On arrival at Lauterbrunnen station (796m) in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland the majesty of the valley was in front of us but, just for a while, we resisted the temptation to stroll between the towering rock faces where waterfalls abound and base jumpers enjoy their dangerous sport. Instead, we crossed the road and took the cable car up to Grutshalp (1487m). With splendid Swiss timing, the shuttle train to Murren awaited us and, after the mechanical robots had loaded goods onto the attached rail wagon, the mountain journey started. The little train clung to the edge of the rock face and, as it passed between the pine trees, the stunning views of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau peaks appeared and vanished, appeared and vanished. After passing the station at Winteregg the carriage pulled into the Murren terminus (1634m). After visiting Murren - and sampling the, almost obligatory, coffee and cake - we retraced our steps to the station to join the train and journey back to Winteregg. Leaving the station we passed behind a large open barn following the pathway which took us gently back towards Grutshalp.
The path rose and fell as we negotiated the curving route and, at each bend, a new vista opened up but always dominated by the huge triple peaks. In some places the snow was crisp, where it had been frozen the night before and in other areas it was soft and powdery, where the pines had protected it from the cold. Streams of ice melt flowed down the hillside and under the path to join the Lauterbrunnen waterfalls below.
The group had stretched out a little as a few faster walkers had mini crampons on their shoes and used walking poles. Others just strolled along taking their time and chatting. We met together on a sharp bend by a stream and ate our lunch as we waited for the train to pass over a bridge below us - cameras at the ready.
Following our break we continued, meeting few other walkers, downwards to the pastures and hill farming area nearer the station where, in summer, the cattle graze and their neck bells jangle and clang. At this time of year the cattle were safely away in their warm barns lower down the mountainside.
One last sweeping curve through the pines and we were on the slope leading to the top station of the cable car. Here, handily, was the cafe offering all sorts of delights including the ubiquitous gluhwein and, possibly, gingerbread. We sat or stood and gazed at the magnificent views from the cafe platform until the shuttle train arrived indicating that the cable car had, of course, arrived on time for our descent back to Lauterbrunnen.
(This walk is just as good in spring and summer; lush grass replacing snow)
Paul Heyday, Tour Manager