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Permanent Tourist

A personal website by Mark Howells-Mead

Gasterntal, Kandersteg

After so many years of driving up random little tracks and small roads in the Bernese Oberland, it’s rare to come across somewhere I’ve not been before. So when we decided to take a spontaneous trip out on Sunday, and found a little yellow line on the map leading south into the mountains from Kandersteg, it was particularly exciting.

Having identified the road as a private one, where drivers have to pay a small toll to use the often winding and precipitous route, we headed up and timed our arrival at the bottom of the road to coincide with the ascent times. Many little roads like this are time-limited, where one can only drive up within a certain part of the hour, and down at another. This is particularly the case when the road isn’t passable to two vehicles travelling in opposite directions, and the following photo shows why.

Gasterntal, Switzerland

The rocky and dusty track leads up through a hollowed-out section of cliff-face near the entrance to the Lötschberg car train tunnel to the Gasterntal valley, which appears to only be known to locals and regular visitors to Kandersteg. As we wound our way slowly along the road, the lasting impression was that someone must have really wanted to get easier access, as not only was the road blasted through a cliff, but also carried across a raging torrent of a river by an old (but sturdy) stone bridge.

Gasterntal, Switzerland

Once into the valley, we headed as far as we could by car; to the small and remote hotel at Selden. The views along the valley are akin to how I imagine Canada or Yellowstone, and the view I photographed for the main image accompanying this blog post reminds me a little of some of Ansel Adams’ work. I hope to get back under better weather conditions and take more views of the scene, when I can take my time and do it better justice. For now, the small set of photos from this weekend’s trip to the remote valley are on Flickr.