The village of Beatenberg stretches out along the lower slopes of the Niederhorn, about 600m above Lake Thun. Erich von Däniken, the author of Chariots of the Gods, lives here, and has described it as the most beautiful place in the world. And there is merit in his claim. The views across the lake to the mountains that crowd its opposite shore and beyond are superb.
This short (40 minutes) easy walk follows a single-track lane that takes you above the bulk of the village before rejoining the main road.
The starting point is Beatenberg station (Niederhorn Bahn) which can be reached by the funicular from Beatenbucht or by the hourly bus service from Interlaken West. From Beatenberg station you turn left along the main road, and after a fairly gentle uphill walk of about 200m you turn right in the direction of Parkplatz Lood. At this point you have the choice of following the lower Erich von Däniken way – a shady walking path that runs in between the lane to Parkplatz Lood and the main road.
So why choose the lane? The answer is quite simple – because of the virtually unobstructed, magnificent views that it allows. It is a very quiet, rural lane: vehicles are few and far between, and the occasional person you meet will probably be going about his or her daily business.
Initially your eye will be taken by the Stockhorn, the geometric Niesen and the Kiental (valley). Soon, however, the Stockhorn disappears from view and your focus is likely to be on a series of mountains that include the Morgenberghorn and the Schwalmere. But this is a short walk, and all to soon you will be nearing its end: the road begins to descend, Bönigen lies below on the edge of Lake Thun, and to your left you can see the Schynige Platte and the mountains that rise from the far shore of Lake Brienz. Without much difficulty you can pick out the Faulhorn, Wildgärst and the Schwarzhorn. There is a roadside panorama to aid identification, but the diagram lacks clarity. It does, however, reveal the amazing number of peaks including the distant Mont Blanc that can be seen from here on a clear day. Such extensive views are usually gained going much higher, which can involve an expensive gondola or cable car ride.
Back on the main road you can pick up the bus to Interlaken, but if you intend to return to Beatenberg station, and you don’t want to wait for a bus, then you can either walk back via the Erich von Däniken way or along the main road. The latter might seem somewhat unappealing, but the views are still very good, and the change in elevation gives greater prominence to the turquoise lake, which seems to alter the colour palette of the entire scene. Near to Beatenberg station the Hotel Gloria advertises a rear terrace with ‘beautiful views’ and this is not an idle boast. It is yet another place for liquid refreshment that we are reluctant to leave.
A ride on the funicular down to Beatenbucht can ensure a perfect end to your walk, particularly if it is around midday, when you may have a carriage to yourself. The Swiss Pass is valid for this ride.