The ‘strandweg’ is a very easy, 2.5km walk along a flat, wide, well-made path that hugs the shoreline of Lake Thun. It is a popular walk, so if you prefer relative solitude it’s probably best to make an early to mid-morning start.
If you arrive by boat you simply turn right and then it’s directly ahead along the waterfront. The train station lies at the top of Faulensee, and it is a 10 minute fairly steep, downhill walk to the lakeside. And if you choose to take the train then you must pay very close attention to the timetable. No intercity and not all local trains stop at Faulensee, and those that do only stop on request (which is no problem).
But before commencing your walk why not pause for a drink on the peaceful (lunch time excepted) terrace of the Strand hotel which faces the huddle of mountains surrounding the Interlaken end of the lake. The tranquillity is such that it can be a wrench to leave.
This year (2014) brought the 100th anniversary of the ‘strandweg’, and this was marked by the provision of new benches, adorned with some thought provoking inscriptions in German. When translated, one by the author Herman Hesse reads ‘Nature has 10,000 colours; in our heads we reduce this spectrum to 20’. Here in the Jungfrau region the truth of this lies before our eyes.Soon after the start of the walk the path bends, and the view across the lake changes, with the ‘scoop’ of the Justistal heralding the arrival of gentler slopes.
The path leads past a ‘Fischzuchtanlage’ (a fishery). This has a shallow pool replete with a variety of lake fish, which can be identified using handy posters.
But it is the shady, second part of the walk that I think provides the ingredient that helps make it special. Several years ago a contemporary art project brought some quality sculptors to work ‘in situ’ alongside the path. Their raw material was mostly the trunks of pollarded trees. Time and the elements, however, are beginning to rob these splendid works of their sharpness. One, though, appears unaffected. ‘Meeting Point’ by Marianne Lutz, a smallish metallic structure that projects out of the lake, a few metres from the shoreline is my favourite. So simple. So evocative.
Getting to the railway station and the adjacent bus station involves a 20 minute uphill walk. Alternatively you can take the bus that runs between the boat landing stage and the railway station.
Spiez castle is open from Good Friday to Mid October.
Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 5pm (6pm in July and August); Monday 2pm – 5pm