It’s early Sunday here in Yorkshire yet my thoughts are drifting to a country a 1000 miles away. A country which I haven’t managed to visit for nearly 6 years now. But it’s still very much on my heart. On our little families heart. A place with so many happy times for my son. One of the most stunning lands on our wonderful planet. Time for a bit of Alpine Heaven. Time for Switzerland.
I’m now seeing those mountains and those lakes. The mesmerising landscapes. I’m hearing the peaceful sounds of this land. Relaxing running water. Often the only other sound is the distinctive ringing of cow and church bells. Other than that it’s the sound of silence.
One day I will hopefully return. I hope you will join me as well.
It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly virtual trip to beautiful Switzerland. This wonderful little country has been a special holiday destination for our family for a couple of generations now. Life has happened and that family is much changed now. Much smaller. Now the baton of Alpine Trips is really just lies with Hawklad and me. We must find a way of keeping that tradition going. Why?
Because family tradition is so important. Once it’s gone it’s gone….
Because Switzerland is so special and so worth it…..
Sadly 2021 doesn’t look like being a year where we can venture those 1000 miles again. It’s been 5 years now since our last trip. So let’s keep those memories strong until life opens up again and once more a family trip to alpine heaven can happen again.
It’s Sunday so it must be time for a trip to Alpine Heaven. To a place which has been close to our family and it’s heart for years. Life has happened and we haven’t been able to visit here since 2015. I give you stunning Switzerland.
Our family looks very different these days. Life has definitely happened. Now the only ones who will carry on the Swiss tradition are Hawklad and me. So that’s what we will do. Virtually until life shifts again and then we can once again step on those alpine slopes again. That day can’t come quick enough for me.
It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly virtual trip to beautiful Switzerland. A country that is 900 miles away from our house in England but actually feels more like where our hearts want to be. One day we will return.
Today we are going back to 2015 and our last trip to this alpine wonderland. It was the second last day of our holiday and the weather was glorious. So we went on a bit if an expedition. We went to the Zermatt. From there we caught the mountain train which took us to 10285ft (3135m) to the top of the Gonnergrat. The train is an experience as it’s Europe’s highest open-air railway.
The top is a huge rocky ridge with a luxury hotel, restaurant, shops, astronomical observatories, a beautiful stone chapel and views of The Matterhorn. It overlooks a stunning glacier and has views of 29 4000m mountains. It’s a truly epic place.
After a few hours at the top we walked down most of the way. Poignantly this would prove to be our last long family walk as a team of 3. So it’s extra special to me and our son.
I give you the Gonnergrat.
This is the first hill I ever walked up. Walked up it more than any other hill. Roseberry Topping is not a big hill. It’s only 266 ft tall. It sits on the northern edge of North Yorkshire and is a part of the Cleveland Hills. At the top look south and you see beautiful moors. Look north you see an urban sprawl and industry. Those with good eyesight can see where I was born and the sea.
For such a small hill it so loved. Alan Hinkes the first Britain to climb all 14 highest world mountains talks so fondly of this little piece of rock.
“I saw K2 and thought: that is the mountain to do; it’s nearly as impressive as Roseberry Topping”
Here we often refer it as the Yorkshire Matterhorn. Our version of the Swiss Matterhorn.
Our version is certainly not as big. Not as snowy. Not as steep. Not as scary. Not as famous. But it’s certainly way more Yorkshire.
My mum when she was young apparently scrawled her initials in a rock near the top. Many did that. I’ve still not found her carving but I do look every time I visit the hill.
As a teenager it would always feel a little claustrophobic where we lived. A small grey town. On one side the cold dark North Sea. On the other side one of Europe’s biggest chemical and steel works. It often seemed that the rest of the world was blocked off from me. But get on my bike and ride 2 hours through the industry. Suddenly I was at the base of our Matterhorn. 30 minutes later I was on its top and I could breathe. I was finally in a different world. I could experience what it was like to be in The Alps. To be an adventurer. I could think clearly on the top. I could calm the internal storms. I could visualise a better life.
All these years later and I still love this little hill. My hill. I so want to be there right now. I need to be there. 2020 will probably be the first year since I was a wee bairn that I won’t have stood on Roseberry Topping. That’s a sad thought. But it’s patiently waiting for me. Waiting for me to return.
It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly virtual trip to Alpine Heaven. Stunning Switzerland.
Switzerland is a place we visited many times as a family. Not been there since 2015 but it’s still a special place for me and Hawklad. This Sunday we are going to revisit one of our finest memories. The trip to the Gonnergrat.
The Gonnergrat is a rocky ridge that stands at 3135m (10285ft). At the top the you find a gothic looking hotel, a beautiful chapel, restaurants and two astronomical observatories.
