Lovely greetings from Wilderswil

Not quite slap bang in the middle of Switzerland, but slightly more southern and westerly, lies the village of Wilderswil. Wild in nature and unwild in populus. Indeed, the dörfchen in the Bernese Highlands has a population of just over two and a half thousand and belongs to the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites. Upon researching this settlement, I found out that it counts as an urbanized village, not quite a village, not quite a town. The inventory even provides translations of the term “urbanized village” in the four official languages of Switzerland: villaggio urbanizzato, vischnanca urbanisada (Romansch), village urbanisé & verstädtertes Dorf.Wilderswil was first settled in the 7th century by the group of Germanic tribes called the Alamanni. We know this because some of their graves were found during the excavation of some land where a hotel was to be built about 150 years ago. The name comes from Old French aleman, meaning “all men”, thanks to their good old neighbours, the Gallo-Romans. They migrated from the upper Rhine region and through what we now know as Alsace and northern Switzerland, where they settled areas in which Alemannic German dialects are still spoken, including Swabia in south-west Germany.On our day of arrival we visited Lake Brienz, one of the lakes that sandwiches the city of Interlaken (etymology: between lakes and the other one being Lake Thun). Here we stretched our legs after the drive and indulged in the falafelly goodness of Lebanese cuisine.The next day, after a long and deep alpine sleep, we split off after breakfast into a ski group (party of two) and a hiking/jogging group (party of myself). I set off with the intention of running to Interlaken and back, however, after a few hundred meters I met an inviting yellow square on a tree with one side slightly pointed. The small arrow was indicating the mountain on the other side of Wilderswil and read “Schynige Platte” (etymology: shining slab/rock). I didn’t catch sight of the approximated time to hike there so set off in the direction of the shiny plateau with good faith. What began as a jog soon became a short-for-breath slog up the western face of the mountain.After two hours the detritus of leaves and rocks beneath my tread had become snow-covered, icey and hard to see. I looked up to where I imagined the clearing of Shiny Rock to be, longing to reach the peak and be able to cast my gaze back down on to Interlaken and the verstädtertes Dorf of Wilderswil. My legs were tired and so I turned back. I jogged the bits that were runnable and navigated with care those that were more precarious. Back at the junction where the funicular runs from Wilderswil to the Schynige Platte, I thought it would be quicker and easier to run down alongside the track. This plan went ok and I even passed through a cute tunnellette called Stollfluh. How quaint. I pootled on. Ah, another tunnel, this one looking quite dark, a lack of light at the end. I entered, phone-torch on. All I could hear was dripping water and sporadic cracks and crunches. Can’t believe I’m still so scared for the dark … back up the funicular I trampled until I found the original path I’d ascended hours earlier. I ran back to Wilderswil almost unscathed but for a pesky root caught my foot and I went flying, my glasses and phone too. After some groping around the forest floor I located both phone and glasses and continued what became a run for safety. The ski party that set off as two returned as two and we shared our days’ anecdotes.

Screenshot 2020-02-13 at 16.56.22
The red line is, more or less, the route up to the Schyinge Platte. I did not make it to the Shiny Slab
etymology: Stoll – post, frame or support. Fluh – rockface. Ah, yes, the good old rockface support. Very trusty and necessary.

2 thoughts on “Lovely greetings from Wilderswil

  1. Very interesting Lucy. I think the Alemanni also ended up in the north-west corner of Italy, in some of those pretty villages we visited beyond Alagna. On the southern slopes of Monte Rosa.


  2. Reblogged this on The Educated Traveller and commented:
    A cute tale from a small village near Interlaken, Switzerland – written by Lucy Simmonds (a linguist through and through) xxx


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