Hiking in the Emmental: to the Trachselwald castle

Something incredible happened the last Saturday in May, something that threw me completely off the concept because it wasn’t planned in advance. And unplanned things can take me by surprise. And what exactly happened that was so mind-blowing? All of a sudden I had the day to myself, and I didn’t know what to do. My older son had an all-day event with his ice hockey team, my husband was coaching a game with his soccer team. And the younger kids decided to go with him. So I was left all alone – and suddenly I didn’t know where to turn. The kind souls on Facebook, where I shared this “misery” of mine, advised me to unplug and do nothing at all, or go to the spa, do some shopping, and have a cup of coffee and an Aperol somewhere in the city…but that wouldn’t be me. While I was tempted by places like Creux du Van or Les Pléiades, I ended up taking a route much closer, in the beloved Emmental and headed to Trachselwald Castle.

How to get there

The starting point is the train station Sumiswald-Grünen. There is a direct train line S44 from Bern. Alternatively, the S4 line with a change in Ramsei.

Trail

The start of the route follows the B¨anklirundgang Sumiswald, which we did last year. Follow the hiking signs – cross the road in front of the station and follow Bahnhofstrasse, then turn left and follow Grünenstrasse. At the signpost “Grünen” turn right and follow Trachselwaldstrasse for about 200 metres. Once you cross the bridge over the Grünen, the trail turns left and then into the forest. There is a steep climb up wooden steps that lead steeply upwards. You will reach the Harisberg farmhouse, where you will have views of Trachselwald Castle.

From here you could go straight to the castle, but I chose to climb a few hundred metres to Haretegg.

I turned left down the hill here. From here it was less than 15 minutes to the castle.

Trachselwald castle

Trachselwald Castle is an important monument and part of Bernese history. The oldest parts of Trachselwald Castle date back to the second half of the 12th century. In the 12th and 13th centuries, it was the seat of the Lords of Trachselwald. After the extinction of the Trachselwald lords, they were replaced by the Kiburgs subjects Dietrich von Rüti and Burkhard von Sumiswald. As a subject of the Kiburgs, Burkhard had to surrender the castle to the city of Bern in the Burgdorf War in 1383 after a long siege. Between 1408 and 1798 the castle was the seat of the local governorate.* Between 1954 and 1956 the castle was renovated and until the end of 2009, it housed the governorate of Signau-Trachselwald.

Today, the castle premises are rented out for family celebrations, weddings, or corporate events. The castle courtyard and garden are open to the public. It is also possible to book a group guided tour – a flat rate of CHF 175 for a group of up to 25 people (individual tours are not possible). More information on the castle website.

Further towards Trachselwald village – Grünenmatt – Lützelflüh

From the castle garden, the wanderweg continues to the village of Trachselwald and then on to Grünenmatt.

In Grünnenmat you can either take the train or if you want to hike further, cross the level crossing and continue straight ahead on Lützelflühstrasse, follow it for about 200 meters and then turn left onto the field road. This will narrow quite a bit as time goes on – you’ll go past the horse pens, along the stream (that’s the narrow path between the pens and the poplars), and finally along the Dürrbach. Here you will also find several fireplaces.

Lützelflüh – the village of Jeremias Gotthelf

At the signpost in front of Ramsei village, you can choose whether to continue in its direction (from here it is half a kilometer to the train station) or continue on to Lützelflüh. I chose the second option. At the signpost, turn right in the direction of Waldhauser/Egg. However, as soon as you enter the forest, you don’t follow the hiking signs, but turn left onto the forest path. Shortly through the woods and then out of the woods, you will come out between fields to what in summer is a corn maze. You continue on to the local “cultural center” Kulturmühle Lützelflüh. From here you have to walk a few dozen meters along the road in the direction of the village center. You can refresh yourself after the hike at Gasthof Ochsen or at Pizzeria Emmenbrücke. From here it is only a few steps to the Lützelflüh-Goldbach train station.

Lützelflüh is also known as the workplace of Jeremias Gotthelf (by his own name Albert Bitzius, 1797 – 1854), who was a priest, journalist, and, above all, a writer of the Realist period. In his short stories, he extolled the virtues of the Bernese countryside and advocated traditional church and family life. He thus became one of Switzerland’s most popular writers. In Lützelflüh you can visit the Gotthelf Zentrum Emmental Lützelflüh, which opened in August 2012 in the house where he lived and wrote most of his works.

Summary

  • The route is 10 kilometers long and is not suitable for strollers.
  • If you want to shorten it, you can take the train in Grünenmatt or Ramsei.
  • On summer days, you can finish the hike at the local swimming pool in Lützelflüh.

*source: information boards in the castle courtyard

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