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Forests, rivers, caves and a snake

Central Switzerland, somewhere near Germany, France and Austria.

Today’s hike took us through forests and along a rocky ridge from where we enjoyed a great view of Switzerland and three of its neighbouring countries. Any idea which canton we were in?

From the car park at Saalhöhe we followed the yellow signs to Wasserflüh. Setting off in the shade of the forest we followed an easy path enjoying the views and the lush green vegetation. All very calming apart from the small sections with the sheer drops, it was a ridge walk after all! Not ideal for folks with vertigo and definitely a good idea to wear appropriate footwear. Further on, the path became increasingly rocky which slowed our progress and gave us the chance to appreciate the wildflowers clinging on to the stones in the middle of the path. Amazing how something so delicate can grow in such seemingly difficult conditions.

After Wasserflüh we had a quick picnic stop then headed back towards our starting point. Being a loop, we couldn’t just go back the way we came so returned below the ridge, following the marked path through meadows and past Dinkel fields. Dinkel, a type of wheat, is an ancient whole grain cultivated here in Switzerland. I only know that it was Dinkel as the kind farmer had put a sign in his field telling passers-by what he was growing. I wish that all farmers did that! Incidentally, the English name for this grain is spelt but somehow I think I prefer the German word that I'm more familiar with, Dinkel.

In an effort to promote biodiversity some fields had been given over to wildflowers. Based upon the number of butterflies and bees that we saw, this seemed to be a success. It’s so reassuring to see the land being used so well – bio agriculture, paths for walkers, wildflowers for insects and forests for everyone. It felt like I’d gone back in time.

I should also briefly mention yesterday's hike in roughly the same area. We started at Grellingen and did a loop involving forests, rivers, caves and a snake. Some of the caves extended a surprising way into the hills and it was reassuring to know that they were safe to visit, assuming I'd understood the German correctly (gefahrlos begehbar). Getting to some of the caves was a bit of an adventure at times, scrambling up and down rocky slopes and crossing a stream across a strategically placed tree trunk. And the 'gefahrlos' perhaps didn't apply to all of the caves as one in particular had a surprisingly slippery floor.

Finally, in answer to the question at the start, in Sunday's hike we were in Solothurn, and Saturday's hike started in Basel-land. Oops, I've just checked and actually Wasserflue is in Aarau but at least it's quite close to Solothurn.

Language tip

Today’s topic is word transformation.

Many words can be transformed from one word class to another. For example the verb enjoy can become enjoyable (adj) or enjoyment (noun). Similarly we can choose to use the noun success or the adjective successful.

Word transformation is useful when learning a language. Can you think why?

Here are a few reasons:-

1. Transforming words is a simple way to expand your vocabulary.

2. Being able to adapt words can improve your writing and your verbal skills.

3. Knowing the patterns associated with nouns and adjectives can help you to guess the meaning of unknown words.

So next time you have some vocabulary to learn, think about word transformation. Don’t just learn the adjective successful, instead think about how you can change it to learn other words such as success (n), unsuccessful (adj), successfully (adv) and succeed (v). This will help you in real life and also if you want to do a Cambridge exam!


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