This gorge is the most obscure trip we’ve done. I spotted it in a leaflet Jemma had in her room, and after a bit of work, found it where it was – the leaflet claimed it was in Neuchatel town centre which seemed weird. It’s actually only a couple of stops outside it actually. I was going to just go and do a finding-out trip while Jemma and Peedee did other stuff but in the end, Peedee wanted to come too. We met at about ten down in town, got something to eat, then got on our bus. The moment it was empty enough for us to find seats, we were at our stop. We had to follow a path past buildings, through car parks etc under the road, then I spotted the hotel. What I’d ben able to find out about the gorge was based around the hotel, such as the directions because they’re next door to each other. The first most obvious thing was a bit outside climbing wall. I have no idea what the rules are for using it because there’s no supervision, no one in charge or anything like that. Do we just turn up with ropes and harnesses? There was also a stone construction, for lack of a better word, which I climbed up inside and through various small tunnels and holes, not very high but high enough to be scared of coming down again. Then we went down to the gorge.
The first bit is a very icy platform with holes in it which you can see through, down to the water below, or in this case, ice. Then Peedee discovered some steps, so we went underneath and into what turned out to be the ruins of an old mill. The ceiling was decorated in little calcite straws, there were icicles on the wall and the ladder to get back out was very narrow and wobbly. We went up the steps onto the top of the gorge and walked above it, then down to a kind of beach. The shore was all frozen, in fact, half the river was frozen and it looked incredible.
This is just downstream from the beach:
From there, we could see the mill but the only way to get a good photo of it was to use the stepping stones above the frozen river:
and this is what I achieved:
We went back onto the planks, across the river and down the other side. From here, we could see a frozen waterfall:
going into a very green and very deep splashpool. Chunks of ice had broken off in little circle shapes and they were floating round and round in the water. Then the river narrowed down and went through a tunnel. We couldn’t get down there (well, we could if we went through the wire netting over the locked gate) but I looked closely at it and then I noticed something:
An absolutely massive icicle curtain, with a longer icicle at each end, like an enormous fang a little way inside the tunnel! We tried to get so many pictures of that but it was just too far in to get any clear ones. We followed the steps up and out of the gorge, hoping to find the other end of the tunnel. We went through more industrial places, through car parks, past where metal fences live when they’re not being put up to make pens for crowds, across some random train tracks, and eventually realised our path went right over the motorway and up the hilly bit of town on the other side. That didn’t look right at all, so we decided we would have to turn round and go back.
We went back to the hotel and then I discovered some icy stone stairs, which turned out to lead to another bit of gorge, in the other direction. This was probably my favourite bit.
There was a half-frozen waterfall, going into a windy pool, where one side was completely lined with icicles. Top to bottom:
Peedee made a few videos of it, we discovered that we couldn’t go any higher, and anyway, the gorge stopped there and turned into a calm if slightly icy river, so we went and had a look at the climbing wall instead before we made our way back to the main road. We went in Coop so I could get some chocolate to make some bus fare out of my 5 franc piece which the machine won’t accept, then we had to run because the bus appeared. My camera fell out of my pocket, but we did manage to get on in time. Three, maybe four, stops later we were at the top of the hilly shopping street in Neuchatel, so we jumped off there and went to a random bar for coffee and hot chocolate.