But I can imagine how it must have been to wander on the large heath from house to house, where the distances were far, to overnight by a heath-farmer and his wife or sleep out in the open air with the starry sky above. Many people lived like that , they had to in order to earn a living. They used the heather twigs for brooms and other things and they sold some heather peat, but they also sold woolen things like homeknit woolen socks, perfect and warm for the winter season, easy to bring with them and easy to sell, and this was tbe first beginning of the wool-fabrication in the middle of Jutland with the energetic town Herning as a center of the wool-industry. But this is not about the wool - this is about the Jutland heath. And the heath has a special place in a Jutlander's heart.
|Holtum Aa River.|
Here at Holtum Aa river by Harrild a Danish movie was made in the early forties about some vagabonds, one of the most popular comedies in Danish film-history. The hero, who was one of our most beloved actors, was singing a lovely and happy summer song, which is still being played in the radio. And it is odd that he was walking here on this place singing this song.
Well, look at the photo, I stood there for some time imagining something - and the photo shows surprisingly perfect what I mean. Couldn't you just imagine Hamlet's Ophelia coming floating along upon the twining waterplants with the pretty white flowers? If you are a romantic soul I'm sure you could imagine just that !
|John Millais, Ophelia (Tate Gallery)|
"..............when down she fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide, and mermaidlike awhile they bore her up. ......................but long it could not be till that her garments, heavy with their drink, pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay to muddy death".
Harrild Hede lies between the towns Ikast and Brande, just west of the Jutland Ridge ( den Jyske Højderyg) in one of the largest wastelands of Mid Jutland. Here is an opportunity to experience open heath and grass heath, which alternates between plantation and clean, fast-flowing water-streams. Here is also a special fauna, since this nature gives good conditions for wild deer and some rare birds. In the southern part of the land are rests of prehistoric fields, some north-south turned, low, parallel earth banks, each with a distance between 20-25 meters.
Skov og Naturstyrelsen ( Forest and Nature Management) takes care of the heath by removing unwanted tree-growth and by mowing and burn lesser areas at a time, by which the heather - which usually has got a longevity of ab. 25 years - will be renewed. The fringes along the water streams are being grazed in order not to leap into forest and to create good conditions for insects and flowers. The forest cultivation is given up in the future upon the unfit localitites, which then are allowed to become heath or fringe. In the cultivated forest the management will try to establish a network of belts, consisting of stable tree-species like oak, forest fir and larch. The purpose is to create a larger variation.
Harrild Hede holds several animals and plants, which are typically found in places like in these heaths and their connected moist lands. Plants are besides heather typically bell-heather, rosemary heather, cranberry, crowberry, lingbonberry and blueberry. The heather produces nectare which attracts the bees, and a honey from the heather (Danish: lynghonning) is a fine and expensive honey.
|Red-backed shrike (adult and young)|
Here breeds Eurasian teal, Wood sandpiper, Common snipe, Nightjar, Eurasian wryneck, Black woodpecker, Great-grey shrike and Redbacked shrike, Wood lark and Whinchat etc. Many other birds are seen like the White-tailed eagle, the Golden eagle, Cranes, Eurasian hobby, Red-footed falcon - several owls like the Eurasian eagle-owl, the Long-eared owl, and the Tawny owl etc. Last year and in 2010 a Short-toed Snake eagle stayed in the area for a period. In the forested areas is a big flock of roe deer and red deer, especially seen in the morning and evening hours. There are of course also many reptiles and amphibians. And insects, ab. 30 dragonfly-species and 45 butterfly-species.
|A water fetcher|
|nurse and housekeeper|
What the heather was used for:
Bronze Age hills were often built upon heather-peat. Up till about 100-200 years ago the heather was used by the heath-farmer for sheep and cattle fodder, it was used for fuel and thatching roofs, in early times even for building the house, it was good as a bed.straw in the alcove, as backfilling on sandy heath roads, and what was left and not used by the farmer at home was sold in the nearest town on the market - or the heath-farmer went from door to door in the large heath, staying out for weeks, selling brooms and other things made by heather and crossberry twigs, and selling some heather peat for peoples' stoves. The green heather was used for dyeing wool browngreen - and with alum the wool was dyed lemon yellow.
Harrild Hede is one of Denmark's most important bird habitats and also an Ef-habitat area. 3 hiking paths are marked in the area - and there are fishing places at Holtum Aa river. Brochures and information for free at the Tourist Bureaus and at the libraries - and at the entrance to Harrild Hede itself. Smoking is forbidden in the area due of fire hazard.
|Are you ready for a walk? The path is longer than you think.....|
|I tried to catch a dragonfly - do you see a dragonfly in the clouds ?|
|...but then came a helicopter. What a dragonfly!!|
photo August 2012 Harrild Hede, Jutland: grethe bachmann