Thursday, 10 September 2009

Day 3: Schynige Platte

Day 3: The Happy Wanderers plus two. First to Schynige Platte (aka (one of) the most wonderful walking routes in the world!)

Left the van with sandwiches packed and met up with the Happy Wanderers at their hotel in Lauterbrunnen at 8.30am. We needed to set off early because we had a long walk ahead of us, with a number of connecting train journeys. Another blue sky, cold morning, with sun streaming down the shaded valley, Wengen glinting in the sunshine above us.
A train to Grindelwald, and then chairlift to First, high up in the mountains. Superb chairlift ride. Wilkie needed a few minutes to do some introductory filming, and then we were off. We climbed up from First to a stunning lake called Bachalpsee. Alistair took one of several “money shots”, which he would run on ahead and take throughout the day! Gorgeous views all around as we made our way up to Faulhorn, to the first of our huts. But no time to stop as we moved on on a high level, undulating walk well-known as the Schynige Platte, taking in ever-changing views of mountains, giving way to views down to Brienzersee and Thunsee, and Interlaken, which separates the two “sees”. As we walked on, we were already planning our “rest day” tomorrow, which would see us cycling around Brienzersee, a route that the “Team” had down a few days earlier. Just a little mention here that Wilkie and his mates are not exactly “spring chickens” but they’ve not stopped since they got here, going out every day doing really tough walks, and, as Roger aptly put it, the tanks were beginning to register close to empty, but still we pushed on at quite a brisk pace Ian’s previous pace up the Shilthorn had earned him the nick-name “Billy Whizz”, but today we needed to push on.. You have to if you want to do the whole of the Platte and get back in time for the last train off the mountain, and back before dark!
As with most long walks, the last few miles seemed to go on for ever, with the Bergstation in the distance never seeming to get any closer. Wilkie started to sound like everybody’s annoying Dad, saying that it was just around this bend, only to find another extensive path winding along the top of the hill in the distance. It was beginning to heat up as well, on another cloudless, windless, sunny day.
One lovely little moment of joy- a voice in the distance singing loud and even breaking into a yodel. As we got closer the elderly owner of this superb voice became rather shy and clammed up. The white-haired swiss gentleman, left his tractor in the meadow and greeted us on the path with the customary “Grusse” (greetings). On realising we were English, with Wilkie complimenting him on living in a beautiful place, he said that he saw this every day, and that he envied us our…. our…., at which point we wanted to help him by selecting vocabulary like, our pubs, our music, our dodgy politicians, our roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, but no, he finalised with “our queen”. Well there you go , God Bless our Queen!
5 hours and 20minutes later we were at the station, having covered a mere 13 miles, which felt more like a marathon, but feeling full on mountain scenery.
After a slow, sleepy journey on the historic railway which weaves it way down the mountain-side to Wilderswill, and then a connection to Lauterbrunnen, following the milky turquoise river up to the town, already back in the shadows, and beginning to feel cold. The 6 day travel pass had proved really good value today, saving time queuing, and covering four journeys.
Too late to cook and so off to the cafĂ© for a beer and a rosti. Wilkie and co’s last night, so Ian stayed on at the local pub to “see them off”! And as a ps regretted it most of the following day. But we’d planned to catch up on some “housekeeping” tomorrow, giving us time to draw breath and the sun time to warm the cycle ride down to Brienzersee.

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