I THROW back the curtains to reveal a grey day in Seefeld. After yesterday’s heat here in the Austrian Tirol, with temperatures registering around 29degC and with little or no wind to speak of, it actually comes as a pleasant relief.

DSC_5693Low cloud hangs below the peaks like fluffy duvets, and the light drizzle cannot really make its mind up… should I, or shouldn’t I, let the heavens open?

DSC_5700Take that as a ‘no’ as we head by taxi to meet up with our nature guide Anton Heufelder for a walking tour of the Verein Alpenpark Karwendel, a protected area brimming with flora and fauna.

DSC_5706The route leads us off the quiet road through light brush to the stoney bank of the River Isar. The flowing waters still retain the colour of ice melt as it flows over the bedrock.

DSC_5708DSC_5709Colonies of stone cairns dot the landscape, some erected by passing walkers, others by visiting sherpas, their prayer flags presenting a calmness as they lay strung in the trees.

DSC_5710The area is home to the hazel spruce, and is deplete of grazing animals, allowing the flora to flourish.

DSC_5720We pass swathes of colourful alpine flowers; beds of blackberries and redberries lay undisturbed; and we note several orchid varieties nestled in the undergrowth. We pass a large gravel works, where bed load is removed from the Isar and processed to produce gravel in various degrees of coarseness, the material being particularly high in demand in the region.

DSC_5724DSC_5726We stop for lunch at the pleasant Gasthof Wiesenhof in Scharnitz, with balcony views over the River Isar. I demolish a mushroom omelette and a Coke Lite. Now I need to digress here. I am reliably informed by my travelling companions that a Coke Lite is for the ladies, whilst real men drink a Coke Zero. Sadly, there is none of the latter available in this part of the world, so I am restricted to drinking the female version, although both contain zero sugar content. So now you know.

We make our farewells to Toni and drive to Pertisau on Lake Achensee, where we check into the 4* Hotel Post am See, which nestles by the lake.


DSC_5737Pleasure boats bob about on the water, as we head off on a guided e-bike tour in the Alpine Park Karwendel.

DSC_5734I have never been on an e-bike before. It takes a bit of getting used to, especially in my case when the readout is telling me to ‘pedal’.

DSC_5741A few frustrating trial and error moves later and the electric power kicks in just as we approach a slow but steady incline to the Sennhutte Falzthurn, where we stop for refreshments.

DSC_5747A local farmer is tending to his animals, watching two youngsters with calves. I am not sure exactly what they are doing, but there is an electric fence round them, as they try to encourage the animals to take grass from their hands.

DSC_5745DSC_5740DSC_5736A madcap descent on the bikes sees us back at the hotel, where I indulge in a shale oil spa treatment; a sublime back massage with Tirolean shale oil. I understand that for the past century, the oil has been extracted from oil shale and processed into popular skincare products. Christina works her magic on my poor old knotted back muscles and, of course, instead of going for a relaxing swim, I am back in my room, on my computer, writing my blog, no doubt undoing all that wonderful work. Oh well, no rest for the wicked.

  • All images © Essential Journeys/Michael Cowton


Thomson Lakes & Mountains offers a week at the 4* Hotel Post am See in Pertisau on Lake Achensee from £778 per person, including half-board accommodation, flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck and resort transfers.

For more information on the Austrial Tirol, visit www.visittirol.co.uk. For Pertisau on Lake Achensee visit www.achensee.com