Klewenalp: Where lake meets mountains

From the shores of Lake Lucerne, a cable car climbs to a snowy paradise of pistes, walking trails and gigantic summits crumbling into sheer rock faces. 

It feels like a summer's day on Lake Lucerne. The limpid water twinkles; day trippers stroll the promenade. But a short cable car ride away, the scene sounds winter. From chocolate-box Beckenried, a smart lakeside town, the Klewenalp cable car climbs to 1600 metres above sea level.

Up high, a pristine white plateau is encircled by marshmallow mountains cast in watery shades of blue - Schwalmis, Risetenstock and Brisan. Their smooth summits cascade in waves against the brilliant sky, occasionally tumbling down jagged flanks. 

Our easy walk criss-crosses the snakes-and-ladders board of ski pistes, aglow with cheerful families, then winds onto a panoramic trail around the Klewenstock before tumbling into quiet woodland. The only sounds are our boots crunching on the snow and the whisper of bird life in the branches. With binoculars, we can see chamois tracks climbing out of a vertiginous ravine and up to a high point. 

After the loveliest stretch of winter walking, we approach Stockhütte. Ahead of us, the view encompasses the almost triangular Grosser Mythen and sweeps as far as Ennetbürgen, reigned over by famous Hotel Villa Honegg. A cup of tea and a slice of berry pie in the Stockhütte panoramic restaurant provides us ample opportunity to drink in the scene. And our outing isn't over before a short PostAuto ride back to Beckenried, where we admire the brilliance of a place too perfect to be true - where lake meets mountains, like a masterpiece created by an artist.  


Albie's first trip to the mountains

Albie had his first glimpse of majestic mountains on our return visit to Sattel Hochstücki. We last walked the snowy route in Central Switzerland on Boxing Day, when I was heavily pregnant. Below us then was a sea of fog.

Today, everything sparkled under an unblemished sky. I fed Albie on a bench facing a startling unfurling of spiky snowy summits, the golden warmth of the sun dusting our faces. We slipped and slided on the route through shadowy woodland, before the path exited onto a panoramic stretch around the Engelstock mountain, nipping between huge barns and sweeping meadows.

Mum treated us to tea and cake in the restaurant at the end of the walk, while Albie concluded our outing by treating us to an "up the back poonami" that had to be dealt with on the back seat of the car.  Though what a picturesque setting for changing a nappy. And our appetites are whetted for more Alpine trips with our baby boy.


Baby in the Alps: Out and about with Albie

Our baby Albert, now two months old, is tucked into his sling inside Tim's coat, and is murmuring as if in appreciation of the setting we find ourselves in. A brilliant blue sky casts a sharp canvas for jagged white summits that top out beyond lush green meadows. Birds sing and buds are blooming, heralding spring.

We are in Matt near Elm in Canton Glarus. It is only our second Alpine outing with Albie, so ease is the order of the day. After gliding up 400 metres of sheer rocky flank in the Weissenberg cable car, we find ourselves at 1,258 metres above sea level on a sun-drenched shelf.

The Weissenberge mountains are skirted by the magnificent Glarner Alps, and our one-hour circular route keeps the panorama in view as we climb first uphill to a sheltered hut used for barbecuing in the summer, then along the south-facing plateau back to the cable car station.

We gaze upon long valleys that cut between mighty mountains, and meadows studded with gingerbread-like houses, all wood and colourful shutters. The air is sharp and fresh, but the sun is as warm as on a summer's day. The locals are friendly and the ambiance, like being on holiday. Families march up snowy folds in snowshoes, while the mountain restaurants are bustling with chatter.

Albie smiles when we take him out of his sling, as if in appreciation, and enjoys a feed while we lunch in the shaded barbecue hut. Later, gliding back down to the valley, we feel sun-warmed, well exercised and completely invigorated. Albie squawks in the cable car, as if he doesn't want to descend!

But it's my 32nd birthday and we're on our way home for birthday cake - gooey and chocolatey, made by Will - so it really isn't so bad to be heading back to Zurich...

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