Tag Archives: Walking

Walking Wengen: Easy Hikes with Fabulous Views

26 May

27 May 2023.

It was with some reluctance that we stayed in Wengen this trip. As our plans were made only a few days in advance, finding a suitable apartment in one of the three villages boiled down to only a few choices that we could gulp and swallow the price on. 

Wengen’s Main Street: a few shops and restaurants along with several hotels, nestled beneath the Jungfrau.

Luckily, the apartment is comfortable and has all we need: dishwasher, washing machine, clothes dryer, and, most importantly, a Nespresso machine. It is also quiet since the village is car-free and each morning we wake to birdsong. We are immune to the hourly tolling of the church bells nearby as we fall into bed very tired from the day’s activities. 

Our reluctance to stay in Wengen stemmed from the need to ride the train down and up from the Lauterbrunnen station every day. While it is less than 20 minutes each way, it does add to travel times when going to Interlaken, Grindelwald, Mürren and beyond. It is, however, a stunningly beautiful ride and, after all, what else do we have to do? 

I took this photo of Lauterbrunnen from the train on our way back to Wengen yesterday.

On the plus side, we have gotten to know Wengen just a bit better. Prior trips had us passing through on the way to-or-from the Männlichen cable car. We had eaten a couple of meals here and years ago Ric once bought a wool hiking hat that still makes every trip. In the past we’ve taken in the view from the church and enjoyed two walks — Mönchblick and Staubbachbänkli — that we wrote about in our book Walking in Switzerland’s Berner Oberland. Our temporary residency has led us to “discover” two more lovely walks as well as the fabulous Restaurant Maya Caprice and we have come to appreciate the silence of this car-free zone. 

Same waterfall, viewed from Hunneflue, above Wengen after a 25 minute walk.

We still love Lauterbrunnen and our happy home at James’ and Michele’s apartment, where we will pass a month again this fall. Wengen will also be on our list for a few outings in the fall.

For those visiting the area, be certain to stop at the Wengen Tourism Office next to the cable car station and pick up the Dorfplan, which is a little map of the village showing several very easy to moderate walks to viewpoints. These require no transportation and are lovely at any time of day with ever-changing lighting on the magnificent views. They will take you to corners of Wengen the casual visitor misses entirely as the majority are focused on the village center and getting up the mountains by train or cable car. Most of the paths are paved and many have lighting so that evening walks are feasible. 

No wonder we come back so often. There is always something new for the easy-hiker to discover.

Styles of stiles and trip miscellany

13 May

13 May 2023.

England delivered exactly what we expected: occasional sun and plenty of damp, but high spirits surrounding the spectacle of King Charles III’s coronation.

What a privilege it was to be in-country for the event! When we booked our trip, Queen Elizabeth was still very much alive so being there — although not in London, thank the gods — was strictly coincidental.

In Lower Slaughter on the Sunday after the Coronation, the village prepares for The Big Lunch, a community celebration. These parties took place all over the U.K.

First stop was Oxford, convenient on our path to The Cotswolds for some country walking. Oxford was decked out for the upcoming pageant and did not disappoint. We toured parts of Oxford University with a doctoral candidate and enjoyed his inside-take on how the place functions and inevitable comparisons to the U.S. university experience.

Blenheim Palace was a glimpse into the aristocratic lifestyle as the family still resides there. Goslings and ducklings peppered the estate grounds and the gardens were in fine form. I can only imagine how gorgeous the roses must be in season. Our final Oxford tour was of the Bodleian Libraries, dating to the 15th century when 281 manuscripts were donated, the libraries now house over 13 million printed items.

The oldest part of the Bodleian, Duke Humphrey’s’ Library. Volumes cannot be “checked out” but must be read on-site with a chaperone librarian.

Almost over jet lag, we headed to Bourton-on-the-Water, our home for a week. We chose a self-guided center-based itinerary with HF Holidays staying in a hotel that was previously a private residence built in 1662.

This is the view of the grand staircase that greeted us outside our our room.

No matter how often we tour in the UK or the rest of Europe I am constantly dumbfounded by the history and the preservation and adaptation of old buildings. HF Holidays provided a lovely room, cooked breakfast and dinner with a packed lunch daily, and dozens of walking itineraries to choose from. We could select from clear instructions encased in waterproof laminating to guide us. All we had to do was don our gear and head out each day.

Those waterproof instructions were necessary. Our walk conditions have ranged from misty to sun-dappled to downright soggy. It reminded us of Oregon although in Oregon we have never hiked with sheep nor though mud as sticky and pervasive as we have done here.

And there are stiles of many styles. Frankly, I prefer a good gate, but the stiles were definitely a sensible solution to allowing walkers to walk unhindered yet keep sheep and cows in their fields. They are being replaced in many areas to allow barrier-free access to public footpaths.

Our final day in Bourton-on-the-Water was weather perfection, a sunny day capped by a thunderstorm at 17:00 when we were safely “home.”

We set off for Wales yesterday (Friday). Almost two hours by private transport thanks to a rail strike in England, then a 3 hour train ride. Conwy, the town we are staying in, is charming and today’s weather exactly what you’d hope for on a spring day!

Will write more from Ireland later in the trip!

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