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Tuesday 18th September 2001, Austria

Schafberg seen from the plane leaving Salzburg WE TAKE the ferry from St Gilgen across Lake Wolfgang to the village of St Wolfgang. We take the rack-and-pinion railway to the summit of Schafberg (1783m) which is wreathed in cloud and, this morning, lies under a foot or more of snow. After weiner schnitzel in the summit hotel we walk out as the cloud clears to reveal a panorama of the whole length of Lake Wolfgang, which lies more than a vertravenical kilometre below us. This is definitely the 'wow!' moment of our holiday. It's like a piece of theatre the cloud draws back like the gauze curtains to reveal the scene.

As the cloud drops back from the ridge we walk to the edge of the sheer northern face of the mountain to see a raven-eye's view of trees and meadows almost directly below us and Mondsee, a lake of similar proportions to Wolfgang, with lowlands, comparatively speaking, stretching out beyond it to the north. Snow-capped mountains lie behind us to the south. To the east, St Gilgren and Lake Fuschl look like they do on the panoramic picture maps that we've looked at when planning our walks.

chamoischamois Just below the snow-line a small herd of Chamois are browsing amongst the stunted conifers. Looking down on them from the train, we can see the dark line down their backs and the badger-like markings on their heads.

roe buck Lower down the mountain, in a small meadow set amongst the woods, Roe Deer run away towards the trees as the train passes. The doe has a gingery rump, while the slightly smaller fawns have white rumps.

marjoram Wild Marjoram grows in sunny stony places in the cutting alongside the line.

St Wolfgang

ponies drawing carriage, St WolfgangcliffWe've time to stop at a café overlooking the square in front of the church. The White Horse Inn opposite, which overlooks the lake, was made famous by the operetta of the same name. Horse-drawn trips of the town are popular.


cliffospreyThe return ferry boasts an open upper deck. I've been sitting with a cup of coffee sketching the sheer limestone of Scheffeblick, which rises abruptly from the lakeside.

'Is there something at the top of that tree?', I ask Barbara. We're wearing binoculars, as usual, so, as the ferry cruises smoothly past, juvenile ospreywe get a leisurely look at a juvenile Osprey that is eating a fish at the top of a dead pine tree.

I worked as a volunteer osprey warden for years during my summer holidays, so I'm delighted to see one again. next page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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