HUFFING AND puffing, it is a slow but steady uphill climb, taking on board fuel to keep going.

2015-07-14 09.03.19No, not me, but the splendid old steam cog train which has been chugging between Jenbach and Achensee since 6 June 1889, when the Achensee Steam Railway ( began its scheduled service.

2015-07-14 08.28.28I have taken a taxi to Jenbach station from Pertisau, where I am staying on the third day of my trip to the Austrian Tyrol region at the Hotel Post am See with Thomson Lakes & Mountains.

2015-07-14 08.59.12I am about to experience a 50-minute journey back through time, taken by thousands of tourists every year in this spectacular region.

2015-07-14 08.49.48I love the motto: ‘Our world is fast enough – we live slowness’, for there is not much more one can do than sit back and enjoy this unique railway adventure.

2015-07-14 09.25.45Once on board, a loud hoot of the whistle sounds for our departure. Steam belches from the locomotive as we make slow progress through the Inn Valley, the landscape carpeted in green and dotted with attractive properties. The track carves through woodland, where wild flowers brush against the side of the carriages. It would be so easy to stretch one’s arm out and collect a few, but signs courteously declare: ‘Picking wild flowers prohibited during the train ride’.

2015-07-14 10.24.56It is as if time is standing still, yet all too soon we are at journey’s end at the boat pier at Seespitz on the southern shore of Lake Achensee. I join the throng of passengers as we board a boat for a trip across the gentle waters towards Pertisau. It is possible to step on and off the boat at various locations around the lake.

2015-07-14 10.49.43We leave Pertisau and disembark at Gaisalm (, the location of a popular mountain hut and our lunch stop.

2015-07-14 12.11.08It takes about an hour-and-a-half to hike along the lakeside trail which leads back to Pertisau. This morning the sky had held the promise of a lovely day, and it does not disappoint. It is a hot, windless afternoon as we follow the path, stepping over old tree roots and up and over rocky sections of the path, well-worn by generations of hikers.

2015-07-14 12.34.12We come across an open section, where a large, pebbled area shelves suddenly and steeply into the crystal-clear water. Couples laze languidly in the sunshine, ‘hurry’ being a forgotten word. Driftwood lays dormant on the stones, the skeletal appearance bleached by the sun, with bony tendrils pointing upwards as if in mock defence against the sun’s rays.

2015-07-14 13.02.43The area holds a certain abstract beauty, each bend of the trail revealing a different vista of the lake and mountains beyond.

2015-07-14 13.37.47Back in Pertisau, I shower before enjoying a couple of hard-won beers by the waterfront, idly people watching before it is time for my last dinner in this most idyllic of locations.

2015-07-14 08.28.57

  • All images © Essential Journeys/Michael Cowton


Thomson Lakes & Mountains offers a week at the 4* Hotel Post am See in Pertisau on Lake Achensee including half-board accommodation, flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck and resort transfers.

For more information on the Austrian Tirol visit For Pertisau on Lake Achensee visit