Switzerland, Austria

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The trail in Switzerland and Austria crosses attractive countryside and mountains, much of it alongside lakes and rivers. It starts in Basel, following the trail of Columbanus and his followers as they sailed up the Rhine; passes through Zürich; along the shores of Lake Constance to Bregenz, in Austria; then south across the Alps, passing briefly through Liechtenstein. It passes notably through St. Gallen ,founded by Gall, Columbanus’ closest companion. This town is of particular interest because of the beautiful Cathedral and the world famous Abbey Library, on the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage.

The last stretch on Swiss soil is over the Septimer Pass (2310 m), which then brings you down into the Bergell valley and finally to Chiavenna in Italy.

From Basel, the walker will follow the Rhine to Koblenz where it joins the Aare; then follow the Aare to Baden, and up the Limmat river to Zürich. There is then a choice to go to Rapperswil by boat or on foot alongside the lake of Zürich.

From Pfäffikon to Wattwil the walker can cross the lake of Zürich on the lake dam to Rapperswil and follow the Saint James way to Wattwil; or else pass through the small village of Tuggen. A nice walk over the hills brings the walker to the abbey of Magdenau where accommodation is available for pilgrims.  

From St. Gallen the walker will head down towards Arbon on Lake Constance where he can, once again, choose between travelling by to boat to Bregenz in Austria or walking a part or all of this stage. Columbanus and his fellows remained in Bregenz for two years. Gall decided to stay in the region of Lake Constance and build his hermitage, while Columban and the other monks continued south, passing through Vorarlberg (Austria) and Liechtenstein. The trail leads the walker back into Switzerland as it climbs up to Chur, over the Lenzerheide mountain, down to Tiefencastel and up again to the frontier, via Savognin and Bivio.