More walks in Switzerland: Pfingstegg to Berghaus Baregg and then Hotel Wetterhorn

Pfinstegg to Hotel Wetterhorn

Walk notes by DWP

The start of this suggested walk is Pfingstegg. Take the cable car from the lower cable car station (Pfingsteggbahn) which is situated about a kilometre from the main train and post bus stations in Grindelwald at the east end of town.

Alight from the top station of the Pfingstegg cable car, turn right and take the signed path to Stieregg. Follow the path to a gate and pass through it to the adjacent meadow, hoping that the rather large resident pig has not decided to fall asleep across the gate blocking your way as it did for me on my return! For the first few hundred metres the path meanders through an attractive grassy area but then becomes more dramatic as it approaches and follows the cliff edge above the Lower Grindelwald glacier gorge with spectacular views down to the river far below. A protective fence alongside the path in the most exposed areas does offer some comfort to those who dislike heights however it would be sensible to take extra care in parts where the fence line finishes.

I was fortunate in having another fine and sunny September day for my walk sharing the path with only a handful of walkers. Other than the exposed sections already mentioned the path is straightforward and after a steady climb the Berghaus Bäregg finally comes into view. Along this section of the path the distinctive rumble of minor ice and snow avalanches that tumble down into the gorge can often be heard well before they are observed.

The Berghaus Bäregg is situated in a near perfect location with a balcony that overlooks the Lower Grindelwald glacier and has an incomparable vista of surrounding peaks. Sitting there in the midday sunshine and having a very enjoyable lunch with a glass of beer and wine enjoying the peaceful surroundings reminded me once again of the intense and lasting pleasure that venturing into the mountains provides.

As more walkers started to arrive and my reverie broken, I reluctantly left and made my way back along the path to Pfingstegg encountering numerous walkers making their way up to the Berghaus and congratulating myself on deciding to have an early start. On reaching the Pfingstegg cable car station I decided that as it was still early afternoon, rather than catch the cable car back to Grindelwald, I would walk down. I therefore followed the well signposted path down to the Hotel Wetterhorn and then caught the, rather busy, local post bus back to Grindelwald.

This walk, although short, is highly recommended as an opportunity to experience the ambiance of the higher mountains particularly for those who have not ventured above the snow line. I consider that Berghaus Bäregg would be an ideal place to stay overnight to reinforce such an experience.

Start: Pfingstegg
Finish: Hotel Wetterhorn
Duration: Pfingstegg – Berghaus Bäregg 1775 m. Approximately 2 – 3hrs return (Route 24 on Jungfraubahnen Hiking Map) & Pfingstegg – Halsegg – Hotel Wetterhorn 1hr (Route 23 on Jungfraubahnen Hiking Map) not including breaks.

Three more walks in Switzerland: 3. Reichenbach Falls – “The Final Problem”

This last suggested walk is a short trip up to and around Reichenbach Falls near Meiringen, probably most famous as the setting for what was supposed to be the final Sherlock Holmes story “The Final Problem”. Access to Meiringen from Grindelwald is via bus and post-bus (via Grosse Scheidegg) or via train from Interlaken Ost.

The walk commences at the Reichbachfall-Bahn funicular station at the base of the falls (operates between mid-May and mid-October, 08:15 to 11.45 and 13:15 to 17:45). The station is just outside Meiringen (about 20 mins or so walk from the town centre).

After riding on the funicular and arriving at the top station walk out to the viewing area for a good first close-up view of the impressive falls. From here a clear path leads up to the right and climbs by the side of the falls, eventually crossing over the river.

Most people turn back here and return to the funicular, but the suggestion is to continue along the path as it drops to the other side of the falls. The path goes through woodland before a junction is reached with Reichenbach falls sign-posted down a track to the left. Follow this path as it descends, ignoring for the moment a side track signed Meiringen that drops off to the right, until it reaches an excellent vantage point overlooking the falls and marked with a white star and plaque as the point where Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty were locked in their apparently fatal duel (of course it turned out that Holmes survived).

After admiring the view go back to the track junction just passed and follow it as it descends back into Meiringen. There is another excellent view of the falls a little further down. The footpath then eventually reaches the main road into Meiringen, the turn-off back to the falls is on the left; alternatively, continue walking and then turn right over a bridge and back to Meiringen town centre.

If you are staying at Grindelwald, a suggestion is to take the train from Meiringen to Brienz and then paddle-steamer across Brienzersee to Interlaken Ost from where the train to Grindelwald can be accessed – the bus station office at Grindelwald can sell a ticket that covers the whole circuit (i.e. also including the bus trip from Grindelwald to Meiringen).

Statue of Sherlock Holmes outside the Sherlock Holmes museum in Meiringen

Three more walks in Switzerland: 2. Grosse Scheidegg to First

The Eiger seen from the trail from Grosse Scheidegg to First

This suggested walk is an easy mountain walk (in good weather) from Grosse Scheidegg to First along a well used footpath and represents an excellent introduction to mountain walking and the Grindelwald area. There is a cafe at the end of the walk and an enjoyable cable car ride back down to Grindelwald; alternatively the walk could easily be extended.

Access to Grosse Scheidegg is via bus from Grindelwald. Buses leave from the main car park just up from the station.

From Grosse Scheidegg the start of the walk is clearly sign-posted to the left of the bus stop. The walk initially follows a clear vehicular path (walk no. 6 on the Jungfrau region hiking map – see below), just below the ridge with excellent views in all directions. Looking westerly gives a different profile of the Eiger, and Grindelwald can be seen in the valley. Looking directly ahead along the path is Gemsberg and Schwarzhorn.

