Rupert Parker goes round in a circle, starting and finishing in Kramsach, hiking up and down for 50kms.
It’s less than an hour from the airport at Innsbruck to the small town of Kramsach nestling in the valley beside the Inn River, dominated by the mountains rising above it. They’re my destination for a four day hiking tour so I leave my heavy luggage at the hotel, and take only a small rucksack. The first day is classed as “moderate” with only 10km to hike and it’s a pleasant morning as I walk along the road, cross the river and take the path signed to Brandenberg.
It’s a climb upwards through the forest, and steep in parts, before reaching 1509m, marked by a summit cross. It’s very hot but fortunately the trees provide essential cover from the sun. The weather is hazy so the views are not great but still, I can see Kramsach and the river running the length of the valley. From here it’s downhill on a 4×4 track but there are pleasant interludes through the forest before I reach the tiny village of Brandenburg at 900m.
The speciality in this valley is Brandenburg Prügeltorte, made from a batter with equal portions of eggs, butter, sugar and flour. It sounds perfect for a hungry hiker but I’m disappointed to find it’s not on offer at my hotel. Instead I’m served a hearty dumpling soup, followed by a piece of flattened chicken stuffed with gorgonzola, with potatoes cakes, rice, carrots and cauliflower. I’m thankful I don’t have to tackle dessert.
In the morning, it’s stormy and I’ve got 19 km to complete. Nothing for it but to don my wet weather gear and grin and bear it. I take the road out of the village to the hamlet of Winkl. There the road winds steeply upwards but I take a forest track which crosses it sporadically. So far the rain has been constant and I’m feeling very wet. But, as I climb higher and rise above the cloud, the weather begins to ease.
I reach the 1786m Kienberg, the day’s highest point, and I can just glimpse the villages below through the mist. A narrow path leads steeply downhill and I surprise the occasional Chamois which bounds off in the distance before I can reach for my camera. The day is slowly improving and I take an asphalt road before the final descent to the tiny village of Pinegg. Although I’m feeling dry outside, my rucksack is soaked, together with all its contents. My room turns into a giant airing cupboard.
Next day there’s early morning mist in the valley but the sun arrives to disperse the clouds. The rain has cleared the air and, as I climb upwards, I reach the high alp, home to a smattering of timbered farm houses. The path climbs steadily to a saddle and I divert to climb the 1940m Rosskogel and enjoy the panorama as I tuck into my lunch. From here I start to descend to the Zireiner See, known as the most beautiful mountain lake in the Tyrol and, on day like this, it’s absolutely stunning.
It’s now very hot so, when I reach the water’s edge, I lower myself in and soak away my aches and pains. I dry in the sun and then climb away from the lake on the home stretch to the Bayreuther Hütte. Now this is not a hotel but a mountain refuge where you have to rough it – the rooms are shared and there are no showers. On the plus side, there are extraordinary views from the outside terrace and you really do feel on top of the world. I’m fortunate to have a room to myself and get to the best night’s sleep of the trip. I wake to the sound of cow bells and the rising sun.
The last day of the tour is a short two hour downhill stroll but the weather is good and I can’t resist a full day in the mountains. I climb up to the 2224m Sonnwendjoch, then follow the ridge to the slightly higher Sagzahn. The path then tracks round the summit, with a vertiginous drop on one side, although there are cables to hang onto. I’m not feeling particularly brave, so retrace my steps before reaching Rofanspitze at 2259m, my third summit of the day.
It’s a long way back to Kramsach but, at least it’s all downhill, and I’m rewarded with a large glass of Austrian beer. The four day hike is an excellent introduction to the Tirol, with its delightful lakes, peaks and valleys. Even better, the walking gives you ample justification for tucking into the hearty food that the region is justly famous for. Just don’t expect to lose any weight.
Tell Me More About Hiking The Brandenburg Alps
The four day Hiking Tour is organised by the tourist office and costs from €156 per person. It includes three overnights with half board, a lunch box for the second day, local tourist tax and hiking maps.
The Sporthotel Sonnenuhr in Kramsach is a comfortable place to stay.
Alpbachtal Tourist Office has information about the valley Tel. +43 5337 21200
Tirol has information about the region
EasyJet flies direct to Innsbruck from London Gatwick.
The Gatwick Express is the quickest way to get to the airport.