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My favourite walk

My favourite walk


Postby past my sell by date » Sat Oct 15, 2016 6:34 pm

Date walked: 22/08/2016

Time taken: 5

Ascent: 600m

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EDIT - I should clarify - "My favourite one day walk"
As you ascend the narrowest section of the Mattertal through the village of St. Niklaus, you are hemmed in by the beetling cliffs 1000m high on either side, with the occasional majestic snow peak appearing behind . Between these two however exists a huge area of (often moraine filled) hanging valleys which are accessed by a series of paths collectively known as the Höhen Weg. you can in fact walk the whole way from Visp in the Rhone valley to Randa only a few Km from Zermatt and also go into the adjacent valley - the Turtmental - at two places.
The central focus of the area is the beautiful little village of Jungen - (Jungu in the local language) set on a sunny South facing shelf.
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This is a tourist office depiction of the Northern end where there is lots of habitation: South of Jungen (L in the picture) the only route (at the moment) is via the Topali SAC hut
Around Zermatt there is of course lots of stunning scenery, but the appalling mess left by the ski installations is (for me anyway) a major downside. Around Jungen is what I think is the nicest one day walk in the area - the Rundweg or circular walk. In fact I think it is probably the nicest walk I know anywhere, and I've done it many times.
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Map of the walking paths around Jungen
The map is a bit complicated - but the signposting on the ground is first class.
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Map showing the route South via Topali - but that's another story
Jungen is most easily reached from St. Niklaus by a 4 man cable car a few minutes walk from the station.
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Looking up the cable car
You can walk up, but it's nearly 1000m height gain and mind-bogglingly steep and exposed in places. you can also take a bus (cheaper) from Stalden to Moosalp and walk in from there, but if you want to continue the walk South you would have to stay at the little Stubli at Jungen and go on next day.
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The beds at the stubli are not too comfortable - but what a place to have breakfast :D
From the top of the cable car the views are stunning:-
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Looking South to the head of the Mattertal and the Breithorn
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Zoomed - Sparren sits on another shelf : whilst it can now also be reached by lift , and connects with Jungen on foot there is no way to Topali at the moment
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Looking across the valley and up the Reid glacier to the Mischabel peaks
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The Brunegghorn, Weisshorn and Bishorn seem to dominate the village
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The village from the top of the cable car: the stubli is down near the church - see 2018 edit
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Old buildings in the village
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It's best to head R from the lift- going anticlockwise - and the first thing you come to is a barbeque/kids play area
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Just beyond you can see the path heading diagonally R across some rocks (centre picture)
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As you leave the village a signpost tells you all you need to know
The route sets off through scatttered trees and trends upwards below steep rocks. In the hot sun the smell of the pines is quite intoxicating. There are a lot of pictures - I just kept shooting as I went along - but hopefully you will enjoy them.
It is an easy path suitable for families but there are occasional rope handrails for those of a nervous disposition :lol:
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To the Right there are dramatic views into the mouths of stupendous gullies that fall the whole way to the valley floor
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Looking back to Jungen
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A wider view
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A short zg-zag
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Some sort of equipment I think rather than an art installation :lol:
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Looking back again
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Again a wider view
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Above St. Niklaus on the other side of the valley is the village of Grächen: the circuit of Monte Rosa comes through here on the Europaweg from Zermatt, goes diagonally L to Hannigalp (lift) and then traverses the Saas valley on a balcony walk to Saas Fee - 6hrs or so - even if you take the lift
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The Weisshorn is still looking over your shoulder
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Eventually the path takes a sharp turn L and you look North towards Moosalp and the mountains across the Rhone valley
At this point you turn on to a North facing slope and there is a dramatic change in the vegetation.
Up to now it has been almost all grass - I'm sure there are flowers earlier in the season but by August they have all been burnt up by the morning sun. Here it is mainly "heaths" - Bearberry, Bilberry, juniper and particularly Alpenrose (wild Azalia) : and the flowers proliferate.
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Orchis mascula - Narrow leaved Orchid
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Saxifraga cuneifolia - Saxifrage with wedge-shaped leaves
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Convallaria majallis - Lily of the valley
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Gentiana purpurea - Purple gentian
You pass a very detailed signpost - though there is no fork in the path :lol: - but eventually you do come to junction.

