The ditch is just one part of a larger network of ditches dug since the middle ages, to supply the Frederiksborg Palace with running water, to exploit the water resource for watermills in earlier times and to drain the wetlands so the land could be used for plantations.
There are an estimated 526 km of artificial ditches in Gribskov. One example is the megalithic passage grave just outside Kagerup, a village south of Maarum in the northwest of the forest.
The forest grows in a hilly terrain (by Danish standards), with lower lying areas in the east and west.In July 2015, it was one of three forests included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, The par force hunting landscape in North Zealand.Gribskov is usually divided into four sections: The northwest surrounding the small village of Maarum, the northeast on the banks of Lake Esrum, the southwest around the small lake of Gribsø and finally the southeast, enclosing the village of Nødebo on the southern banks of Lake Esrum.Roe deer have lived here for as long as the forest itself, while fallow deer were introduced at some point during the middle ages.The fallow deer population in Gribskov is the largest free roaming fallow deer population in Denmark, at 600-800 animals.
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The birdlife in Gribskov is varied and of international importance.The forest is home to the largest populations of common goldeneye, green sandpiper and red-backed shrike in Denmark and near Nødebo at Lake Esrum, a noisy colony of great cormorants has found a home.The low-lying areas are dominated by beech and oak, but with several forest types mixed in, such as wood pastures or old coppice woodland with alder and ash. There are also numerous small ponds, bogs, swamps and springs, some enshrouded by myths, superstition or old folk tales.It is said that one can still hear the monastery's bells ringing down in the lake on quiet evenings.
There are many small ponds, streams and lakes throughout Gribskov, but the larger ones—Store Gribsø, Solbjerg Engsø and Strødam Engsø—all are situated in the southwestern parts.
The lake has no outflows and it can be ice cold just beneath the surface, so care should be taken when bathing.
Tradition says the lake is bottomless and was created when God angrily punished a nunnery that once was here.
It is expected that Gribskov will comprise more semi-natural woodland of deciduous trees in the future.
The forest of Gribskov offers a rare opportunity to observe free roaming deer of all the four species living in Denmark; namely the roe deer, sika deer, red deer and fallow deer, with roe and fallow deer being most common in Gribskov.