Hiking is cool right now. Suggesting a long walk normally triggers a lot of whining and nagging, but now the response is jumping for joy. There’s virtually no holding back the two children (aged 5 and 7), who are delighted to be going on a mystery hike on the Männlichen mountain in the Bernese Oberland. We have Lieselotte the cow to thank for that.
We’re raring to go at the valley station in Wengen by 10 a.m., equipped with two trail maps for the kids to fill in. The first stopping point along the route is right next to the valley station, but here’s a little secret… there are another 13 points further down the adventure trail where we can discover everything there is to know about the famous cow from German children’s books (informations only in German). The aim of the mystery hike is to find out what Lieselotte the cow will never forget.
First of all, however, we have to take the cableway (informations only in German) right up to the Männlichen guest house at 2,225 metres above sea level. The valley station rapidly gets smaller and smaller as the gondola climbs over the rugged landscape of the massif.
The Männlichen is still in shadow and a huge cloud has formed right in front of the three distinctive peaks of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
But that’s no reason to put us in a bad mood. Off we go on our scavenger hunt – there’s plenty to discover and try out along the way. The main highlights as far as the children are concerned are the opportunities to do a bit of “milking” and ring some cowbells. The youngsters even manage to make some noise on an alphorn. The hike is not very demanding, as it is downhill most of the time. Nevertheless, good footwear is essential. It is also worth noting that the trail is not suitable for pushchairs.
After all that fun and adventure, it’s time for an energy-boost. After the “marmot tower” stop, we come to a picnic spot with two barbecue areas, several tables, benches and plenty of dry wood available, making it quick and easy to light a fire even if you don’t have any experience from scout or guide camps.
While the sausages we brought with us are soon sizzling over the glowing embers, we admire the breath-taking views across the impressive mountain scenery – even the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau can now be seen at their very best.
After enjoying our sausages, bread and water, we feel replenished and ready to tackle the rest of the trail. The children soon grow impatient and start urging us to get walking again. They have already filled in half of the mystery letters on the map and are trying to work out what word they spell. Meanwhile, we have been following the Lieselotte trail for around four hours and along the way we have practised the long jump, searched for treasure and tried out a brand new playground.
Our feet and knees are slowly starting to hurt and the kids are looking forward to the journey back down the mountain. This time we take the smaller four-seater gondola from the Holenstein middle station back down to the Männlichen guest house, where we intrepid young (and not so young) hikers reward ourselves with dessert.
Tired but happy, we then hop on the large gondola to head down to the valley station in Wengen. The children quickly go to the desk to hand in their completed maps with the mystery word solved (I won’t give away the answer here, of course!) and are given a little surprise for their efforts…
This is a relaxing walk for all the family. The route is easy and even younger children can manage it without any difficulty. The walking time alone is around 1½ hours. The various stopping points along the way keep the children motivated and entertained, while an attractive barbecue area gives parents a chance to take a relaxing break too. And the view over the mountains is truly unique – as you can see for yourself:
Travel by public transport from the Bernese Unterland to the starting point, arriving as early as possible to make the most of the day. If you are coming from further afield, there is a range of overnight accommodation available in Wengen or Grindelwald.
With the 1-day travelpass Plus to Wengen. Round-trip ticket for the Lieselotte trail:
– Adult with Half-Fare travelcard: CHF 30
– Children with Junior travelcard: free
RailAway combined offer here.
Text and pictures: Oliver Tamás