The Ancient Road - National Route 3: Nørre Snede-Bække

The Ancient Road, © VisitVejle

The Ancient Road was Jutland’s first thoroughfare, connecting Viborg in the north and Hamburg in the South. Travellers included merchants, cattle drivers, pilgrims and marching armies. Today’s bicycle and rambling route originally consisted of a network of gravel roads. 

On your trip from Nørre Snede to Bække you pass some of Jutland’s most scenic landscapes. The 55-km journey can be expanded by taking Regional Route 36, called Bindeballestien, which connects Bindeballe with Vejle. 

Signage, map and guidebook
The Ancient Road is marked up as Regional Route 3. A detailed guidebook to the Ancient Road can be purchased from tourist offices (only in Danish and German). 
Maps: Route on map - Printable Maps (map 4-6)

The Ancient Road offers ample opportunity to camp or stay at inns, Bed & Breakfast or hostels.

The countryside around Rørbæk Sø (lake) features woodlands, meadows, pine plantations and heaths. You also find the wild oak forests of Tinnet Krat and Kollemorten Krat, which are among Denmark’s largest. Toward the south you find Margrethediget, a 150-meter rampart perpendicular to the Ancient Road. There are designated areas for campfires and barbecues. There is also put & take fishing, canoe rental, a restaurant, a camping site and the Ballesbækgård Visitor’s Centre with information on the area’s natural heritage.  

East of the Ancient Road you find the springs of two of Denmark’s largest rivers - Gudenåen and Skjernåen – just a few hundred meters apart in the same valley.   

Øster Nykirke is the church in Denmark located at the highest altitude (127 meters above sea level). The church was constructed between 1150 and1200 AD to serve pilgrims travelling to the spring of Saint Peter – Sct. Peders Helligkilde – just East of the church (a small well reconstructed in Medieval style). 

Givskud Zoo is a five-starred safari park experience. Get close to more than 700 different species from around the world with the safari bus. Visit the large gorilla habitat, the African village, the jungle gym and much more. 

Harresø Kro, a historic inn of royal privilege located south of Givskud, is considered one of the oldest inns along the Ancient Road, dating from 1609. Here you can experience the old stables and the regular table of one of Denmark’s most influential thinkers, N. F. Grundtvig.

Jelling features some of Europe’s finest Viking Age monuments: Denmark’s two largest royal burial mounds and two rune stones with the oldest runic inscription bearing reference to the nation of Denmark. This is the final resting place of King Gorm the Old and this is where King Harald Bluetooth introduced Christianity in Denmark. The monuments and Jelling Church enjoy UNESCO patronage. The visitor’s centre, Royal Jelling, relates the story of the monuments.

The scenic surroundings of Fårup Sø (lake) include numerous natural springs, wide woodlands and open meadows. Along the eastern bank you find a campsite, an inn, a place for paddleboat and rowing boat rental, a kiosk and good summer fishing opportunities – and even a reconstructed Viking ship. 

Nørup Kirke (church) features baroque interiors and has an onion-shaped spire, as has Engelshom Slot (castle) on the opposite side of Engelsholm Sø (lake). Engelsholm Slot (castle) is today a folk high school but the estate gardens are open to the public.

The protected Randbøl Hede is Denmark’s largest inland sandy heath. In the pine plantations of Frederikshåb Plantage you can experience areas of heath and the “Seven year lakes”. East of Randbøl Hede (heath) you find the rune stone Store Rygbjergstenen, which carries what is believed to be Denmark’s first love poem.

By Randbøl Kirke (church), the Ancient Road passes Kong Rans Høj (King Ran’s Mound) and the Bronze Age barrows Firhøje

In the scenic valley of Randbøldal you find the Randbøldal Museum, which is a heritage activity and visitor’s centre for waterpower and arts and craft. And in Vejle Ådal (valley) you find a reconstruction of the 750-meter bridge Ravningbroen from the Viking Age. An exhibition about the bridge is to be found at Ravning Station

At Tørskind Grusgrav (former gravel pit) modern art melts into the landscape with impressive land art sculptures by Robert Jacobsen and Jean Clareboudt. 

Bindeballe Station features an exhibition on the history of the Vandel railway line. Here you also find kitchen, WC and showering facilities for ramblers and cyclists and a small campsite. Bindeballe Købmandsgård (old grocer's shop) from 1897 is a quaint blend of village grocery store and Denmark’s largest grocery shop museum.

Frederikshåb Møllepark (windmill park) features five classic windmills and two watermills, which are all constructed to half size. Several of the impressive mills can be experienced inside too.

The Egtved Girl’s Barrow is one of Denmark’s best-preserved Bronze Age graves. Today the site features a reconstructed barrow and a small museum that relates the story of the grave.

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