10 April 2009

St Beatus Caves in Switzerland

 On the eastern side of the lake of Thun, near the famous tourist town of Interlaken in Switzerland, nestled into the massive Niederhorn Mountain is a cave system of which the first kilometer is open to the public during the summer months, on guided tours.

Legend has it that in the middle-ages an English or Irish Monk was sent to the region to teach the pagan inhabitants about Christianity. The monk was known by the roman name of St Beatus. He heard that there was an evil dragon living in the cave. St Beatus was not afraid to confront the dragon. He showed the dragon his holy cross. Enraged by the sight, the dragon ran down the mountain into the lake and was never seen again.

Today there are about 15km of the cave system surveyed, with the first kilometer well lit and open on guided tours during the summer months.

The cave entrance is high above the lake

The water that runs through the cave exits in a waterfall

The view over the lake is magnificent 

The presumed grave of St Beatus

The stalactites and stalagmites are fabulous 

Internal lakes are plentiful 

In the early 1960s I was a member of the Swiss Speleological Society and took part in a couple of expeditions during the winter months into the caves beyond the public access area. In summer, there is too much water running through the cave which makes access through some of the narrow openings impassable.  

Me (foreground) during an exploration trip in the 60s

Surveying the cave system 


  1. Hey you were cute. Seriously though they are beautiful caves and it must have been exciting crawling through them when you were young.

  2. If I don't get to see Switzerland before I die, I'm going to cry.

  3. This area is spectacular around lake Thun. I have never been up to the caves. Was it not very claustrophobic to crawl into the tiny spaces of the caves. So after the legend, lake Thun must have its very own Nessi monster! This is a very beautiful and interesting post. I wish you and Diane a happy Easter, T.

  4. Colin "HB"April 11, 2009 at 6:43 AM

    You are really a smoochie, smoochie one! Watch out Bill, she's is up to something. You'll be out in her garden very soon! Obediently obeying all instructions.

  5. The beauty is sooo perfect - it almost breaks my heart! Beautiful shots of a magical place..thanks for taking us along!

  6. Titania,
    Yes it can get claustrophobic. On one expedition, a member of the crew got stuck (mentally) in a very small shaft and we had difficulties getting him out of there.

  7. These caves are spectacular. Love seeing all the water. I'd love to crawl beyond the tourist area, during the dry season.

    Nice post. My first visit. I'll be back.

  8. The beauty of nature knows no bounds. I'd been to a cave with stalactites and stalagmites up in Wellington Caves in New South Wales beyond Central Tablelands.

    I had been also to Switzerland once and by and large, I can see God is so gracious with that beautiful country!

  9. Caves are fascinating in a claustrophobic kind of way. My scariest trip was in Samoa at a place where you dive down into a water hole, find the opening, and this swim up through a tunnel until you break the surface in an upper cave. It was a leap of faith as the tunnel was only just big enough for one swimmer and I often wondered what would happen if you met someone trying to come back the other way!

    Luckily the upper cave had access outside so the general rule was to only go one way and then walk back. I don't think I could be speleothingummybob.

  10. This is incredibly beautiful! Thanks for posting.


  11. You are braver than me Dad! I couldn't do that. It sure looks beautiful down there! Did your Mum and dad know the full extent of what you were getting up to?


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