THERE’S AN inscription carved on a cornerstone dated 1682 but the notice (in German) appears to suggest that the structure, a ‘Schmelzofen’ (smelting furnace) may date from 1650 but the date 1715 is also mentioned, possibly referring to a rebuilding. The structure stands on the east bank of the river between Zweilutschinen and Lauterbrunnen.
There’s no trace of burning in the arched openings on the north-west and south-west sides but there is a crust of what appears to be lime around the base of the bee-hive-shaped central chimney.
The inscription on the cornerstone on the north-west side of the furnace.
It had started to rain but I was able to draw sitting at a picnic bench beneath a sheet-plastic awning. A large woodsman’s axe had been left by a covered pile of logs, kept under cover for use on a large barbecue. You wouldn’t leave one of those lying around in England!
WE WERE heading elsewhere but the view of the Lauterbrunnen valley – the valley of 72 waterfalls – as we descend on the funicular railway proves irresistible. After so much travelling yesterday, we’re ready to leave the station behind us and stroll in the sun towards the head of the valley.
It’s an easy walk, mainly along quiet lanes, from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg and the Trummelbach Falls make a spectacular break along the way. Not that there’s much to see of the Falls from the Trummelbach hotel where I made the drawing above, looking towards the top of the valley. A glacier-fed torrent from the Jungfrau and its surroundings has tunnelled its way down through the limestone, so you need to ascend by lift and hundreds of steps into the cliff to see – and hear - the spectacle.
I’d forgotten my watercolours, so my drawings today, including this one (above) from a shady bench across the valley from Trummelback, are in pen and ink. The jagged line at the bottom is the channel the Falls take, fed by the hanging valley as a gutter feeds a drain-pipe. Above the cliff-top line of trees in the distance there’s an ice-fall, or perhaps I should describe it as a small glacier. The summit of the Jungfrau is lost in cloud.
We take a lunch stop at a kiosk cafe near the Stechelberg cable car station at the top of valley, sharing a local dish; Chäschüechi, a kind of mildly cheesy quiche with a pastry base and a light egg and cheese topping, seasoned with nutmeg.
We take the cable-car up to Mürren then the railway back to Grütschalp to descend via another cable-car to Lauterbrunnen. There’s a steady flow of people leaping from the tops of these cliffs and either making their way down gradually via parachute or, alarmingly, leaving it until the last possible moment to pull the chord, giving them just enough time to slow down before they reach the fields below.
Red deer antlers in the dining room at the Bernerhof Hotel.