Wednesday 9 March 2016

Winter Walking In Seefeld - Day 2

Border Patrol: Scharnitz to Mittenwald and the Lautersee

15.25 miles

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.

Image result for kaiserschmarrn

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!


  1. Hi Julian, we are planning a trip to Seefeld this summer & wondered if you could recommend any walks for fairly intermediate walkers? We are in our early 60's & can manage reasonable ascents/descents as long as they aren't too vertical! We prefer a 'circular' walk to get to see as much of the area as possible, covering approximately 10 miles a day. Hope you can help please. Thanks Fiona

    1. Hi Fiona

      Thanks for popping by!

      As we have only visited during the winter, it is a shade tricky to recommend any specific walks for summertime. However, from what we saw I would think there will be lots of opportunity for walks on the kind you are looking for. There are valleys and low hills, tougher hills if you want them - I would imagine an ideal selection.

      The bus service was also good, so linear walks are also a possibility, as is linking the surrounding villages. You can also get the bus to Mittenwald in Germany for more walking.

      A couple of long-distance routes pass through or close to Seefeld - the Adlerweg (Eagle's Way) and the Jakobsweg, one of the feeder routes to the Camino de Santiago.

      There should be good maps, and the local information is pretty comprehensive. So I reckon you'll have a great time.

      All the best, Jules

    2. Hi Jules, I meant to say how much I have enjoyed reading your blogs. We walk and take photos, but only seem to get the time (or if truth be told, inclination) to write down where we went, path followed highest point and total ascent/descent and total distance covered. All this done each evening before supper. We also visited Mayrhofen and could relate to most of your walks. In the UK we have signed up to Walkingworld which gives ideas of walks and descriptions and photos taken by other walkers. Keep up the good work! Regards Fiona