Taking in the views from the top of the Schilthorn
If you’re lucky enough to be staying in Interlaken or one of the other resort towns nearby, and you have a day free, I would highly recommend a trip to the Schilthorn. This majestic summit in the Bernese Oberland towers over the stunning Lauterbrunnen Valley. It’s famous as one of the locations used in the Bond film ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’. And, if you’re into all things 007, you will enjoy the ‘Bond World’ museum at the top. But, there are plenty of other reasons to come here.
I visited on a slightly cloudy day in the summer. If you’ve not been before, Lauterbrunnen station itself is a treat, offering a tantalising view of one of the valley’s most dramatic waterfalls (of which there are many). There were plenty of signposts marking the way to the bus for Stechelberg, where you can buy tickets and pick up the cable car. The bus is included with a Swiss pass – and as of January 2018, the cable car will be too. At Stechelberg, I boarded the first of four cable cars. This first one took us up to Gimmelwald, a car-free village with already wonderful views over the valley. The second goes up to Mürren. I had a wander here along the main road through town with its cafés and shops. There’s also an Alpine flower garden here but I was keen to press onwards and upwards. Just above Mürren, there was a collective ‘oooooh’ as we were enveloped by a bank of cloud, followed by a huge ‘aahhhhhh’ as we emerged to fabulous views of the surrounding snow capped peaks.
Birg, stop number 3, was by far my favourite. We were above the clouds but with enough breaks to see glimpses of the valley floor some 8,800 feet below. There’s a stunning terrace here where you can have a coffee and for those with a stomach for heights, a breathtaking ‘sky walk’ hanging from the side of the mountain. I don’t generally have any problem with vertigo but even I stepped fairly gingerly along the walkway, which had clear holes in the metal steps and the occasional section of transparent glass. Much better to keep your eyes firmly fixed on the fabulous scenery than on your feet!
The last stop was the Schilthorn peak itself, pretty spectacular as finales go, with a fantastic viewing platform, a panoramic revolving restaurant called Piz Gloria , a souvenir shop and the aforementioned Bond museum.
Back in Stechelberg at the bottom of cableway, there was a queue building for the bus back to Lauterbrunnen, which wasn’t due for 20 minutes, so I decided to be adventurous and follow signs to the walking trail back to the station. This turned out to be a great decision, though far from adventurous. A clearly marked, tarmacked path runs from Stechelberg, through the Lauterbrunnen valley. It’s a well used path and a beautiful walk, with some up close views of those spectacular waterfalls. There is even a vending machine en route, selling water and local cheese! Within an hour I having lunch back in Lauterbrunnen, before my train back to Interlaken.