Our plan for today was to catch the early bus to Scharnitz and explore a bit from there, probably looking to walk back to Seefeld in the afternoon. But what actually happened was rather different, and made for a pretty good day.
Low cloud was the dominant feature of a damp, chilly morning, and it wasn’t long before a light, drizzly snow set in that would persist all day. The cloud cover would remain all day too, with most of the tops hidden from view. In fact, the full glory of this neck of the woods at the foot of the Karwendel range would not become apparent until later in the week.
|Crossing the River Isar near Scharnitz
However, none of this was clear to us as we alighted the bus at about 8.50 and set off into the mist. Our initial plan had been to do a short circuit round Scharnitz, then explore one of the side valleys and taking things from there. But chancing upon a path to Mittenwald, we realised this would take us over the border into Germany.
Now we're quite partial to a bit of cross-border walking, so new plans were formed and off we went following a clear track into the woods. In some strange way, the area had a sense of border-land about it - I don’t quite know why that should be so, but I suppose it looked a bit like the type of setting used in scenes from a classic war film.
|In the woods, somewhere near the border
We passed a few people, but by and large it was quiet. Having crossed the River Isar, it wasn’t long before we crossed into Germany. The Isar is an interesting river: despite the presence of the Inn valley just a few kilometers south of where we stood and significantly lower, this river ran northwards, into Bavaria and on, through Munich, to join the Danube near Deggendorf.
|Evidence of woodcutters
Through the woods, there were paths, tracks and cross-country ski routes (or there would have been with more snow underfoot). We saw a deer, several squirrels and plenty of birds including what may have been a Crested Tit, but as we passed through the area of Riedboden the main signs of human activity were those of the woodcutters.
|Basically, don't do what the bears do in the woods - applies to
Bavarians, Tyrolers and Prussians. That's alright, then ....
If this sign is anything to go by, there are possibly another type of logging activity taking place in the woods as well, particularly those left by Bavarians, Tyroleans and Prussians. I guess as it seems quite specific this is some kind of stereotypical ethnic joke?
|Painted house in Mittenwald
By 10.30am, we were in Mittenwald, drinking coffee and eating cake and planning what to do next. We'd seen some info boards on the way into town that indicated a wealth of nearby footpaths (as we were now in Germany, out Austrian map didn't show those paths). So we decided to buy the local winter walking map, and after a quick consultation we set off for the Lautersee.
|On the way up to the Lautersee in the snow
A couple of kilometres of steady climbing brought out at the lake. In summer, this would probably be a favourite place for families to relax and swim. In the winter, it was a much more bleak-looking affair, and although we weren't alone, there was an exaggerated quiet about the place.
|Bleak winter scene looking across the Lautersee
We did a circuit of the lake, punctuated by a stop for lunch and a look at a small chapel. Then we retraced our steps to Mittenwald where we decided to have a little look round.
|Painted church in Mittenwald
It's a lovely little town; neat, with well-kept streets, tidy parks and lots of cafes and shops. Many of the buildings are painted, and the town is famous for its violin-making.
|Violin-maker's shop window
There are plenty of custom-made instrument shops, and a statue to one of the most revered practitioners stands in front of the striking church.
|Statue of Matthias Klotz, violin-maker from one of the
main instrument-making families in Mittenwald
After a good nosy round, it was time to head back to Scharnitz. We chose to follow the same route back as we had used this morning, through the woods via Riedboden. On the way back, we came across this sign for the Jakobsweg. It's funny how things are all connected: the Jakobsweg is one of the feeder routes in central Europe for the Camino de Santiago, a route we completed last year. It seems odd picking up a path that in several thousand kilometers will reach north-western Spain.
|How strange? The Jokobsweg is one of the main central
European feeder routes of the Camino de Santiago
The snow was still falling, but rather wetter now than earlier, and we were quite soggy by the time we reached the bus stop. A quick check of the timetable showed we had three quarters of an hour available to drink coffee in a nearby cafe.
Dinner was a Tyrolean Buffet: lots of lovely local food, including one of our absolute favourites – Kaiserschmarrn! Thick, chopped pancakes with icing sugar and either stewed apple or plum jam. It’s all rather calorific, but decidedly delicious – and just the thing after a long day’s walking in the cold and snow!