It’s easy for me to forget that I don’t need to “go somewhere” to enjoy a walk. I sit here and wonder where to go: which cable-car, which lakeside walk, which spectacular valley. This comes of having the great fortune to live within half-an-hour of some pretty wonderful places. But this commonly leads me to forget that I’m already in a pretty wonderful neck of the woods. In a village beside a large alpine lake, with hills and woods and paths and views everywhere. The grass is often greener elsewhere, but that doesn’t mean it’s not green here, too.

The additional danger of laziness rears its head. I sit here and think that walking up one of the nearby hills is difficult to achieve simply because I’ve been sitting here so much. But once I decide to give it a go – following a mantra of a couple of locals, taking each bit of a task at a time (or “step by step”) – I quite often find that the seemingly difficult walk is actually much easier than it seems. I am trying to remind myself often that I’ll never achieve any of these walks if I don’t even try them, and it was with this thought in mind that I set out for a walk of undetermined distance yesterday.

Chickens next to the former railway halt in Faulensee
Underpass ramp beneath the main Spiez-Interlaken road
View down to Faulensee church from near the residential home at Eigen
Terracotta bird box in a garden

I took my little X100V camera with me, as I’ve become lax in taking photos recently and relying too much on my iPhone. Even taking my time for regular photo stops, I found that the path I’d been considering was much simpler than I’d imagined and full of enjoyment. I headed from home to the lower parts of Hondrich, then past the eyrie-like old people’s home at Eigen and into the Seeholzwald woods. I took a break there, enjoyed the sadly sparse birdsong and the sheltered warmth of the sun and got eyed warily from a couple of hundred metres’ distance by a rare fox. (We hardly see them here, as they’re much more timid than in Britain.)

Foresters’ track through Seeholz woods
New growth to replace felled beech trees
A common sight around here: felled trees for the local sawmills
Icy underfoot despite the sunshine

Half-an-hour later, after a slow and steady ascent through the woods and along a track I found on my bike last year, I arrived at the edge of the woods, where a bench beckoned and gave me another short respite. The top edge of the woods below Aeschi village marks a definite lower boundary at the moment, above which the landscape is covered in snow. After another ten minutes of puffing and blowing, I reached the small roundabout in the middle of the village and worked out that, despite stops and taking it easy, the walk had taken less than an hour-and-a-half. Because I was enjoying myself, I decided to keep heading uphill and so I struck out across the icy walking path next to the cross-country ski tracks, with the aim of getting to Wachthubel (“lookout hill”) before turning downhill again.

Ice worked into the cracked and well-trodden roots along the forest trail. Young pine-tips everywhere, which may not bode well for some of the trees in this part of the wood.
First goal in sight; a welcome bench on the top edge of the woods, below Aeschi village
Aeschi primary school, which serves all of the villages and farms on this part of the mountainside
Post bus depot in the centre of Aeschi
Thin, icy snow between Aeschi and Wachthubel: still enough for cross-country skiing, despite some green patches on the south-facing slopes
One of several farms outside Aeschi which turn their land over to winter sports when there is sufficient snow
View back to Spiez and on to Thun and the Jura mountains
The top-end of the walk; Maurersweide, around 380 metres above the lake and six kilometres into the route
Faulensee to Wachthubel and back, via Hondrich and Aeschi. 380m ascent and 12km distance

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