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Vangså Heath

Vangså Heath is a large sand-drift area. Behind the striking sea dunes lie parabolic sand dunes, to the east of which the ridges of the dunes constitute narrow dune formations up to many kilometres in length. Between these, are the great sand plains which form unique habitats for rare plants. 

Plants on the dune heath

The dune heaths are home to creeping willow, heather, bell heather and marsh gentian, as well as crowberry, cranberry and bog bilberry. All of the three Danish species of the insectivorous sundew are also found here. Species like the spotted orchid are found in moist hollows, and when in bloom the orchid can colour the dune heath pink. You can experience this on a day in June by the lake directly west of Kystvejen by the 29 km sign. Enjoy the view, but remember that orchids are protected - they are not for picking. Towards the sea, on the outskirts of the dunes, is the rare and protected Scottish licorice-root.

Large parts of Vangså Heath were protected in 1995. This was to preserve and protect the scenic and natural-history values, and to enable nature management. The greatest threat to this dryland area is overgrowth by trees and bushes, for instance mountain pine. For this reason, clear-cutting, burning and grazing are regularly carried out.

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Animal life

The common crane, wood sandpiper and short-eared owl are all common to this area. Whinchat and red-backed shrike are also seen, and the nightjar lives by the dune plantation. Among the mammals, roe deer, foxes and red deer are common.

Several interesting species of butterfly have been recorded on Vangså Klithede dune heath such as the rare alcon blue, whose larvae live in the seeds of the marsh gentian. After changing skin a couple of times, the larvae drop to the ground where they are adopted by a species of ant. From this point the larvae live in the anthill, where they are fed by the ants in the same way they would feed their own larvae.

Fishermen and farmers

The fishing village of Vangså emerged in the beginning of the 18th century, when smallholders in the area needed to find new places to live due to the sand drift. While the actual farmers moved further towards the east, where they could cultivate the land, the poor smallholders preferred to move closer to the shore, where they could fish and herd sheep, which would then graze on the heath. In the 1920s, Vangså was at a high point with 34 farms and houses, and there was a school and a mission as well as two grocer shops. The town had 149 inhabitants, of whom 40 were fishermen with a total of 34 boats. Vangså’s inhabitants did not get electricity until 1977, but prior to that the fishermen had moved out to Klitmøller and Hanstholm, where they could beach bigger boats.