control.

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