Flumserberg: Maschgenkamm to Panüöl

The girls and I went to Flumserberg in Switzerland for a few days during the February half term holidays so we could have a go at skiing. I was fairly confident I wasn't going to be that keen on the actual skiing part, but was looking forward to enjoying the Alpine scenery and doing a bit of walking while there.

In addition to the ski slopes, at the resort a number of walking routes are maintained, many of which connect with some of the cable cars and chair lifts, which makes for a fun round trip. We took advantage of the "Heidi Wanderticket" which you also get a 50% discount on if you're staying at a hotel in the area, and for CHF 18.50 (with the discount) gave us unlimited use for the day of two of the cable cars and two of the chair lifts, all of which connect with various walking routes.

On the first day we took the cable car from Tannenboden up to Maschgenkamm, one of the highest points of the resort, and then from there walked to Panüöl, with a lunch stop near the start of the walk at the mountain restaurant Maschgenlücke.

Earlier in the day we'd got the train from Zurich to Unterterzen (at 425m), took a cable car from there up to Tannenboden (1400m) and checked in at our hotel in Tannenboden. We then took the B1 cable car from Tannenboden up to Maschgenkamm (2020m) where we started today's walk.

There is a restaurant at Maschgenkamm, and it was already around 1:30 by the time we'd got here, so we could very well have eaten lunch here before setting off, but I was keen to press on to try the smaller, cosier and more old fashioned looking restaurant at Maschgenlücke just a few minutes walk away.

This first part of the walk was actually a little daunting, both because it wasn't obvious how to leave Maschgenkamm on foot - ski resorts are of course generally designed with skiers and snowboarders in mind - but after asking around we eventually found a very modest signpost directing us to a rather unassuming door, leading out from the spot where we got off the cable car.

Once we actually figured out the correct way to leave the complex, we had a fairly steep and slightly hair raising walk down a ridge to Maschgenlücke. This was by far the most difficult bit of the walk, and beyond Maschgenlücke there weren't any particular steep or precarious bits.

After a few minutes the reassuring sight of Maschgenlücke at the bottom of the little ridge came into view - it's only really a few hundred metres away from Maschgenkamm but it had a feeling of being very remote and isolated, and I still couldn't quite get used to the idea of somebody building a small restaurant like this at the top of a mountain in such snowy conditions.

Inside Maschgenlücke had a very cosy, pubby sort of feel, and was definitely a lot nicer than the self service canteen of Maschgenkamm. The staff were very welcoming and friendly, and I can highly recommend their rosti, which was very good.

As we were leaving the resident dog came to escort us off the premises. Rather charmingly he picked up a snowball in his mouth and dropped it at Erika's feet, seemingly motioning for her to play catch with him. In fact it looked for a while like he was going to join us on our walk.

I had been determined not to succumb to ugly modern plastic outdoors clothing for my visit to the Alps, and remained steadfastly tweed clad during our two mountain walks. We were fortunate with the weather on two of our three days in Flumserberg, so the temperatures hovered just above freezing, with no wind to speak of, and with the blue skies and sunshine psychologically it felt much warmer than that. A tweed suit with an occasional scarf was a completely viable option.

It was about a 45 minute walk from Maschgenlücke to Panüöl and I took loads of photos along the route - it's hard to pick just a few of the best as they all looked great to me - this kind of scenery is like another world from what I'm used to when out walking.

Thankfully the route was very well marked, with pink and white poles along the side of the path, and the path itself seemed fairly well trodden, although we didn't meet many other walkers along the way.

The path was also occasionally adorned with wintery interest - shelves of snow and icicles.

Sunglasses seemed slightly ridiculous given the snowy conditions but of course the sun can be very strong on the mountain tops - we had also put suncream on earlier. Despite these measures I did end up with a surprisingly red face by the end of the day.

The path doesn't go in a straight line from Maschgenkamm to Panüöl meaning it diverts away from the ski slopes and the chair lift. Added to the fact that not many other people were out walking gave it a wonderful sense of isolation and stillness in a landscape which, other than the poles marking the route, was surely largely untouched by man.

Eventually we arrived at Panüöl. There's another restaurant here - there seems to be no shortage of them around the Flumserberg resort - and we considered stopping off here for a quick drink but decided instead to press on as there was more exploring to be done!

From Panüöl we took the chair lift back up to Maschgenkamm,  a somewhat more airy and refreshing means of travel than the cable car! This was quite fun, albeit ever so slightly scary the first time.