Directly up the valley - the Augstbordtal - is the Schwartzhorn, and to its L the 2893m Augstbord pass leading to Grüben in the Turtmental: if you are doing the "walking" Haute Route from Chamonix you will almost certainly traverse this pass. From Zinal you cross the Meid or the Forcletta pass to Grüben, come this way to St. Niklaus and continue via Grächen to finish at Saas Fee. The fork to the R heads up here and also to Moosalp, but the Rundweg keeps L and zig-zags quite steeply up to the highest point on the path - above the rocks you walked below earlier. You cross a drystone wall at about 2350m
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The path up the Augstbordtal
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The Rundweg keeps L
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climbing up to the highest point. In the distance the mountains above Saas Grund
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Another view of the Schwartzhorn
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Looking back across the wall
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Arnica montana - Mountain Arnica
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Geranium sylvaticum - Wood Crane's-bill almost at the maximum height of its range
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Zoomed view of the mountains on the far side of the Saas valley - the 3993m Fletchhorn, 4010m Lagginhorn and the 4017m Weissmeis just appearing through the cloud
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Another zoomed image: the Mischabel: The snowy col at the top of the Reid glacier is the 3850m Windjoch: the 3925m Ulrichshorn on its L and the 4327m Nadelhorn to the R: The 4545m Dom (the highest mountain completely in Switzerland) is at the back far R
The path continues horizontally for a short while and then turns down quite steeply. If you continue, you complete the Rundweg by descending through the woods back to the village - there are more nice flowers.
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Polygala alpestris - Subalpine Milkwort
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Gymnadenia conopsia - Fragrant Orchid
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Erigeron alpinus - Alpine Fleabane
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Saxifraa Aspera - Stiff-haired Saxifrage
However if you do this you are missing out on maybe the best part of the walk. About 150m below the high point you can take a R turn and walk up into the amazing Jungtal. Better still I found that I could save around 100m of descent and reascent, by leaving the path just where it starts to descend and traversing horizontally a few metres to a ridge - there is a tiny track.
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The start of the descent where I left the path
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Looking back at the horizontal section of the path
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From the ridge I climbed this grassy gully....
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...traversed along this ridge and soon came to another path (that descends from the Augstbord pass) - see map - there were a few hang gliders about :)
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Looking across into the Jungtal
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A closer view - you can just see a path traversing the slope (above the gully in the shade)
I could probably just have continued traversing - the terrain is very benign, but it was easier to descend the path a bit, and then turn R at a junction
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This path was signposted Jungtal and a second turn L was also signposted
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The (same) little path - much more obvious now - continued horizontally across the slope until it joined the main path up from Jungen
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The Jungtal is a classic hanging valley : the main path can be seen below
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Looking back
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Cowsheds at the entrance to the valley
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The path now zig-zags up on to one of the most wonderful lateral moraines I have ever seen. stemming from the ice age, it has become grassed over and thousands of years of erosion have rounded the top leaving just a few huge boulders behind - magic :D
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Edit 2018: Sitting on the moraine in 2018. a number of major boulder falls threatened the cowsheds so there no cows in the Jungtal this year :(
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There is another one on the other side of the valley
If you continue up this moraine the path traverses L across the head of the valley and climbs over a 3000m col - the Wasulicke - to reach Topali - but as I have said, that is another story
Unlike most of the valleys on the route which are largely stone filled, the Jungtal is grassy with cows grazing beside a tinkling stream and very special I think.
I turned around here and followed the main track back to the village, but took a few more photos before I left.
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The valley floor
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A wider view up the valley - the Wasulicke is out of sight on the L
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A cairn at the end of the moraine - across the Mattertal you are looking right up the lift to Hannigalp
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Looking out of the mouth of the valley just beyond the cowsheds
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Looking back across the upper track
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Minuarta laricifolia - Larch-leaved Sandwort
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looking back up the main track
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The track descends easily to the village beside a stone wall: This a Blumenweg" - flower walk - and there are lots of pictures of things I don't think I have ever seen. sadly they never seem to be out when I am there :(
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I found when I got down that I had just missed the (hourly) lift so I had a long soft drink and then a beer in the Stubli.
Edit 2018
Sadly the old Stubli closed a couple of years ago :( - biut a new one has been built this year - just above the lift :D - so you can have a beer and watch the queue at the same time :) Even more my favourite walk now
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New Cafe
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Looking up the Reid glacier from the cafe
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Zoomed view of the Brunegghorn, Weisshorn and Bishorn from the cafe
Last edited by past my sell by date on Sat Aug 25, 2018 6:29 pm, edited 3 times in total.
past my sell by date
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Re: My favourite walk

