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Looking out of my window at the Reichenbach Falls and the mountains above it comes with a small sense of triumph. I have hiked over them to reach Grindelwald on one hike and more recently Chaltenbrunnen, the reddish Hochmoor (or upland moor) at 1875m. The landscape is awe-inspiring here and, of course, more so as you venture up.
The literary heritage that the Swiss Alps have acquired is not really a surprise – beautiful landscapes produce beautiful art. And being such a bookish person, it’s probably also expected that as I learn more about the echoes of my surroundings in literature, I love the mountains here that little bit more.
|The Wellhorn, Wetterhorn and, hidden away, the Reichenbach falls of Sherlock Holmes fame.|
|Following Tolkien’s hiking path through the Swiss Alps. This point is close to the Kleine Scheidegg train station.|
|The Aareschluct in Meiringen, one of the towns that Tolkien passed through in 1911.|
|Switzerland’s Misty Mountains: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.|
Like so many other travellers, Tolkien and I have both admired the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Tolkien went on to use these mountains as inspiration for The Misty Mountains in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings among other components of his legendarium.
Only once before have I seen them from afar in waking life, but I know them and their names, for under them lies Khazad-dûm, the Dwarrowdelf, that is now called the Black Pit, Moria in the Elvish tongue. Yonder stands Barazinbar, the Redhorn, cruel Caradhras; and beyond him are Silvertine and Cloudyhead: Celebdil the White, and Fanuidhol the Grey, that we call Zirak-zigil and Bundushathûr.
– Spoken by Gimli in The Fellowship of the Ring
|Tolkien’s original illustration of Rivendell, 1937 (public domain).|
“Evil things do not come into this valley… We are sitting in a fortress. Outside it is getting dark.”
– Spoken by Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring