Route: Gasterntal Nature Reserve

Area: Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

Date of walk:  16th June 2019

Walkers: Andrew and Gilly

Distance: 12.6 miles

Ascent: 900 feet

Weather: mostly sunny

On our last full day at our base in Kandersteg, we decided to visit Gasterntal. This is a beautiful secluded glacial valley and a nature reserve. Access to the valley is an adventure in itself. We booked a place on the regular minibus from Kandersteg and set off on an amazing journey which took us along a narrow track, carved into the cliff face at first, with huge drops to the side. The valley can only be entered via a narrow gorge, and traffic is strictly regulated to allotted times – it would be impossible for two vehicles to pass one another

The minibus continued along the valley track, with huge mountains looming over us on both sides. Eventually we arrived at the end of the road, the small settlement of Selden. Our plan was to walk up the valley towards the Kanderfirn Glacier, and then return to Selden and continue back down to the valley floor

There are two paths up the valley, and we took the one on the right to avoid another group of walkers who had set off at the same time as us. On reaching Heimritx we enjoyed an amazing view up to the Kanderfirn Glacier at the head of the valley, and we decided to continue a little further uphill for a closer look. After a few minutes we reached a large snowfield across the path which barred further progress. We dithered here for a while before taking the safe option of retracing our steps back to Selden

From here we started the long walk down the Gasterntal valley, which was a delight every step of the way. The views on both sides were spectacular, with waterfalls gushing down the mountainsides in various places. The path is well waymarked, and navigation isn’t an issue here. At the narrow entrance to the valley we descended steeply down the gorge, and the deafening roar of the nearby cascades made this a dramatic section of the walk

At last we arrived at the end of Gasterntal. It’s possible to take a bus back from Eggeschwand, but we walked through the village and followed the path back to Kandersteg to end a fantastic walk, one that will live long in our memories

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