The narrow Muretto Gap, the highest point on today’s trail, connected the Walser settlements of Salecchio and Agaro (Saley and Agher, in the Walser language) for centuries. For ages livestock trade and breeding and alpine farming have been the economic foundation of those simple communities, now long gone. Through light larch forests and wonderful bogs a second passage will take you to the hamlet of Crampiolo on the Alpe Devero pasture.
From the “Zum Gora” Hut walk back to Salecchio Superiore along the dark wooden houses and barns. Walk uphill through the superb Cortic pasture, where farmsteads cling stubbornly to the mountain slopes. Enter the larch wood and after a tight right turn reach the Alpe Salecchio pasture (1878 m). The pasture (“Kameralpu”, in Walser) is large and level. An abandoned cabin can provide shelter in case of bad weather. The trail now winds in the fragrant larch forest, among rhododendron shrubs. Follow the traces of a steep old trail to the now abandoned Casarola di Sopra pasture (2023 m). The lonely cabin there was once a cheesefarm. No stables exist, because livestock was left outside during the night. Now the cabin functions as an emergency shelter.
In the distance you will see the Passo del Muretto gap (2347 m), where you will get in a good hour’s walk along the northern slope. On the western side of the gap wonderful and sometimes rare Alpine flowers bloom gloriously in the calcareous meadows. Follow the high trail from where you can look down on Agaro’s artificial lake, whose waters submerged the Walser village in 1938. For centuries the wide pastures of Pojala provided the small community their only means of support. From the Pojala farmsteads (2148 m) walk the open ground between Monte del Sangiatto and Monte Corbenàs, called Bocchetta di Scarpia (2248 m). The view along the descent is stunning. The horizon is defined by the mountain peaks that mark the Swiss borderline: the Pizzo Cervandone (Scherbandung), the Punta Rossa (Rothorn) and the Punta d’Arbola (Ofenhorn). Further in the distance the shape of Pizzo Frizzi looks so close you may want to reach out and touch it. In front of you endless Alpine pastures spread out over wide plateaus and rolling slopes. Continue your descent towards Alpe Sangiatto, passing several ponds and bogs along the way. Electric fences keep livestock away from these delicate habitats. A little distance below the Alpe Sangiatto, in the larch wood, one of the the Alpe Devero most beautiful bogs awaits you. There the mown meadows of Crampiolo are renowned for their splendid blooming.
(1767 m). The minuscule settlement, with its little church, lies on the left bank of Devero creek. On the opposite side, a ten minutes’ walk will take you the Lago delle Streghe, the Lake of the Witches or Hexensee as it is called in German, with its nice peat bogs. The Park’s botanical garden, with its edelweisses and artemisia genepy (spiked wormwood) is definitely worth a visit.
Trail description: Andreas Weissen
Landscape, NATURA2000, protected areas
Landscape and nature
The Salecchio Superiore (Ober Saley) mown meadows are among the richest and most diverse man-made habitats. The larch woods with rhododendron shrubs are particularly fascinating. Calcareous Alpine meadows studded with rare flowers cover the western slopes of both passes. However as far as nature values are concerned the most interesting places are the wonderful bogs below the Sangiatto Pasture and the Lago delle Streghe ( “Lake of the Witches” ). By the Bocchetta della Scarpia lies the Devero protected area, with a level of protection somewhat less strict than a natural park. This region, like the area around the Monte Giove (Val Formazza) and the Devero-Veglia Nature Park, has continental relevance.
Protected areas, proposed Emerald sites, Natura 2000sites
• Alpe Veglia e Devero Nature Park
• Alpi Veglia e Devero - Monte Giove Natura 2000 site
Wildlife, Natura 2000 / Emerald species
Birds: Dryocopus martius (ca), Cinclus cinclus (ca), Monticola saxatilis (RL CH), Tetrao tetrix (ca / S)
Other species of interest along the trail:
Lilium bulbiferum (RL CH / §), Paradisea liliastrum (RL CH / §), Tulipa australis (RL CH / §), Chenopodium bonus-henricus (ca), Larix decidua (ca), Pulsatilla apiflora (ca), Eriophorum scheuchzeri (RL CH), Menyanthes trifoliata (RL CH), Parnassia palustris (ca), Potentilla palustris (RL CH), Drosera rotundifolia (RL CH / §), Tofielda pusilla (RL CH), Saxifraga rizoide (ca), Parnassius phoebe (RL CH), Aster alpinus (ca), Leontopodium alpinum (ca), Nigritella nigra (RL CH / §), Primula halleri (RL CH / E), Saponaria lutea (RL CH), Euphydryas aurinia ssp. Debilis (RL CH), Androsace vitaliana (RL CH / §), Gentiana kochiana (ca), Juncus jacquinii (ca), Pulsatilla vernalis (ca), Ranunculus kuepferi (ca), Campanula excisa (RL CH / E), Eritrichum nanum (RL CH / §), Loiseleuria procumbens (ca).
RL CH: Switzerland’s Red List of threatened species
§: Species enjoying national protection
E: Endemic species
ca: Characteristic species
Animals, Natura2000 species (not necessarily found along the trail)
Insects and crustaceans: Erebia christi, Euphydryas aurinia, Parnassius apollo, Parnassius mnemosyne, Maculinea arion.
Birds: Aquila chrysaetos, Falco peregrinus, Bonasa bonasia, Lagopus mutus helveticus, Tetrao tetrix tetrix, Alectoris graeca saxatilis, Bubo bubo, Glaucidium passerinum, Aegolius funereus, Dryocopus martius, Lanius collurio, Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax. Pernis apivorus, Milvus migrans, Milvus milvus, Gypaetus barbatus, Circus aeruginosus, Circus cyaneus, Circus pygargus, Tringa glareola, Alcedo atthis, Lullula arborea, Anthus campestris, Emberiza hortulana.
Mammals: Lynx lynx, Plecotus auritus
More on animals and plants
Habitats: mown meadows
Habitats: chestnut forests, mown meadows and extensive pastureland, rich meadows, and hay fields, larch forests, flat bogs, mountain bogs, calcareous meadows, mat grassland (with other alpine pasture grass), dwarf-bush hedges, and wind-exposed areas.
”Alpe Veglia e Alpe Devero: conservation of high mountain meadows and bogs”, Dr. Nat. Paolo Pirocchi, Dr. Nat. Giovanna Ianner, Parco Naturale Alpe Veglia e Alpe Devero, 2003.
WWF’s tips for hikers
Plan each stage carefully, purchase a 1:25000 map, use light but sturdy equipment (hiking boots, rain cape, binoculars…). Be sure to carry a small supply of water and food. We suggest you taste local food (possibly organic) at resting places and restaurants.
Do not litter, do not pick up flowers or rocks and in no way disturb the local fauna. It is unsafe for inexperienced hikers to leave the marked trails and it may cause disturbance to wildlife.
History and culture
This region was inhabited by Walser populations from the 13th to the 20th century. The Muretto Gap was an important passage for visiting relatives, for religious festivals and for the trade of cattle and other commodities. In the 1930’s the inhabitants of Agaro were forced to leave following the construction of a reservoir. In the 1960’s the last residents left Salecchio to settle in the valley floor. Today an eerie quiet reigns in the abandoned Walser villages.
• The international Walser association manages a virtual museum with precious information on the Walster history, culture, and economy.
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