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Lake Thun, Switzerland
Lake Thun is 17.5 km (10.9 miles long) with a maximum depth of  217 m (712 ft)

Standard Route (2022)

Thun - Hunibach - Hilterfingen - Oberhofen - Gunten - Spiez - Faulensee - Merligen - Beatenbucht - Sundlauenen Beatushoehlen - Interlaken West  (and return)

The scheduled timing for the run is 2 hours 10 minutes in each direction with a twenty minute lay-over at Interlaken.
The summer timetable provided six return daily sailings with clockface departures. Paddle Steamer Blumlisalp was rostered for the 12:40 departure.
All services except that of Blumlisalp call at Neuhaus after Sundlauenen and before Interlaken
The paddle steamer also provided an evening cruise on Tuesdays to Saturdays, calling at all piers until turning back at Beatenbucht. 
The early morning notor vessel departure from Thun (08:40) crosses from Hunibach to Gwatt-Deltapark and continues on the south bank to Einigen and Spiez. The 16:10 return from Interlaken also follows this route 

Note : The photographs below come from more than one year although a large majority are from August 2022

Above : Blumlisalp at her home berth at Thun in 2022. The berth is very close to the railway station and not far from the city centre. It is on a special channel cut beside the River Aare which is only navigable for a short distance from the lake to the city.

Above : Looking back towards Thun with the ship channel to the left and the River Aare to the right. Vessels head out bow first but on return turn off Hunibach and return to Thun astern.

Above : At the mouth of the Aare and looking out over the lake is the castle hotel, part of Schadau Park. The the right the Aare and to the left the shipyard of the BLS. When Blumlisalp was first withdrawn in 1971 and her survival at least as a static exhibit virtually ensured, there were plans to establish a national museum of steam at the park with the ship taking pride of place. As it transpired, Blumlisalp was returned to service in 1992 and the other museum exhibits transferred to a new location at Winterthur.  

Above : Shortly after entering the lake, vessels call at Hunibach on the northern shore. Although outside the official city limits, it is effectively joined on to Thun.

Above : Closely after Hunibach is the pier at Hilterfingen. The northern shore at this point has relatively gentle hills. The main Bernese Oberland alpine land mass rears up close to the southern shore

Above : Hugging the northern lakeshore, the next pier is at the picturesque and popular historic town of Oberhofen.

Above : Blumlisalp arrives at Oberhofen

Above : Oberhofen castle dominates the lakefront which is photogenic from all angles

Above : After leaving Oberhofen,the ship remains on the north bank heading for Gunten. Three of the most renowned peaks in the Bernese Oberland come ever closer into view : the Eiger (3967 m), Moench (4110 m) and Jungfrau (4158 m)

Above : The next stop is Gunten, clinging to the increasingly steep hillside. The pierside Hotel  Hirschen has been lying derelict having closed in 2007 but is currently (2022) subject to a controversial proposal to turn the building into apartments.

Above : After leaving Gunten, vessels turn south to head to the opposite shore for the first time. Straight ahead is the impressive mountain Niesen (2362 m), which from this angle looks like a pyramid. Next stop is Spiez.

Above : Arrival at Spiez, showing the historic "old town" down by the lakeside. Spiez is the largest town on the lake aside from Thun and a major draw for passengers using the lake ships.

Above : View over the lower town and pier area of Spiez, with Blumlisalp at the pier, taken from the modern area of the town in 2001. 

Above : Crowds for the steamer at Spiez remain healthy, just as they were in this photo from 2001

Above : On return to Spiez, the regular hourly service sees Blumlisalp waiting off as a motor vessel clears the pier area. Passengers from Interlaken wishing to return by boat would have had to disembark at the earlier pier of Faulensee and catch this motor vessel - the final service from Thun to Interlaken. Although the Niesen dominates the view from the north, the view from the east is completely different. The Stockhorn (2190 m, visible behind the peak in the centre background) can be regarded as part of the first group of "Alps" in the region, which rear up from the gently undulating land between  Bern and Thun.

