If I were to use the words of a well-known American travel blogger from whom I began to learn to blog, I would describe our recent hike as “absolutely epic, gorgeous, ultimate” or something like that. But since I’m who I am *, I’ll just tell you this: just luck for the weather and a place that will never disappoint in the choice of the trip (and that’s the Bernese Oberland), and it’s kind of epic by itself 🙂
*and if you don’t know much about me yet, you can find out here.
Bänkli-Rundweg aka the Bench loop trail
What I like about Switzerland is that you can take hundreds of trips here that do not require the use of any mountain transport. Which is quite an advantage at a time when none are working (either due to coronavirus or off-season). One such place to get to is the Bernese Oberland. For our trip, we chose the village of Aeschi bei Spiez, where the “Bänkli-Rundweg” route begins, a loop trail with 14 benches that provide not only a moment to relax on the 8-kilometer route, but also beautiful views of Lake Thun, across the lake to Beatenberg and Niederhorn and on the other side to the Kandertal valley and the chain of peaks that ends with the majestic mountain Niesen, which is called the “Swiss Pyramid” due to its characteristic pointed shape.
The village of Aeschi is located above Lake Thun. From the A8 motorway, take the Spiez exit and then follow the signs to Aeschi and drive to the village center. Here you will find a car park by the indoor pool with ample parking. Parking fees are obligatory every day, 1 hour is free, 2 hours cost 1 franc, 3 hours 2 francs, 4 hours 3 francs.
Aeschi is also easily reached by public transport. Take the train to Spiez, then the postal bus (lines 61, 62, and 66) to the Aeschi, Post stop.
Start of the route
The Bänkli-Rundweg route is marked with a green sign on a white arrow. We headed down the hill past the indoor swimming pool in the direction of Mülenen. Right at the first signpost, we turned left (across the pedestrian crossing that you see in the photo).
A beautiful diversification came after two kilometers of hike, where we came across a farm where llamas and alpacas are bred. The Rundweg even leads through the pasture (surprisingly, I was much less scared than when we have to cross the pasture where the cows graze on our trips).
As soon as we left the pasture, a bench awaited us, from where a wonderful view of the Kandertal valley opened up. Somewhere in the distance is Adelboden, where we go skiing and which is also a great place for hikes.
Along the forest we came to Aeschiried, which is in the middle of the route. If you want, you can end your hike here and return by bus back to Aeschi. But we kept going. The route now led up a steeply rising Allmigässli street. Since our boys decided that it was best to go backwards, because you can’t see which hill to hike up, we could enjoy the views of Niesen.
Surprisingly, the direction of the Rundweg was on the next signpost to the right and also to the left. Since the way down the hill was to the left, the children chose this one. We probably missed the highest point of the hike and also the “iconic” bench “Niesen-Bänkli”, which is on all brochures. But, so what! I’d rather have happy kids running down a flowering meadow than an Instagram-perfect photo, right? 😉
We soon reached the Tannenmattli quarter. We passed houses of various shapes and sizes, and we were sighing in admiration. Because having a cabin here would be a blessing! Absolutely luxurious views of Lake Thun and the surrounding mountains, simply Switzerland like in a picture book at your fingertips. Shortly afterward, we came to a bench that has an accurate picture of Lake Thun as a back.
From here it was only about a mile to the parking lot in Aeschi.
You can find details of the route, including the elevation, on the Tourenplaner website of Wandermagazin SCHWEIZ, only we took it in the opposite direction.
And if you feel that you have already read about Aeschi on my blog, your guess is absolutely correct. A year and a half ago, we completed a winter route here, the magical Christmas trail Weihnachtswäg.
And we have also completed one “bench” route before – Bänklirundgang in Sumiswald.