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An autumn tour through West-Switzerland September 2011

Friday 9th September. Bremgarten - Dittingen (Laufental)
Km 100.49
Altitude 862 m
(Bremgarten - Lenzburg - Safenwil - Olten - Oensingen - Balsthal Passwang-Dittingen)

On my way to West-Switzerland, hazardous waste landfill in Kölliken

On the emigration place in Rothrist is probably an eye witness

I cross this bridge (1863) over the River Aare in Murgethal

Palace Neu-Bechburg in Oensingen

Palace Alt Falkenstein in Balsthal


Ruin Neu Falkenstein

The weather forecasts are good for the next few days, although the sky is now still overcastted.
My tour to the western part of Switzerland begins in Bremgarten AG. The farther I cycle to the west, the more the sun shines through the clouds.
Between 10am. and 11am. I reach Rothrist and see a beautiful place for a coffee break. The remaining clouds have dissolved and the temperature is fine.
I read on a bass plaque of a monument that in the year 1855, 355 residents of this area gathered to emigrate to America, out of "Great Need".
All families are listed alphabetically, for example Bear, Zimmerli, Woodli and Ruegger, who most had 5-7 children.
Vis a Vis the column is an old Spycher (storage house) with a fountain in the foreground, probably witnesses from that time. If it could talk we would learn that times were not always as bright as today.
In Balsthal I buy something for lunch and sit on a park bench in front of the church.

Through the valley Guldenthal


Palace Neu Thierstein

I look at my map and see that I have to cross a small pass, called Passwang. I climb through the valley Guldenthal via Ramiswil Mumliswil and reach the pass at 946 meters.
600m down is the descend into the valley of Laufen.
Before I go to the campsite in the next village, I spend some time in the medieval town of Laufen.

Retrospective view into Guldental before Passwang

Saturday 10th September. Dittingen - Les Breuleux
Km. ----88.95 = total 189.44
Altitude -1666 = total --2528
(Dittigen, Kleinlützel, Lucelle, Cornol, St.Ursanne, Soubey, Saignelégier, Les Breuleux)

Buy something at the bakery for the second Breakfast in the old town of Laufen

At the junction before the Col des Rangiers

Railway Bridge at St.Ursanne

Through this gate I come to the town

Monastery Saint-Ursanne

Rest after lunch in Saint-Ursanne

From Laufen (350m) up to Lucelle (600m) is quite moderate. It is a very quiet road that partially runs through France. I read on a plaque that soldiers in uniform are not authorized to pass through this road.
I continue towards Courgenay but turn left in Cornol to the Col des Rangiers. I meet a cyclist from Holland who took a week vacation. It is his last day. He cycle to Biel and takes there the train to return home.
Just before the Col des Rangiers a street sign shows right to St. Ursanne.
At lunchtimes I reach the scenic town St-Ursanne on the river Doubs and have a break.
The town consists of medieval buildings from the 14th-16th centuries as well as an imposing Romanesque-Gothic church with cloister from the 12th-14th century

The four-arched bridge, over the Doubs was built in 1728

Now the ascend to Epauvillers begins

Soubey starting point for a canoe ride, kayaks already lying on the grass

Via Epauvillers I come to Soubey and see again the river Doubs. It is a strenuous but very nice way. In many switchbacks I cycle 500m. up to the camping in Saingelégier. On this "green" campsite there is only electricity from solar energy, 21 volts which is not possible for my electric bike. I have no other choice than to go to the next campsite in Les Breuleux. (12 km.)

