HUFFING AND puffing, it is a slow but steady uphill climb, taking on board fuel to keep going.
No, 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 (www.achenseebahn.at) began its scheduled service.
Once 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’.
It 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.
We leave Pertisau and disembark at Gaisalm (www.gaisalm.at), the location of a popular mountain hut and our lunch stop.
It 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.
We 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.
- 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.