The road climbs up gradually from the lake, leaving the lowland fruit trees behind. As we pass into hillier country the road behind to curve and twist up into spruce forest, hairpin bends swirling us round the woods to gratified shouts of 'Whooooaaa-aaah!' and 'Again-again!' from the back seats.
The main visitor 'centre' of the disparate waterfalls is easily found, though a bit of adjustment is necessary as we are not allowed to turn right into the site from the main road. The first thing we then see is the rather incongruous sight of a Grey Heron sat at the top of an apple tree. Always something new to see in this world.
We backtrack from the platform and head along the trail to the lower falls. The path winds up to a small clearing crammed with sedges and the remains of summer seedheads, stays on the level for a brief moment, then plunges down the side of the gorge to reach two further viewpoints.
The first is from the base of the first falls, where the size of the basin carved from the underlying rock can be appreciated - a great round sweep testifying to the size of the falls after the snowmelt.
The second, deeper still in the gorge, looks onto the lower falls, somewhat smaller, but without the intrusion of metal platforms and playground above, so with a more unspoilt feel. The remains of past viewing platforms rot forlornly by the modern metal grille.
The final falls are upstream, a short walk along the valley. The stream cascades gently through the conifers, stepping down over blocks and layers of conglomerate. This final waterfall is quite low, but the party runs round the inside of the basin, behind the falls: loud and lively with low water, it must be quite an experience the spring.
The valley woodlands are a trans-boundary nature reserve, shared with Austria and left to grow and age without human interference. The cynic in me feels that it may simply be because the slopes are to steep to bother with for forestry, but maybe that's a churlish view. Besides, better to have some areas which don't require human 'management'.
|Spindle berries brighten the woodland beautifully. Pfaffenhuettchen (little priests' hats would, I guess, be the literal translation). Whatever the word, they are gloriously colourful in an otherwise green-brown-grey season.|