Obergurgl Day Three – Obergurgl to Hochgurgl

View towards Hochgurgl from Obergurgl

Dear Readers, I suppose it was entirely predictable but I woke up this morning with a sore throat and runny nose – all that stress before I left, coupled with a packed airplane full of people sneezing, has clearly given me a cold. But it does mean that I had a perfect excuse to take things easy today, and the morning was beautiful, so we headed off across the meadows to see what we could see.

And then we heard a familiar high-pitched whistle, and looked around to see an irate marmot about 100 feet away. I’ve never seen them here before, and in fact it’s been a sterling few days for spotting these Alpine rodents – I’ve seen four already, and I’d normally be lucky to see that many in a fortnight. They literally vibrate with fury when they see a walker/dog/sheep/cow. I hope this one soon settled down, it must take a lot of energy to be so hypervigilant. Their main enemies are eagles (not too many  this far down the valley), foxes (I’ve never seen a fox in Obergurgl, but there used to be a stuffed one in our hotel, so presumably they’re around) and probably also off-lead dogs, though people are generally very strict with their hounds, what with all the lifestock that’s about.


Speaking of livestock, it was a delight to see that the herd of Highland Cattle that live in a nearby field are increasing in number. I’m pretty sure that this is a hobby herd,  and that the animals live out their lives here. Very handsome they are too.

But of course the main attraction is the flora around here. Look at this rampion, for example – there are many different species in the Alps so I’m not hazarding a guess about species. They’re members of the Campanula family, but don’t look much like any bellflower that I’ve ever seen.

Then we have my personal favourite, the melancholy thistle. It’s just coming into flower, and who could resist those magenta puffball flowers?

Then there are these beautiful Alpine poppies. These are, I think, Papaver alpinum ssp Rhaeticum – found only in this part of the Alps, they’re orange or yellow rather than the normal white, and very pretty too. These were growing right on the edge of the Hochgurgl lift carpark, where I’d spotted them a few years ago.

And how about this plant? It looks very like a type of catchfly to me, and in fact the closest match that I can see is Nottingham catchfly (Silene nutens).  Feel free to chip in if you’ve got any idea!

And there are the usual clouds of butterflies and moths, like the small tortoiseshell below…

And this swallowtail which landed for approximately half a second before heading off, goodness knows where.

Anyhow, by this time I was feeling a bit ropey so we headed up to the Hochgurgl  Lift Station to get a bus back  to Obergurgl. We used to love getting the lift from here up to the space-age Top Mountain Star, but apparently it hasn’t run in summer since 2019. Why, might you ask. Well, therein hangs a tale. The people who own the Hochgurgl life and Top Mountain Star also own  a motorcycle museum  a few miles away,  on the way to the Timmelsjoch pass. A few years  ago, the museum, containing the life-long collection of the owner, burned down,  so he has spent time and money salvaging what could be saved  and no doubt buying new bikes. So now,  he wants people to visit the museum, and so he has opened a life there, alongside the museum and the very highly-rated cafe. At least, this is the story in the village and I can imagine that, after the hardships of lockdown, followed by the landslide in 2021 that cut the village off from June to August, everyone is looking for a way to survive and to recoup some of the money they’ve lost. I will definitely visit later in the week, and report back.

The Top Mountain Star in winter

For now, though, we get the bus back to Obergurgl, head up to the Hohe Mut for some goulasch souppe, and of course take  a few photos, arriving back just in time to avoid the loudest thunderstorm that I’ve heard for quite some time. Let’s hope that I’m feeling a bit less ‘bunged up’ tomorrow.

View from the Hohe Mut, with the Rotmoos valley to the right, and the Gaislach valley to the left.

7 thoughts on “Obergurgl Day Three – Obergurgl to Hochgurgl

  1. Alittlebitoutoffocus

    Oh, happy days!! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to get out my Alpine Flora book, which hasn’t seen the light of day for almost 2 years now! I think you’re right about the Nottingham Catchfly and I think the Rampion is either a Round-headed or Betony-leaved version, but it’s hard to tell which from the picture. (The first is generally 10-40 cm while the second is 20-60 cm. And the basal leaves are either “oval to lanceolate, rounded or cordate at the base” or “cordate, acute” – if that makes any sense!?) The Oval-leaved Rampion (30-80 cm, basal leaves “cordate, about as long as wide”) looks a much darker, deeper purple in the book, but that could be just the way the photo was taken. Don’t forget to look out for the Spiked Rampion too – it looks the same but is a lightish green!

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      I have been keeping my eyes peeled for spiked rampion! Lots of meadow cutting in the past few days, as it’s meant to be dry until Tuesday…

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      Lots of people seem to like unusual breeds of cattle here, there were a couple of belted galloway here last time we visited.

  2. Charlie Bowman

    My highlights in Obergurgl are a cuckoo seen close to the path down from the Hohe Mut back to the village, near where there used to be a garbage ‘cube’ to separate trash, and nutcrackers by the dozen. I’m surprised the Wurmkogel/Top Mountain Star lift isn’t open, but at least the Soelden cableways enable the access to plenty of challenging walks at altitude.


Leave a Reply