Postby ChrisW » Wed Oct 19, 2016 4:47 am

Hey PMSD, I knew when you said it was your favourite it was going to be good but, wow, what a beautiful hike. As you say, very special. I'm not convinced you missed that lift by accident though :wink: ......a direct descent or a beer and a wonderful view for an hour :think: decisions decisions :lol: :lol:
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Re: My favourite walk

Postby past my sell by date » Thu Oct 20, 2016 12:32 pm

ChrisW wrote:Hey PMSD, I knew when you said it was your favourite it was going to be good but, wow, what a beautiful hike. As you say, very special. I'm not convinced you missed that lift by accident though :wink: ......a direct descent or a beer and a wonderful view for an hour :think: decisions decisions :lol: :lol:

Chris
one of the delights of alpine walking is that there is almost always a cafe or similar where you can stop and get something to eat and drink - and shelter if need be. In Scotland you have to bring your own, and there may be no shelter at all.
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Re: My favourite walk

Postby ChrisW » Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:59 pm

past my sell by date wrote: In Scotland you have to bring your own, and there may be no shelter at all.

That is exactly the way of it out here too mate, with the exception of a couple of the main tourist hotspots it's all 'bring your own'...sometimes it would be nice to sit down for a drink and bite to eat after a hike :roll:
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Re: My favourite walk

Postby Alteknacker » Thu Oct 20, 2016 11:48 pm

I can see absolutely why this is your favourite walk - the views are simply to die for...
Wonderful, and thanks for posting.
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Re: My favourite walk

Postby past my sell by date » Sat Oct 22, 2016 12:50 pm

ChrisW wrote:
past my sell by date wrote: In Scotland you have to bring your own, and there may be no shelter at all.

That is exactly the way of it out here too mate, with the exception of a couple of the main tourist hotspots it's all 'bring your own'...sometimes it would be nice to sit down for a drink and bite to eat after a hike :roll:

Yes the only difference it seems to me that in Alberta you might meet something that fancied you for lunch :lol: :lol:
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Re: My favourite walk

Postby past my sell by date » Sat Oct 22, 2016 12:56 pm

Alteknacker wrote:I can see absolutely why this is your favourite walk - the views are simply to die for...
Wonderful, and thanks for posting.

Thanks Alteknacker
I like it because it has both distant views and stunning "local"scenery.
I'm sure there are more beautiful walks in Scotland, but you have to be there on one of the (few) really good days. In the Alps in Summer you have a good percentage chance of a sunny day - though I did once have to shelter in the Stubli for an hour during a violent evening thunderstorm - the lift of course being closed :lol:
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Re: My favourite walk

Postby john923 » Wed Nov 02, 2016 8:53 pm

What a lovely circuit! We've never done any walking in the Alps which is a poor state of affairs considering they are almost on our doorstep (although your high mountaineering exploits are certainly beyond us). Especially like the flower pics - good to see a bit of serious botanising on the way. Cheers. :D
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Re: My favourite walk

Postby past my sell by date » Sat Nov 05, 2016 4:53 pm

john923 wrote:What a lovely circuit! We've never done any walking in the Alps which is a poor state of affairs considering they are almost on our doorstep (although your high mountaineering exploits are certainly beyond us). Especially like the flower pics - good to see a bit of serious botanising on the way. Cheers. :D

Thanks John
Yes you should get walking in the Alps - it's neither better nor worse than the Highlands - just completely different - in general much easier.
After I became too decrepit to climb the big mountains, I did concentrate on the flowers. Unfortunately not being a botanist I have to photograph them and then try to identify them from the photos. This is not ideal, but the alternative of carrying around 5kg of Flora Alpina isn't really practical :lol: :lol:
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