It is now an established tradition for my friend Julia and I to spend a few days hiking together each September. This year our walking holiday took us to the Leutasch valley of Austria with Headwater Holidays. On our first day we hiked up the picturesque Gaistal Valley where I fell over and twisted my ankle, so to take it easy on our second day we took the cable car up to the top of the mountain, for the fabulous views from Seefelder Spitze.
Now Julia takes up the story of our third day when we joined a local festival in Seefeld, then spent an enjoyable afternoon walking on the forest trails of the Seefeld plateau. Julia writes;
Today was the day for watching the traditional Rifleman’s gathering and their parade in Seefeld, followed by a walk along the ‘Mental Power Trail’, which took us from Seefeld back to our hotel in the Leutasch Valley.
After breakfast we caught the bus from Hotel Xander to Seefeld and wandered through the awakening town, until we arrived at the beautifully situated 17th century Seekirchl (small church). The parade which takes place every year here, at the start of the hunting season, commemorates the regiments that were rallied from each village in the area to counter the advance of Napoleon Bonaparte on Austria.
Against the backdrop of mountains, brightly costumed men, women and children and a horse and carriage with a canon in tow, began to gather. The men carried flags, swords, axes and rifles whilst the bodiced women carried flowers and small cups for the fortifying refreshments in flagons on their belts, with each regiment having its own distinctive style and insignia.
Once positioned in the pasture in front of the church, dignitaries spoke to the assembled regiments, interspersed by the firing of rifles and canons followed by a Catholic mass with rousing hymns and bands playing. With my reasonable, albeit rusty German, I managed to decipher the main thrust of the speeches. The parade then set off along the narrow streets of Seefeld, where we watched each regiment pass by, playing their own stirring marching tunes on drums, vertical xylophones and wind instruments .
After the morning spent at this energising festival, we caught the bus from Seefeld to the rurally situated Wildermoosalm, just below the peak of the Brunschkopf Mountain, where our walk along the picturesque Fluderthal valley would begin. Sitting on the terrace restaurant in the sunshine, we enjoyed a cool beer and a meal of local sausage and potato salad, as well as a scrumptious Apfel Strudel which lived up to its reputation as being the most delicious in the region. With lunch over, we set off on our three hour walk on the Mental Power Trail which ended at the village of Leutasch-Weidach near our hotel.
The Mental Power Trail is designed to help hikers develop a sense of wellbeing, peace and tranquility and to ‘gather strength from the unique natural beauty of the Seefeld plateau’. The trail is one of three walking routes in the area that radiate out from the Brunschkopf Mountain, the others being the Seefeld Ski Trail using old Olympic cross-country ski routes, and the Ice-Age Trail with viewpoints and information about the rugged landscapes formed in the last Ice Age. You can find out more information about these trails in this downloadable leaflet.
On the Mental Power Trail we found 12 idyllic resting points along the way to sit, relax and contemplate the stunning views of Olympiaregion Seefeld with its mountains and pastures. The interesting information-boards gave tips about how our physical surroundings and psychological health relate to each other. We’d barely left the Wildermoosalm when we came upon the first resting place, a wooden platform with rocking wooden loungers where we’d have happily relaxed all afternoon in the sunshine with views of the lake and the forested slope.
“Let your gaze glide over the water and perceive whether it is smooth as glass, calm, rippling. Enjoy the atmosphere of the moment here at the lake and give into the calmness that you perceive rising out of the water”
On another part of the trail we came across wooden ‘tents’ under the trees, looking a bit like a child’s playhouse. The information board told us how the woodsmen of the Seefeld plateau might make shelters from branches and tree bark when they were too far from home to return to their village and needed to spend the night in the forest.
“Everyone has a different, individual notion of being protected: a beautiful, warm house in a familiar place, a location where people live that we truly cherish”
As we walked across a beautiful Alpine meadow, with a view of the mountains in the distance, we came across a seating point with friendly faces carved into the tree trunks. The theme here was the contrast between the interior and exterior perspective, with an enclosed seating place encircled by woodland creatures, in contrast to the open meadow with the peaks of the Wetterstein mountains in the distance.
‘You will be prepared to gaze into the distance. With the mountains as backdrop, the valley acquires a completely different meaning, they create a changed context for this seemingly small and secluded world’
Another woodland stop was about the force of polarity, with ‘gnome beds’ of wooden benches with a coloured metal shelter at one end. The information told us that every aspect of the world has two sides that create contrast and generate energy.
‘Lie on one of the gnome beds, relax and watch the sky above you or the forest around you and come up with contrastive pairs’
By late afternoon, we descended to the village of Weidach and made our way back to the hotel, past the geranium clad houses, feeling suitably refreshed and rejuventated from this interesting trail. Our day ended with the 5 course gala dinner that Hotel Xander offers to guests on one of the evenings of their stay. We manfully worked our way through the starter of smoked salmon with seafood roulade and ceviche, the goats cheese and pumpkin and the roast pork, but by the time we reached the desert of Salzberg Nockerl we had to admit defeat. Another wonderful day ends in the majestic Tirol.
Thanks to my friend Julia for her account of our day in Seefeld
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 2 – Hiking in Austria – the views from the cross at Seefelder Spitze in which we took the cable car from Seefeld up the ridge of Seefelder Spitze for 360 degree views over Seefeld and the surrounding valleys.
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 found Hotel Xander was 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 and to BMI regional who provided Heather’s flight to Munich.
You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey