Wednesday, 10 August 2016

27th July - Aldein to Kohlern, South Tyrol , Italy.

Overnight we were treated to the church clock chiming on the quarter, then at 7.00 there was no church clock, but the workmen started up on the road outside, so there was no choice but to get up and prepare for the journey onward and breakfast.  Looking out into the main square from the hotel all looks quiet and serene, but believe me it was quite hectic.

We were to be taken from the hotel to a Monastery.  Not because we didn't go to church, but for the start of today's walk.  As we waited to be taken I just had to photograph the church, and its bell tower as a reminder of the night just gone!

Our last stay was in a village that was quite spread out, here in Aldein it was more of a village, and all of the windows of the buildings around the square were full of lovely red geraniums in the window boxes.

The drive took us higher up into the mountains, so we were quite pleased about this.  The Monastery of Maria Weissenstein was to be our starting point for today's walk, the car park to be precise.  The monastery itself was set up in the middle of the 16th century when the Madonna appeared to a local farmer.  The Madonna asked him to build a chapel, and over the years the chapel developed into a significant monastery, which is probably the most visited in the region today, the building Lives to tell the story.  Despite this we decided not to visit, and set off on the walk to our next location, the village of Kohlern.  As we walked to the first way point of the day we came across yet another family group of Black Redstarts. We stopped to watch as the the young birds waited on the roof and the fences to be fed by the adults.

Despite the fact that they were still being fed by the adults,a s they perched waiting they were already adopting the hunting behaviour of an adult bird, scanning the ground for insects from a prominent position.

The path took us through a meadow where the grass had been scythed and left.  Pied Wagtails fed amongst the fallen grass, and Song Thrushes flew across the field as we walked towards the woods.

The conditions were overcast to start with but the sun was making its way through the cloud, and as we walked along the path down hill through the forest there were patches of sunny spots that lit up the grass.  Once again the side of the path was lined with Spotted Orchids.

The path was lined with thistles again, and for now these were being used by bees.  On our right hand side the stream came close, and there was the lovely sound of running water.  Helen then found another orchid species, this time a Dark Red Hellebore.

We came to the bottom of the valley, and crossed the stream by a wooden bridge, predictably the path then headed up hill, but not for too long and eventually continued along the contour of the hill.  the gently undulating path passed several small waterfalls.

The sun was now well out and in the sunny patches the butterflies started to appear and as usual the browns being the first to appear, this another new butterfly, an Arran Brown.

In one area we were treated to a lovely fritillary, settling at first in the pine trees to catch the sun.

Then it came down to the flowers and leaves on the side of the pat, and could be seen to be very faded.

But overall the butterfly was in good condition, and from the underwing patterns this was a Silver-washed Fritillary, possibly an aberrant form

The path left the forest, and wound around through a farm, coming out onto a gravel track with lovely views back around the valley.  I almost dismissed the calls of young birds from the field by the side of the track, but when one appeared on a wire fence I realised that they were a family of Red-backed Shrikes.  We were able to get some good views as the young birds were fed by the female.

Moving on from the shrikes we continued past a farm where Swallows could be seen sitting on the wires, probably young birds recently fledged.  Flowers lined the sides of the path, and in the warm sunshine butterflies passed us going from flower to flower.  A lovely Painted Lady appeared.

 And a little further on the first Small Copper of the trip.

The path the took us through another forest and then out onto a road, and up a steep path that led us into the town of Deutschnofen. Walking past a meadow two young crows called from a tree. 

As the road led towards the town we had some more lovely views across the meadows.

We walked into the village and made our way to the centre and the obligatory Church.  Of interest though was the mosaic of tiles on the roof of the church, a lovely blend of green and blues.

Leaving Deutschnofen we headed up hill away from the church uphill along a road and then eventually a path.  The path took us past some farm buildings where a Swallow chattered away from a wire close to the barn.

Finally the path  levelled out and we were treated to more butterflies on the flowers by the side of the gravel path.  Meadow Browns have appeared here now!

A female Scotch Argus

And our first Skipper of the trip, a Large Skipper.

While we were in sunshine behind us we could hear the distinct rumbles of thunder, this was a lot sooner than on previous days and it seemed the storms may be coming earlier today.

We carried on down a steep valley.  The guide notes were now different to what we actually found, the track being a lot more devloped than they described.  We came out on to a road, which then led us up hill past the restaurant Wolfl-Hof.  We stopped here to take on more water.  Just past the Hof the calls of a Raven attracted our attention, the Raven though was upset about the presence of a Peregrine in the tree, and was trying to get rid of it.

There were in fact two Peregrines, and we were able to watch them briefly flying around the tree, but were never able to get a photograph.

A little further on a large white butterfly caught my eye, the lazy flapping flight completely different from the other whites we had seen.  When it settled I realised it was our first Scarce Swallowtail.

We stopped for lunch, a big mistake, sitting seems to seize the muscles, and unknown to us we were were now about to face a very steep incline of about two kilometres, needless to say the focus was on walking rather than the wildlife about us.  When the sun came out it sent dappled shadows on to the Horsetails that were growing under the many pine trees.

To make matters worse it then started to rain, only spots at first but it became a little heavier, and with still about four kilometres to go to the hotel we decided to put on the waterproofs and cover up the camera equipment.  Fortunately by now the path was heading down hill, and the weather was focusing us into moving quickly and forgetting the aches we had from the exertions of the steep incline walk.  Finally we could see the village of Kolhern, and our hotel, the Gasthof Kohlern, for the next two days.

and we made our way through the forest trail and up into the hotel.  This was a long walk of just on 18 kilometres, it started out quite easily, but it was after lunch that we had the difficult part, with difficult walks up steep ascents in what was quite boring surroundings.  I don't mind a strenuous climb if there is something to distract you like yesterday on the climb out of the canyon.  It was a pleasure to get the boots off when we arrived.

Our room overlooked the valley in which the city of Bolzano is located, the city into which we arrived on the train last Sunday.

Early evening we sat on the terrace with a drink looking out at mountains covered in clouds rolling over the peaks and as if down into the valley.

The scene then changed aagin as the sun dropped in the sky, and in places the sky clearered.

The Gasthof Kolhern is an interesting hotel, our room was lovely with views across the valley and the mountain range beyon.  Not a large hotel, but when we were there there was quite a high occupancy, it was difficult though to not feel second class citizens.  Dinner last night was the usual four course menu, but it was as if there was something else being considered all the time, maybe were just paranoid.  


  1. Another lovely post with beautiful pictures! I'm enjoying them very much and consider you to be a first class citizen.

  2. must make a move, or else starve to death. When this moment comes it sounds almost like herd of elephants stampeding across garden - as the bush-turkeys make a mad dash for the next tree / roof / fence. pvc privacy fence


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