What do you do when you twist an ankle on the first day of your walking holiday in Austria? Despite my bad luck the day before, when I missed my footing in the Gaistal Valley, I was determined not to let my sore ankle spoil our hiking with Headwater Holidays. The more strenuous walks over the high passes might be out of the question, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t scale the mountain tops. Consulting the ‘1 boot’ walks in the Headwater walking notes we realised that with the cable car we could get up to Seefelder Spitze at 2221M with just a moderate amount of walking at the top. All the views with half the effort!
The bus from Hotel Xander to Seefeld took us in 15 minutes to this pretty town which was an important on the trading route between Innsbruck and Mittenwald and is a now a popular base for both winter ski and summer hiking. From the main square with its elegant church, radiated pedestrian streets with plenty of pavement cafes and shopping to entice visitors enjoying the late summer sunshine.
From the town centre we walked up the hill to the funicular which took us halfway up the mountain to the Rossehutter station and from there took the cute red cable car right up to the top at Seefeld Joch.
The cable car left us at one end of the saddle with views down towards Seefeld and we had fun trying to spot the speck of Hotel Xander in the valley beyond. On the other side of the saddle we could look down into a much wilder valley clothed in green forest streaked with brown shale where the rocks had fallen down the mountainside.
Seefeld now looked like a toy-town in the valley below, set in the bowl of the mountains. With ski lifts going up in all directions, it was obvious why this was such a popular winter ski resort.
We followed the gravel path along a ridge as it climbed towards a rocky point where I gingerly climbed over using the metal handrails. The way broadened out again along the ridge until we finally reached the the peak of Seefelder Spitze at 2221 metres, with views of the shadowy shapes of mountains layered one behind the other in the misty distance.
From the cross we could clearly see the path that the more challenging ‘2 boot’ walk suggested by Headwater would take. It ribboned across a precariously steep slope of shale with no vegetation, and nothing to stop the unwary from falling down the slope, should they lose their footing. No wonder walking poles were highly recommended for this stretch! With my sore ankle there was no way I could attempt it, and even if I’d been fully fit I might have thought twice.
Instead we took the path back down the way we had come and returned by the cable car to the Rossehutte station. We sat on the balcony of the cafe with a beer watching the people sunning themselves on deckchairs and the children bouncing on trampolines. These mountain stations are surprisingly busy and popular spots for families to come up the mountain for a bit of weekend fun.
Once we’d finished our beers we decided to try another cable car to Harmelekopf-bergstation, a stop used mainly as a jumping off point by hang-gliders. Unfortunately we misjudged the timing and took the last cable car up, giving us only 10 minutes to look around before it was time to take the last one back. We shared the cable car with two hang gliders who came in with big rucksacks and since they did not come back down with us we assumed they had hang-glided away over the valley.
From there it was straight down on the funicular and back into Seefeld where we explored some of the side streets with pretty painted buildings in the late afternoon sunshine. We joined the many people relaxing in the pavement cafes trying a delicious wild berry ice-cream in a very cute cafe before catching the bus back to Hotel Xander.
Nice as it is to have an evening meal provided as part of your package, sometimes you want to try something different, and we decided to celebrate our day conquering the mountain in a traditional Austrian restaurant called Dorfstadl that was a short walk away in Weidach. Although tucked in the grounds of the modern leisure centre, the restaurant was like an overgrown wooden cabin of the kind you’d expect to find halfway up the mountain.
We both ordered the local ‘Hugo’ aperitif of elderflower with white wine spritz and stuck to the recommendation we’d been given of venison stew with dumpling for Julia and an excellent steak with wild mushrooms for me. It felt as if the restaurant was easing into the autumn season since all the dishes on the ‘special’ menu were made with wild mushrooms. Although we were pretty stuffed, we managed to share an apple strudel, purely for the purposes of comparison with all the other apple strudels that are served in every Austrian restaurant. We were definitely on a quest to find the perfect apple strudel!
At the other end of the restaurant there was a wedding party in full swing with all the ladies in their dindls, including a white wedding dirndl for the bride. We got the full benefit of the band singing all the yodelodel songs which even Julia who speaks good German couldn’t understand since they were half in dialect.
