01690 720214

'Rambling' in the Alps

Martin Chester, British Mountain Guide for Plas y Brenin

Senior Instructor Martin Chester runs you through what attracted him to walk in the alps and why you should think about joining us, trekking in the Alps this year.

 

 

Stunning views from the high alpine pathwaysMention the Alps and it conjures up a chocolate box image of dramatic peaks, jumbled glaciers and rocky towers. But the Alps are not just for mountaineers with summit aspirations. If you want all the views, from the security of well worn trails, then some of our Alpine walking holidays could be for you.

Since the Victorians became obsessed with exploring the Alps, there have been countless tales of daring do from the heights. In fact, the majority of Victorians enjoyed the Alps for the restorative properties of the fresh air, in times of smog and pleurisy at home. Many of the most famous resorts were established as centres for rest and recuperation - with fresh air, and natural thermal waters.

Of course, communities have thrived amongst the Alps for centuries, farming the land. The meadows are riddled with an historical network of trails and paths, from one valley to another, crossing high alpine passes. Many of these paths would have been herders or drovers tracks from times gone by - historical trade routes from one valley to the next.

Walking from one mountain hut to anotherTravelling from one hut to another, these routes lead from meadow to pass with an ever changing vista. The walkers version of the Chamonix to Zermatt high level route follows one of the most famous mountain journeys. Travelling below the snowline on good trails, you get all the views of  Switzerland's most majestic peaks, yet unencumbered by the chattels of mountaineering.

There is a common misconception. An "Alp" is not necessarily the pointy bit at all, rather a high pasture. Above the villages, where the glaciers have long since receded, they have left sleepy hollows of fertile land, where farmers tend their herds amongst meadows of wild flowers. This is the real beauty of the Alps - the culture, the history and tradition, and the bio-diversity. Mountaineers may rush through - in such a hurry to get absorbed by the climbing - and to access the huts at the base of climbs. But what if you were to stay in these huts, to savour the views from these meadows? Passing calmly from one hut to the next, peaks tower above, the jagged rocks and snowy passes contrast with the rolling greenery. Yet here, you can soak up the warmth of the sun, pause for a drink at a crystal clear fountain, relax in the company of birds and bouquetins.

 

High Alpine PathwaysThese Alpine huts have their own history and tradition as well. Many were originally set up to provide shelter for travellers on their journey across a high Alpine pass. Some, like the lofty Vignettes hut, were monasteries. Others would have started life as a high summer dwelling for drovers and shepherds. By staying up in the huts, you can savour this experience day after day, without the need to return to the valley (and without the need to burden yourself with a heavy sack).

These cosy retreats in the mountains are often the pride of their guardians, and many have been in the same families for years. Here they make a living from the passing travellers. The modern huts are a far cry from their humble beginnings, but they are still fairly basic: Amazing food is provided from a tiny kitchen; comfortable mattresses in shared dormitories; some even have duvets! Everything you need to spend a comfortable night, in an otherwise inhospitable place.

 

The flora and fauna you come accross in the Alps are unique and beautifulSo if you'd like to immerse yourself in the rich history, culture and wildlife of these wonderful mountains - follow in the footsteps of shepherds and travellers - then think about hut to hut walking in the Alps this summer. See our "Snowy Peaks and Passes " course in the new brochure, or click on the link below for more details.

Find out more about our Snowy Peaks and Passes Course here

 


More articles written by our kayak coaches and outdoor instructors


Got A Date Available - Need An Adventure To Match?

Find out what's going on at the National Mountain Sports Centre between any date range on this handy new search page



Adventure Sport
Summer Camps (Age 12-17)

Summmer Camps For Young People Aged 12-17Young climbers, mountaineers, paddlers and mtb riders aged 12-17. Develop your outdoor skills with our top coaches on one of our residential summer camps.


ENVIRONMENT SYMPOSIUM FOR MOUNTAIN LEADERS

Environment Symposium For Mountain LeadersThe 2017 Plas y Brenin Environment Symposium for Mountain Leaders and Mountaineering Instructors wil....



FAST TRACK INSTRUCTOR SCHEME
OPEN DAYS

Fast Track Instructor Scheme<br/>Open DaysJoin us for a free information day on 18th September and find out how the Fast Track Instructor Sche....



PEAK PERFORMANCE FOR PLAS Y BRENIN PADDLING TEAM

Peak Performance For Plas y Brenin Paddling TeamWe are delighted to announce that we've launched an exciting new partnership with kayak clothing man....



BMC WOMEN OUTDOORS WEEK 5-15 AUG 2017

BMC Women Outdoors Week 5-15 Aug 2017Come and get active for the BMC's Women Outdoors Week here at Plas y Brenin. We have talks, activiti....



SCOTLAND COURSES 2018

Scotland Courses 2018The dates for our 2018 Scotland Courses have just been released. So if you are looking to gain more ....



What's On In Our bar?

Our friendly and lively bar is open to the public. From talks and lectures to film nights and live music, there's always something going on. Find out what's coming up next here



Adventure Sport
Summer Camps (Age 12-17)

Summmer Camps For Young People Aged 12-17Young climbers, mountaineers, paddlers and mtb riders aged 12-17. Develop your outdoor skills with our top coaches on one of our residential summer camps.


Enhanced Learning Credits

Enhanced Learning CreditsThe Enhanced Learning Credit Administration Service offers funding for armed forces personnel. Plas y Brenin is able to accept ELCAS funding for a few specific non residential courses.




Weather Forecast, Tides and Surf Conditions

Find out what the weather's doing in North Wales over the next five days.



Review your holiday or course here

Review Your Course
Help us by reviewing your holiday or course here


Adventure Map


Working alongside UCLan
to educate
outdoor professionals

University Of Central LancashireFind out how we are working with one of the country's top universities to develop lasting careers in the outdoors.