Montfaucon rolling hills

Les Pommerats

Asymmetrical roof, typical for the Jura

The Jura mountains with pine forests

Sunday 11th September. Les Breuleux - Les Hôpitaux-Neufs
Km ---86.87 = total 276.31
Altitude 786 = total - 3314
(Les Breuleux, La Chaux de Fonds, Le Locle, La Brévine, Cluse et Mijoux, Les Hôpitaux-Neufs)

Jura-country at Breuleux

Many stone walls almost as in Scotland

Retrospective view on Le Lockle ^

< Mainstreet in Chaux de Fonds

The first 12 km I cycle on a quiet country road, but the main road to La Chaux de Fonds is also nearly free of cars at this early Sunday morning. Even the enormously long road through the town is quiet. In my opinion it is not a very beautiful city, large buildings on both side of the street. The clock Museum should be here in the Rue des Musées 29, but it will certainly be closed on Sunday morning.
Le Locle looks much better, specially the surrounding.
2 km. before the border, I turn left up to the Col des Roches. After only 100 to 150 meters ascend I'm on a plateau which leads to Brévine.
It is a beautiful landscape with many pine trees and meadows. Now a strong headwind blows in my face. I switch the support level higher by one level in order to equal the strong headwinds., The wind is pleasant with this heat, but I can imagine that it can be vey unpleasant in winter.

Vallée de la Brévine

Slightly rolling terrain with pine trees in

Vallée de la Brévine

In La Brévine I have a break and enjoy the midday sun. The village's microclimata is in the winter often much colder than other nearby locations. On 12 January 1987, the local weather station recorded a temperature of -41.8°C, the coldest ever recorded in Switzerland. This has earned it the nickname Little Siberia.
My path leads along the Lac des Taillères. For 15 Km. the road belongs to me, without meeting a car, bicycle or pedestrian, until I reach the main road at Les Verières.
10 km after crossing the border I pass the castle "Château de Joux".
It gets increasingly cloudy.
I want to reach Vallorbe but it's better to pitch my tent before the rain starts.
In-Hôpitaux Neufs, there is a campsite.
The rain begins at night and not just a bit, it is an enormous thunderstorm. Between lightning and thunder are only 3 sec., very near.

The Siberia of Switzerland

Town square in La Brévine

Lac des Taillères

Decorated house with flowers in

Val de Travers

Cluse et Mijoux (Frankreich)

Monday 12th September. Les Hôpitaux-Neufs - Chens sur Léman
Km. 119.24 = total 395.55
Altitude 933 = total - 4247
(Vallorbe, Le Pont, Lac de Joux, Le Sentier, La Cure, Gex, Geneva, Hermance, Chens sur Léman)


Vallorbe to the Col du Mont the ascent is only 300 meters

Lac Brenet in Vallée de Joux

On my way to the col de la Faucille

I see a cable car on 1100m.

I am about to cross a small pass, which leads down to Vallorbe.
The ascend to the Col du Mont d 'Orzeires begins in Vallorbe. I have a wonderful view of Lac Brennet from the top (1061m.), a small lake bordering Lac de Joux. In Le Pont I choose the western side of the lake, via Le Lieu. It is a nice track but I don't see the lake. Maybe the east side would have been better.
At the end of Lac de Joux I buy something for lunch, because in the next 30 Km to Gex I don't see villages on my map where I am able to shop.
The next 50 km I cycle through France, partly along the border.
Before Gex I reach the Col de la Feucille at 1320m. I see a cable railway on an altitude of 1100m. which is out of service but it will start working as soon as the first snow is falling.
On the Col I have an exceptionally good view of the Mont Blanc massive.
I cycle down from Col Feucille almost 1000m. until the city of Geneva (375m.), while my battery recharges itself a lot.
From far up I see the symbol of Geneva, the huge fountain in the lake.
Via the airport and train station I get to the lake, keep to the shore and get over the Rhône- Bridge to the other side of Lake Léman. From the centre to the French border are only 14 km.
At Chens sur Léman I stay at the campsite.

View of the Mont Blanc massif from

Col de la Faucille.

