The Marmots of Mannlichen

As we came up above the treeline on the gondola from Grindelwald to Männlichen bahn (2225m) we saw plenty of marmot holes amongst the rough moorland but it was several minutes before Barbara spotted one walking – or waddling – over the turf, as if it was wearing incoveniently oversized pyjamas, raising its head to peer up the slope.

A few minutes later, I spotted two marmots which appeared to be smaller than the first one, scampering along to a low mound. A third marmot ran towards them and was soon involved in a fight (or a boisterous greeting) with one of the pair while the other looked on.

4 pm; At the top near the summit at the Männlichen Berggashaus, a restaurant run by the family Kaufmann, we share a slice of Studentenschnit, a traditional iced Swiss cake made with lot of ingredients and a Nussgipfel, a pastry croissant with nutty praline in it.

On the journey back down we thought that we’d passed back descended out of marmot territory when I spotted two by a stream. One flicked its tail as they encountered each other – like the other two we’d seen – and they greeted each other with a ‘hug’ – in this case it was less of a tussle.


Monday (Montag), 6 (seches) June (Juni) 2011

WE’VE GOT just one ‘big trip’ still to do during our stay here; we want to visit Jungfraujoch, the ‘Top of Europe’ but today isn’t the day to go up there as cloud is swirling around and down below us even here at Wengen. This is the view looking up Lauterbrunnen Valley from the station at 10.15 am, as we wait for the train.

We arrived in cloud on Wednesday and the next morning, when the cloud cleared partially to reveal the mountains at the head of this U-shaped valley for the first time, it was as if the curtains had been raised on a great scenic theatrical spectacle.

A man cuts back the scrub on a steep banking by Allmend station, the next on the line as we travel uphill from Wengen. Alder scrub is one of the habitats recreated at the Alpine Garden at Schynige Platte.

It looks as if the cloud will hang around for a while so we take the next train down the other side of the slope from Kleine Scheidegg to resume Saturday’s walk down to Grindelwald from Brandegg, where we finished up the other day.

A St Bernard, much larger than the Swiss Mountain Dog I drew yesterday, is one of our fellow passengers.

There’s time for a coffee break at Brandegg Restaurant before we start. I settle down to draw the musical cows in the surrounding pasture and, feeling a little more confident with my phrasebook German order:

‘Drei cafes mit milch, bitte.’

Which I think is German for ‘Two coffees with milk, please.’ It isn’t; the waitress brings three coffees! But she kind enough to take one away again, much to the amusement of the staff.

Sheep have smaller bells than the cows. A group of 9 or 20 were slowing grazing around an old barn in the flower-rich meadows above Grindelwald.