With only a few more days of our holiday in Switzerland remaining, and the last couple of days spent inside as a cold front had moved in we decided to explore a new hike today. We woke to a smattering of fresh snow on the mountains opposite, very beautiful.
The start of our hike was just before Anzere at Mayens d’ Arbaz, by a small lake where I saw a fantastic bee hive modelled as a Swiss chalet. Had to take a photo for my brother who keeps bees! The first part of our hike was through woodland bathed in dappled sunshine down to the wooden bridge over the gorge La Drahin has carved out. En route we walked past a bit of the Bisse du Sion, which is fed from the Lac du Tseuxier, which we visited on our Cabane des Audannes hike.
On the far side of La Drahin we found the start of Bisse du Torrent Neuf, which runs for about 8km. It was built at the beginning of the 15 century, has been restored and is truly spectacular. As Mike said afterwards, it was overwhelming what the community at that time managed to build.
The early part of the Bisse ran through gently sloping woodland and was very pretty. We got to the chapel at St Marguerite, where there was a well situated café, had some coffee and apricot tart (very tasty) before continuing on.
From here the nature of the Bisse comes into its own. The early community must have been desperate for water as the Bisse was carved into, and hung, from sheer rock faces. There used to be a narrow plank along side the wooden water troughs used to carry the water, which people would need to move along, very cautiously, to maintain and repair the channel. Rather them than me. There were old photos of people working on the Bisse in the early 20 century, before it was ‘retired’ and replaced by a tunnel transporting water through the mountains. Men and women worked on keeping the Bisse operational. Today there are 4 suspension bridges to make it easier to traverse the trail where the Bisse used to wind round gullies and was subject to rock falls.
The Bisse takes its name from 9 torrents coming off the mountain side to ‘feed’ it. At the end of our trail we came to another café, where we made the difficult(!) choice of having half a bottle of white wine. Very nice it was too, sitting in the sunshine, people watching and just chilling.
We retraced our footsteps to return to the car, and reflected on what an enjoyable hike this had been. Definitely something I would share with future visitors we may have here, provided they don’t have a fear of heights!
One highlight of our day was spotting a chamois just after one of the suspension bridges, and the statue of a bear. Mike teased me and said he thought it was a statue the tourist board had out halfway down the mountain! That was until we saw it move and carry on eating!
Below are some photos of our day out, including some historical pictures that were shown in plaques along the Bisse.