So having been worn out over the past two days with amazing scenery and long long trips, we thought that we would try something a little more sedate today. And something that we hadn’t done before.
From the back of our accommodation we look onto a ridge known as Schynige Platte, a flat plateau opposite the main mountain ridge. To get to it you can either walk, for a very very long way, or cheat and get a mountain train. What do you think we opted for?
As usual, getting to this train is a doddle. Everything runs on time and like clockwork. The mountain train is very old fashioned and quite nostalgic. The carriages are made up of booths, with wooden benches so you are all sat in a line, squished together, sitting opposite to the next row of people, knees touching. Windows on all sides.
These trains have been running since 1893 and and not much has changed in that time. The conductor hangs out the window and shimmies down the side of the train when its moving. They get out and change the track over manually. Its all quite quaint really.
The most impressive part though is the angle at which it goes up the mountain. It is so steep that at one point, you have to hold onto each other so you don’t slip off the seat. Incredible.
At this angle, it takes no time before you are high up and start getting some amazing views. We are travelling up the other side of the mountain peaks from our accommodation, so this is all new to us. We start to pick out the lakes at Interlaken, getting glimpses of the bright blue and green water fed by the glaciers. The tree line starts to thin out and the mountain side becomes more barren and rough.
You get sneak previews of the view but nothing prepared me for the vista when we got off the train at the top. Bear in mind that for the last two days, we had seen the very best of what Switzerland has to offer. And today, this view, blew it away.
I’m amazed that this is not more popular. Tourists are paying hundreds of pounds to go to the Schilthorn and Top of Europe. This trip is free! Well, its included in the weekly travel pass anyway.
Not 100 meters off the train and we are stopped on the path by three locals playing the Alphorn. That’s a really long horn that rests on the floor and reaches head height. It’s as iconic here as a Scott playing the bagpipes on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.
Once they had finished we took a small walking path that winds you up away from the train line and onto the plateau itself. As we round the mountain we get more and more impressive views – this time of the Lauterbrunnen valley, then of Interlaken. Soon, we spot some large birds circling above us, we work out they are either Eagles or Goshawks – another great sighting either way! The kids get chance for a little play time.
But now, I realise why this isn’t as touristy as the other places. The path starts to get tricky. Not for hardened walkers, but definitely for me and the pram. I take Marcus out and put him on my shoulders as the path is very narrow and too risky with the pram. Wendy follows part carrying part pushing the pram. The path levels out again but is very rocky and bumpy. At times it is challenging, as Marcus is covering my eyes playing with my head and I’m trying not to slip off the side of the mountain. Doesn’t make for a relaxing walk!
But again, the path widens and right there is a bench – what a perfect place for our picnic.
I take a much needed mental and physical rest! The others crack on to another rock that you can climb up in the distance, from there it looks like you will get another amazing view. Charlotte, Marcus and I just sit and drink it all in.
After a while, I’ve recovered and I think, hey why not – let’s keep going and see how far we get. I push on through a gravel narrow track, lifting the back wheels of the pram and using mostly the single front wheel. We are in a small valley now though so the risk of slipping is much much lower. Paths always look shorter than they actually are, but we get there. Charlotte freaks out at the cows who are blocking our path. We pretty much have to push them out of the way to get passed. They are not bothered.
Wendy spots us in the distance and walks towards us to help for the last section. Even then we have to abandon the pram and continue on carrying Marcus. Only a couple more minutes though and we reach the end and get a breathtaking view over Interlaken and the lakes below. I toy with climbing the rock outcrop but the weather looks like it is starting to come in. We can see dark clouds rolling up the valley, so decided to head back to the restaurant at the train station.
As we come back along the path I can hear someone shouting/singing and I think I wish they would shut up as it’s really messing up with the whole tranquillity of the place. Then I realise that it is a shepherdess calling for the cows. So we stop to watch. She yodels to them and 100 or so cows lift up their heads and make their way to back to her. A sheep dog accompanies her and rounds up one or two cows that seem slow to comply. The shepherdess doesn’t even have to move. Incredible.
We start to feel drops of rain on us now though so we quicken the pace, reaching the restaurant as it starts to hammer it down. Back onto the train now and we descend in thunder and lightening.
It takes about an hour to make the journey back down the mountain and then about 30 minutes more to get from the base station to our accommodation. But now we are home, dry and able to chill out and play games on the dining room table.
The whole experience makes me wonder just how many places there are like this in the world, where you think you’ve seen the best of place and then all of a sudden something tops it. I guess there is no end to them.
I’d pushed my self today, more than I had wanted to. Probably too much. Tomorrow would need to be much less strenuous.