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Posts Tagged ‘Thalictrum sp.’

We arrived in Brienz from Spiez at the early hour of 09h45 and trundled our bags up the hill to find our hotel where we were to stay for the next three nights.

P1030494  DY of jtdytravels

P1030494 DY of jtdytravels

Our very Swiss-looking Steinbock Hotel was built in 1787. It’s in a bautiful setting with mountains behind and Brienz Lake in front when looking in the opposite direction.

Our room was actually ready but we only took possession long enough to drop our bags before heading to the Brienz Rothorn Bahn for a very special ride on the Rothorn steam cog, or rack, railway.

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P1030496  DY of jtdytravels

P1030496 DY of jtdytravels

Waiting for us in the station was this cute little loco coupled to two red carriages which it was going to push up the mountain to Rothorn.

This miraculous railway defies most scientific principles (well it seems like it anyway) to climb 1588m in just 7.5km of track.  The maximum gradient is 1 in 4 (25%) on a track gauge of 800mm or 2ft. 7½ inches.

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P1030507 DY of jtdytravels

The loco shed had some engines lurking in the shadows and the 800mm gauge track with rack is clearly visible.

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JT of jtdytravels

JT of jtdytravels

As we climbed the first of the gradients, the views back along the amazingly blue Brienzersee were a delight.

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P1030572 DY of jtdytravels

The loco may be small in size but it is a strong machine capable of taking the severe gradients in its stride.

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P1030594  DY of jtdytravels

P1030594 DY of jtdytravels

Like me, these men were interested to see just is is how it works.

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JT of jtdytravels

JT of jtdytravels

There were detailed drawings explaining the workings.

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JT of jtdytravels

JT of jtdytravels

These were the two gentlemen responsible for building this extraordinary railway.

The route was first opened on 17th June 1892 but quickly fell into financial difficulties carrying only 5000 passengers instead of the predicted 25,000 per year.  Services were suspended on 1 August 1914 due to the First World War but did not reopen when the war ended.  However, maintenance was carried out on the line and some timber traffic was carried in 1918.  The line was finally reopened in June 1931 but was not electrified as have other Swiss mountain railways.  It remains the only line to be fully operated by steam except during light periods of traffic or if steam engines are not available. Then diesel locomotives are substituted.

The locos use 350kg of coal per trip and about 2000 litres of water.

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P1030525 DY of jtdytravels

Top-up water is taken on at one of the passing loops.

The trip takes just on an hour to reach the summit station but cost us a staggering CHF84.00 (AUD99.22) each.  But at least we felt we were helping to keep this unique piece of railway history going. And the day was brilliant, hot and clear, so the mountains were at their very best and it was a joy to be able to experience this special journey.

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JT of jtdytravels

JT of jtdytravels

Looking back at the train line that cuts a swathe across the back of the first mountain ridge.

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JT of jtdytravels

JT of jtdytravels

The train line winds its way ever upward.  Walking trails also criss cross the landscape. This is a great hiking area and some people who went up on the train walked back down.

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P1030557 DY of jtdytravels

This panorama shot does not do justice to the actual view!

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P1030548 DY of jtdytravels

A truly breath-taking view back down to Lake Brienz, some 1588m below. As has been the case over the last few days, threatening clouds started to build up.

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P1030553 DY of jtdytravels

These clouds heralded some rain in the not too distant future, so we did not do the steep final walk to the very top but had a light lunch at the summit restaurant.

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P1030570 DY of jtdytravels

Two lovely birds with the one shot!

 

After enjoying that wonderful view from our table, we caught the train back down. It left at precisely 13h28.  Times are very precise as trains have to pass at passing loops on the journey. Trains in Switzerland run to precise times anyway… Almost always on time.

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P1030539 DY of jtdytravels

A couple of trains passing each other.

There are three passing loops that are used during normal service on the line.  Very little waiting time, if any, is wasted on the journey.

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JT of jtdytravels

JT of jtdytravels

As the train slowly made its way back down the mountain, we enjoyed seeing the many wildflowers beside the track…. but of course we couldn’t get out to photograph them. The flowers at this spot were mostly primulas.  The variety of flowers changed with the change in altitude … For example, Aquilegia near the bottom to primulas in the middle section to Gentians near the top.

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P1030615 DY of jtdytravels

This is the Panalp Loop stop where we got off to walk for awhile.  When Jennie was here last in 1999, she walked back down to the village from here… But not this time!

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JT of jtdytravels

JT of jtdytravels

Brienz is renowned as a wood carving area and this sculpture of one of the railway engineers had just been completed. It’s carved out of what remained of a fallen tree… The roots are still underneath. It’ s a great addition to this train stop.  After admiring this, we set off for our walk in the meadows first crossing a small mountain stream.

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JT of jtdytravels

JT of jtdytravels

The little stream looked invitingly cool on such a hot, humid day but we walked on up the hill in search of wildflowers to photograph.

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P1030583 DY of jtdytravels

These ‘Globe’ ranunculus created a stunning contrast against the sky.

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P1030566 DY of jtdytravels

White ranunculus

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P1030582 DY of jtdytravels

Yellow buttercups were everywhere, their bright faces always pointing to the sun.

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JT of jtdytravels

JT of jtdytravels

A froth of pink!  This Thalictrum sp. was very common in the meadows.

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JT of jtdytravels

JT of jtdytravels

Delightful little yellow vetch.

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Jar of jtdytravels

JT of jtdytravels

This one looked like a ballet tutu swaying in the breeze.

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JT of jtdytravels

JT of jtdytravels

These tiny blue flowers hid amongst the taller plants.

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P1030608 DY of jtdytravels

An old barn, covered with shingles, had seen better days but was still serving a useful purpose providing shelter during the long hard winters.

Just a little before the train was due to arrive, it started to rain but, as most of the trip was over for us, it didn’t really bother us.  And there was a clean toilet at the loop stop. Only in Switzerland could you be sure of finding a clean, well provisioned, flush toilet at a hiking stop in the mountains.

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JT of jtdytravels

JT of jtdytravels

The rain eased as we made our way back down through the forests to Brienz village. Thunderstorms seem to come and go with a lot of flourish and noise but don’t seem to last very long in these mountains.

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JT of jtdytravels

JT of jtdytravels

Back in our hotel, we were able to sit out on the balcony and enjoy the lake view as the clouds began to move away. It had been a thoroughly enjoyable day on the little train that took us to the summit of Rothorn and back down again.

More of our journey anon

David and Jennie

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