Dwight Peck's personal website

Winter 2015-2016

Retirement is still as much fun as ever

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Scenes of the Gorge du Chauderon

We've been here a thousand times, but it's still fun.

Revisiting old haunts, we've taken the Montreux-Oberland Bernois ("MOB") scenic railway up from Montreux, Switzerland, on Lake Geneva, to the village of Les Avants (968m asl), to take the scenic walk back down to Montreux through the interesting Gorge du Chauderon. 11 October 2015.

The Buffet de la Gare and the few shops in downtown Les Avants. From here, the MOB train, which opened in 1901, goes into a tunnel under the Col de Jaman and then, on the other side, drops down to Montbovon, turns south and east through Château d'Oex, Saanen, and Gstaad, and over the pass down to Zweisimmen, where it connects to a standard-gauge train out to the Lake of Thun and Interlaken.

The school of Le Châtelard dominates the village. Built in the 1870s as a Grand Hotel, it was a flagship of the heydey of the Montreux region as "the English Riviera". Ernest Hemingway was here for the skiing, as recounted in his World War One novel A Farewell to Arms, and various distinguished folks have lived in the teensy village at one time or another, like Noel Coward and Joan Sutherland.

The hotel closed in 1936 but was resurrected as the École du Châtelard for girls in 1938; during World War Two, the girls were moved out to the UK and the building housed wounded soldiers and Jewish refugees (we're told).

The school closed in 1975, but reopened under new management 1992. The break was vastly lucky for us; in summer 1980, a legal dispute forced the American College of Switzerland out of Leysin, and we were fortunate to find this place idle; we were up and running, library and all, by the start of the fall term. By January 1982, we were back in Leysin in buildings of the Grand Hôtel there.

The village gare (Marlowe's mom and I lived in a wee little flat a short way down the street behind the church on the left)

Kristin darts down the trail out of Les Avants towards the Gorge du Chauderon

Mushy wet leaves

This is the area called Champ Avant following the gorge of a small creek into the steep valley of the Baye de Montreux

Eons of rockfall

Awaiting stragglers


We've just noticed some people far below us, with large packs on, headed off further down . . .

. . . and they've left their campfire untended.

Kristin puts that right, but it's a nuisance and uses up a lot of our water.

We persevere.

A bridge over the Baye de Montreux and, for us, the start of the Gorge du Chauderon walk proper

A bit of old non-public road and the Pont de Pierre, or stone bridge, that crosses the gorge here and continues up behind us to Glion and Caux

Off the road and down into the gorge on well-maintained paths

Another little bridge at 623m

An intersection of hiking paths: we're down to the right, then left on the same side of the river

A little higher above the creek now

The little cable along the path is especially reassuring on rainy and snowy days

The first time I came here, in February 1981 in running shoes and a little windbreaker, the path was everywhere icy and the cable fence much less reassuring at that time. It took twice as long to run down the gorge as to run back up from Montreux on the road.

This is the low water time of year. The spring snowmelt can be more impressive.

After another little bridge at 526m, we're back on the right side of the creek.

The name of the cabin is Le Soutien des Gorges, which can mean a) support for the gorges or b) a bra.

A glance upstream

The Gorge becomes much more gorgey now.

Not quite as impressive as the Gletscherschlucht at Rosenlaui, but this one's free

Huge mushrooms on the riverbed

Another look back upstream

The sky is lightening ahead

Awaiting stragglers

Signs (and sounds) of civilization

It's the A9 Swiss autoroute, just where it goes into the 1.5km Glion Tunnel, heading, off to the left, towards Italy.

The A9 motorway, and the Tunnel of Glion on the right, seen from near the power plant at the foot of the Gorge and top of the town

Coming out of the Gorge, we enter the Vieille-Ville of Montreux at the top of the town

Looking down from the Old Town from a bridge over the channeled river we've just walked down

Historically, the upper part of town was largely separate, administratively, and was known as Les Planches, and the name is still in use for this part of the city.

The Rue du Pont in the upper town

The Conservatoire du Musique and, on the left, the municipal library

Down to the lake on the Rue du Marché

Past the Second Life Bar and approaching the rail tracks

The Montreux gare or railway station

Out of the Rue du Marché and across the Grand' Rue, or Route du Lac . . .

. . . to the lakeside quai, art-festooned and a pleasant place to walk even on such a grim day

The Belle Epoque paddlewheeler Vevey waiting to load up with happy tourists, probably heading towards the Château de Chillon

The Quai Edouard-Jaccoud

The famous statue of Freddy Mercury

Perhaps drawn by the Montreux Jazz Festival, held in the Montreux Casino a bit further along the quai from 1967 to 2007 (afterwards in the Convention Centre in the other direction along the quai), Montreux and its music studios have been homes and workplaces of a lot of famous musicians, like Queen of course, who recorded 7 albums here; Led Zeppelin; Ian Anderson of Tull; and Deep Purple, who recorded two of their albums here in the early '70s, including their signature song 'Smoke on the Water' to commemorate the time when the original Casino was burnt down by a fan with a flare gun during a Frank Zappa performance.

The old lakeside covered market from 1891 (the metalwork comes from the same workshop that made the Eiffel Tower), later from 1970 a public carpark, but now back in service for Friday morning street markets, summer flea markets, and throughout the Christmas Market, as now we've got a subterranean carpark stretching out down below (access door on the right). Where our tiny Volvo 2-door is waiting for us.

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 10 November 2015.

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