Summer afternoon at Oeschinensee

The Oeschinensee (“Oeschinen lake”) is a large body of water in a wide mountain valley above Kandersteg, on the southern side of the alpine divide in Canton Bern. Using public transport, we travelled from Spiez on the regional BLS train to Kandersteg and walked from the main station to the valley station of the cable car. The cable cars – wonderful two-seater, rattly, vertiginous open chair lifts until 2008, when they were replaced with eight person enclosed cabins – take you up from Kandersteg to the valley, where several paths through pine forests lead you on a twenty to thirty minute walk beneath high cliffs to the lake itself. Last time I was there was on a winter visit, when the the turquoise blue lake was transformed into a massive white expanse of snow and ice.

Today, though, we enjoyed the full benefits of the summer and shared the lake with countless others; among them couples cooking over open fires, families walking their dogs, boisterous British teenagers staying at the International Scout Centre echoing across the lake as they battled for supremacy of rented rowing boats, and cows. (Check out the fifth and sixth photos in the gallery.) Jo and I found a spot at just enough distance from the next little picnic and stripped off, braving the cold water to cool down and be refreshed after a hot walk. After rescuing our stuff from getting drenched by an over-enthusiastic dog, we dressed, re-energized ourselves with a couple of portions of french fries, and took the longer of two paths: instead of returning to the cable car station, we walked down the very steep path to Kandersteg with wobbly knees, to gratefully wait in the shade with ice lollies for our train home.

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