The symbol of Geneva with Mont Blanc

Tuesday 13th September. Chens sur Léman - Sion
Km. -123.25 = total 518.80
Altitude 457 = total --4704
(Yvoire, Thonon, Evian, Saint-Maurice, Martigny, Sion)

Pictures of the medieval town of Yvoire

on the France side of the Lac Leman

Yvoire at Lac Léman ^

< The church from the 13th Century is currently being renovated

Just 5 Km. north of the campsite I pass on a gem of a town, Yvoire,
a medieval village, which is decked out very nicely. The church from 1250 is being restored. Unfortunately, the descriptions of the town and church are only in French. Even young people barely speak English, German or refuse to speak it.
At the end of the Lake Léman near Bouveret I turn south and make a break in Saint-Maurice. I visit the church in which very beautiful stained glass can be seen.
In 515 King Sigismund of Burgundy commissioned monks to build a monastery.
It is the oldest monastery in the West that is operative without interruption.

Lausanne seen from the French side

A small lighthouse

It is the first time on this tour, that I have a very strong tail wind. The next 13 Km to Martigny I almost fly. I shop here and make a city tour by bike.
On my map is I see a campsite located in Saxon. It turns out that it is a private camp with weekend homes.
Despite the strong tail wind, it is no issue to proceed to the capital of the canton Valais, Sion, which I reach without much effort at 30 km / h. My electric bike supports up to 25 Km.
While pitching the tent I have to watch that nothing is blown away. After showering, the wind stops and it gets a wonderful evening. At 9pm. temperature is still 21 º C, in addition the super campground is illuminated by the full moon.



Castle St. Maurice

The bridge over the Rhone

abbey in St-Maurice>

Cascade near Martigny

Wednesday 14th September. Sion - Reckingen (in Goms)
Km. ----96.69 = total 615.49
Altitude 1200 = total --5904
(Sion, Sierre, Salgesch, Varen, Leuk, Brig, Goms up to Reckingen)

The Rhone just before Sion

Two of the four castles of Sion

I have often been in Sion, but only briefly. This time I want to have a better look. I'm climbing the mountain of the City with the castle and church (note 15% incline).
The city has some beautiful buildings. The centre of the city is luckily pedestrian precinct.
At 11:30 am I'm in Sierre and have lunch. With such beautiful summer weather, I enjoy my lunch break on a terrace.

2011 gives a very good year for wine

Left the Rhone, highway, railway,

secondary road and then the vineyards

From Salgesch until Varen it rises quite a bit

The whole family helps with the harvest

Öckslegrad (quality of the grapes) ist over 105

Salgesch is famous for its wine. Winemakers have peak season because the harvest has begun. The filled crates are loaded on a pick-up. The winemaker is pleased with the harvest. The Oechsle (quality of the grape) degree is about 105, almost too sweet to make wine, he says. He gives me a bunch of grapes for trying.
Now I cycle between the vineyards along the slope. The temperature rises on the narrow asphalt roads to 37 ° C.
Via Varen I get to Leuk. I have a beautiful view over the Rhône Valley, on left is the river, which water colour looks milky, then the main road, train track, secondary road and on the right side the vineyards.
A bench invites me to have a break and I enjoy the view and the drinks I carry with me. With 37º C. and such hilly area I get soaked with sweat.

Still working diligently

It is lunch time now (37 º)

In Leuk it is lunch break for me too

I' am 20 Km away from Brig, the biggest city of the German-speaking canton Valais. In the park of the Stockalper castle I make a few pictures.
Kaspar Stockalper built this castle 1658-1678. He gave the three towers the names; Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. He descended from a distinguished family of the Simplon Pass, whom managed the Stockalp. He secured a monopoly on the transport of goods over the Simplon Pass and the salt monopoly during 1648, so he got wealthy and became one of the richest men.
I cycle as far as possible up the valley Goms, from Brig at 650 m. to Reckingen at 1330 m.
I like the little villages in Goms. Due to the dark wood, the houses make a dark impression, but many have brick ground floors, which are plastered white, and lightens up a bit.
The campsite has a restaurant that is run by a Dutch couple. Unfortunately, the restaurant is closed today.


