Morlon Beach, Lac de GruyèreOctober 11 in Switzerland ⋅ ☀️ 14 °C
Switzerland just keeps on delivering! Morlon Beach is a grassy promontory on the western shore of Lac de Gruyère. We've settled Martha into the best spot in the car park, with views over the water to the beautiful woodland slopes opposite. Each evening the earth has spun to just the right angle for the sun to set the leaves ablaze with colour. The Beeches crisping up to rich reds and browns, while the Silver Birches sport an eye catching golden hue.
The journey here took us past the northern tip of Lake Geneva, or Lac Léman as the locals call it. We couldn't quite believe it was the same lake whose southern tip we were seeing three days ago, as we'd travelled so many kilometres in this time! Stopping to use free van services, we walked to the shore to catch a far off glimpse of Chillon Castle in Montreaux. The guide book had highly recommended it, but it didn't seem to stand out from the angle we viewed it. Admittedly as we later drove past, it's position on a small headland and many castellated cylindrical turrets made it a more striking sight.
The weather had taken a welcome turn, so arriving at Lac Gruyére mid afternoon we made the most of the heat, Will taking the canoe for a paddle and swim and Vicky sitting out beside a huge bush of daisy-like flowers being intensively pollinated by a swarm of very happy honey bees. Even a few red Common Darter Dragonflies were seen living up to their name.
Since leaving the UK nearly 3 weeks ago we've been moving on almost daily. We've avoided the expense of campsites in Switzerland and have opted instead for wild camping spots, but have been mindful not to outstay our welcome. Morlon Beach was a very welcoming place and we ended up having a good rest and staying three nights in total.
The car free promontory hosted picnic benches, fire pits and easy launching. On the first evening Vicky watched a couple of swimmers take to the water with floats, one of them going so far she disappeared out of sight! We got chatting to Geoff; originally from Nottingham he now lived just around the corner from this beautiful lake and had come for a paddle on his SUP. He asked how long we were touring for and Will replied 'either three and a half weeks or three and a half years depending on Brexit'. As it turns out Geoff has some involvement with the EU Parliament and was very sceptical that the UK would leave soon. We hope not least for our continued freedom of movement that his faith is well placed.
Over the weekend visitors from far and wide flocked to Morlon Beach, although it never felt crowded. Fishers, more Stand Up Paddle boarders, walkers and teams of rowers all made the most of the glorious weather. We counted as many as 6 rowing boats out together; apparently they race to the island castle further down the lake for fondue before rowing back! The valley also seemed a popular route for gliders and hobby planes, which buzzed overhead in the brilliant blue sky.
On Saturday we packed a picnic lunch and took Little Green for a tour, disembarking at a wooden picnic table on the opposite shore. The reflections of the mountains were a captivating sight as we ate. The level of the lake was high and on our way back we discovered a couple of tables in a foot of water!
That night we were kept awake by noisy motorhomers drinking, singing and playing music into the early hours. We view it as a privilege to be able to stay here for free and as such are as considerate as possible towards those living nearby. It is so easy for the bad behaviour of a few to sully the reputation of the whole community.
From one extreme to another, the highlight of our time at Morlon was meeting Antoine and Gina Ackermann. Will had found a landing net while out canoeing and offered it to Antoine when he saw him fishing. As a consequence Antoine invited us both round to his wooden cabin on the lake shore where we met Gina!
They lived elsewhere in the canton and had bought the place in April as a 'back to basics' getaway. We were given a quick tour of the simple, homely interior, with three landscapes Antoine had painted in oil on canvass hanging on the wall. The cabin didn't have mains electricity or water, but outside, a spring fed pipe trickled into a tree trunk trough. Antoine invited neighbours over and the six of us sat out with a large bottle of Rosé which had been chilling in the trough. From the natural timber table and benches on the patio there were amazing views accross the lake to the wooded hill. As the group nibbled on crisps, cherry tomatoes and salami, the conversation in French was too fast for us to follow all the time, but it was great to reacquaint ourselves with deciphering and speaking the language. Of course Antoine spoke better English than we did French, but we continued to make an effort as the neighbours departed and a nice bottle of Italian red was uncorked.
It was extremely kind of this generous couple to host us strangers for a drink, so we were blown away when they asked us to stay for a late lunch! We took a short break back at Martha before Will paddled Little Green round to the grassy shore below the cabin so he and Antoine could go out fishing after we'd eaten.
Gina was a fantastic cook and produced a delicious pasta and bolognese sauce, with a leafy salad and crusty bread. When she learnt Vicky didn't eat meat, she created a special vegetarian accompaniment version with tomatoes and lots of garlic- yum! Antoine brought out yet another bottle of red which he'd acquired from his vintner friend in Hungary. As the conversation progressed it emerged that we were talking to the Director General of Bat-mann; a large Swiss construction firm. He worked very hard during the week but regarded the weekend as time for relaxing, which happily or us included drinking wine with company. He and Gina had a several cellars of wine and certainly knew how to pick a good one!
Our meal was rounded off with wild garlic cheese, coffee, kirsch and some Swiss chcolate. The two fishers paddled out to while away a happy few hours, Vicky went on a woodland wander and Gina took a siesta.
As full time travellers we've seen many sights and met many people. It would be near impossible to remember every moment with clarity, but some experiences make their individual mark. The time we spent and connection we made with Gina and Antoine this Sunday will become one of these enduring memories that stand out clearly when we reminisce in years to come about our time in Switzerland. We feel humbled and very grateful to them for reaching out and opening up their home to us.Read more