Steep descend to Brienzwiler - Solid hiking boots and hiking sticks are strongly recommended. Descent: Brünigpass-Brienzwiler (340m height difference)
Brünigpass (1002m) – Brääch-Uochwald (1013m) – Dorfbach (862m) Brienzwiler (680m) - Bifing - Hofstetten (646m) - Kienholz (5776m)- Tracht – Brienz (568m)
The descent from Brünig to Hofstetten is at some places steep and slippery. For safety reasons, solid shoes and walking sticks are advisable. Pilgrims walking alone should if possible join others on this stretch. For less experienced mountain walkers, a recommendable alternative route leads via Meiringen to Brienz.
The railway station on the Brünig pass is starting point for the next stage. We follow the “Jakobsweg” signposts and walk at first on the main road to the big curve where we climb on a stairway up to a gravel path which leads us first over rocks and then atop the retaining wall of the main road. Then we follow a field path beside the road and after a short distance turn off to the right and across the sloping meadows of “Herwäg” and through a wood, we reach the extensive alpine pastures of “Bräch”.
Now the path leads through the “Uoch” wood, and through rock ledges until we reach the turnoff to the lookout point “Tschuggen” (1096), the highest elevation of this stage. From the turnoff, we descend, and following the course of the brook that leads down to the village, we reach Brienzwiler lying 400 m lower (680m). Moss-grown blocks of stone and fern bushes border the stony path which at first descends quite steeply. The mountain path requires great precaution, despite the fact that lately, steps had been made with tree-trunks, barricades were erected and the railing was extended at dangerous places. Further down, we come to the old mule path with pack walls.
Near the rock-spring “Andresen”, the terrain opens and we enjoy the first outlook down to the village of Brienzwiler on the hillside, which we reach via “Halti” and the “Dorfweg”. In the village centre, we come to the “Kreuzgasse” (lane). Old houses border the “Dorfstrasse” (village street), and we refresh ourselves at the stone fountain (child with dog). The inn “Bären” advertises its services with pilgrim’s shells at the entrance.
Brienzwiler - Kienholz / Brienz
We continue on the Dorfstrasse and the Schlossweg. The Hofstetter-Strasse leads us through a small wood to the riding centre “Bifing”. Here, we turn right and take to a broad field-path leading along the edge of a wood and across meadows with stables to the “Eistlenbach” (brook) with its broad scree- bed. We cross the brook , also the “Rütiwald”, arrive at the Wylergasse leading us to Hofstetten.
Note: Pilgrims wishing to visit the open-air museum Ballenberg turn off to the left at the riding centre and take the carriageway along the edge of the wood leading to the entrance. (For information, see www.ballenberg.ch).
Hofstetten is part of the parish of Brienz. Several catastrophic torrential washes in the past centuries devastated big parts of the villages of Hofstetten, Schwanden and Brienz. Consequently, old mule tracks and pilgrim paths also disappeared. Past wooden houses decorated with flowers, we come to the village square. We see the stone fountain with the figure of an owl, and at the “Scheidweg” (lane), a copper statue of a farmer with his horned sledge (typical transport means of mountain farmers). We come by the hotel restaurant Alpenrose, and walk a few hundred metres straight on towards Kienholz, past homely chalets. Then we take to a field path across the meadows of the “Allmend” (commons) to the “Studenwald” (wood).
Before reaching it, we turn off to the right, cross a wood and come to an extensive, sloping meadow, the “Louwenen” or “Lauenen”) above Kienholz. The panoramic view from here over Lake Brienz is overwhelming. The name of this place, “Lauenen”, meaning “avalanche”, dates from 1896 when big parts of the area were devastated by huge torrential mudslides. In August 2005, the disastrous catastrophe repeated itself when the “Glyssibach” and the “Schwanderbach” torrents inundated big parts of Unterschwanden, Kienholz and Brienz.
After the “Lauenen” and crossing a small wood, we turn off to the left and walk along the edge of the wood and the protective dams of the brook down to the cantonal road at Kienholz. Here, we decide which pilgrim route we want to follow on the way to Interlaken. There are two options:
Variant A: Along the right-hand lakeshore via Brienz, Ebligen, Oberried, Niederried, Ringgenberg. This is the route most pilgrims choose. Since the suspension bridge over the “Ebligengraben” (ravine) is barred from late autumn to spring, we recommend taking the route via Giessbach (option B) during this time. For information on route conditions, please contact the office of the municipal clerk (“Gemeindeschreiberei”) in Oberried, phone (0041) (0)33 849 13 33.
Variant B: Along the left-hand lakeshore via “Im Brunnen”, Giessbach, Iseltwald, Bönigen. This is the less-travelled route, and also the bike trail.
If we opt for Variant A we follow the cantonal road for a short stretch,then turn left to take the railway underpass. Thus we reach the lakeshore path, past the youth hostel to the railway station and the boat landing pier of Brienz. If, however, we opt for Variant B, we cross the cantonal road and the access road to Axalp that brings us to the lakeshore and the camping site.