Grindelwald

Grindelwald – a name known by millions of Harry Potter fans the world over thanks to its use by J.K. Rowling – is in fact a small town nestled in the mountains above Interlaken, in the Jungfrau Region of central Switzerland. The town is a magnet for winter sports and hiking aficionados as it is surrounded on all sides by mountains: the Männlichen ridge and the slopes down from First provide sledge runs, ski pistes and good hiking trails. The main alpine chain – including the world-famous Eiger North Wall – seals off the southern side of the valley and provides a huge challenge for many climbers.

The only main access point to the town is from the north, via a narrow road and a partially-cogged railway winding up the Lütschine valley from Interlaken. This affords little hindrance to the thousands of tourists who come to admire the landscape, cover the slopes and stroll amongst the tourist shops along the main street in search of a suitably Swiss trinket to take home. The town is best visited between seasons, when the cablecars and public transport continue to run, but the crowds are greatly lessened and one can get up above the town to admire the views and revel in the majestic silence.

Grindelwald, Switzerland

Grindelwald, December 2017

The best time to visit the mountain villages near our home is between the tourist seasons, when many hotels are closed and the valleys, cable cars and mountain cableways are much quieter. We drove up to Grindelwald shortly before Christmas, to visit the mountain restaurant at Schreckfeld, where deep snow and temperatures as low as -12°C greeted us.

Grindelwald, December 2017

Firsts of August

1st August is Switzerland’s Bundestag (or federal day), so Jo and I usually take advantage of the day off work to celebrate our adopted home. Here are some photographic mementoes of the day trips we’ve made. Interlaken, 2006 Brienzer Rothorn, 2007 Bachalp, Grindelwald, 2010 Mattehubel, Reutigen, 2012 Glacier 3000, 2013 Oberberghorn, 2014 Hardergrat, 2015…

Firsts of August

Pfingstegg, Grindelwald, Switzerland

Pfingstegg, on an elevated ledge amongst the southern cliff faces in the Grindelwald valley, is the starting point for a great hike. The path is less well-trodden than the easier and more popular routes on Männlichen and First, but offers much more dramatic views than the gentler routes in the valley. Once away from the restaurant and summer toboggan run,…

Pfingstegg, Grindelwald, Switzerland

Jungfraujoch, Switzerland

The Jungfraujoch is the prime tourist destination in Switzerland’s Jungfrau region. High atop a mountain “saddle” between the Mönch and Jungfrau peaks, it’s accessible by taking a cog-wheel train which makes its way to the summit through a tunnel carved into the mountain. Temperatures in winter can plunge a low way below freezing, but we were lucky enough to…

Jungfraujoch, Switzerland

Bachalp, Switzerland

Bachalp is an area of the mountains which ring the northern side of the Grindelwald valley. It’s a popular tourist destination, as its fairly easy to reach on foot in around 45 minutes from the cable car station at First. Hardier walkers continue on from the much-photographed lake Bachalpsee onto a steeper path, which leads up to the Faulhorn mountain hostel.

Bachalp, Switzerland

Sulzibiel, Switzerland

The lake at Bachalp, around 45 minutes’ walk from the First mountain restaurant above Grindelwald, is well-known from tourist photographs, given that its refection on a calm day contains some of the highest and most striking peaks in the region. But nearby, an unnamed pond on a part of the mountain called Sulzibiel is just as good at reflecting: from this…

Sulzibiel, Switzerland

Männlichen, Switzerland

The mountain slopes near the world-famous Eiger are a destination for thousands of skiers and snowboarders in winter. On the Männlichen plateau, above Grindelwald and Wengen, the best time of day for photography is shortly before sunset, when the sports people have left for the day and only cable-car staff and a few sunset-hunting visitors are still on the mountain.

Männlichen, Switzerland