We arrived for our two week holiday on the weekend of the annual village festival. Sunday was church parade and the locals were out in force to see the village defence force on parade. The uniform was pretty, but the guns sounded very effective when they fired a salute. The two ladies at the front of the march are called Marketenderins (the ladies with the Schnapps) and carry little barrels of fortifying liquid and small cups to dispense it when needed. The Musikapelle or brass band wearing the same uniform also join in.
Mayrhofen is the terminus for the valley railway which runs up the valley from the town of Jenbach in the Inn valley. Over the weekend the railway was free to every one so we went down to the next village, Ramsau, and walked back through the woods to Mayrhofen.
Dawned wet and cloudy. I was keen to get up into the hills so we took the Ahornbahn cable lift. Here, despite my optimism, it was worse, no one was sunbathing, in fact the only people to be found were in the warm café at the top of the lift. After a couple of hours wandering around in the cloud I gave up and we settled for a hot drink in the café before we went back to our hotel for lunch. Rain on one of the tables on the terrace.
Took the valley train all the way down to the other terminus at Jenbach. Here the Zillertalbahn meets the Austrian national railway system. Jenbach station is also the terminus of the Achensee Railway. This railway is claimed to be the oldest cog railway in Europe which is still steam driven. It climbs 1,444 feet to the shores of the Achensee taking 50 minutes to cover the 4¼ miles. We pottered back to Mayrhofen, and after a stop in Ziller am Zell took the bus back to Mayrhofen.
After a short bus ride we took the Finkenberg lift up to the Penkenjoch. Here is the GranatKapelle completed in 2013. A small chapel built in an uncompromisingly modern style with steel cladding. It is dedicated to Saint Englebert Kollard who was from Ramsau, born in 1827, entered a Franciscan monastery in 1847, became a priest in 1851 and was martyred in Damascus in 1860. He was created a Saint in 1926. The chapel's design takes it's inspiration from a crystal of Garnet. The simplicity of the interior is striking in an area were most churches and chapels are in high baroque style.
We then walked over to the the site of the new Penkenbahn upper station which is due to be completed in time for the start of this years ski season. Then back through the Horberg valley.
After a short walk at the top of the Ahornbahn we were back in Mayrhofen by lunch time. We had booked a coach excursion to the Krimml Falls for the afternoon. Their claim is :
“With their impressive waterfall drop of 380 m the Krimml Waterfalls are the fifth highest waterfalls in the world. With approx. 350,000 visitors each year they are one of the most visited tourist features in Austria. A hiking trail built by the Austrian Alpine Association (OeAV) makes it possible to get very close to this breathtaking nature spectacle, affording sensational views. Enjoy the refreshing mizzle and the impressive power of the water amidst the gorgeous scenery of the Hohe Tauern National Park. “
They are certainly very impressive and the climb was lung bursting. There we people in chairs enjoying the refreshing mizzle (apparently all to do with the health giving effect of the negative ions). But their claim to be the fifth highest in the world can not stand. According to my internet searches the 10 highest waterfalls in Europe are all in Norway. If by Europe we mean the countries of the European Union (losing Norway and Switzerland) then I make Krimml the 7th highest in Europe (promoted from 68th highest). However in the world this leaves it ranked at number 200.
Still a 1,250 foot high waterfall is well worth a visit and it was carrying plenty of water with the snow melt continuing in the mountains.
A trip on the bus up the Tux valley to catch the first stage of the Gletscherbahn lift to Sommerberg. I started out with enthusiasm and we did get some clear views of the lifts continuing up to the Hintertux Glacier where skiing is available 365 days a year. The wildlife away from the skiing installations was good and we saw marmots and a chamois and a huge bird of prey. However the rain had started and the cloud closed in eventually driving us back to the restaurant at the chairlift station where they had a welcoming wood burning stove and hot chocolate and coffee. We were their last customers by the time we left at 3 o'clock.
