Pat Appleby

A Week in the Alps

Pat Appleby
A Week in the Alps

The snowfields and glaciers of the Jungfrau glittered in the sunshine. As I breathed in the alpine air my attention was caught by a symmetrical peak which looked as though a sculptor had fashioned it from royal icing. I learned that it is called the Silberhorn.

There were twenty members in the group. Most people were retired, but the nature of this holiday had attracted a number of people of working age. The pace was moderate and the company congenial. We passed wooden houses with window boxes and immaculate woodpiles. The fields were emerald and the overwhelming mountains towered above us. As the panorama opened out, yet more spectacular peaks came into view. We stopped to take photos from a viewpoint above the Lauterbrunnen valley, marvelling at a hanging waterfall suspended from a rock face.

 

We enjoyed coffee at a wayside café. The short walk uphill back to Wengen was steepish, but we had the option of taking a level route and returning by train. The weather was warm, almost hot. Some walkers returned to the hotel for lunch, while others enjoyed a picnic on the grass.

In the afternoon we took the cable car up the Mannlichen mountain before walking, mainly downhill and on a comfortable path, to Kleine Scheidegg, a busy junction from where trains depart to the Jungfraujoch. The North face of the Eiger, Monch and the Jungfrau seemed very close. Cafes beckoned, although I enjoyed a cool drink sitting on a rock.

 

At Kleine Scheidegg crowds of Japanese people waited for trains, took photos, or shopped in souvenir shops. One of my fellow walkers said that it felt like being in Tokyo. We took the mountain train back to Wengen and the Hotel Falcon for a shower and a drink. We always met our leader, Julia, before dinner to discuss the coming day’s programme. Dinner at the Hotel Falcon each night consisted of four delicious courses. Our party sat together at two long tables at one end of the dining room.

After breakfast on the second walking morning we took the cable car once more up the Mannlichen mountain before taking another cable car down the other side to Holenstein. We walked through woods and across open spaces, sometimes uphill. The weather was still very warm. Apple fritters and beer at the famous café at Brandegg were greatly appreciated but left me feeling very lazy. Luckily the train station was nearby. We took the train to Grindelwald, a small town set among the mountains. Another cable car took us to First, altitude 2,168 metres. The altitude was affecting me and I felt disinclined to climb up to the viewing place, but I managed it, one laborious step after another. Mountain choughs, similar to the Pembrokeshire ones, congregated on a rocky crag. The Wedderhorn, Schreckhorn and more glaciers formed part of today’s panorama.