Bernese Oberland - September/October
I have been to Switzerland and in particular the Bernese Oberland on previous occaions using Interlaken as my base. Interlaken is located between Lakes Thun and Brienz and I find it an ideal location for a walking holiday. The reliable Swiss train service permits easy and quick access to both the Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald valleys. Both these villages can be used to reach the start of many walks or for onward carriage to higher areas of the Alps.
Before I left home I purchased a Swiss Travel Pass which allowed me free travel on all the trains as far as Grindelwald, Wengen and Murren and half price travel higher up. I was also able to use this pass on the train to and from the airport and on the Post Buses. It can also be used to get into some museums free.
I found this Travel Pass very useful and used it most days. I also used it in the late afternoons/early evenings to travel to other railway stations and run back to my accommodation, so I think I got my money’s worth out of it.
Below is an account of the walks I did during my visit to the Bernese Oberland.
Wednesday 27 September 2006
I took the Bernese Oberland Bhan (BOB) Train from Interlaken Ost to Grindelwald and another train from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg which is 2061 metres above sea level.
From Kleine Scheidegg there are a couple of paths that head for Wengen. I decided to take the higher path rather than follow the one beside the railway line. The upper path led to Biglenalp and down through the forest opposite the Jungfrau. It was a pleasant day, with good views of the snow clad mountains.
In the afternoon I heard loud crashing noises and observed an avalanche on the opposite side of the valley. It lasted for several minutes and was followed by some smaller avalanches. Later on I was able to see the part of the glacier that had collapsed and some of the debris that was lying in the valley.
The path descended through the forest, followed the line of cliffs above Stalaenfluh to Innerwengen and Wengen. There were views over the cliff edges of the sheer drop into the Lauterbrunnen valley.
Time was getting on so I took the train from Wengen to Lauterbrunnen but it is possible to continue the walk to Lauterbrunnen. From Lauterbrunnen I took the BOB train back to Interlaken Ost and went for my daily run.
Thursday 28 September 2006
The forecast was for a mainly sunny day with light winds so I headed back to Kleine Scheidegg via Lauterbrunnen and Wengen. At Kleine Scheidegg I changed to the Jungfraujoch train which conveyed me and other passengers through a tunnel in the mountain to the underground station at the Jungfraujoch at 3454 metres. The journey took around 50 minutes, the majority of the time was spent in the tunnel.
I visited the Spinx with outstanding views of the snow clad mountains, glacier and crevasses, before walking to the Monchsjoch Hut.
The path was marked by poles to avoid the numerous crevasses and had to be taken at an easy pace due to the altitude. It passed above the longest glacier in the Alps, the Aletsch Glacier. It was a lovely sunny morning with no wind and I had my lunch on a snow clad col below the Monchsjoch Hut. The views were awesome as I was aware from previous visits, hence the reason to select a sunny and clear day as it is a very expensive train trip from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch, reduced by 50% with my Swiss Travel Pass.
After lunch I visited the Monchsjoch Hut before making the return journey to the Jungfraujoch and the trains back to Interlaken Ost.
Friday 29 September 2006
Once again I took the train from Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen but I then got on the Post Bus to Stechelberg as the funicular from Lauterbrunnen to Grutschalp was being replaced due to land movement. From Stechelberg I took two cable cars to the village of Murren and a third cable car to the summit of the Schilthorn via Birg where extensive building work was ongoing.
On the summit of the Schilthorn there is a revolving restaurant where the James Bond film ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ was partially filmed. (http://www.schilthorn.ch)
I had a cup of coffee in the restaurant before leaving the tourist hub to descend by a marked path to Murren. At the start of the path there was a sign restricting the use of high heeled shoes on the descent. Initially the descent was steep and narrow with some snow on it and fixed ropes in places. Once lower down the walking was easier for a while before a steep descent down a ridge. Then it was through grassy pastures to Murren. The views across to the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau were once again awesome.
From Murren I took the cable car back to Stechelberg, the bus to Lauterbrunnen and the train to Interlaken Ost.
Once again I was back on the train but as explained in the Introduction it was free as far as certain stations. This time I was off to Grindelwald and then the train to Kleine Scheidegg. This station can be approached from either Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald but on this occasion I chose the Grindelwald approach.
From Kleine Scheidegg I walked up to the Eigerletscher (Eiger Station), at 2320 metres, where the train enters the mountain tunnel en-route to the Jungfraujoch. Here I saw some Polar Dogs which are used on the Jungfraujoch during the summer months to pull sleighs of tourists. I looked at the Mittellegi Hut which had been laid out as it would have been many years ago.
The area was engulfed in cloud and I followed a marked trail, known as ‘The Eiger Trail’, below the North Face of the Eiger. I could see sections of the North Face and the fixed ladders that led to the start of this climb. I followed the ‘Trail’ to Alpiglen with occasional rain and some breaks in the cloud cover.
From Alpiglen the marked path took me to Brandegg and down to Grindelwald where I caught the train back to Interlaken Ost.
Again it was a train trip from Interlaken Ost to Grindelwald followed by a gondola ride to Mannlichen, the longest gondola in Europe.
From the Gondola Station at Mannlichen I climbed the nearby Mannlichen Gripfel for some views of the surrounding areas. I thereafter returned to the Gondola Station and took the marked path to Wengen. It was initially quite steep as it zig zagged its way down the mountainside but lower down the gradient eased as it entered the forest and I followed it to Wengen. I had a walk round this village but it was very quiet. Normally in the main summer months and in particular the skiing season it is a very busy and popular village. In fact one of the main skiing events of the winter takes place on the nearby Lauberhorn.
I caught the train from Wengen to Lauterbrunnen and then onto Interlaken Ost.
I took the train from Interlaken Ost as far as Wilderswill where I joined others on the cog railway that would take us onto the Schynige Platte. This is a very old railway dating back to 1893 and took about 50 minutes to reach the Schynige Platte Station at 2100 metres.
I walked along the ridge path round the Restaurant and headed for Oberberg and thereafter climbed Oberghorn. I would have liked to continue towards Faulhorn but the weather was deteriorating so I decided to return to the Schynige Platte Station by a circular route.
I took the train back to Wilderswill and by the time I arrived there the rain was very heavy so I had made the correct decision to abandon this route and maybe return on another occasion.
Thursday 5 October 2006
For my final walk I took the train, once again from Interlaken Ost to Grindelwald, and the cable car to Pfingstegg. From there I took the path to Baregg with views of the Unterer Grindelwald glacier and Fiescherhorner and the Eiger through the breaking cloud.
The Baregg Hut and Restaurant, as can be seen in my photos, is new and would make an ideal overnight stay. The path continued to the Schreckhorn Mountain Hut but was several hours away and I didn’t have sufficient time.
I returned initially by the upward route but lower down followed a signposted route that took me back to Grindelwald and the end of my walking holiday in the Bernese Oberland, although I still had my evening run and that meant another train journey from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen and a run back to my accommodation.
I took photographs on all my walks and they can be viewed by visiting the following page on my web site, Caledonia Hilltreks, and linking to the appropriate group:
The paths in the Bernese Oberland are mainly well marked. At the start and at main junctions walking times are also shown. There are often alternative routes which are normally slightly longer and I usually took them to get away from the crowds, although in late September early October the paths were not particularly busy as it was the end of the summer walking season.
There are still lots of areas to explore in the Bernese Oberland and routes I would like to walk again so hopefully a return visit can be arranged.