I wrote it in a previous text, I came to Denmark with the intention of exploring more the nature in Denmark, and the friend I was visiting me did not fail in her task. After exploring the Jægersborg Dyrehave trails north of Copenhagen, Signe took me to another forest in the Nordsjaelland region (North Sealand): Store Dyrehave.
Like the Jægersborg Dyrehave farther south, Store Dyrehave Forest (in English, the Grand Deer Park) was a former hunting park of Danish kingship. And it has also been recognized on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Why? Because it’s part of Denmark’s parforce hunting heritage.
As I mentioned in my story on Dyrehaven, King Christian V really enjoyed hunting. He spent a few years at the court of Louis IV in France, where he witnessed the grandiose hunting parties of the Sun King. On his return to Denmark, he tried to introduce this type of hunting in the country.
In 1680, Christian V introduced a French-inspired geometrical system of roads forming a star with eight branches in Dyrehave Store. The roads, numbered, facilitated the parforce deer hunting.
The forest was used for hunting until 1770. In 2015, UNESCO included it in its World Heritage List with Jægersborg Dyrehave and the Gribskov Forest, as these sites illustrate how the absolute monarchy changed the landscape of this region of Denmark.
Today, there are still signs in Store Dyrehave of this past. The ruins of the stone wall surrounding the forest can be seen in a few places. The trails are still divided according to the shape of an eight-branch star and in the center of this star, there is still a stone bearing the monogram of King Christian V.
My friend, who grew up in the area, told me that she always found that hiking in Store Dyrehave Forest was a little boring because the trails are all in a straight line and they all lead to the center of the star. But for me, I thought that the particular geometry of the trails just gave a little je-ne-sais-quoi to this walk in the forest. We even saw some deer, proof that they were not all hunted by past kings …
Store Dyrehave is fairly easily accessible by public transit. It is about a 15-minute walk from Hillerød Train Station. In addition to hiking trails, there are also nearly 20 kilometres of mountain bike trails.