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Published/updated on 21.06.2017 by GabrielleMerk | 25831 points | Date of Tour: 18.06.2017 | Favourite Entries (5)
The Canton Valais has always been very dry and this caused the early mountain farmers to become very creative (sometimes dangerously so) with how to channel the water from the higher elevations along the steep cliff faces in the deep...
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The Canton Valais has always been very dry and this caused the early mountain farmers to become very creative (sometimes dangerously so) with how to channel the water from the higher elevations along the steep cliff faces in the deep ravines to their meadows at higher elevations.
All over Canton Valais are such irrigation channels / canals called "Suonen" in German or "Bisses" in French, many of which are still in use, and many along which there are trails you can walk. In most places there are ditches through which runs a narrow stream, and next to the ditch is an elevated walkway to access the stream to clean out blockages and to control which meadows receive water on which day, by way of a system of sluices.
In the steeper ravines and gorges the stone had to be carved to carry water, and often wooden flumes had to be attached the the rock faces. Most of the work was done without any safety harnesses or safety nets.
The "Bisse du Torrent Neuf" (built in 1430) in the ravine through which flows the river Morge, has recently been totally restored, with the addition of several suspension bridges in areas where the original trail has been damaged by landslides, and safety rails have been mounted on the ravine side of the trail making it quite safe to walk even for families with children.
When coming by bus (check the schedule as they don't run often), the hike starts at the Prafirmin stop and the first 40 minutes are a cool and leisurely walk through the forest along a regular water channel. Once arrived at the Chapel (children are encouraged to ring the bell) there is a café / restaurant with a donation box (not required) to help with the costs of the restoration.
From here the trail follows the cliff face for 3.5 km to the point furthest at the back (Brac) where there is also a restaurant. Along the way you pass across four suspension bridges, several covered passages, a tunnel, and many places where you have to duck under the overhanging shale. Always you have spectacular views into the ravine and down into the Rhone Valley. Along the way are pictures and descriptions of how the canals were built hundreds of years ago.
Generally one would return the same way (especially if coming by car), as heading into the ravine (after Brac) means either a 3-km paved road to Chandolin from the "Pont Du Diable" or waiting till 18:10 for the single bus that descends from the Sanetsch Pass from June 24th till mid-October.
If coming by car, there is a parking area in a curve in the road where the canal crosses, near the Chapelle Ste.Marguerite.
Note: Although the trail has been made fairly safe, people with fear of heights are discouraged from doing this tour, and all children must be accompanied by adults.
- The trail is closed during rainy weather
- Not recommended for people with Vertigo
- OK to do with children but children must be accompanied by their parents.
- Always have to watch for falling rocks.
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Detailed map with traced route on SwissMobility map, including elevation profile
GPS file for download
Route description in text form
Printable tour description
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This easy hike starts in the village of St. Leonard in the Rhone Valley, and follows the Clavau irrigation channel toward the city of Sion (capital city of Canton Valais) with... more >>