The Reichenbach Falls

One of the highlights of our recent holiday in Switzerland was a visit to the Reichenbach Falls. This spectacular waterfall is well known to followers of Sherlock Holmes as the place where he met his untimely death in a struggle with his arch enemy, Moriarty. The Reichenbach Falls are just outside the little town of Meiringen in the Bernese Overland. It is quite a journey by train to get there, as you need three different trains to reach your destination. But it is worth it as you pass some lovely Swiss mountain scenery en route.

You reach the Falls via a short journey on a funicular railway. The following photo gives an indication of the steepness of the ascent.2015-09-05 13.49.02

As you travel up you get glimpses of the waterfall as it surges down the mountainside, as in the photo below.2015-09-05 14.05.20

The funicular stops at a prime viewing site, where you can see the steepest and longest stretch of falling water. It is quite spectacular and the power and force of the water is a bit unexpected.2015-09-05 14.07.27

The tumbling water is very powerful and spray from the falls is everywhere. Waterproofs are recommended. To get to the top of the falls you need to climb up a longish stretch of very steep steps. We forego that pleasure. The top station has a small visitor centre with information about the falls and Sherlock Holmes. Outside on the viewing platform you can even get your photo as a would be investigating detective.

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The town of Meiringen lies by the river Aare, the longest river which lies wholly in Switzerland. The Aare meanders across much of the country,  passing through the capital, Bern, before joining the Rhine at Koblenz in Switzerland. Just by the town and close to the Reichenbach Falls, the river carves through a limestone ridge to form the Aare Gorge. This is even more spectacular than the Reichenbach Falls and rivals it in visitors and popularity. A railway line tunnels through the gorge and Swiss engineers have constructed a technical masterpiece in creating a passageway for pedestrians to walk through the gorge. The following photos show some of the highlights of the gorge, including the bright colours which can be seen as you walk through. 2015-09-05 14.54.58

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The last of these photos shows another waterfall, this time one within the gorge itself. This is the Schräybach, and according to the information panel, it is typical example of mechanical erosion. The mineral enriched, acidic rainwater leaches down through the fields and earth, eating its way further and further into the limestone cliffs. Here endeth the geology lesson!

Meiringen is a pretty little town with the typical range of Swiss buildings. Of particular note was the sturdy stone build church which has a massive square tower, with a very large colourful mural on one side.2015-09-05 16.15.17

The two bells in the foreground are with a special mention as both are very old. One dates from 1351 and the other from 1480.

Meiringen was quite a busy little place on the day we visited, with some kind of fair with lots of stalls selling local goods. One was a stall selling all kinds of threads and I could not resist loitering with intent. To my surprise I discovered that there were some Swiss made silk threads for sale. They also had an unusual thread, at least for me, made of silk and something called sea cell. This apparently is a thread which includes a small amount of some algae substance. So I went away with one small example of each.

Meiningen makes much of its tenuous link with Sherlock Holmes and his author. There is even a museum dedicated to the detective. But for lovers of good food, Meiringen’s real claim to fame is that it boasts that it is the original home of the meringue. It is nice to think that the great culinary creations such as a Pavlova have their origins in a humble Swiss Alpine town.

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