For a week we swapped our hills for the rather more impressive peaks of the Austrian Alps.
Hiking with a ‘bump on board’ was much harder work than usual, but we racked up some decent miles through the mountains each day of our stay, replenishing ourselves with the substantial hospitality of the Tyrol; from soups to strudel, and easing out tired muscles with a swim in the hotel pool.
We certainly enjoyed our week of fantastic scenery, good food and fresh mountain air. Usually our summer trips to the Alps tend to be later in the season, long after the meadows have had their second cut of the summer, and I was thrilled by the rich variety of wild flowers that accompanied our walks. From little alpine alchemillas to swathes of purple orchids, bistort and burnet to wild aquilegias, the hills truly were alive, and not just with our occasional bursts of song.
We found several lakes high in the mountains, incorporating a circuit of the biggest in the locality on one of our longest hikes while the sun’s heat was tempered by broken clouds, before following a meandering river through the woods back down to the valley floor far below.
Throughout our stay, mountain huts along the paths provided us with welcome refreshment when the heat and distance threatened to overwhelm us, although there was one hard day when we finally reached the top of a particularly demanding ascent to find that our planned lunch stop was not open for business for another week. It was another long hour until we reached an alternative and a well-deserved rest and refuel!
Of course, we happily let the mountain lifts do the hardest work to give us a head start on the some of the longest, steepest ascents, before picking up the routes higher on the mountains.
We returned to find our own garden billowing with lush growth and new colour; it’s always a surprise how much changes in just a week away. The previously modest stems of cardoon buds are suddenly towering some eight feet above the ground, almost matched by the giant scabious also in bud nearby, and ornamental grasses have shot up and erupted into plumes of flower. This year everything has a distinctly shaggy and laid-back look, particularly in the vegetable garden, as the weeds are quick to take advantage of a lighter hand.
We’ve quite a bit of work to catch up on; not least keeping up with the strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and cucumbers which are ripening almost faster than we can harvest them. Apologies for my recent lapse in posts: things have been rather busy for us of late, hopefully the next month or two should be a little quieter. If I turn a blind eye to some of our own, ahem, wild flowers, anyway…