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Permanent Tourist

A personal website by Mark Howells-Mead

Bire, Beatenberg

The Bire is a rock promontory amongst the cliffs above Waldegg, at the eastern end of Beatenberg. The name – local dialect for Birne, meaning “pear” – will give you an idea of its shape.

I saw some photos from the hike to the viewpoint on the Instagram stream of a local holiday chalet owner last autumn, and immediately wanted to see the vertiginous view myself. So we parked the car and set off through the woods to the cliffs. Although they are are visible from many miles away, the promontory itself is almost invisible from some angles, as it blends into the surrounding cliffs so well.

Birenfluh, Beatenberg, Switzerland

We confirmed the route on our Kümmerly + Frey map of the Jungfrau Region before setting off for what we’d thought would be a mainly easy hike. We found that the route took us on a roundabout walk through the forest and past the gullies of the Birefluh: quiet at this time of year, but probably filled with cascading water in summer. It was a pleasant walk through the forest, leading to a steeper, stepped path up which to clamber to the height of the cliffs.

Birenfluh, Beatenberg, Switzerland

After passing along a narrow footpath at the base of the main cliffs – trying not to think about the up-rooted trees on the cliff-top hanging above our heads – we arrived at the promontory itself, where a set of wooden tree-trunks formed an over-sized step-ladder to the top. It would’ve been better and easier to make the final, vertiginous climb had it been drier, but having come all that way, I made the effort and got to the viewpoint.

Birenfluh, Beatenberg, Switzerland

Knees wobbling a bit with nerves, I took my photos, signed the excessively-filled visitors’ book, and clambered back down to meet Jo and hike back to the car.

I can recommend the walk heartily, but two notes: try to hike this route when it’s dry, and don’t try to ascend the promontory if you’re prone to vertigo or acrophobia. It’s a long way down, and the steps are more of a ladder than a staircase.