Winterwanderweg from Oberwald to Niederwald
This path runs through the snow covered fields and along lanes from the head of the Rotten (or Rhone) valley for about 20km. It's probably best to tackle the walk over two or more days as walking through snow is surprisingly tiring. The great advantage of the path is that it follows the route of the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (of Glacier Express fame) so there is an hourly service stopping at every station. If you get tired or run out of time there's a station about every 2 or 3 km. Niederwald, Blitzingen, Biel, Gluringen, Reckingen, Münster, Geschinen, Ulrichen, Obergesteln and Oberwald all have halts, and restaurants nearby if you have to wait for the train. In places the the path parallels the Langlaufloipe, or cross country skiing tracks but in other sections it strikes off on its own.
This page shows the walk from Oberwald as far as Reckingen spread over two short day's walk in February 2012.
Looking from Oberwald station up the Rotten (Rhone) valley on the way to the Furka Pass.
Snow in Oberwald is frequently up to 2 metres deep in the winter and even more where the snow ploughs have cleared it to one side. This is the beginning of the foot path outside Oberwald station.
The Winterwanderweg heads off gently down the valley towards Obergesteln, seen in the distance.
A glance back at the mountains above Oberwald village.
Looking down the valley and as can be seen, in a few places, there path had been partially hidden by blown snow.
The approach to Obergesteln with...
.....cleared snow on either sides of the streets....
... as well as over a metre on the roofs along the main road.
At the end of the village street the pink winter footpath sign is only just visible above the snow drifts.
Between Obergesteln and Ulrichen the cross country ski tracks are crossed and head off straight down the valley.
Looking back to Obergesteln village.
The broad footpath had obviously been cleared by the Loipe machines that morning and was firm and easy to walk on here. In the distance is the next village Ulrichen.
Our first day's walk ended at Ulrichen station.
The next day we returned to Ulrichen, where the rotary snow plough was out clearing away wind blow snow.
The footpath starts by this "gas lamp" with the view showing the mountains above Oberwald....
....whilst the way forward heads across the snow covered meadows towards the next village at Geschinen.
It's about 3km to.....
...Geschinen where the cross country ski tracks rejoin the path...
...and there is a small restaurant - highly recommended for a lunch or coffee break.
The path now heads towards Geschinen station...
...which had an incredible amount of snow on its roof.
The machine used for clearing the paths and tracks put in an appearance.
Beyond the station the path climbs...
... across a spur....
...before dropping down towards the lower part of the village of Münster and the station.
Beyond the station the path cut through this snow drift...
......to reach the main path on the other side of the railway. This view shows the village with its church.
The path now parallels the cross country tracks and railway as it drops steadily.....
....towards the next village at Reckingen, which is another 3 or 4 km further on.
At one stage we found ourselves walking along a road, although there is also footpath to the left on top of the snow drift.
The path then goes under the railway at a road bridge and ....
.....crosses to the other side of the railway.
As the path climbed it became difficult to walk as the snow was being blown across the hill slopes and the spindrift had made it quite difficult to walk on the soft snow.
Eventually the main road was joined on the outskirts of Reckingen.
And just to give a taste of what the valley can be like in poorer weather conditions the photographs below were taken on a much less pleasant day in a previous year.
Between Münster and Reckingen
More photos can be seen in the cross country skiing section