Kandersteg 2017 (2 of 2)
Posted on 20 August 2017
Read the first half of the report here!
Tuesday 15th August
The Troop made their way again to Kandersteg railway station, to travel to Mulenen, a small village on the way to Spiez, from where the funicular train to the summit of the Niesen departed. This train climbs 1669m (rough5,424ft) from Mulenen at 693m to the summit of the Niesen at 2362m, at almost 45 degrees the full way. At the top, the views are stunning in all directions. We descended by rail from the summit to go back to the station to get the train to Thun – at the bottom of the Niesen, we met with Ferdy Nadig – a good, and long time friend of Scouting in Leeds – who had travelled with his wife, Maria, to meet up with us. He went to check in at his hotel whilst we went to Thun to get on the steamer for a trip on the lake, the Thunersee. The weather was very hot and we gently cooked in the sunshine at the back of the boat – we left the boat at Spiez to walk up to the railway station. This involved a bit of a steep climb – a combination of the steepness, and the heat generated the complaints once more, but as we went through a park, the sprinklers watering the grass attracted the attention of the Scouts who had a quick shower to cool down! At the top of the hill was a shopping centre where the Scouts bought drinks, ice cream etc before we boarded the train back to Kandersteg.
Wednesday 16th August
Another beautiful day – and the Troop were going tobogganing! We headed along the short path to the cable car station to take the cable car to the Oeschinensee – a lake at 1578m, that was surrounded on 3 sides by stunning mountain scenery! But before we descended to the lake from the cable car, we queued up to go on the toboggan run – the Rodelbahn Oeschinensee! Everyone had a couple of goes – and then Ferdy, who was there as a spectator, generously paid for everyone to have another go as well! We then walked down to the lake itself, and quite a number of Scouts – and Leaders – changed into swimming costumes and ‘plunged’ in for a refreshing swim. The water was, in fact, cold – the lake is fed by a glacier, but it didn’t seem to stop everyone having a good time. Some of the Scouts hired a rowing boat and had a happy half hour trying to make it go where they wanted it to. And it was Rose’s birthday – so we all sang Happy Birthday to her, and had some birthday cake (Swiss Roll, of course!) Soon it was time to walk back down to Kandersteg, and back to the campsite and tonight it was the BBQ! Cervelat sausages were put on the BBQ, as well as some magnificent vegetable kebabs, and even Ferdy and Maria, who had joined us for the evening, pronounced that the BBQ was as good as any the Swiss Scouts would have done.
Thursday 17th August
Today, we split into two groups; approx half the group caught the early morning bus into the Gasterntal valley, the other half had a relaxing day in camp doing the requirements for the KISC Challenge Award, the ECO Award and the International Friendship Award, before descending on the village to buy souvenirs. The Gasterntal party piled into two minibuses, driven by Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. Minibuses are perhaps the largest vehicle capable of getting into the Gasterntal – the narrow road is closed for 20 minutes every hour to allow traffic to descend. As we tore up the winding road, with a rock face centimetres from the bus on one side and a raging torrent several metres below on the other side, we plunged into a tunnel – emerging the other side, we sharply turned left to cross a bridge with just a nod to the braking system before emerging into the wide valley floor of the Gasterntal valley. This is a perfect example of a glacial valley – a perfect ‘U’ shape, and which still has the retreating glacier at the far end. The buses careered along the unmade road and at a good pace to the hamlet of Seldon, where we alighted. Seldon comprises of a hotel; nothing else! It was around 9.00am and the sun was just coming over the mountains into the valley for another glorious day. Descending to the river, we crossed a huge suspension bridge which had a fair bit of movement in it! The width of the bridge gave the Scouts and idea of what it must be like when the snows melt in Spring when vast amounts of water make their way downstream. Route finding was easy – there was hardly any chance of getting lost as there was only one path and it was well sign posted. Early in the walk, the valley narrowed temporarily between some impressive cliffs, but out in the open again, the full spectacle of the Alps became apparent. We walked to the end of the Gasterntal valley to walk down to Kandersteg – some chose to walk down the road, others took the footpath that followed the course of the river through the woods to the bottom, both parties arriving at the same time. From here, the group headed down into Kandersteg to buy – amongst other things – their penknives: these were to be engraved so would be ready for collection the following day. And tonight was ‘Pizza night’ – and very good they were too!!
Friday 18th August
The groups swapped over and the Gasterntal Group caught the minibus back up to Seldon, in the Gasterntal valley. Today, we had more sedate drivers; Lewis and Sebastian were having a day off. And, as yesterday, we arrived at Seldon just as the sun was coming over the mountains for another very hot and sunny day. After the obligatory picture on the suspension bridge, we set off down the valley, and lingered on a stone bridge across the river, to play ‘pooh sticks’ Due to the ferocity of the water flow, most sticks were never seen again – however, although no winner was declared, it turned out that Chloe had CHEATED! Yes, she had released her stick on ‘get set’ and it had a 100 yard lead by the time ‘Go’ was called! We stopped at the Hotel Waldhaus, where George opted for a plate of Rosti which looked and smelt very good! After a relaxing hour or so, we continued down to Kandersteg where some opted to go back to the site, and others into Kandersteg for a last look around. In the evening, after the evening meal, the heavens opened with a huge storm – most people ended up standing on the benches as water poured into the tent. It was very dramatic, but the storm did pass and a number of the Scouts made their way to the Camp Fire Circle for the International Camp fire.
Saturday 19th August
After breakfast, the process began of clearing up, packing equipment and personal bags and cleaning. As we had no tents to worry about, the process was fairly straight forward and everybody was ready when the coach arrived with some Scouts from Leyland, Lancashire who were staying for the following week. The coach set off around midday for a largely trouble free trip back to Leeds, arriving more or less at the expected time at the drop off point!
A great experience for everybody; we were fortunate to have fantastic weather, wonderful scenery and a lot of fun.