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Naturpark Lillebælt

Photographs: Naturpark Lillebælt

Text: Dominic J Stevensen

The Naturpark Lillebælt is a vibrant and varied nature park. It is also the largest in Denmark.

The sea defines and shapes the area. You cannot go far here without seeing it swimming past, towards, and away from, as if it had some grand secret it both wanted to refrain from sharing and felt utterly necessary to whisper into one's ear. The park is more than just its waters - they are approximately 70% of this astonishing region of life. Great beauty is both under the surface and beyond its shifting marine reach.

The strip that unites Jutland and Funen like nothing else is a spellbinding collaboration between two of the main parts of Denmark. It brings them together like lust does two magnetised bodies. There is a bounty of riches to be discovered both underwater and on land. The meeting of the two provides the perfect symbiosis and is something to both support and celebrate, with extraordinarily rich animal and plant life defining the 'Little Belt,' as it is known in English.

The aquatic aspect of the park can be up to eighty metres at its deepest, and the land ranges from 1km to 15km apart at various points in its midst. So prosperous is the region that diving and snorkelling reveal fruits that might not have been expected in the little belt. Ignorance will mean, Jutland, Funen, and the treasures across the land go undiscovered. Here, there is something for everyone.

A backlog of investment in Danish tourism has fittingly seen money pumped into the Naturpark Lillebælt in recent months. After all, the jewels contained in this area need protecting, embracing, and putting on a pedestal.

The park is an open invitation to both the rest of Denmark and beyond to come to Jutland and Funen and explore the soul of a country much greater than its well-known capital, Copenhagen. The strip that makes up the park is at the physical heart of the land, a nucleus of beauty, joy, and unparalleled riches.

There is a great deal of protected nature here, as there should be. The region is a treasure trove of Danish waters, something to be championed nationally.

One of the world's smallest whales – the porpoise – can be found here, in one of its most abundant populations, in fact, birthing tours specially created for collective viewings. Virtual Reality offers an underwater look at the nature park as never seen before, and bridge walking, guided tours, underwater trails, and sailing trips all help to see the park from different, and all colourful, perspectives. Further events that are organised involve sea wine tours, coastal walks, mushroom tours, and fossil hunting. Angling, paddling, and kayaking are yet more activities in the local surroundings. Both locals and those from further afield are treated to a great many activities that celebrate the vast range of life here.

Additionally, on land, mountain bike routes and standard cycling tours can be found to explore Fredericia and other local areas that form the naturpark.

In my time here, I have already visited and discovered immense beauty, power, and magic in the naturpark. With the often unpredictable climate, there are no two days – nay, no two hours – in which the landscapes, the atmosphere, and the soul of the region ever feel the same. Despite Denmark's small size, it always strikes me how many hotspots overspilling with wonder there genuinely are here. Even down by the nearest shore, there are signs of endless aquatic life – remnants of crabs, oysters, mussels, jellyfish, and much more within the sea here. Moving along the coast on either side of the belt brings wild inspiration and scenery to photograph, to fashion into memories, to become at one with.

The orchestral movements of the seasons, as each flourishes in its own dynamic way, can never be seen better than from multiple viewpoints around the belt. The body of the water and the shape of the land is a wholly unique earthly presence, something to be preserved and explored, appreciated, and tenderly nurtured. In changing times, we should value nature in all its spectacular might, right here on our doorstep, more than we ever have before.

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