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SPLISH SPLASH SCHLAD - Jane Peel, Schladming
Sunday July 16, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

It's wet and wild around the Austrian resort of Schladming and we're not talking rain. On our visit we find there's water everywhere.

This is one of the most water-rich regions in the Alps.

It's why Schladming-Dachstein is known as The Valley of a Thousand Springs and Lakes.

It's under-selling itself.

Someone has counted:

  • 1,000 springs
  • 300 tarns, or mountain lakes
  • 100 waterfalls

On this short trip, I've seen a few of each.

I can confirm that when you've seen one you certainly haven't seen them all.

If you love your watery alpine landscapes you can get your fill here in the mid-Austrian region of Styria.

I started off at Steirischer Bodensee, a small lake that's known as the Styrian Lake Constance.

















The word lush could have been invented for it.

The fresh trout from the lake I ate for dinner was pretty special too.

On day two, it was the Sölktäler Nature Park, a 20km drive from the town of Schladming.

Sölktäler Nature ParkSölktäler Nature Park
















The Nature Park covers an area of 228 square kilometres and is home to 1,500 people.

I suspect there are more cows than humans.

I learnt a bit about cows and alpine farming while there:

A hike led to Schwarzensee - the Black Lake.

















I'm surprised to find out that it's privately owned - along with a big tranche of land - by a family that has a summer home on the lakeside.

I wonder if they'd let me waterski here....

Perhaps not. It would ruin the calm.

I've saved the best bit of water till last. 

I'm partial to a decent waterfall.

I ooh and aah at them like most people do to fireworks.

But there are waterfalls.....

Waterfall in Sölktäler Nature ParkWaterfall in Sölktäler Nature Park
















..... and there are waterfalls

This is the aptly-named Wild Waters, a sort of natural theme park, where a steep path takes you alongside the Riesach Falls.

They're the highest in the region, plunging 140 metres into the Untertal valley below.

Get up close and you will get wet - very wet.

At the Riesach fallsGetting very very wet
















But there's something I like more than lakes and waterfalls and that's mountains.

Schladming is a famous ski town and it has lots of them.

















In the winter, Schladming is part of the Ski Amade ski area, which claims to have 760km of pistes.

Fewer visitors come here in the summer than winter and those that do are overwhelmingly Austrian or German, though Thomson Lakes and Mountains have added Schladming to their summer brochure this year.

There is one excursion that should be on every tourist's agenda in both winter and summer: a trip up the super-quick gondola to the Dachstein glacier.

The Dachstein gondolaThe Dachstein gondola

At an altitude of 2,996 metres, it's the easternmost glacier in the Alps and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In 2013, a suspension bridge and The Stairway to Nothingness - a glass viewing platform hanging over the face of the Dachstein massif - was opened to the public.

In good visibility I am assured that you can see the Triglav mountains in Slovenia to the south and the Bohemian Forest in the Czech Republic to the north.

I'll have to take that on faith.

 Dachstein suspension bridgeDachstein suspension bridge















Dachstein suspension bridgeThe end of the bridge is somewhere back there
















The Stairway to NothingnessI'm over here! On The Stairway to Nothingness
















I guess it's an excuse for me to return in better weather.

It was just as cold but definitely brighter inside the Ice Palace that's been built inside the glacier.

In the Ice PalaceIn the Ice Palace
















On the ice throneIce Queen















It's been here for 10 years and it's covered with a white fleece to protect it from melting, a technique used on other glacial terrain:

Exit from the fleece-covered Ice PalaceExit from the fleece-covered Ice Palace















It's only about 4 degrees Celsius up here on this July day, and there are a few light snow flurries as the ploughs go about their business shifting the snow around.

Snow plough on the Dachstein glacierShifting snow











It's possible to ski some backcountry routes from here from around February to April.

In the summer, there are numerous popular walks from the bottom of the Dachstein gondola station.

At least there was something for me to see below the clouds.

Hiking at DachsteinHiking at Dachstein
















Hiking at DachsteinHiking at Dachstein
















Hiking at DachsteinHiking at Dachstein
















The small town of Schladming itself is a convenient summer base and has plenty going on.

My visit coincided with an international brass music festival that I both enjoyed and endured:

















There are public buses to get you from Schladming to all the main tourist destinations.

And if you book accommodation in the Schladming-Dachstein area, a Summer Card is included.

It gives free transport and entry to more than 100 attractions and 50 per cent off a load of others.

Schladming is only an hour's transfer from Salzburg airport and -  best of all  - it's cheap.

Food and drink is a lot more affordable than in many alpine resorts.

So it's as good a place as any to get your fix of Knödel and Kaiserschmarrn and wash it down with some Schnapps.



















Thomson Lakes & Mountains offers a week's all-inclusive from £759 at the Hotel Ferienalm in Schladming (based on two sharing) includig flights from Gatwick and transfers departing in September.

Direct flights available from all major airports. 

For more about Schladming-Dachstein see the the resort website.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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