The river Rhône (Rotten) im Goms

Kleine Bergsiedlungen im Goms

Thursday 15th September Reckingen - Lungern
Km. ---74.76 = total 690.25
Altitude 7345 = total --1441
(Gletsch Grimsel Pass, Meiringen, Brünigpass, lounging.)

A few pictures from the Goms valley with

scattered mountain villages

The dark wooden houses leave their mark on the Valley Goms

On the right side of the street a Spycher, (storage of food)

it stands on stone slabs to protect against mice

I say good bye to the beautiful valley of Goms and pedal hard for the first part of the ascent to Gletsch. There are only some 400 meters ascend and not too steep.
Still, I have a coffee break and let my wet tent dry from the morning dew.

The turn-off Furka / Grimsel and Nufenen is in Ullrichen

How long is it still open?

In three quarters of an hour I continue the remaining 400 m. ascend up to the Grimsel Pass.
The sky is without clouds and the view overlooking the mountains is fantastic. With such fine weather it is worthwhile to cycle up to the hospice to have a cup of coffee on the terrace. Through a device I can see how high the dam will be if the Swiss people will decide to raise the dam wall to increase electric capacity.
Now comes the best part of cycling passes, 1,570 m. descend to Meiringen. There are some tunnels, which is why I switch on the light of my bike and put on my windbreaker despite beautiful weather.

Switchbacks to the Grimsel Pass. A few more turns and I'm in Gletsch turn-off Furka / Grimsel

Through Gletsch flows the young Rhône^

< The train disappears into the tunnel

View from the Grimsel climb on Gletsch. Left to the Furkapass, right into Goms

In the center the end of the Rhône glacier

This lake on the Grimselpass is called Totesee

< Looking back into the Goms valley. This tree has seen many cars go by

Now the battery recharged so much energy that the Brünigpass will be a piece of cake.
I have been once at the campsite in Lungeren. It is flat, beautiful view on the lake and good sanitary facilities. What more could you ask for!

Two racing cyclist made this picture

Grimselsee milky in color


Grimselhospiz with

small chapel

the Grimselartificial lake

Reservoir wall seen from below

You have to have a little patience

Break in Guttannen

Looking back to Haslital

The campsite at Lungerersee

Friday 16th September Lungern - Bremgarten AG
Km ----84.77 = total 775.02
Altitude 207 = total --7552

(Sarnen, Alpnachersee, Hergiswil, Luzern, Root, Sins, Bremgarten.)

Soon the sun is also on the Lungernsee

Just a little fog in Giswil

I pack the tent in a plastic bag which is dripping wet from the dew. Tonight I'll be at home and dry the tent tomorrow as it will be as well another beautiful day.
On my way home I pass four lakes and on the last stretch, I drive along the River Reuss.
It is still a bit cool cycling along the lake, because the mountains block the sun's first rays on the right side of the lake. It changes already at the Sarnersee and at Alpnachersee it's been so warm that I can have my first coffee break on a bench at the shore.

Today, good view from Mount Pilatus

The sun shines already on Sarnersee

In Alpnachstadt the cog railway station to the Pilatus is ready to climb to the top, until 2119 meters. Outside the station I see many people on a terrace who now are going to the station. They surely will have a fantastic view from up there.
There is a glass factory in Hergiswil and vis-à-vis is the store where you can buy beautiful handcrafts. It is a bit tricky to put something out of glass in my luggage bag, therefore I just only watch.
I go through the city of Lucerne; on the Reuss Bridge I have a view of the landmark of Lucerne, the Chapel Bridge.
At root I have my last lunch break of my cycle-tour trough West-Switzerland.
The remaining 30 kilometers to ride home goes in a flash.

The landmark of Lucerne the Kapellbrücke^

< This way, the cog railway to the Pilatus works in Alpnachstadt