Sledging in Grindelwald, Switzerland
By Jane Wade-Smith
If you fancy an Alpine winter adventure but don’t want to ski….then this could be the break for you. It was a very crisp February evening when we boarded the train from Basel to Interlaken. Even with the thermometer reading in excess of -20 degrees, never did we consider that the train wouldn’t be running on time. They did, and well, and extremely on time. The rail network in Switzerland runs like clockwork and when there are only minutes available to change trains, this never causes an issue.
After only one change to Interlaken we alighted to await the mountain express to Grindelwald. The small train travelled slowly up through the mountains and we were only sorry due to the lateness of the hour, that we couldn’t take advantage of the superb scenery along the way.
We chose to spend our mini break at the Sun Hotel, which was of an excellent standard and a short walk from the station. The hotel however, offers a courtesy shuttle bus and so we arranged this in advance and were greeted warmly by their driver. The hotel is of an excellent standard, with a comfortable lounge, welcoming fires and a superb restaurant too.
The following morning having reserved an Eiger view room, we awoke to spectacular views with the Eiger looming over us. We took our first morning breath at -25 degrees whilst enjoying the skies which were clear and blue.
There is something about an Alpine resort that everyone should experience at sometime, whether it is for crisp fresh air, the chocolate box villages or just the abundance of snow and wonderful scenery. It really is breath-taking.
Grindelwald is a haven for skiers with pistes to suit all, from beginners through to the very experienced snow searcher. As non-skiers for the weekend we made our short walk to the ski hire shop located almost outside the hotels front doors to order our sledges.. not skis!
Grindelwald provides both winter hiking and sledging runs, which offered an excellent new challenge to us both. We hired our sledges in the village, but had no tugging and struggling with them as we were able to collect them at the top of the ski lift station. The service was seem-less, we just handed in our voucher at the ski/sledge hire desk after arriving at the lift station and our sledges were there waiting for us.
Once at the point of descent there are a number of hiking and sledging paths which are available and all are incredibly well laid out and maintained and the signposts are also very clear too. The feeling on our way down was of an overwhelming eerie silence and for most of the journey we didn’t see another soul except for a few old off-piste tracks of an early rising skier. Peace and tranquility, not forgetting the unbelievable sights of the undulating snow drifts all around us. It was an extraordinary experience.
For those with the ‘need for speed’, you can travel on your sledge at the speed you feel comfortable with. Or, if you’re a bit of a wimp, like me you can descend the best part of 10k in a snow plough! Pretty difficult to archive on a sledge and awfully painful the next day!
A archetypal winter wonderland….. Would love to return in the summer.