It was fun to join in the wedding celebrations and I was pleased that my ankle hadn’t spoiled our walk. Despite it we’d scaled the mountain peaks and would have plenty more walks to explore and things to see in the Leutasch Valley.
More of our walking holiday in Austria
Day 1 – A high mountain walk (and a tumble) in the Gaistal Valley of Austria in which we set out from our hotel hoping to sample the local food served in the mountain huts of the valley but changed our plans when I took a tumble and had to hobble down the mountain.
Day 3 – Hiking in Austria – a Rifleman’s Parade and Mental Power Walk at Seefeld in which we joined a traditional parade with local regiments in colourful uniforms, then walked back to our hotel along a forest walking trail with relaxation stations on the theme of mental wellbeing.
Day 4 – Hiking in Austria – the wild Leutasch Gorge and picturesque Mittenwald in which we explored the wild, rocky landscapes of the Leutasch Gorge and the picturesque painted houses of Mittenwald, before a final lakeside walk through glorious mountain scenery.
Want to go walking in Austria’s Leutasch Valley?
Heather’s walking holiday in Austria’s Leutasch Valley was provided by Headwater Holidays – find out more about this holiday here. This 7 night walking holiday is based in Kirchplaztl at the 4 star Hotel Xander with over 450km of walking trails accessible direct from the hotel or via local bus, taxi and lifts. The holiday includes a full programme of self-guided day walks of 1 boot or 2 boot levels, depending on whether you prefer the gentle valley walks or the more challenging high altitude trails which are sometimes accessed via chair lifts and cable cars. The holiday includes detailed walking guides and maps, breakfast and dinner at the hotel, a packed lunch on walking days and flights/ transfers via Innsbruck. Prices from £669 per person.
Headwater Holidays are a leading UK specialist in self-guided walking, cycling and relaxed activity holidays that allow you to travel at your own pace and get closer to the places you visit. For more information check their Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Youtube | Pinterest | Instagram
More things to do in the Tirol region of Austria
For more information on things to do in the Tirol region of Austria visit the Tirol tourism website and follow their social media channels: Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest. More information about things to do in Austria on the Visit Austria Website and information on the Seefeld Region on the Seefeld Olympia Region Website
How to get to Leutasch Valley, Austria
Heather flew from Bristol to Munich with BMI Regional who fly 12 times each week on this route, so you often have a choice of 2 flights per day. The ticket includes 20kg checked baggage and full at-seat in-flight bar and snack service at no extra charge.
Transfers from Innsbruck airport are less than 1 hour’s drive to Leutach and included in your Headwater Holidays package. If, like us you fly into Munich Airport, the transfer to Leutasch Valley takes around 2 hours and can be arranged through your hotel or holiday provider.
Stay at Sporthotel Xander in Leutasch
Heather stayed at Sporthotel Xander in Leutasch as part of the walking holiday booked through Headwater Holidays. The hotel is a very comfortable 4 star hotel offering rooms, suites and apartments that are ideal for summer walkers or winter cross-country skiers. The other guests when we stayed at the end of August were mainly couples and a few families enjoying a late summer walking break. The hotel is used by several walking companies including Headwater Holidays.
We stayed on a full board basis, with breakfast, packed lunch and evening meal and found the food to be of a very high standard with a 4 course meal every night and a 5 course gala meal on one of the nights we were there. The hotel has an indoor pool and spa although we did not use them since we were out all day walking and making the most of the fine weather. The hamlet of Kirchplatzl where the hotel is situated is mainly residential and the nearest shops are a 15 minute walk away in Weidach. The bus to Seefeld which runs several times a day stops right by the hotel.
We think Hotel Xander is a comfortable, traditional hotel that will suit keen walkers who want a quiet and relaxing atmosphere. If you are looking for a lively atmosphere, shopping or evening entertainment then Seefeld would be a good alternative base. Check prices and book your stay here.
Read more articles about how to prepare for a hiking trip here:
Thanks to Headwater Holidays who hosted Heather’s walking holiday, to the Seefeld Tourism board who provided some of the experiences mentioned and to BMI regional who provided Heather’s flight to Munich.
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