There were supposed to be 13 Poly Ramblers on the snow walking weekend to Germany but, unfortunately, Danny could not make it because of water supply problems in his brother’s flat. After arriving at Munich airport, we travelled on two trains and one bus to reach Reit im Winkl for the princely sum of €8.95 – a bargain! Two were staying in a guesthouse and the other 10 in two very comfortable apartments. After settling in, we went to the supermarket to buy supplies for breakfast and walked to Zum Eichhof restaurant where we had an excellent dinner.

Saturday was glorious, sunny but very cold – especially in the shade. We were frozen while waiting for the bus to Seegatterl where we took the very busy Winklmoosalmbahn cable car. We warmed up slightly when walking in Austria in the sunshine on an undulating path specially prepared for walking and cross-country skiing. But it was cold in the shade of the pine forest. Lunch was in busy Winklmoos-Alm back in Germany. After lunch, we walked back down to Seegatterl, first on a wide path where we were overtaken by skiers and then a narrow track without skiers. The bus had just arrived when we reached the end of the walk so no waiting in the cold this time. 7.8 miles/13.6km – 186m/675ft ascent- 584m/1916ft descent. There was no water in the flats when we came back. I phoned the owner who said the water would be back within 5 minutes and it was. We had tea/coffee and chatted before a nice dinner at the restaurant Dorfratsch. -14 degrees C that evening.

Sunday was also sunny. From Reit’s St Pancras Church, we went up to Bergkirchlein chapel and stopped to admire the view of the valley and the mountains. We continued on an undulating country road to the Kronbichler chapel after which we entered Austria. We stopped at Peternhof chapel to light a few candles and to watch all the hot air balloons in the distance. Passing a very posh hotel, we then followed a road to the bottom of the valley and left Austria. We joined a busy cross country skiing track after crossing the river Lofer and walked through a large area with many cross-country skiing tracks, so we needed to be careful where we walked in order not to be in the way. We were hoping to have lunch in Blindau but the restaurant was shut. We walked to a nearby very busy cafe and queued for a while with many skiers to have lunch. We continued our walk through woods and countryside and among more cross-country skiing tracks before reaching Reit. 13.4km/8.4 miles – 269m/883ft ascent – 270m/886ft descent. We stopped for a hot drink in a cafe and went back to our lodgings to relax. Dinner was at Zirbelstube. It was not as cold as the previous evening: only -8 degrees C.

Monday was a busy day. It was cloudy but still dry. We took a minibus to Blindau and then transferred to a smaller minibus equipped with chains to go up the steep mountain track to Hindenburghutte (1200m/3937ft). There, we walked the Premium Winter Hiking Trail certificated by the Deutsches Wanderinstitut. We were joined by Hilfriede, an 81-year-old German lady we had met while waiting for the bus. We walked on the Hemmersuppenalm which, in the summer, is a quiet area of alpine pastures. There were beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Back at the Hindenburghutte, we had a quick lunch before walking back down the steep track to Blindau we had earlier climbed on the bus. We had our first injury in 13 trips: Mike slipped and sprained his thumb but was looked after by 3 dedicated Polyramblers. 11.3km/7 miles – 166m/544ft ascent – 659m/2165ft descent. Back to the flats, we had a quick cup of tea before going out again, this time on a walk organised by the tourist office – in German but some understood the gist of it and others found a kind person to translate what the guide was saying. He told us the story of Reit and the names of the mountains around the valley. Reit is famous for its winter sunsets, but it was still cloudy when we did the walk so no sunset. The walk ended with a concert of alphorns. For our last dinner in Reit, we went back to Zirbelstube. When we came out, it was raining slightly but the ground was like an ice rink, and we made our way back to the flats very cautiously.

I was going to lead a short walk before leaving Reit im Winkl on the Tuesday, but it was raining and sleeting, so it was cancelled. Instead, we had a look around the shops and had coffee and cake. Our return journey to Munich and then London went very smoothly. Bye snowy mountains; till next year.

Dominique.   Photos by Ida, Rochelle, Jackie and Gillian

Just to give you an idea where we went snowshoeing and snow-walking over the years:

1 2008 Kufstein – Austria
2 2009 Mittenwald – Germany
3 2010 Grainau – Germany
4 2011 Dobbiaco/Toblach – Italy
5 2012 Oberstdorf – Germany
6 2015 Bayrischzell – Germany
7 2016 Fussen – Germany
8 2017 Oberammergau – Germany
9 2018 Fischen – Germany
10 2019 Biberwier – Austria
11 2020 Scharnitz – Austria
12 2023 Reutte – Austria
13 2024 Reit im Winkl – Germany