Slowly, slowly, slowly in La Punt Chamues-ch: Upper Engadine, Switzerland

It's funny how days that are planned to be easy rather than spectacular can be the most memorable of all, as we find out on holiday with a toddler in La Punt Chamues-ch.

La Punt Chamues-ch looks like a chequerboard from above. You can see it as you descend the steep Albula Pass: stocky houses in neat oblong arrangements rippling out from the River Inn. Woodland of stone pine and larches clings to the edges of the village, and Piz Mezzaun soars above - mighty but not imposing, for the Upper Engadine valley where La Punt sits is broad and U-shaped. The mountains are formed in meringue-like slubs. Like those fold-out greetings cards, one peak is layered on top of another, and where one ends another springs into view. Always above, huge, huge skies. The valley bottom is broad and often cloaked in mist on a September morning, so horses grazing in the meadows appear ghostly. Splicing the valley in two is the railway, serviced by the cherry red Rhaetian Railway trains.  

It's to this scene that we awaken every day in our Airbnb on the edge of what is a cross country loiper in the winter. Our windows look down the valley towards Zernez, the gateway to the Swiss National Park. From the other side of the house, it's uphill towards St. Moritz. I enjoy watching the light play on the mountains, mauve shade interplaying with silver. It casts definition on the pine trees as if they are little painted wooden models. In the evenings, there are pastel tones and an apricot sky. We easily settle into a daily routine of a morning walk and and afternoon of yoga, reading or cooking while Albie naps. 

We're spoilt for choice with local walks on the days we don't venture out into the mountains. On the edge of the village is a woodland trail that rises, falls and winds between stone pines, rowan, larch and birch trees. There are berries galore - my favourites, the red-and-white gemeiner Schneball (literally translated: evil snowball) - and wooden sculptures, too. One - a bear reclining in a leisurely pose - tickles me, because I had been wondering about the chances of encountering a bear in this wild terrain. 

It's nice to walk along the valley. One day we mosey to Madulain and then Zuoz. With 250 inhabitants, Madulain is the region's smallest village. It clutches the banks of the Inn, where it is overlooked by the ruins of 13th-century Guardaval castle. We find our way to the farm shop at Engadin River Ranch and pick up local honey and, as you do when you're in the region, homemade nut cake. Look up and before your eyes meet the sky they settle on bright rowan berries and Baroque spires - upward scene of the Engadine. The sgraffito that adorns many of the buildings is cheerful and childlike in its colourful broad-stroked simplicity.

We later stop to paddle in a shallow section of the river and enjoy that fizz of energy that comes from 'kneippen', the act of submerging your feet in cold water that is said to stimulate circulation. Further on, Zuoz, the region's former capital, is smart and well-heeled, composed of a cluster of patrician townhouses and presided over by the international school Lyceum Alpinum. Things weren't always so peachy: in 1499 locals burned down the village rather than let it fall into the hands of Emperor Maximilian I. We meander the cobbled streets before boarding the train to return to La Punt.

Another day we set out for Samedan, direction St. Moritz, because the path, which is a loiper in winter, runs right beside the house and we can take a pushchair along it. The sky stretches above from one meringue queue of mountains to another on the opposite side of the valley. I take in the colours: rosebay-willow-herb pink against the whirling ice blue waters of the Inn and the ombré flanks of the mountains. Samedan is deeply charming, the sort of place you might find on an out-of-the-way stretch of the Mediterranean. Shaded avenues of smart, shuttered townhouses open onto mountain flanks bathed in sunlight. 

But the moment I'll remember most of all is Albie's palpable excitement as we board the train in Samedan, the hub of the Rhaetian Railway. The buzz of the station around us, him cat calling every time a train passes through, clickety-clack. Then in the carriage, his face pressed up against the window, his mouth stretched into a Cheshire cat grin. 

La Punt is a great base for days out like these:

Hiking in Val Fex

Muottas Muragl

Morteratsch Glacier

Val Roseg

E-biking from La Punt to Sils

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