I love being in the mountains. There’s nothing more rejuvenating than a hike through undulating Alpine meadows with a backdrop of jagged snow-capped peaks, listening to the tinkle of cows’ bells as they graze around you – scenery that makes you want to skip around singing like Maria in The Sound of Music.
Nendaz, a popular resort in the Valais region of Switzerland, is one such place. In winter it’s a skier’s paradise, but in summer you can really enjoy the stunning surroundings in peace, when the pretty wildflowers bloom in the glorious sunshine and the emerald-green hills, punctuated by pockets of pine forest, extend as far as the eye can see. And the best part? In places, you only have the cows for company. Bliss. If you want to enjoy the Great Outdoors away from the hustle and bustle of tourists – this charming corner of Switzerland hard to beat.
If you really want to get close to nature, the region has just set up a barefoot hike route in Siviez, just up from Nendaz. Designed to bring you back to a simpler way of life, the hike lets you enjoy the landscape (with your feet!) and experience a multitude of sensations: soft grass, squelching mud and carpets of pine needles. Somewhat dubious at first, I went to check it out and found the experience fantastic. By the end of the walk, my feet were tingling from all the stimulation.
The route began with a manmade track with different sections: soft sand, smooth tree trunks and prickly pine cones.
The track then meandered past the rushing River Printse, a herd of cows to my left providing a soundtrack of chiming bells as they grazed the meadow. (I hoped I wouldn’t come across a cow pat – now that takes barefoot hiking to new, unwanted levels!).
The waterfalls, cascading through the pine forest was an ideal spot to cleanse my feet of squelching mud. The pebbles underfoot added a contrasting sensation to the soft grass and the water was wonderfully cool. Then, we hiked up through the forest over the softest carpet of pine needles, before ending up at a scenic picnic spot by the river where we basked in the midday sun.
At the end of our walk, we stopped off at the quaint mountain restaurant food a cold beer and a plate of local Valais ham and cheese – Assiette Valaisanne – with fresh chunks of brown bread. I was in heaven! The perfect end to an idyllic afternoon.