B is for Brienz, Switzerland

Verdict: Such a beautiful lake (cleanest in Europe, apparently) with one of the nicest camp sites we’ve visited right on its shores, and the added bonus of amazing mountain railways and walks. Recommend! 

We loved: 

1 Camping Aaregg, on the shores of the lake

The sun shone like billyo our first day at Camping Aeregg on Lake Brienz, and we made the most of the location right on the shores of the lake by doing as little as possible. So we camped out on the grassy beach, swam a bit, jumped around a bit on the wibit, floated in the rubber ring, got the kayak out for a couple of small trips, read a bit and played a little cards. Because it’s a glacial lake the water really isn’t very warm, but on a hot day it was ok to swim in, and of course the colour is completely beautiful.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a campsite, and this one has to be one of the nicest we’ve visited. It’s small, which we like, so the kids can have free rein. It’s perfectly situated right on the shore of the lake (some of the pitches are to die for — we had some serious pitch envy here), there’s enough facilities (a small shop, cafe and restaurant) for essentials, but nothing too ambitious and it’s properly international with a good mix of Swiss, French, German, Dutch and English campers.

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We glamped here. Although it’s called a cabin, it was actually just a square mobile home, but it worked for us, especially on the 2 rainy days we had. Usually on our van trips we mix it up, with a bit of camping, glamping and the occasional hotel. This trip we actually did things the wrong way round as we started with the hotel, then glamped and then camped the final week in France. There are huge advantages to glamping — you get the campsite vibe but with the benefit of plumbing and cupboards — but I think all look forward to proper camping, with the flexibility and proper outdoorsiness this brings.

2 Family kayaking session, Interlaken

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Monday was all about this — a family fun kayaking session at #Interlaken, at the other end of Lake Brienz.⁠

⁠We’d booked with @hightidekayaks, which is a cool place, with cafe, heated pool and plenty of kayaking and paddle boarding on offer.⁠

We were a little nervous as it was Orla’s first time solo in a kayak (and, with spectacular timing, Garry spent the 10 minutes before the session sharing a friend’s disaster holiday kayaking story), but we needn’t have worried — the lake was empty, and smooth as glass, and the kayaks were manoeuvrable and fast. The sun even unexpectedly shone.⁠

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Silvana, our guide, took us across the lake to some cliffs, where we played rubber duck kayak polo, then across to the middle of the lake for cookies and from there to where the glacial river tumbles into the lake. It’s the minerals from the glaciers that give Brienz its distinctive pale turquoise colour. She suggested we feel the river water when we got there and it was I C Y.

The session finished with a game of light the candle (a form of tag where if you’re tagged you hold your oar up like a candle flame and wait to be splashed free) and a quick go on the wibit. And a plate of chips. And possibly some of us also had a little cider. (It’s hard playing tag on a kayak!)

3 The Brienz Rothorn and walking back down the mountain

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So, if we’re being kind, the weather in Brienz was changeable, which meant quite a lot of checking of various forecast sites and planning around the weather. So, on Tuesday, we took a trip to the most fabulous aqua park in Bern (@bernaqua) — all gleaming stainless steel, sharp angles and mood lighting, with 4 brilliant slides thrown in for good measure. (Huge apologies for the lack of photos. Take my word for it, though — it’s beautiful!).

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The weather was better Wednesday, so we opted for the @Brienzrothorn — a nineteenth century funicular up the mountain — for views of the Jungfrau and Eiger. The webcam told us we would be going above the clouds, so off we went for an hour steaming up the mountain, through the misty clouds and forests until finally we emerged, as promised, above the clouds. Totally amazing. There’s a restaurant with possibly the best terrace in the world up there, but we had sandwiches, so no swanky terrace for us!

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You can buy a hiking pass for the funicular, which means you have to walk one stage, and our plan was to walk back down the first stage — the bit with the views. However, as with all things family travel, things were not so simple. Isaac’s vertigo kicked in so we had to split up; the girls and Garry walked down the first stage and Isaac and I walked the second lower less vertigo-inducing stage, so between us we did walk down the whole mountain, and in fact the cloud had moved up by the time we started walking, meaning a bit more misty moodiness for them and a few more views for us.

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In fact, we loved walking down the wanderwegs from the top of @brienzrothornbahn1892 into the town. The views were to die for above the clouds, and walking through the misty cloud had a charm of its own too, especially with the soundtrack of hooting chuffing steam trains and lazy cow bells.

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I honestly could post a hundred of these Swiss mountains and lakes views, so hopefully you’ll forgive this last capture of endless fluffy clouds, blue skies and a bit of the cleanest lake in Europe (apparently).

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“Desirable 4 bed chalet for sale. Rural alpine location with far reaching views and public transport on the doorstep…”

 

 

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