As we drive into Switzerland, we realise we’re probably on a motorway, so decide to pay for a vignette and use them if/when to make the journey less stressful! We head for Interlaken, much more built up and busy than Bev remembers from 40 years ago, then take the winding road up towards Grindelwald. We stop on one of the bends at a cafe for coffee and cake where there’s just space to tuck the van onto a level-ish parking space . . . Despite Richard’s excellent directions, it takes us ages to find the campsite at Grund (a small settlement close to Grindelwald, with a railway yard). Once we found it, after several forays into the countryside, it certainly lived up to expectations. Only description could be ‘idyllic’ just below the Eiger, find your own pitch, not too busy and certainly not commercialised. Mix of tents and vans with good facilities. The only downside is the weather turns a bit cloudy and overcast.
It took some time to work out best prices and routes to use the Jungfraubahn for climbing/walking around the area. As the weather’s a bit overcast, we decide on the Eiger Trail which follows the snowline at the foot of the Eiger North Wall for the first foray. Take the train on Tuesday morning to Kleine Scheidegg and change for Eigergletscher, where most people stay on the train as they’re taking the hugely expensive option of going to the top! It’s pretty poor visibility, and we intend to take a look at the Klettersteig (Via Ferrata) for tomorrow, maybe . . . but it’s impossible to see it!! The trail is well-signposted and in good condition, a bit of snow/ice in places but plenty of lovely flowers and we meet a friendly cow with her huge bell clanging! Shame about the weather, but an enjoyable walk to catch the train back down to Grund from Alpiglen. Meet up with a couple from Coventry on the campsite, suggest we go up again to do the Klettersteig Rotstock as a foursome in the morning as the weather looks better.
A great day out on the Eiger again on Wednesday! Same train route up to Eigergletscher then walk up to the start of the Klettersteig. Much better visibility, and good to be climbing as a foursome. The route wasn’t too challenging, with fantastic views back down into the valley. It was quite a bit longer than Bev had imagined . . . but we all four enjoyed ourselves. At the top, the clouds came in so all we could see were the crows gathered on the posts marking the top of the route! The descent was probably more challenging, down the other side from the ascent and following the final part of the North Face route descent. Fixed ropes in places were good to have for the scrambling descent back down to the station at Eigergletscher for the ride down to Grund via Kleine Scheidegg. They’re building a new tunnel and railway tracks and the devastation of the building site around Kleine Scheidegg is awful to see, but the route is very popular and they’re capitalising on this.
Weather closing in again on Thursday, so we decide it’s a bike ride down into Interlaken on the old road, where there’s virtually no traffic, and catch the train back. Pleasant ride down into the valley, only 12 miles and we stop for afternoon coffee and applecake in the cafe we stopped at on the drive up to Grund. Checked out the options for parking and shopping in Interlaken as we’ll need to stock up before moving on . . .