Up the Mannlichenbahn

ways to get down from Mannlichen

The Mannlichen is the range of mountains behind Wengen. They are not hugely high, but they are covered with very skiable snow slopes, and so there are various ways of getting up there! The simplest is straight up by cable car, starting about 50 yards from the door of my hotel. But I like trains.

So I first went up to Kleine Scheidegg, and then caught another train down the other side towards Grindelwald. The weather was glorious and the scenery very pretty.

001 way down to GThe weather was good enough to have the windows open on the train, so it was easy to take photos!

002 way down to G with trainAs we neared the bottom of the valley, the effect of the sun in melting snow was very visible. The south-facing slopes had much less snow on them.

003 G valleyLeaving the train at Grund, I walked over to the Mannlichenbahn. This is a 4-man gondalbahn going right up to the top of Mannlichen, taking 30 minutes for the journey.

005 looking down gbThe first part of the journey up is over farm land, then it is through the trees. Apart from the slight him of the wires, all you can hear is the sound of running water, and looking down, you can see streams through the trees.

006 streamIn the slightly more open areas, the sun casts shadows on the snow – this is trees, their shadows and a pylon reflected in the car window….

007 looking down….and this is a bit higher up, once out of the main forest.

008 tree shadows and EigerIn summer this whole area is alpine pasture, and in amongst the trees and ski slopes there are real farms with housing for the cows over the winter.

009 real farmOnce above the tree line there are huge areas of skiable snow.

010 ski tracks and gbThe top of the gondalbahn is on the top of the ridge….

012 top of gb…. with views all round.

013 gbAnd where there is sun, there are deck chairs (at 5 CHF per time!)

014 chairsThe view down to Wegnen is breath-taking. The drop is shear, going down 2,000 feet…

015 L valley and Wegen from M…with another 2,000 down to the floor of the Lauterbrunnen valley.

016 Lauterbrunnen valley from MTurning further round on the same spot, the view is of the Eiger and Wetterhorn.

017 Wetterhorn and Eiger from MOr you can look nearer to hand and see the Tschugger with some of the vast area of snow round about. The dots are skiers….

018 Tschuggen and snowThere are two ways to get back down to Grund. Guess which one I took!!

ways to get down from Mannlichen

Up to First

featured wilderness

That is the mountain range, not the position! Wengen is on one side of the Mannlichen range, with the Grindelwald valley on the other, and beyond that is the First range.

001 First range

To get there, it is a case of taking the train to Kleine Scheidegg and changing to the Grindelwald train, which had been packed with skiers coming up, but was almost empty going down.

002 train with skis

On the way down, I noticed a deer on the edge of the a stand of trees.

003 deer

Once in Grindelwald, it is a 10 minute walk through the town to the gondelbahn. Then up and up.

004 bort station

The gondolas hold six, but by timing it right, I got a car to myself. Travelling is so quiet….

005 cable cars at top

… and high up you cross a snowy wilderness.

006 snow

From the top you look over the valley to the Mannlichen range and the Eiger. Kleine Scheidegg is also visible…..

007  notated mountains

… and you can also see the train tracks going up past the Eiger.

008 train line

Grindelwald’s mountain is the Wetterhorn, which came and went in cloud as I watched.

009 Wetterhorn peaks in cloud

On my way home, the cloud had cleared, and the sheer sides of the mountain were very obvious.

012 Wetterhorn
The North Face of the Eiger was also very clear. It is never in sun, but the light was showing up all the cracks in the rock.

011 north face
012 eiger lump

The light also showed up some of the chair lifts used by skiers….

013 chair lift

… as well as little details close to the track.

014 tree stumps

Across the Valley

PhotoELF Edits:2015:03:20 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resize

Wengen is on one ‘shelf’, and Murren is on another. Between them is the Lauterbrunnen valley, a gorge 2,000 feet deep.

To get from Wengen to Murren you first descend in the train to the village of Lauterbrunnen itself….

PhotoELF Edits:2015:03:20 --- Save - Overwrite --- resize… then you ascend the almost sheer rock wall by cable car to Grussalp.

PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:20 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeFrom the top of the cable car you can look right down to Lauterbrunnen and over to Wengen.

PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:20 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeUnless you look carefully, the whole gorge disappears, and it looks as if you could walk over to Wengen!

PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:20 --- Save - Overwrite --- resizeZooming in, you can see my hotel, the Sunstar, and my balcony to the left of the station.

PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:20 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resize; shape; gammaZooming out, you can see the rock wall behind Wengen going up to the Mannleichen range…

PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:20 --- Save - Overwrite --- resize… and pulling back still further, you can see the North Face of the Eiger behind the Mannleichen range.

PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:20 --- Save - Overwrite --- resizeAt the other end of the camera’s range, you can pick out a train on its way up to Kleine Scheidegg, approaching the avalanche sheds.

PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:20 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeFrom Grussalp, a little train takes you along the top of the gorge to Murren. It is just one coach, with a goods truck in front.

009 the trainParts of the journey are through snow fields, here with Marchegg behind….

PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:20 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resize…. and parts through the pine forest…
PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:20 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resize… and there are delightful glimpses of mountain life along the way!

PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:20 --- Save - Overwrite --- resizeFrom Murren you get a different view of the same mountains. This is the Eiger…

PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:20 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resize… and this is the Jungfrau.

PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:20 --- Save - Overwrite --- resizeCloser to the path, the lichen on this tree gives you an idea of the air quality.

PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:20 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeAnd to end, another little detail. This was a shelf in the top station of the cable car!PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:20 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resize

Hello Wengen!

004  KS JJ train and Eiger

I have arrived in Wengen, Switzerland. For those of you who are not familiar with the country, Wengen is in the Alps, set over 4,000 feet above sea level, and about 2,000 feet above the valley floor. It is a gorgeous village – I have stayed here before and it is the place I keep coming back to.

I am staying in a hotel I have used before, the Sunstar. My room has a balcony with a view over the Lauterbrunnen valley. In the afternoon, the sun shines full on to the balcony, so the other side of the valley is in shadow….

001 view from balcony… and in the morning, the mountains across the valley are in full sun.

002 morning viewFor my first full day here, I HAD to go up to Kleine Scheidegg! This is the col at the top of the pass between the Eiger and the Mannleichen range, and it is where ski runs start to go down to both Wengen and the Grindelwald valley.

003 KS teepeeTrains also go down both ways, and also up to the Jungfraujoch.

004  KS JJ train and EigerOnly today, the wind got up, and trains were suspended! So I spent 2 hours sitting people watching and gazing at the mountains with the blue, blue sky and an occasional gust of about force 7!!

005 KS Lauterbrunen train 1They then decided trains could go down, to take the hundreds of folk stranded at Kleine Scheidegg back to their starting point. I came back via the Coop, and bought myself the perfect lunch – rhubarb tart and cold coffee – which I ate on the balcony, watching the flags.

007 lunch006  3 flagsI also watched a couple of workmen opposite. Mountaineering skills come in useful for working on a roof…!

008 mending the roofAnd now I have got the internet working in my room. So I can work while I play! And, of course, I can post.

North Ronaldsay – Sheep and Waves

Our island crawl ended with North Ronaldsay. Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I love the island, its sheep and their fibre.

The weather was windy, so there were plenty of waves crashing in. Elly and I walked and drove to various spots to watch the waves and the sheep. Here are a few of the photos.

Elly wave-watching.
Elly wave-watching.
The waves Elly was watching.
The waves Elly was watching.
Sheep on the rocks.
Sheep on the rocks.
Sheep with Nouster Bay behind.
Sheep with Nouster Bay behind.
Waves off the north coast.
Waves off the north coast.
Sheep on the north coast.
Sheep on the north coast.
Closer up - I love the horns!
Closer up – I love the horns!
The waves were quite big!
The waves were quite big!
Westness Bay, with piles of seaweed.
Westness Bay, with piles of seaweed.
Some gorgeous fleeces...
Some gorgeous fleeces…
Different groups of sheep have different numbers of the individual types of marking.
Different groups of sheep (clowgangs) have different numbers of the individual types of marking.
The Westness clowgang have a lot of badger-faced and reverse panda-eyed markings.
The Westness clowgang have a lot of badger-faced and reverse panda-eyed markings.
The 'new' lighthouse - the tallest land-based lighthouse in the UK.
The ‘new’ lighthouse – the tallest land-based lighthouse in the UK.
In 1997, two lads helping rebuild part of the sheep dyke were killed when a section of wall fall on them.  The islanders set up this memorial for them.  The boys are not forgotten.
In 1997, two lads helping rebuild part of the sheep dyke were killed when a section of wall fall on them. The islanders set up this memorial for them. The boys are not forgotten.
Orkney is a land of rainbows.  This one off the north eat point of the island.
Orkney is a land of rainbows. This one off the north eat point of the island.

On to Papay

10 yarn

Papay, or Papa Westray to give it its full title, is a smaller island to the north of Westray. It is an island I love, so of course we had to go on there for a couple of days to recover from the teaching! Once more travel between islands was by plane, this time on the shortest scheduled flight in the world – 2 minutes in the air!

Looking to Westray airstrip from Papay
Looking to Westray airstrip from Papay

One of the main attractions of Papay is Margit’s yarn shop! It is really part of the Post Office, but it is where she keeps her yarn and yarn for sale. Margit herself knits socks for sale, and there is a map showing all the countries where her socks have gone to.

PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:04 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeThe space, an old croft house, is full of yarn – lots of different sock yarns, but also many of the Manos yarns and others.

PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:04 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; gamma; resizePhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:04 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; gamma; resizeIt is the kind of space which invites you to delve into the boxes!! There are all sorts of yarns in loads of different colours: solid sock yarn, short repeat colour changes, long repeat colour changes, subtle yarns, bright yarns – you name it, it is there!!

PhotoELF Edits:2015:03:04 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizePhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:04 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeI save up my pocket money all year for my trip to Papay! This year there were new Manos yarns as well as my old favourite, the Manos lace weight. I was buying for samples for the book on Orkney knitwear, and as ever, seeing so many lovely yarns got my creative juices going!!

10 yarnPhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:04 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeMonday’s trip to the shop was for looking. Tuesday’s trip was for buying. Between the two I had written a list of what I wanted – I find that if I don’t do this I forget things! The Orkney book is going to have three rough colour stories, one of which is bright primary colours, so I HAD to have some bright yarns. There were also some gorgeous pink/green/purple sock yarns I HAD to have for ME!!

Part of my haul...!
Part of my haul…!

We also got to see a bit of the island. We were staying at Beltane House, a self catering set of rooms and a hostel in a row of old houses. They were built for the ‘farm servants’ a couple of Centuries ago, and they have been beautifully converted. The end one is the island shop – incredibly well stocked for the size of the island.

PhotoELF Edits:2015:03:04 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeJen, who runs the hostel, very kindly took us a trip up the island and along to St Boniface Kirk on the east coast.

PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:04 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; gamma; resizePhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:04 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; gamma; resizePhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:04 --- Save - Overwrite --- gamma; resizeThen along to the Bothy Museum, part of the main farm on the island, which still has buildings in use from the Nineteenth Century.

PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:04 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeThe other place we walked to was the old pier. This is a place I love – very peaceful and evocative. It used to be where the steamer came in from Westray. Now it is used by fishing boats and pleasure craft. The view over to the Holm, where the Neolithic inhabitants of Papay buried their dead, is a soothing one.

PhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:04 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizePhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:04 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; gamma; resizePhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:04 --- Save - Overwrite --- gamma; resizePhotoELF Edits: 2015:03:04 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resize

Working on Westray

06 Westray School needle felting

I spent last weekend in Westray, one of the other Orkney islands. I have a friend who lives there, and she is in charge of setting up courses etc on the island. I was there to run days on needle felting and spinning. Elly came with me. It was the first time she had flown in an Islander, the planes that serve the Outer Isles.

01 plane

Flying through a rainbow!
Flying through a rainbow!

We stayed in the main village, Pierwall.  Elly took the camera out for a wander while I sorted myself out!

Pierowall Hotel
Pierowall Hotel
Pierowall shoreline
Pierowall shoreline

All day Friday was needle felting at the school, with S1 and 2 (about 12 – 14 yrs). There were 11 of them, 5 boys and 6 girls, and they really worked hard.

05 school feltingAs always we started with a flat piece to learn the basic techniques, then moved on to shaped pieces. With Mother’s Day approaching I suggested they might like to make a brooch for their mum. Many took up my idea of a daffodil or a sheep, but others had their own ideas. After lunch we went on to 3D work. By request it was selkies (seals) again! We all made the pipe-cleaner frame together then worked on the padding and felting at our own pace. We used North Ronaldsay fibre for this, which felts so quickly – much faster than merino!! There were some delightful Finished Objects!

06 Westray School needle feltingThe next day was spinning, with adults. Everyone was at a different stage, but I think everyone learnt something from the day. Some were new spinners, others enjoyed trying new fibres. Several spun silk for the first time, and several took their first steps along the ‘art yarn’ route.

08 spinners 207 spinners 109 spinners 3We talked about blending fibre, on both carder and a drum carder, and about preparing fibre for spinning in general. Oh – and we had a gorgeous lunch!

On Sunday evening it was the adults’ turn to try needle felting. People concentrated very hard, and produced some lovely work in just 3 hours.

10 adults felting 111 adults felting 212 adults felting 313 adults felting 414 adults felting 515 Sunday feltingAs it was now 1st March, I had to take a pic of a few daffs we saw….!

16 daffodilsEarlier on the Sunday, Elly and I went to Notland Castle. Built by Gilbert Balfour around 1570, and never finished, this is an impressive ruin standing on rising ground towards the north of the island.

17 Notland Castle19 castle gateway18 drawing of castleThe castle kitchens.  There was a floor half way up and storage space above.

The castle kitchens. There was a floor half way up and storage space above.

The castle ghost - or possibly Elly looking down.
The castle ghost – or possibly Elly looking down.
The one carved detail in the whole building - at the head of main staircase.
The one carved detail in the whole building – at the head of main staircase.