Three easy walks in the Oberland

September 12, 2010, 4 Comments

It’s perfect autumn weather for walking, and the Swiss love walking. A lot. Most Swiss take their walking very seriously so that, as I pointed out in a previous post, what to you and me seems like an exhausting yomp, to them is a Sunday stroll. Just because I like a nice walk in the country, and now own a pair of walking boots, doesn’t mean that I want to spend five hours scrambling up steep slopes only to feel like limp lettuce at the end. And I’m sure I’m not the only one – so here are three easy walks for those of us who want to enjoy the scenery without having to hike to see it. Each is under two hours long, with height differences (HD) of under 200 metres, and accessible by public transport.

Easy they might be, but remember that these walks are still not a turn round the block. The paths are mostly gravelled, but can be rocky, and you’ll be up at altitudes of over 1500m, where the sun is stronger. So wear sturdy shoes, a hat and sunscreen, and bring a bottle of water for the trip. Oh, and a camera – these are three of the most scenic walks you will ever go on. Walking season is generally June-October, depending on the weather, and Alpine flowers are usually at their peak in July.

Männlichen-Kleine Scheidegg This stunningly beautiful walk is so popular that on a busy summer weekend, it can feel a bit like Oxford Street; during the week it is at its best. A cable car from Wengen whisks you up to Männlichen (2230m), and then it’s gently downhill to Kleine Scheidegg (2061m). The views stretch down to Grindelwald, across to almost all the Bernese Alps, and usually include quite a few cows grazing at altitude. The further you go, the bigger the Eiger gets, with its brooding North Face nearly always in sight. A stop at the restaurant in Kleine Scheidegg (try the Älplermakkaroni) is a must before getting on the train back down to Wengen.

  • Crucial facts: 4.5km, HD 169m, 1.5 hours.
  • Extension: walk on down one stop to Wengernalp (plus 2km and 1 hour, with HD 187m) to get the full view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley. You can catch the Wengen train there.

Mürren-Grütschalp Cliff-top, and so car-free, Mürren (1650m) is a compact resort, far smaller than Wengen or Grindelwald, that can only be reached by cable car. Take the one from Stechelberg up to Mürren, and then walk along the cliff-top to Grütschalp for the cable car down to Lauterbrunnen. This is even possible in winter as the snow is usually well-compacted on the path (though wear good shoes). All the way are wonderful views across the deep valley to the three biggies of the Oberland – Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau – or fairytale sections in pine-scented woods. Rather like walking through a Glade air freshener. A restaurant halfway, at Winteregg, provides a panoramic pitstop. PS – a tiny train covers the same route if you really want the views without the effort!

  • Crucial facts: 4.5km, HD 152m, 1.5 hours.
  • Extension: before leaving Mürren, take the funicular up to Allmendhubel and then walk back down (plus 2km and 1 hour, with HD 286m) and on to Lauterbrunnen. The extra height only adds to the splendour.

First-Bachalpsee-First Sometimes dismissed by ‘real’ walkers as a granny-stroll, this is the easiest of the three but more than worth it for the breathtakingly blue Bachalpsee. The undulating path is paved in parts, so suitable for buggies and less confident walkers, and starts at First (at 2166m it’s a real peak, despite the odd name) up above Grindelwald. After getting off the cable car but before setting off, stop to watch the paragliders leaping off into thin air. Literally. The views across to the Wetterhorn and Eiger are great, but nothing compared to those at Bachalpsee (2265m). Be sure to walk round to the far side for the money shot of the Schreckhorn framed by blue water and blue sky. Magical.

  • Crucial facts: each way, 3km, HD 97m, 50 mins
  • Extension: instead of retracing the path back to First, walk on down to Waldspitz (plus 4km, HD 347m, 1.5 hours) and pick up the bus to Grindelwald. Great in flower season.

4 Comments on "Three easy walks in the Oberland"

  1. Grazia Monday September 13th, 2010 at 10:37 PM · Reply

    Hi swisswatching!

    I love your post today as it explores an interesting point: “the meaning of walking in Switzerland”

    I had to relearn that meaning when I moved here.

    Swiss do not walk for pleasure but for exercise. An enjoyable exercise I would say 🙂

    And btw, thanks for your walking suggestions and wonderful pictures!

  2. Dimitri Tuesday September 14th, 2010 at 08:01 AM · Reply

    We have done your third hike from First to Bachalpsee this summer, and I would also recommend it to anyone who wants a perfect view of Eiger! Sure, the path is paved for most of the way, but this minor nuisance is compensated for with the view!

    PS. You might want to clarify your title as “Berner Oberland”, simply because it depends on one’s perspective… I initially thought “Zürcher Oberland” 😉

    • swisswatching Tuesday September 14th, 2010 at 11:01 AM · Reply

      Dimitri, I agree the view of the Eiger from the third walk is good, though to see the full grandeur of the North Face, nothing beats the first walk. The photo at the top was taken from there. As for the Oberland, there is only one! All others are minor compared to the Berner 🙂

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