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Action man in the Alps - James Rampton, The Tirol, Austria.
Friday July 10, 2015 - Email this article to a friend

Well not quite; in fact quite the opposite. PlanetSKI reporter, James Rampton, ends his trip to the Tirol where he has been avoiding anything to do with white knuckles and adrenalin.

The hills are alive with the sound of neighing. And whispering.

Horse whispering.

In the fourth and final report from PlanetSKI's tireless quest to find summer Alpine activities that do not involve any hint of lycra, we go all Doctor Doolittle and talk to the animals.

Our first stop is the Haflinger Stud Farm in Ebbs deep in the Austrian Tirol.

Now I don't know much about animals and nothing about horses.

But I was about to become a Horse Whisperer. Maybe.

The looked fine specimins to me. And I quietly told them so in my best horse whispering voice.

They seem to like the compliment.

The TirolOne of my new friends
















Regarded as the leading stud farm in the world for this stunning-looking thoroughbred, the establishment was founded in 1947.

Every five years, the farm hosts the World Haflinger Show.

The latest four-day competition - which saw 700 thoroughbreds and more than 20,000 people gather from every corner of the globe - took place in Ebbs last month.

The stables where the 120 Haflingers are housed are kept in immaculate condition.

It is little surprise to learn they are cleaned four times a day - sadly I was unable to assist as it is a highly-skilled job.

The TirolAnd another
















But the horses are worth the elbow grease. And the whispering.

They are the most gorgeous creatures, with amazing butterscotch-coloured coats and a natural sense of elegance.

Some even possess the most fetching blonde, curly manes - reminiscent of Led Zep's Robert Plant c.1971.

Their conversation was more interesting though.

The TirolPlants among the plants
















The Halfingers are noted for their good nature and are used as part of a therapeutic treatment for children with various psychological issues.

It's no wonder they're known locally as The golden horse with the golden heart.

The TirolWith my new freinds
















They are also extremely valuable.

At the stud farm's annual auction in September, a six-month-old Haflinger filly can reportedly go for as much as €30,000. 

We leave the stud farm and take a winding, 15-minute journey up the mountain to visit the Haflingers on the Alpine pastures where they graze in the summer.

There they are frolicking about without a care in the world on the sort of captivating Austrian summit where Julie Andrews famously crooned, "The hills are alive with the sound of music!"

Even for the most committed animal agnostic, communing with some of the most beautiful - and friendliest - horses in the world in this breathtaking location is an undeniably moving experience.

We travel from there to Rattenberg, a picturesque, riverside medieval town renowned for its glass-blowing.

The TirolGlass blowing

















At the Kisslinger shop on the high street, an artist retrieves a piece of molten glass from the 1000-degree oven and before our very eyes shapes it into a lovely swan, using just a pair of pliers and an incredible set of lungs.

Not so much glass-blowing, as mind-blowing.

From there we move on to the Pillersee Valley and perhaps the highlight of our invigorating tour of the Austrian Tirol, the newly constructed Jacobskreuz.

The highest cross you can climb in the Alps, the 29.6-metre high edifice stands at the summit of the Buchensteinwand Mountain, at an elevation of 1456 metres above sea level.

The TirolHighest cross in the Alps
















Built last year after seven long years of planning consultation and at a cost of €1.9m , the Jacobskreuz is reached via a chairlift from the village of St Jakob in Haus on the valley floor.

The cross' existence of is largely down to the vision and tenacity of its creator, Toni Wurzrainer.

At the top of the cross, he explains to PlanetSKI why he made the effort: "Everything these days goes so fast. No one has time anymore to just sit and think. It's important in modern life to take a step back and just look at the view. We need places of contemplation like this."

The TirolQuite a view
















Locals often sit for two hours at the summit of the cross, quietly taking in the view. 

Wurzrainer's determination has certainly paid off.

The Jacobskreuz is a truly impressive spectacle.

 Looking out onto the surrounding peaks, you really do feel master - or mistress - of all you survey.

The TirolThe Tirol














You may well have ringing in your ears the words of Jimmy Cagney at the close of his film, White Heat: "Top of the world, ma!"  

Some key scenes from Spectre, the new James Bond movie, have been shot in the Austrian Tirol; we have reported on it in the past here on PlanetSKI.

I can see why Bond, James Bond, has been drawn to the area.

It has some of the most spectacular scenery and enjoyable summertime activities to be found anywhere in Europe. 

If it's good enough for 007, it's good enough for PlanetSKI.

Like Mr Bond I will be back. 

Tirol is expecting me.

The TirolI shall be back
















For a look at my first blog as I took a river boat inside a glacier then see here.

And for my second series of adventures as I went down on the farm then follow this link.

For the third instalment it all began as I jumped aboard a steam train.


James Rampton stayed at the 4* Hotel Unterlechner in St. Jakob in Haus in Pillerseetal with prices starting from €87 per person on half board. flies direct from Gatwick to Innsbruck.

James visited the Jakobskreuz in the Pillerseetal, a 29m cross at the summit of the Buchsteinwand.

Find out more about the Austrian Tirol at

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