Above : Blumlisalp stays on the southern shore for her next stop, Faulensee.

Above : On her return call she sweeps round Faulensee Bay before calling at the pier

Above : After Faulensee it is back to the north bank and the village of Merligen, located at a point where the northern side begins to feature much more dramatic scenery

Above : The pier at Merligen is right in front of the Hotel Beatus, a spa and wellness hotel, which dominates the village. The hotel, with its south-facing aspect, has a sunbathing and swimming area and fine view over the lake

Above : After Merligen, the ships stay on the increasingly spectacular north side and the next call is at Beatenbucht, on a small bay at the foot of the Beatus / Niederhorn mountain

Above : There is no village at Beatenbucht, but the vessel call is to connect with the Niederhorn funicular railway

Above : This view of the outbound approach to Sundlauenen-Beatushoehlen is a little misleading .......

Above : Sundlaunenen-Beatushoehlen pier is close to the base of a sheer outcrop of rock along which a cantilevered road perches and enters a tunnel en route to Beatenbucht. The pier serves the entrance to a complex of caves in the Beatus mountain which is popular with tourists and the small settlement nearby.

Above : Seen from the road above, Blumlisalp returns towards Thun

Above : Blumlisalp prepares to leave the lake and enter the Aare canal, built to the right hand side of the River Aare which links Lake Thun and Lake Brienz via the low-lying valley where Interlaken is situated. She has to wait off until the vessel on the preceeding service (MV Berner Oberland) has backed out of the canal and turned into the lake itself

Above : Blumlisalp proceeds along the Aare Canal towards her terminus at Interlaken-West

Above : Blumlisalp at Interlaken-West from where she has to reverse into Lake Thun. She has no choice - the canal built alongside the (far less navigable) River Aare was opened in 1892 and means that the ship has to go astern all the way to the lake - a distance of about a mile and a half. The canal was built to allow ships to get to Interlaken which is a major tourist centre. Although the railways soon meant that the canal was not needed for regular traffic, it was essential to attract the tourist hordes which in the early 20th century were becoming the main source of business for the ships here. Blumlisalp was built in 1906 to capitalise on this market.

Go to :

Paddle Steamer Blumlisalp

Lake Thun - Paddle Steamers of the past

Gordon Stewart's Photographs of Lake Thun and paddle steamer Blumlisalp  :  
1996 : 2001 : 2016 : 2022
Die Geschichte der Schiffahrt auf dem Thuner- und Brienzersee
By Erich Liechti, Jurg Meister and Josef Gwerder
Published in 1986 by Ott Verlag, Thun
ISBN 3-7225-6334-8
Ship-by-ship chronologies, copiously illustrated and including line diagrams of vessel layouts.

Das Salondampfschiff Blumlisalp....eine Legende
By Erich Liechti
Published in 1993 by Ott Verlag, Thun
ISBN 3-7225-6887-0
The amazing story of Lake Thun's only large paddler, her demise, eventual renewal and return to service

Blumlisalp - Die Rettung des letzten Thunersee-Raddampfers
By Peter Creola, of the Vaporama Society
Published in 1992 by Fischer Druck AG, 3110 Munsingen-Bern
ISBN 3-85681-280-6
Detailed story of the campaign to save the Blumlisalp, the restoration itself and her return to steam in 1992.

Brief details of the vessels can be found in the following more general Swiss steamer guides:
Dampfschiffe Schweiz
Anton Raber and Peter Horlacher
Verlag Dampferzeitung, Luzern, Switzerland
Brief detals in four languages including English

Paddle Steamers of the Alps
Leslie Brown and Joe McKendrick
Ferry Publications
ISBN 1-871947-19-7
Illustrated profiles of the steamers and operating areas

Schiffahrt auf den Schweizer Seen
Anton Raber
Orell Fussli Verlag, Zurich
ISBN 3-280-00285-0
Illustrated round up of Swiss lake vessels, with fleet lists and sections on vessel design and engineering.

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Lake Thun - Paddle Steamers of the past
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