Having got my camera soaked on Friday today I left it at the hotel drying out. We took a bus along the Alpine Road to Schlegeiss Reservoir. We took a brisk walk along the lake side to the top end of the reservoir and then returned and walked across the dam before getting the bus back to Mayrhofen.
Back along the Tux valley to the Gletscherbahn lift and up to Sommerberg. This time we set out to walk and climbed steadily up to the Tuxer Joch Haus. We could see how much snow had fallen since we were last at Sommerberg and the snow was now down to a much lower level which meant we were trudging up through a thin covering of fresh snow which was melting. Having stopped for soup at the Tuxer Joch Haus we descended through the Weitental past several substantial waterfalls including Schleierfall. I think this was the nicest walk we did and certainly was best for the flowers and wildlife we saw. In the end we descended to Hintertux village and caught the bus back from opposite the unhappily named “Bad Hotel”!
A slight case of hand-rail failure
We had been told that the Ramsberglift at Ramsau was one of the few single seat lifts left and that it was well worth the trip. I struggled to find a level walk at the top and we had been looking for a more gentle day. The trip up on the lift was magical, it was a beautiful sunny morning and the birds were singing. Apart from the birds singing and the bells on the animals there was no other noise. The feeling of flying effortlessly over the countryside was amazing. At the top of the lift we walked up to the Berghotel Gerlosstein, before returning to the Bergrestaurant Sonnalm where we enjoyed a drink on the terrace overlooking the valley before descending on the chair lift.
Today we had booked a coach excursion to the town of Rattenberg, famous as a glass manufacturing town. We toured a glass blowing workshop and then had a demonstration and tasting of Apple Strudel. In the afternoon we moved on to Pertisau on the shore of the Achensee. A number of boats operate on the lake and there is a developed shore to walk along back to Seespitz. Along the route is a newly built viewing platform some 45 foot above the lake. This goes by the local name of “Hochsteg” or high landing stage.
Wednesday 24 (21)
We took the mini-bus up the Stillup valley to the Grüne Wand Hütte (1,438 m) (which had not yet opened). We then walked down the quiet road to the Stilluperhaus where, whilst we had coffee, an old gentleman came out and played the harp. We then continued back to the Alpengasthof Wasserfall (1,127 m) and took the mini bus back to Mayrhofen.
Once each day the railway from Jenbach to Mayrhofen is operated by a steam engine, here it is being prepared for it's return journey to Jenbach
In the afternoon I went for a second trip on the Ramsberglift and then walked back to Mayrhofen. The little church at Ramsau was the home church of Englebert Kollard (see Wed 17th) and had many memorials of him. I was also struck by the newly erected wooden crosses on the grass outside. These were a new memorial to the people from the village who died in the Great War. For this area the War started in 1915 when it became clear that Italy would declare war against Austria. These newly created memorials have been created at a number of war cemeteries behind the former mountain front to mark the centenary of the war. They have Remembrance Crosses and Information boards. I was struck how the red jars for candles were reminiscent of our crosses with poppies.
In Eckartau there were 2 houses decorated with storks marking new arrivals
We again took the Finkenberg lift to Penkenjoch. We then followed the path west to Wangalm with the intention of returning along the lower path to the mid station of the chair lift. Unfortunately the path was not clear and the way marking disappeared. Despite spending some time looking for the return path we failed to find it and ended up descending by tracks to Vorderlanersbach in the Tux Valley. We were rather rushed as we did not want to miss the last bus.
The final day on our travel pass and we repeated our first day's trip. Today it was beautifully clear and sunny at the top of the Ahornbahn. We joined a procession of people on what was now a clear path leading to the Edelhutte. Half way there we turned off on to a less used path. We still arrived at the hutte to find it packed out with other walkers. We then returned to the cable car.
Saturday 27 (24)
On Saturday we were being picked up at just after 2 o'clock to return to Innsbruck Airport. We packed and then walked down the riverside to Hippach/Ramsau for one last time, where others were enjoying the river as well, before returning along the other bank to Mayrhofen and our coach.