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Between Macolin and Neuveville in changing weather

I have a lot of memories of Macolin, having spent a fair amount of time there in my youth during training camps. I also kept some memories of the Hohmatt, a farm transformed, as is often the case in the region, into a restaurant. Only once, I had crossed by the heights but then I had gone down the Douanne gorges to take the boat and return to Bienne.

As the years passed, I said to myself that it would be fun to repeat, even just a part of the hike I did then. Here, I decided to go down to Neuveville on foot. In doing so, I had the possibility, if the weather became terrible, to take the Prêles funicular.

Reaching Macolin is very simple: just take the funicular which leaves from Bienne. To reach the departure station, you have the choice of going there on foot or taking the bus. All in all, if one considers the time spent waiting for the bus, the time needed to reach the departure station is the same. It all depends on whether you want to walk or not. Here, given the hike that awaited me, I opted for the bus.

At the upper funicular station, you start by passing by behind the administrative buildings of the National Sports Center to take footpath. This path joins the old sports hall. From there, you can follow the road in a bend to reach the Hohmatt (this is the one we followed when we went to this restaurant at night). But it is preferable to follow the marked path crossing the forest and joining the road a little higher up. After the Hohmatt, it is a matter of climbing a little further to reach the Waldhaus, also belonging to the National Sports Center. This place is the highest point of the entire hike.

After crossing a succession of forests and pastures, we arrive in sight of Lamboing and it is from this place that we go down towards the Twannbach valley. The descent takes place along a magnificent, paved path. Arriving at the bottom of the valley, near old mills, you must then cross the stream and go up the slopes opposite to reach the forest near Prêles.

In the village of Prêles, you can take the funicular going down to Légeresse. This can be an interesting variation if you are too tired. In my case, I continued climbing towards a small pass near the Pâturage du Haut. From there, we just go down towards Neuveville. In doing so, we pass not far from the Fontaine du Velou, a large pool which is filled from a spring. We pass behind the Envers de Châtillon (was there an ancient oppidum at this place? The name suggests so) and near the Gibet.

After the long descent, it does not take long to arrive in the town of Neuveville via the old Faubourg and the Red Tower. To reach the station, you then cross the magnificent old town to exit via the Tour de Rive.

Itinerary: Macolin – Hohmatt – Les Prés de Macolin – Les Moulins – Prêles – Fontaine du Velou – Gibet – La Neuveville
Distance: 15.5km
Altitude gain: 370m positive / 810m negative
Duration: 4h30

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