"April is the cruellest month......"

Posted on: 09 Jun 2019

Especially when it keeps breaking its promises and dumps more snow on us........ But tempi passati, it's almost June now, so I'll try to edit it a bit. You probably know my local area almost as well as I do by now, I've written about it so much, so no need to detail every outing in the Bireggwald, along the lake, round the Horw peninsula, etc., though they're all lovely, and I know how lucky I am to have them on my doorstep. (The Bireggwald has been a particular joy - watching the seasons change, from the leafless monochrome of winter, through the first misting over of green, to full summer lushness; and the sequence of flowers, from cheery coltsfoot, through drifts of wood anemones, and then wood sorrel - even the snow couldn't hold them back.) Sometimes I run, sometimes just walk; sometimes alone, sometimes à deux; often it's not about speed or effort, it's just about enjoying it. One run can stand as illustration: a lovely 8 kms round the Horw peninsula on a perfect spring day; zillions of dandelions - the fields were completely yellow with them; a cherry tree alive with bees; my mood as sunny as the day - a real pleasure to be out.

So on to a few outings further afield, the first of these only as far as the Meggerwald. It was cold, and sprinkling with rain, but the wood anemones  were so dense, they looked in places like snow - worth it just for that.

The next one, though, was new territory, in the hills to the west of Biel. J had a business meeting in Biel, so it seemed a good opportunity for a couple of days away. I sorted us out some airbnb accommodation in the Old Town, and arranged to meet J at Lago Lodge, the backpacker hostel where the Bielersee Ultra starts. (Actually in the wrong direction from where we needed to go, but the only place in Biel we knew - and besides, I wanted another honey beer from their micro-brewery!) It didn't work out - his meeting overran, and I was left making my honey beer last an hour and a half! But finally he telephoned, and said he would meet me outside the station. This worked out okay, and so did our navigation across the city. The owner of the flat was not yet home when we arrived, so we had to wander round a bit more, locating a potential evening meal, and taking shelter from a sudden downpour of rain under a shop doorway. A second attempt was successful, and after a quick chat with our friendly host, and seeing our room (which was on an upper floor of a building dating originally from the 14th century - quirkily characterful, with its sloping floor, non-perpendicular walls, and view over an inner courtyard), we went out to eat.

The next morning was promisingly sunny, and after breakfast in a nearby coffee shop, off we set on the walk I had planned. This should have started at the entrance to the Taubenloch Schlucht (a gorge), which we could easily have reached by bus - but J had other ideas. We don't need a bus, he said, we can walk there. Hmmm........ it turned out to be rather further than he thought, and seriously uphill at the start (some of it up long flights of steps), with a corresponding serious downhill at the end, plus a bit of getting lost in the middle. We discovered within minutes that we were too warmly dressed, and had to tie surplus clothes onto the rucksack, as there wasn't enough room inside it. But several unplanned kms later, we found our way into the gorge, and the next few kms were really very pleasant, meandering along narrow paths and walkways beside the river, with high cliffs towering overhead.