Fosdalen is a glacial gorge cut into the Lien incline, the ancient coast of the Stone Age sea. The valley has an abundance of bird life and some fascinating botany. A path and brook at the bottom of the valley lead from the foot of the incline to its top near Lerup church, by Our Lady's Spring.

Ice-age landscape
As the ice retreated after the last Ice Age, sea level was between 5 and 6 m higher than it is today, and in the section between Svinkløv and Tranum, the coastline was made up of a high coastal incline. With the land uplift in North Jutland, the sea bed arose again from the Stone Age sea a few thousand years later and became dry land. Thus, in Han Herred, the old coastal incline became the 7 km inland incline, or 'Lien', which in places towered up to 60 m above the completely flat plain down by the water.

As the glaciers melted, the climate remained cold for a long period, and the rain and wind had free rein to continue shaping the bare landscape. The rainwater and the meltwater from the ice cut deep gullies in the coastal incline, so today Lien is traversed by the deep valleys of Fosdalen and Langdalen as well as a number of smaller ravines and valleys.

Significant landslides can still occur, notably in Fosdalen, but the effects of the water and the wind on the landscape today are tempered by the lush vegetation of the valley. Originally, the whole of Fosdalen was covered in heather, with scrub here and there, and it was decided to preserve the valley in this condition in 1902, when it was given protected status. However, grazing ceased from this time and as a result, most of the valley developed into closed deciduous forest. The lower section of Fosdalen is still open, and the vegetation here is cleared from time to time. This preserves the habitat for the wide range of light-loving flora, which includes rare plants such as orchids.

Spring and spring market
Close to Lerup church at the top end of Fosdalen, a stone marks the source of Our Lady's Spring. The name of the spring is no coincidence; it is due to the fact that divine powers of healing have been attributed to the water from the spring, sought after since ancient times by the sick.

Spring markets have been held on the site by the spring since medieval times on Our Lady's birthday, 8 September. According to information from the priest of Lerup church in 1585, before the Reformation the market was a centre of the absolution trade, i.e. the opportunity to buy redemption from the sum of the burden of sin and thus reduce the amount of time you would have to spend in purgatory after death. Despite its pious past, however, the priest had his doubts about the market. Immoral things happened in the churchyard on market days, so the priest petitioned the king to move the market to Han Herred district court in the parish of Skræm. However, the name "Lerup Marked" persisted until the decline of the market in the 19th century.

A protected area
Most of the area around Lien is protected today. After Fosdalen was declared a protected area in 1902, the rest of the old coastal incline received this status in 1956, followed by the old seabed between Lien and the North Sea in 1976. There is to be a thorough revision of this protected status in order to enable better care of the area.

Today, Lien is characterised notably by Fosdal Plantage and Langdal Plantage, both of which were planted around 1900, when the area was bare and colonised by heather. Both plantations have marked routes for the use of anyone wishing to experience the life of the forest unobtrusively.

Fosdalen Nature Centre is the starting point for a number of activities with a focus on the variety of scenery, flora and fauna around Lien, e.g. with an exhibition that is open all year round. The nature centre has its own nature guide who organises activities such as discovery walks, bird-spotting walks and coastal and beach walks in this unique area (see the centre's website).

Sources: Fosdalen og Langdalen. Vandreture i Statsskovene nr. 87. Skov- og Naturstyrelsen.
Justesen, Jens (red.): Han Herred, natur og kultur. Fjerritslev 1993.
Trap, Hjørring Amt. 5. udgave. København 1960.

Photo:Morten Pedersen 2006 ©Morten Pedersen
Photo:P. Riismøller ©Nordjyllands Historiske Museum
Photo:Niels Thye ©Niels Thye
©Han Herred Turistbureau
©Han Herred Turistbureau
Photo:Svend Møller Nielsen ©Svend Møller Nielsen
Photo:Svend Møller Nielsen ©Svend Møller Nielsen
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