As far as the barrier, and beyond

I love the alpine Susten Pass road and the mountain scenery there, particularly the area around the Steingletscher glacier and nearby hotel. It’s been a long time since I’ve visited in spring – before the upper reaches of the road have been cleared of snow – so Jo and I took a drive and walked there yesterday, in summer…

As far as the barrier, and beyond
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

The early bird and all that

I was half an hour early for an appointment at the Spiez council offices this morning, so I went for a brief stroll through the woods to the top of the vineyards while I was waiting. It was so peaceful, with fresh powdered snow slipping silently from the trees and only two or three other people there walking their dogs. A lovely…

The early bird and all that

Faltschen, Kandertal, Switzerland

Dense, grey fog on the lakes in the Bernese Oberland means that it’s best to head for the surrounding hills and mountains to get above the cloud and into the sunshine. We took a drive up a road we’d never used before – an unrestricted, toll-free one for a change – and ended up high above the entrance to the…

Faltschen, Kandertal, 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

Locarno, Switzerland

At the end of a long afternoon’s drive from home, via Kandersteg, Brig, the Simplon Pass and a very narrow and windy road through the Ticinese mountains, we arrived at Locarno, on the shores of Lago Maggiore, just in time to catch the last sun of the winter day.

Locarno, Switzerland

Gries Pass

Attempting to get away from baking temperatures, we headed for the mountains and a hike across summer snow fields to the Gries glacier.

Gries Pass

Melchsee Frutt, Switzerland

The Melchsee is a lake in the mountains,  tucked away in the lee of a range of peaks between Meiringen and Engelberg. Nearby, the smaller stretch of water called Blauseeli (little blue lake) is a haven for frogs after the snows melt, and the edges of the pool are lined with frog spawn at this time of year.

Melchsee Frutt, Switzerland

Grimsel Reservoir, Switzerland

This view may look like winter or spring, but the photograph was taken in June 2012. The Swiss alpine passes – here at Grimsel – are largely between 1,500 and 2,500 metres above sea level, and their location in the depths of the alpine chain means that they get wintery weather all year round. The snow fall is so prevalent that…

Grimsel Reservoir, Switzerland

Niesen, Switzerland

The pyramidal peak of the Niesen, in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland, towers over the surrounding countryside. It heads a range of mountains leading from Adelboden and Lenk and is the “Hausberg” (home mountain) of Spiez and the Lower Simmen Valley, facing out over Lake Thun. There are folklore sayings about the mountain being a kind of barometer…

Niesen, Switzerland