The vehicular path soon starts to drop down to the left but while this route could be taken, the suggested path continues ahead along what is now a foot path as it keeps to the higher ground, also curving to the left and then continuing along an obvious path to First, with a rather steep but short section right at the end for the final pull up to First.

First has, in addition to the cable car terminus, a gift shop and cafe with a terrace that also commands outstanding views. From here you may see paragliders launching from a point close by.

Access back to Grindelwald is via the cable car, or alternatively by walking down along the clear trail (walk nos. 8, 12 and 15).

Total walk time for me was around 1’15”.

Start of the walk from Grosse Scheidegg looking towards Gemsberg and Schwarzhorn The winding road from Grosse Scheidegg down to Grindelwald View from Grosse Scheidegg down into the valley and road that eventually leads to Meiringen On the trail to First, looking back towards Grosse Scheidegg

The Jungfrau region hiking map is available free of charge from train and cable car stations in the area. I haven’t been able to find an online version, so have scanned the relevant part for this walk, click here for the pdf.

Three more walks in Switzerland: 1. The Eiger Trail

This suggested walk commences at Kleine Scheidegg. From Grindelwald there is direct access via train – trains also travel to Kleine Scheidegg from the West (Wengen and Lauterbrunnen).

From Kleine Scheidegg the walk starts near the train line up to Jungfraujoch – this is walk no. 37 on the Jungfrau region hiking map (see link below). The walk climbs steadily uphill along an obvious path, at all times keeping fairly close to the train tracks and eventually reaching Eigergletscher station, the first station on the Kleine Scheidegg/Jungfraujoch line.

At the station, follow the platform downhill briefly before crossing both lines and following a path clearly signposted as ‘Eiger – Trail Alpiglen 2 h’. This is walk no. 36 on the Jungfrau region hiking map and is the official ‘Eiger Trail’ along the foot of the impressive and imposing Eiger North face. The track is again quite clear, with only the occasional patch of snow obscuring the path (these notes were written in June). In addition to the view of the Eiger, there are superb views in all other directions, and plenty of great locations for a break or lunch.

After negotiating the section at the foot of the north face the track starts to curve rather more steeply downhill and after a zig-zag section comes to a t-junction. Turning left, the track will soon arrive at Alpiglen Station. The suggested walk though follows the right turn (walk no. 25) and eventually arrives at Grindelwald.

The track goes through an attractive wooded section, with some repeated up and down sections before reaching a small hut and then turning more steeply downhill to reach Gletscherschlucht and a good place to stop for a beer.

From here there are clearly signposted paths back to Grund or Grindelwald.

Total walk time for me was around 6 hours (including breaks). Note that the last section of the walk from the t-junction through to Gletscherschlucht and then Grindelwald, is longer and more difficult than it looks on the map. If tired, take the shorter route to Alpiglen and then train back to Grindelwald.

The Jungfrau region hiking map is available free of charge from train and cable car stations in the area. I haven’t been able to find an online version, so have scanned the relevant part for this walk, click here for the pdf.

Three walks in Switzerland: 2. Kleine Scheidegg / Mannlichen / Alpiglen

The Eiger viewed from the path to Mannlichen

We started this walk from Kleine Scheidegg having visited Jungfraujoch (“Top of Europe”) in the morning. The trip to Jungfraujoch, while certainly a bit of a tourist trap, is nevertheless well worth doing. You travel by train from Kleine Scheidegg, climbing steeply before entering the Eiger itself, where the tunnel carves through to reach Jungfraujoch, between Monch and Jungfrau, at some 3454m elevation. The tunnel is an engineering marvel having been built long before modern tunneling machinery was available. The views from the observation tower are magnificent, and you can leave the tower for a short walk out on the mountain range itself. The complex also features an ice gallery which is worth a visit along with the usual souvenir shops and even on our visit an Indian restaurant (“Bollywood”).

Observatory - Jungfraujoch A view from Jungfraujoch Train to Jungfraujoch

The walk follows a well made and flat path from Kleine Scheidegg to Mannlichen and provides excellent views of the impressive north face of the Eiger. From Kleine Scheidegg the path (no. 33 on the Jungfrau region hiking map – see note below) proceeds north-east, sidling around Tschuggen on the left and then curling northwards to reach Mannlichen. This part of the trail was very easy to follow with an excellent prepared path the whole way which was only occasionally obstructed with snow. Views across to the Eiger and down into the Grindelwald valley are superb. This section of the walk is officially timed at 1’20” but took us only an hour or so.

At Mannlichen you could take a cable car down to Grund in season (we were too early in the year and the cable car was closed), but a better option for walkers is to continue by foot. There are several possibilities; we chose to walk down to Alpiglen and then caught the train back to Grindelwald. This path (no. 35) descends over a grassed area and then passes through a very attractive wooded section before continuing on a well made path that turns east to cross over the rail line below the Eiger’s north face. The path continues following the line on the south side before reaching Alpiglen station (you could continue to walk from here down into Grund if you were feeling energetic). This section took us a couple of hours, with a brief storm blowing over during the descent and adding a bit more interest. Definitely another A+ walk.

All in all then, an excellent day, and I can recommend combining a visit to Jungfraujoch in the morning with a walk in the afternoon.

Looking down to Grindelwald The Eiger from the path to Mannlichen Descending to Alpiglen

The Jungfrau region hiking map is available free of charge from train and cable car stations in the area. I haven’t been able to find an online version, so have scanned the relevant part for this walk, click here for the pdf.