Hikers should hot-foot it to Murren in the Swiss Alps this summer. If you do, this walking-only village (cars are banned) located high in the Swiss mountains offers all the thrills and spills any adrenaline junkie would love.
Though the resort is famed as one of the world’s leading winter sports resorts (note the Inferno downhill ski race) visit in the summer to join the Thrill Walk.
Get the cable car
Start by heading up to Birg, from Murren in a cable car. There you will find a breath-taking view of Switzerland’s three famous mountains: the Eiger (3970m), the Monch (4099m) and the Jungfrau (4158m). Legend has it that the centre Monc (monk) stands there to protect the Jungfrau (young maiden) from the towering Eiger (ogre). Tell this tale to fellow travellers over a glass of wine and plate of locally-sourced cheese and bread, available from the on-site restaurant then take a selfie as you watch the clouds come down.
Switzerland’s mountains seem to be made for ramblers. But Murren has it all. They have created the Thrill Walk which starts 2970m high. The glass bridge atop the 200m steel structure down the side of the mountain invites participants to look down as they walk across its side. Be aware, creative architects have enhanced the experience by encouraging people to walk some parts with only a wire rope to steady themselves, or a glass bridge to enhance the experience. There is, of course, a protective net – but don’t imagine you’ll be looking down too much.
Shaken, not stirred
Murren locals are proud of their James Bond roots. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) was filmed in Murren and famously shows 007 (played by George Lazenby) swishing down the mountains as he escapes assassins trying to stop him uncovering activities in Blofeld’s research laboratory. In testament, you will find most WiFi passwords in Murren contain a Bond-themed code, with a wink and a smile from a local employee.
But best of all, the revolving Piz Gloria restaurant in Schilthorn, built especially for the film as Blofeld’s lair, still exists. As well as dining at the restaurant, you can pop into the Bond World 007 centre – just one floor below. Head on an undercover mission in the simulated chopper or learn a bit more about 007’s roots. It’s great for children, and if they are being honest, adults too!
Note: The Piz Gloria serve a ‘Bond Brunch’ from 8am to 2pm for £23 per person, including a glass of prosecco or non-alcoholic Rimus. Make sure you visit on a clear day to take full advantage of the view.
Hold on, for dear life
Murren has become a hot spot for adrenaline junkies looking for their next thrill. Untouched and beautiful, those in the know look no further than Murren. The mountains have become a popular spot for mountain bikers and base jumpers – who can be spotted on the Via Ferrata from Murren, starting at 1800m, leading steeply downwards to Gimmenwald.
Harnessed up, I made the unforgettable four-hour journey across the mountain, down steep slopes, past base jumpers, across waterfalls. At one stage, you are asked to make your way past The Hanger: a close on 90 degree corner you have to manoeuvre around, legs shaking and terrified of the drop below. Once overcome, you’ll be laughing. That is, until you get to the Nepal bridge crossing, so high you can’t see below but have to stop mid way to soak up the views. It’s a work out, physically and mentally but one you will never forget. I promise.
Fact: Murren’s Via Ferrara is unusual, in that it is laid on a downhill route, not up as is most common.
Rest well before your journey – it will be a long one.
Even if you’re travelling within Europe, the trip from Zurich Airport to Murren can be tiring. From the airport you take four trains and two cable cars – a four hour trip and a lot of rushing from platform to platform to avoid missing the train.
Pack everything you need.
Don’t rely on local shops, for while there may be a couple that offer efficient sports gear and novelty T-shirts, the prices are eye-wateringly expensive. This I learnt when I was pushed to buy a plain blue t-shirt – for £35.
With the clear air, it’s easy to forget that high altitudes can cause dehydration. I mistakenly only took one small bottle of water on the 4.5 hour Via Ferrara hike. I suffered that evening.