The Old Bog

When the plants are in bloom here, the aroma of damp, rot and old marshy ground mingles with the fragrance of bog rosemary, cranberries, rhododendrons and other species that like to grow in and around acidic, damp areas. You may well hear the great spotted woodpecker chipping away at a dead tree and, at dusk, the mating call of the woodcock echoing among the trees.

Just 12 kilometres north of City Hall Square in Copenhagen, the Old Bog is the world’s oldest scientific conservation area. The size of 40 football pitches, it is sandwiched between a motorway, an industrial zone and a residential area.

The bog has been allowed to remain completely untouched by human hand since 1844. Not until in 2009 was the general public granted access to it, via special paths.

This was originally a typical raised bog, used for peat extraction. By the time King Christian VIII decided to conserve the bog in 1844, much of the peat had been removed, but new layers of peat and peat moss are now slowly starting to form.

A dense growth of alder, pine and birch has also grown up, and the bog is now a popular destination for people who want to experience an unspoiled natural habitat.

It is host to a range of rare plants and animals such as the carnivorous round-leaved sundew, the bog bilberry and the Cranberry Blue butterfly.

Photo: Søren Rud

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  • Walking and cycling
  • Bird watching and spotting rare plant species
  • Prior to 1844, the Old Bog provided peat for heating homes in Copenhagen. Christian VIII decided to preserve it to find out whether the peat would regenerate. The Royal Agricultural College (now the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Copenhagen) has been studying its progress since 1886.
  • A new preservation order was issued on the Old Bog in 2009, when the public was granted access. In addition to the path around the site, there are public footpaths into its centre, so visitors are able to experience it up close and feel the movement of the marshy ground under their feet.
  • The Old Bog is home to birds like pied flycatchers, great spotted woodpeckers, woodcocks, goshawks, buzzards, blackcaps, wrens, siskins and goldcrests. You might even be lucky enough to see the Cranberry Blue, a rare butterfly that lays its eggs on the leaves of the stunted cranberry bush.

  • Long-leaved sundew, bog rosemary, cranberries, bogbean, narrow-leaved cotton grass, silvery sedge, tufted loosestrife, heather, marsh cinquefoil, fir, alder, birch, rhododendron, yew, Irish ivy and sphagnum mosses.
  • Not suitable for wheelchair users.
  • No dedicated facilities – remember to bring a packed lunch!
1 km

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