The train trip from Zermat to the top is truly epic. Its Europe’s highest open air railway. It’s a nice feeling to know that the electricity it takes to climb the mountain is generated by the trains breaking system on the way down.
The summit has a stunning alpine panorama but the jewel is being so close to one of the worlds most iconic mountains, The Matterhorn.
The Gonnergrat overlooks two glaciers. The glacier system is the second largest in The Alps.
It’s just the most glorious place. It has the most amazing atmosphere, the air is staggeringly fresh. It’s as if you are almost able to touch heaven.
In places the Gonnergrat has an out of world look which contrasts with the stunning alpine valleys below.
So I give you the Gonnergrat. A truly epic place. A place which is currently our highest ever location. It is 41 times higher than the hill we live on. That fact is very important to Hawklad. He likes that fact very much.
It’s Sunday so it must be time for a bit of virtual travel. I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we visit one of the most stunning places on the planet. Let’s go to Switzerland.
As a child I would visit my towns library. It wasn’t very big. It had masses of a Mills & Boon books. That’s not really going to float a young boys boat. The library didn’t seem to have that many exciting books. But it had one. It was a reference book so I couldn’t take it home. So every Saturday morning I would carefully get this book. Find a comfy seat and read. This was a book about climbing in Switzerland. I would look in awe at the mountain photos and read the daring tales of the brave climbers.
Switzerland seemed like a fantasy world. Too good to be real.
How could a country look this exciting and this beautiful.
I would dream of standing on top of these peaks and gazing out into the distance. My heart racing as I am surrounded by The Alps.
Then fast forward many years and I’m there. I’m stood on some of those very mountains.
Switzerland is real. It’s actually more stunning than I ever imagined.
And next to me is a little boy. A boy starting his love affair with this magical country.
It’s Sunday – I think….
It’s May – I think….
But it definitely feels like it’s time for a trip back down memory lane to a visit to stunning Switzerland.
That building below The Matterhorn has always been a place of my dreams. Since I came across it, I have always thought that would be my dream location for my home. Maybe one day.
May 1st is a public holiday in some parts of Switzerland. On this memory journey we had headed off on the 1st to a Canton which celebrates the holiday. It’s a day for celebrating worker rights. In the town we visited all the shops had closed for the day. We watched a workers march. A very Swiss march. As they walked they picked up any litter and a few started weeding flower beds. After the march the celebrations continued with a super friendly music festival. While watching the music I sampled my first ever roesti (potato cake). What had I been missing all those years.
Sadly no photos of that day as I had run out of film for my camera (remember those days?). I’m sure if I had asked the nearest Swiss person in the crowd that they would have quickly found me a new film – it’s that sort of place.
Fortunately I eventually fed the camera and I still have photos from that holiday. Stunning walks through ancients forests set amongst the might Alps.
Leisurely boat trips across the stunning lakes.
The ever changing colours.
Glimpses of some of the worlds most iconic mountains.
The staggering water colours.
Sights and sounds which are so Swiss.
And of a toddler having the best ever time. Thank you Switzerland.
It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly virtual visit to beautiful Switzerland. This week it’s a bit different. I’ve asked son for his favourite Swiss spots. So let’s see where our virtual trip takes us.
First stood on top of the Niesen.
Second is stood on top of the First mountain.
Just sitting on the really cool Swiss trains.
Getting next to the big mountains.
Being the highest he’s been at 10,285ft on top of the Gornergrat.
The best playground ever.
Going to the brilliant zoos.
Playing golf. Switzerland has the best courses.
Looking at the yachts parked up in front of the hotel we stayed at.
Sat on the edge of the wooden walkway outside the hotel looking at the Niesen and waiting for the swan to arrive so we can feed it.
The old branch which is always there on our walk to the playground. One day he wants to be brave enough to walk on it.
A trip on one of the old Swiss lake boats, especially the big steamer.
Any finally with his favourite knight from castle in Spiez.
It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly virtual trip to beautiful Switzerland. Yesterday I was thinking about window views. The sort of view you would happily sit by your bedroom window, gaze out at the beauty and just smile. Sometimes the real window view is that good. The above photo is from the hotel room we stayed at on our last visit.
Well for this weeks virtual holiday let’s play fantasy window view. I’m going to pick a different dream window view for each day.
Sunday. Let’s start the week off with a view across beautiful Lake Thun.
Monday. Let’s have a window filled with an alpine meadow.
Tuesday. Let’s have the sound of water filling the room as well. A window filled with an alpine river.
Wednesday. Let’s enjoy one of the worlds greatest mountains. The Eiger
Thursday. Let’s have a window looking across a beautiful Swiss valley.
Friday. Let’s move the window to beautiful Lake Riffelsee and it’s always present reflection of The Matterhorn.
Saturday. Let’s finish the week with a view of a stunning waterfall.
See you next week my friends. Stay safe.