Swiss Winter Paddling

Supporting the preservation and operation of paddle steamers Waverley and Kingswear Castle

Swiss Winter Paddling

For some years now one Paddle Steamer can be found in steam on Lake Luzern operating over the festive period but this year another lake put it’s paddler into service. On Lake Thun Blümlisalp was used for the first time for winter duties. She operated two cruises each day, one from Thun to Beatenbucht in the morning and a full-length sail to Interlaken in the afternoon.

PS Blümlisalp was built by Escher-Wyss & Cie, Zurich. She entered service on Lake Thun in 1906 and at 206 feet can carry up to 1000 passengers. She is based at Thun and her normal summer duty involves a full-length cruise of the lake to Interlaken West. On many days in high season she also offers an evening departure from Thun to Beatenbucht complete with a full catering service. Due to the fact that Interlaken West is reached by a canal of nearly 2 miles in length Blümlisalp was designed for passing down the canal stern first. Her single ventilator does not obstruct the view looking aft from the bridge wings and she has a large bow rudder to allow her to navigate the canal. She also approaches the landing stage at Thun stern first on the River Aare.

Blümlisalp was withdrawn from service in 1971 and lay in a deteriorating condition for a number of years before a full restoration began including reboiling and extending her by almost 8 feet. She re-entered service on 22nd May 1992 and has proved to be a great attraction. She celebrated her centenary in 2006.

Daniel Eichenberger visited Lake Thun over the festive period and has supplied some excellent shots. Daniel describes the weather conditions more like spring than Christmas. There was no trace of snow at lake level but as can be seen from the pictures there was on higher ground. She is reported to have carried many passengers and proved a popular addition to the normal winter offering.

Blümlisalp at Interlaken West. The railway station is adjacent to the berth.

A stunning shot showing the excellent weather conditions.
At Thun
Winter paddling at it’s best.

Blümlisalp arrives at Interlaken on her 100th Birthday on 31st July 2006, on this occasion each passenger was issued with a brochure to mark 100 years of the ship giving an outline of her career including plans and technical details. (Picture P Semple)

Many thanks to Daniel for the pictures.

Paul Semple