Europe’s Smallest National Park – Dalby Söderskog

One of South Sweden’s most natural and adventurous forests looks particularly beautiful in spring when yellow and white anemones are in bloom and the deciduous trees are about to burst into leaf.

Today my two boys and I visited Europe’s smallest national park. Dalby Söderskog National Park is an overlooked little nature gem in Skåne, and right now it is full of colour with yellow and white anemones and bright green leaves.🌱

Dalby Söderskog is a unique, old deciduous forest where dead trees are allowed to remain, creating habitats for fungi, insects and birds. And yes, the dead trunks are phenomenal for children and young minds to climb and jump around on.

We quickly decided to do the classic 2.3 kilometre loop, which is an easily accessible trail that goes around the entire perimeter of the national park. But we didn’t get far, because the many dead tree trunks lying around are really fun to walk, jump, swing and climb on. So we spent a lot of time there.

We continued along the path when we didn’t stop at another tree ruin that needed to be climbed or inspected.

The soundscape in the forest is a whole symphony of birdsong from various sparrows and small birds. Only interrupted by the whistling of the wind, the buzzing of bees, and woodpeckers pecking in the trees. In fact, there are supposed to be four species of woodpecker here – great and lesser spotted woodpecker, European green woodpecker, and black woodpecker. However, we “only” saw the great spotted woodpecker. Woodpeckers thrive in the forest because there is plenty of food in the form of insects in the dead wood. The nest holes that woodpeckers peck out are also used by other birds and animals such as starlings and squirrels.

White anemones in full bloom.

The forest’s history

Humans and their grazing animals have exploited the forest around Dalby for around a thousand years. In the Middle Ages, Söderskog was owned by an Augustinian monastery who had their horses graze in the forest. The land then changed hands between Swedish and Danish estates in the 17th and 18th centuries. During some periods, the forest was only utilised to a limited extent but was often grazed, typically by horses.

When the area was designated a national park in 1918, both grazing and logging ceased. The forest was allowed to develop freely as an untouched forest. Since then, the forest has slowly changed to a more wild state and shows very well what a typical South Swedish (and Danish) forest landscape can look like when allowed to develop without human influence.

Yellow and white anemones grow on the forest floor, as well as purple and white specimens of hollowroot.
Bridge over the forest creek.

Dalby Söderskog National Park

At just 36 hectares, Dalby Söderskog is Europe’s smallest national park. The area corresponds to about 50 football fields.

There are several short hiking trails in the area, the most popular being the 2.3 km ‘Kroppekärrsrundan’, which follows the edge of the park around. You can also follow the Skrylle trail for 3.5 km to Skrylle Nature Reserve. Naturum Skrylle tells about the animals, plants, geology, and cultural history of the area.

Dalby Söderskog National Park is located about 10 km east of Lund and less than half an hour’s drive from Malmö. The nearest bus stops are Dalby Söderskog and Dalby bus station. See timetables at Skånetrafikken.

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