Sunday, 9 August 2015

Swiss Alps - Holenstein to Brandegg

Date: Friday 7th August 2015
Route: Holenstation to Brandegg

Our final walk of the week was one that was recommended by the holiday company rep and offered a different perspective on the countryside, as well as passing in and out of woodland - not only did this make it less exposed than some of the other walks, it also gave the walk some of the feel of the West Highland Way, thanks to all of the pines.

The walk starts from the mid-way station on the cable car between Grindelwald and Mannlichen and ends at the train station of Brandegg, 200 metres below. The walk includes both uphill and downhill sections and is less busy than some of the other walks we tried during the course of the week, despite having (yet more) spectacular views. Highly recommended. 

Swiss Alps - Jungfrau Eiger walk, Eigergletscher to Kleine Scheidegg

Date: Friday 7th August 2015
Route: Jungfrau Eiger Walk

Another walk that starts from Eigergletscher station, the Jungfrau Eiger Walk only takes 30 minutes and is downhill all the way down the waymarked path to Kleine Scheidegg station. The views are way more interesting than the walk itself, particularly those of the Eiger, the snowy peak of the Silberhorn and the highest peak, the Jungfrau. 

Swiss Alps - Schynige Platte

Date: Thursday 6th August 2015
Route: Circular walk from Schynige Platte station

This walk's highlights are the journey up the very steep hillside by train and the stunning views down over the town of Interlaken, which sits between the Brienzersee and Thunersee lakes, as well as back up the valley towards the high mountains.

It all looks a bit hazy in the photos - guaranteed better in real life!

Swiss Alps - First to Bachalpsee

Date: Tuesday 4th August
Route: First to Bachalpsee Lake and back

Another deservedly popular walk, this gravel path leads from the cable car station at First, 1100 metres and a 30 minute ride above Grindelwald, to the exceptionally beautiful lake at Bachalpsee, which overlooks the Wetterhorn, Shreckhorn and Eiger summits, as well as glaciers that cannot be seen from the Eiger side of the valley.

With picture postcard views and suitably picturesque goats along the way, this is an easy hour and a half there and back - the path is not very exciting but the views are - and you can always go for a swim if you are feeling adventurous (although the shrieks of the adventurous suggest that the water may have a definite glacial chill).

Swiss Alps - Eiger Trail, Eigergletscher to Alpiglen

Date: Monday 3rd August 2015
Route: The Eiger Trail

Possibly the definitive walk in the area, the Eiger Trail starts from the train station of Eigergletscher (sitting beneath the glacier it takes its name from) and after a very short uphill section at the beginning passes in front of the North Face of the Eiger, winding around the hillside before descending (at times steeply) to the station at Alpiglen, on the line to Grindelwald, which is in the valley below.

The whole walk takes under three hours, the first part of which is over a barren landscape and in cool shadow, before emerging into sunlight and beautiful views. The path passes below steep mountain walls, ice and snow and a powerful waterfall. The North Face of the Eiger looks suitably foreboding and there is information about the four main ascent routes, from the 1930's onwards. Possibly the best walk of the week, although slightly punishing on the knees!   

Swiss Alps - Panoramaweg, Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg

Date: Sunday 2nd August 2015
Route: Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg

Having fallen in love with the Swiss Alps last year, we decided to visit a different area this year, staying in Wengen in the Jungfrau Region. We needed little more than the leaflet of walking routes created by the tourist board and a lift/public transport pass to get started.

The Panoramaweg is a perfect introduction to the region, starting from the cable car station at Mannlichen, 5 minutes and nearly a kilometre above Wengen. The gravel path runs mostly flat or gently downhill, alongside alpine meadows (and some very noisy, clanking cows, all sporting varying sizes of cowbell), on the way to the train station at Kleine Scheidegg. Since it is an easy route and boasts spectacular views of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains, which you reach within an hour, it is a very popular walk. We also encountered some Alpine horn players and a man twirling the Swiss flag, but these aren't necessarily guaranteed! 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

North Devon: Bull Point, Morte Point, Mortehoe and Lee

Date: Friday 12th December
Route: Bull Point Lighthouse to Morte Point, Mortehoe Village, Lee and back to the lighthouse
Distance: 7 miles

I'm conscious that this is the first blog post since August - we have actually done a few walks between August and December, but, apart from a few old favourites in Cornwall that I was too lazy to blog about at the time, not really any to write home about.

That changed this weekend, with a trip to North Devon, staying in one of the cottages at Bull Point lighthouse on the coast between Ilfracombe and Woolacombe (see here for more details). Built in the 1870's, the lighthouse is at the end of a very narrow winding lane, on top of the cliffs amongst dipping hillsides and alongside the South West Coastal Path.

This means that it is possible to walk outside the grounds and straight into the midst of a walk from the AA's 1001 Walks collection. The path follows the coastline with steep climbs and knee-jarring descents, alongside ship-wrecking rocks, deserted beaches and gorse bushes. The first landmark is Morte Point, a jutting headland with views back towards Bull Point and on to the sandy beach at Woolacombe.

From Morte Point a few minutes of hillside path leads to the road to Mortehoe Village, which boasts three pubs, a couple of village shops and even a museum. The walk then winds away from the coast, through a caravan site and beautifully situated farm and down a steep and leaf-strewn woodland slope into a wooded valley of moss-covered trees and rhododendron bushes. Once out of the woods the path continues to the village of Lee, where it meets up with the coastal path again.

The last section of the walk back to the lighthouse is typical coastal path - three very steep climbs (for which walking sticks definitely help to ease the pressure), a couple of corresponding descents, bracing weather and great views of the sea over to the right, the island of Lundy and plenty of crumbling rocky cliffs.

A brilliant walk in an amazing location to blow the cobwebs away and cleanse the soul on a chilly winter's day - definitely one to write home about.