When: 11-13 August 2023
This had been planned as a weekend to escape the heat. Ironically it actually came after a few weeks of cold wet weather.
This was summer high season (and it certainly showed on the Interlaken-Lucerne train and at Interlaken station) but around Lungern was rather quiet. There is a camp ground which looked to be full, and a few obvious tourists about, but it never felt anywhere close to busy.
Lungern itself isn’t very interesting. There are a few pretty wooden houses (like everywhere) but otherwise. The pass road ensures a constant flow of traffic through the middle of the village. It does have a Volg, bakery, and a few restaurants at least.
Much nicer and more scenic is Mülibach. Which is quieter and with a better view.
There is a cable car up to Turren, otherwise getting about means taking the train up or down the valley – or walking uphill..
The main attraction is the lake – especially on sunny days when the turquoise colour comes out. The lake has had quite a bit of human manipulation. It was originally slightly smaller than its current form, in the late 1700s it was decreased in size to gain more farmland so that Lungern itself was sat next to fields rather than water, then in the early 1900s it was raised again for the hydroelectric dam.
Accommodation – Erlebnishof Ming
Erlebnishof Ming is a 5-10 minute walk out of the centre of Lungern. One of the best places I have stayed at in Switzerland (I found it via bnb.ch, a website which I often forget about but always turns up fantastic and interesting accommodation in my experience with it). Very friendly host, a fantastic breakfast, and a great location just out of the village and directly across from the lake.
The accommodation is a little outhouse/shed behind the farmhouse with chickens right next door. I was worried that it might heat up too much in the August sun, but it is very well constructed and stayed cool during the day. There is a private toilet/shower, but it is in the main house so does require a short dash outside.
As it is an active farm we bought some very good cheese from them. They also sell milk, eggs, and similar products.
Ming is a name that I would associate with a Chinese dynasty, but it is also by coincidence a common name in Obwalden.
Day 1: Arrival via the Brünigpass
Route: Brünigpass – Lungern.
Length: 4.8 km, +30m, -320m.
Arrived by train to the Brünigpass via Bern and Interlaken (changing train at Interlaken Ost was by far the most touristy experience I have had in Switzerland since I last changed train there a year ago). This is always a stunning ride along Lake Brienz and through the mountains.
There isn’t much of a view at the Brünigpass itself which is narrow and forested. What it does have is a very good Brocki (second hand/antique shop) at the station. This is well worth exploring for a few minutes and some of the offerings like cantonal shooting medals might make interesting and cheap/small souvenirs.
The Brünigpass is a key transport link and popular touring route. As such the road was busy with traffic of all sizes. This is especially notable when hiking towards Lungern because after leaving the station the footpath is basically the hard shoulder of the road at what must be the narrowest point of the pass. This only lasts for about 200m but it isn’t a pleasant experience.
Thankfully once the path turns off the road things get much better. Always taking the right hand side turn for Lungern and aiming for the station rather than the church keeps you away from the road and offers the best views of the lake on the final approach into Lungern.
Initially this leads through gentle meadows and forest in what feels like a very hidden/remote area (once you are away from the road), and then opens to a fantastic view over the village and lake.
We bought some food for dinner from Volg (not amazing in choice, but sufficient) then swam and ate on the little island near the south end of the village.
Day 2: Up the cable car
Route: Turren – Breitenfeld – Teiffengrad – Breitenfeld – Turren.
Length: 7.9 km, +/-560m.
The cable car up to Turren is only a few minutes walk out of the centre of Lungern (there doesn’t seem to be any local transport). The cabin is small but it runs every 20 minutes. It does offer a discount if you have the local guest card but it is only 10%, so the 50% with a travel pass (Swiss Travel Pass, GA, Half-Fare) is the better choice if you have one of those instead.
Ideally my aim would have been a loop up to the 2204m Hoch Gumme (11km, +/- 850m) for what must be the best view over the area. This was however a very unpredictable day weatherwise with bands of rain sweeping through and the threat of thunder. So we aimed for the ridge at Teiffengrad and decided to see how the conditions were then.
Even just going up to Turren is worth it for the view, then carrying up the view over to the Haslital opens up, and if you are lucky with the weather then reaching the Hoch Gumme or ridgeline opens up the view of Lake Brienz too.
The Alp village of Breitenfeld was surprisingly large. Picked up some cheese here from a fridge.
We got to the ridge at Teiffengrad and enjoyed the view of the lake before deciding the conditions weren’t ideal for carrying on, so we turned back for a very relaxed walk down.
As it happens as the day went on the predicted thunder turned into flawless sunshine as we returned down into the valley, so we went for a swim instead (not the worst outcome).
Day 3: Around the lake and homeward
Route: Lungern – Kaiserstuhl (via the west side of the lake).
Length: 5.8 km, + 70m, -80m.
We wanted something simple and easy to do before heading home so walking down the opposite side of the lake seemed like the best option. You can do this on either side (or even doing a full loop is only 10km) but the east side is close to the busy pass road.
Walked into Lungern, grabbed a sandwich from the bakery for lunch, then set off to follow the footpath around the western side of the lake to the station at Kaiserstuhl (listed as ‘Kaiserstuhl OW’).
The route is very easy going on a mix of asphalt and gravel road with hardly any height difference. There is plenty of shade and almost constant views of the lake and mountain sides along the way (plus a few spots that offer the chance to dive in the water)..
Kasierstuhl has a fantastic view up the lake and of the higher peaks in the Berner Oberland on the far side of the Brünigpass, but it is also where all the debris in the lake ends up and the main road cuts through it. This was a beautiful Sunday and the pass road was especially rammed with a constant flow of loud traffic going past.
I had thought of carrying on down the valley to the next station, and maybe even walking alongside the Sarnersee to Sachseln (another 5 to 10 km depending on which station you stop at). But with the warming day and prospect of being alongside the busy road for much of the way (not to mention a kg or 2 of cheese in my bag) I decided that was enough already.
It would have been nice to have taken the train to Lucerne and go home via Olten to make a loop of the trip, but we just missed a train in that direction. So rather than waiting for 50 minutes we went back the same way we arrived via Meiringen and Interlaken (not the worst given that is the more scenic route).