Switzerland 1998

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Our walking holiday this year - one week each in a farmhouse apartment and on a mountain trek.

Week 1: Sörenberg

We drove down to Switzerland via the Channel Tunnel, Reims, Metz, Strasbourg and Basel - it takes approx 12 hours each way. We occupied a very well equipped, modern, clean apartment next to Ida Emmenegger's farmhouse on the outskirts of the alpine village of Sörenberg, about 15km north-east of Interlaken - thoroughly recommended, with magnificent views of the surrounding mountains.  The cable car from Sörenberg to the top of Brienzer Rothorn (live web-cam in winter) does not open until 6th June - so we walked up it anyway!  We were very lucky with the weather - not too much snow to walk over on the way to the top, and a great view over the Brienzer See from the top.

Other outings:

  • The Mount Pilatus - 'Golden Round Trip', which involves a cog railway trip to the top (magnificent views over Lake Lucerne), then cable car and gondola rides down to the outskirts of Lucerne, trolleybus trip into the centre for some sightseeing, then a trip on a lake steamer back to the start point past expensive-looking lakeside mansions.  A great trip.
  • You ride the cog railway all the way from Interlaken to the spectacular Jungfraujoch at 3500m, up via Lauterbrunnen, and down via Grindelwald, also changing at Kleine Scheidegg.  Views of the immense Eiger North Face, the Mönch, and the Jungfrau.  The last hour of the trip is spent in a tunnel bored out inside the Eiger itself, with two railway stations with windows out onto the North Face itself.  The train station and restaurants are carved into the rock, hanging precariously onto the wall above a glacier.  We went for a walk on the Aletsch glacier outside, the longest glacier in Europe at 14 miles - they ski on it all year round.  On occasion I was breathless and dizzy at that altitude.  We missed the huskies - they put them away at 1.45pm.  Train fare hideously expensive - SFr 158.20 per person (about GBP67)!

Week 2: Mountain Walk

This was an unaccompanied walk from Kandersteg to Gstaad organised by Inntravel (who also booked the Sörenberg farmhouse apartment).  Inntravel supply map(s) and walking instructions, and you walk from one hotel to the next.  Your suitcases are forwarded by Post (train or bus) between hotels - all you have to carry over the mountains is a picnic and a waterproof.  Very civilised.

Hotels were (3* unless stated):

  • Victoria + Ritter, Kandersteg (4*) - a bit pretentious, with rooms of varying quality. 1200m asl.  We left our car here during the week's walk.
  • Adler, Adelboden - excellent.  Very welcoming. Nice room. 1300m asl.
  • Krone, Lenk - average. 1100m asl.
  • Alpenland, Lauenen - excellent - lovely room - shame about their gimmick - the main course at dinner has to be Rösti with a sauce on top!  1200m asl.

On the Lenk to Lauenen stage we had every type of weather - hot sun, persistent drizzle, hail, then heavy snow.  We just got down from the pass in time - we woke up the next morning to find all the mountains plastered with fresh snow almost down to valley level.

We saw golden and short-toed eagles, red squirrels, red kites, alpine choughs, ring ousels, buzzards, marmots, ibex and chamois on the mountains.  We also saw chalets of the rich and famous in Gstaad.

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