After a two-year interruption, we decided to resume the snow-walking weekends. This time, we stayed four nights to be able to do three walks. As the time to leave got nearer, snow was lacking in the mountains. Would it just be a walking weekend? Never mind, we were keen to see the mountains. At Heathrow, one member of the group was missing but we were eventually reunited at the gate (phew!) and eight Poly Ramblers flew to Munich on Friday 13. After travelling on three different trains, we finally arrived in time for dinner at the Hotel Goldene Rose in Reutte, a small Austrian market town located on the river Lech.

On the Saturday, it was sunny and, after a hearty breakfast, we went to the tourist office to get confirmation that all paths and restaurants were open. We then set off across the valley, crossed the river Archbach before reaching lake Urisee. From there, it was uphill all the way to the top along narrow paths. We walked from 853m or 2,799ft in Reutte to the Durrenberger Alm at 1,438m or 4,717ft where we had lunch, an ascent of 585m or 1,919ft. The path was quite popular and we stopped quite often to let fitter people go past, including a couple with a cat in a coat on top of a rucksack. They walked too fast for us to take a photo. As we climbed higher, we reached the snow line and we were snow walking! We finally reached the restaurant for a well-deserved lunch of hot soup and a schnapps offered by the owners. On the descent, we put our grips on to avoid slipping. We opted to go down on a wide path which was not as steep as the path on the way up. Once back in Reutte after a 7 mile walk, we all agreed we deserved a coffee and a cake and made our way to a café where Susan, who had arrived earlier that day, found us. How did she guess we would be there! Back at the hotel, we went to the sauna to relax before dinner.

On the Sunday, we started our walk southbound along the river Lech up to the hamlet of Platten. As there was no snow in the valley, we were walking at a steady pace and I was worried that we would be back at the hotel by lunchtime. But Stuart spotted a cable car in the distance and we decided to investigate. We all agreed to go up Hahnenkamm on the gondola and, at 1,700m high (5,577ft), we were rewarded with fantastic views of Reutte and the valley. After enjoying the view, we went to the Panorama restaurant for a hot alcoholic drink. We then walked the short hiking trail around a lake. We were snow walking again! We went down on the gondola and the weather took a turn for the worst; it started raining but we are made of hard stuff and continued our walk. We walked to Wängle and turned north-eastward to reach a forest track. It stopped raining but the path was quite muddy and slippery. We continued through the forest on narrow paths until we reached a deer feeding station but saw no deer. We finally reached Frauensee lake (1,000m – 3,280ft) where we had a late lunch. While we were eating our soup followed by cake, it started snowing quite heavily but the snow did not settle. We made our way down along a quiet narrow road and reached the Lech which we followed back to our hotel. After our 7.4 mile walk, we headed to the sauna before going out to eat in a pizzeria booked by Rochelle.

On the Monday, I encouraged the group to carry snacks as I had planned a different walk from the programme and it was likely we would eat late. We took the bus to Heiterwang – passing under Highline 179 (more on this later) – which is in another valley and, seen from the top of the gondola the previous day, did have a layer of snow. We were snow walking again! We followed an icy road to Heiterwanger lake and continued along woodland before starting to go up and up along a wide track through the forest until we had to walk along a very narrow stony path. But we were rewarded by beautiful views of Ehrenberg castle and Fort Claudia. We followed a wide track down until we reached Highline 179. There had been many discussions the previous days about going across the “Longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world in Tibetan style” awarded by the Guinness Book of Records in December 2014. When faced with the fact, we all went across the 406m long bridge walking at different speed and, for some of us, avoiding looking down to the road 114.6m(376ft) below. After taking many photos, we walked through the gateway of Ehrenberg castle and went down to find the restaurant. Alas, Monday was the day it was shut so, after eating our snack while proudly looking back at the footbridge we had just crossed, we made our way to Reutte. After walking to the left of mount Sintwag and along residential street, we reached a coffee shop where we all went in for well-deserved coffee/tea and cake. We had a long session in the sauna before our last meal in the hotel.

On the Tuesday, after a lie-in, we made our way to Reutte station and, taking 3 trains, arrived at Munich airport to return home. The next snow walking trip is planned for January 2024 hopefully in Reit im Winkle (if the hotels are not all booked because of the World biathlon championship as happened this year).

In case you are wondering what snow-walking involves: we walk on paths which have been cleared of snow and are specifically designed for winter walking. We walk with our normal walking boots (no need for snowshoes) and put on small grips on our boots if there is snow or if it is icy.