Val Trupchun: The accessible wilderness of the Swiss National Park

An Alpine interpretation of a moonscape, Val Trupchun in the Swiss National Park is a wilderness within easy reach. The spectacular scenery is home to red deer, marmots and ibex.

I moaned and cursed Tim on the climb up, because, true to form, I disliked the slog through woodland without a view. But oh, when we emerged... Val Trupchun. It looked like a tapestry of moss-green brushed velvet with embroidered stone pines, some clustered but those higher all alone. The green rising in a smooth semi-circle and suddenly, startlingly, giving onto the harder part, the bit that could have been crafted in leather: magnificent turrets like those on a Gothic cathedral, glinting, sparkling. On the grassland, crowds of wildlife spotters were gathered, wearing colourful clothes and training their binoculars on the skies and ridges. 

This valley in the Swiss National Park is on a large scale. There's so much space - great depths from the mountain tops to the river on the valley floor. It's like a lunar landscape, somehow. You could call it untidy, but a better word would be wild. Trees are left where they fall, some creating natural bridges that I like to imagine woodland fairies using. The valley is known for its red deer, but we spot a couple of marmots and what could be a bearded vulture. Some of the wildlife spotters seem to be pointing at ibex, but we're ill-equipped to see, given our lack of binoculars - a silly oversight.  

Like most of the Swiss Alps, Val Trupchun startles with its accessibility. The meadow is two hours' walk from the car park outside S-chanf in the Upper Engadine, and the time can be shortened if you take the tourist train up the initial stretch. But the word 'tourist' is misleading. It calls up beach arcades and streets full of stalls selling tat. Quite the antithesis of Trupchun.

Before our return leg, which rather than following the valley and river will teeter high on the opposite flank of the valley in the shade of woodland, I find a moment of calm lying on our picnic blanket watching the clouds move across the sky while Tim meanders further along the path with Albie. I listen to his excited coos as he reaches out to touch plants and grass, and think I'd be happy for this moment to last forever.

The walk 
Distance: 14km
Time: 4-5 hours incl. stops

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