Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Xmas & 2009

Just to wish all our members and other supporters a very happy Xmas, and a wealth of walking in 2009 :-)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Gift Memberships - a great present for 2009

BWs Gift Memberships for 2009 are available - a snip at 10 euros. Membership gives reduced entry to all our events, plus a range of other benefits, including discounts on books about Brittany. In the form of a designed voucher, the Gift Memberships can be sent, together with a membership card and a personal message, to any address in Brittany or the UK. Contact us at brittanywalks@orange.fr for more details.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Xmas Event - Workshops!

Card-making, cake-decorating, upholstery, Morris dancing - all entered into with gusto and superbly well led by Joan, Liz, Jude and Lesley.
Thank you to everyone who came to support this event and contributed to such an enjoyable day - we are very fortunate in our members (and their friends!). Special thanks to Joan and John, our hosts, Liz and Alan, Jude and Jeanne for all their hard work.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Xmas Fair

Tomorrow, Friday 12th December, is our association Xmas Fair. For full details see http://www.brittanywalks.com/, but there will be nice things to eat, nice people to meet and bargain gifts to buy (3€ stall), as well as the new BRITTANY WALKS RECIPE BOOK, Morris dancing, cake-decorating, card-making and upholstery, not to mention a lot of sitting around chatting. We are looking forward to welcoming members and their guests :-)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Days of Discovery

For September 2009 Brittany Walks is organising a walking festival throughout Brittany, with many routes of historical and natural interest led by English-speaking guides. We hope that English-speakers of many nationalities will participate in this event and that it will forge good community connections for all. If any walking groups from abroad are interested in joining in, don't hesitate to contact us - the more the merrier :-)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A dog's eye view of our walk at Le Moustoir

When I went on my morning walk the frost was lying thick on the ground and a thin film of ice had settled on the driveway. I saw my master slip as he made his way across to the hen house but I was pretty sure footed on my four paws. By the time of the afternoon walk the sun had thawed away the frost and, though there was a forecast of rain, things looked pretty good. My mistress, Gloria, had spent all of Monday morning preparing the ingredients and baking the cakes for her fellow walkers. As we waited in the car park opposite the Le Moustoir church, car after car kept arriving , crunching the gravel as they ground to a halt. I could see that my mistress was getting a bit stressed and worried that there might not be enough cake to go round. I was getting worried, too, because if there wasn’t enough cake for them there wouldn’t be enough for us dogs.
Anyway by the time we set off a record recent attendance of five dogs, Poppy, Bonnie, Tex, Merlin, and I, oh, and thirty six humans, had assembled. Pops and I really liked this walk. There were plenty of scents and smells along the country tracks and we liked rooting through the carpet of leaves to get to the source of the scent. Also we were often walking alongside the Nantes-Brest canal and other watercourses so I could always jump in to clean off the accumulated mud. Pops and I led the group for most of the way but occasionally we had to fall back to check that our master and mistress were O.K. (they are getting on a bit, you see).
We passed by Lock 191 at Kerhun, crossed the boundary between Cote d’Armor and Finistere and had our cake stop beside the Nantes to Brest canal, just after a cake-spotting heron had flown overhead. The choice was between a spicy apple cake or a date, banana and walnut cake. There was enough to go round and what’s more I saw some humans, who won’t be nameless, sneak two slices. As I feared there was no cake left for us, but, at least my master had brought along a handful of dry dog biscuits. The trouble was that instead of giving them all to Pops and me he shared them out amongst all the other dogs.
You are probably wondering why I am writing this blog. Well, Wendy had just stopped the group at the point where we left the canal and had to walk on a stretch of busy public road. She asked the group for full concentration on the road and no conversation. No talking? She must be joking. With this group it’s like asking the Pope not to pray. Anyway, afterwards my master made a fatal error by asking her who was writing the blog today. Wendy says “You are, unless you can find someone else to do it”. That’s how I got lumbered. Instead of playing with the other dogs (there was a particularly nice one that master called a ram enclosed in a pen with long black shaggy fur and strange looking twirly curly horns) I then had to concentrate on where we had been, what we had seen, and where we were going. I asked Pops for her help but she was too busy trying to quell a little skirmish between Tex and Merlin.
We always seem to pass through a few boggy areas. This time the obligatory swamp claimed a few ankles and one of Brenda’s trainers. Pops and I were very muddy, but, thankfully, the rain that had been forecast didn’t arrive until after we had been unceremoniously bundled back in to the boot of the car.
I hope that you liked reading my account of our 5.5 kilometre walk. If you did perhaps you could have a word and make sure that on the next walk there is enough cake for the dogs, too.
Jessie Lawson

Le Moustoir - some of Dick's photos

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Walk on Tuesday December 2

We have a fairly short and easy walk at Le Moustoir, just east of Carhaix, this Tuesday at 2pm. It's a pretty route including a long stretch of the Nantes-Brest canal, where the towpath is usually easy-going whatever the weather. Other paths are very grassy and will certainly be quite wet, so footwear with a good grip advised, and maybe a walking pole or stick. Meet in the large parking area opposite the church on the main road in the village (old N164). All welcome, including well-behaved dogs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Xmas Event for members and their guests

Not long to go now until our Xmas event on Friday December 12th. It's an all-day social/eating/drinking/fund-raising affair and we hope to welcome lots of members and their friends. Drop in for a chat or come and do a workshop on cake-decorating, card-making, upholstery or Morris dancing. Lots of opportunities for Xmas present solutions including books, the 3 euro stall and gift memberships for 2009. Lots of nice things to eat and drink, plus the Brittany Walks recipe book will be on sale for the first time.
Details and directions on www.brittanywalks.com

Friday, November 21, 2008

Favourite BWs Dogs

We are fortunate to enjoy the company of some exceedingly nice dogs at Brittany Walks!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kay's account of our Squirriou Walk

(Photos by Dick Westcott)
We set off to discover the delights of the Squiriou valley and the Forest Domainale de St-Ambroise on the circuit de Trinivel joined by three new walkers and Merlin the Jack Russell. Leaving the disused railway station we crossed the bridge over the river Squiriou and headed uphill, which soon warmed us up as there was a distinct nip in the air. Plunging down into the mainly pine clad forest we snaked along the muddy track before the steady climb up past huge piles of timber awaiting collection. Tempting views of the countryside beyond were glimpsed through gaps in the trees, highlighted by the autumn sun. Whilst we settled into the rhythm of chatting and walking, the dogs enjoyed the puddle strewn path.At the forest cross roads we followed a path over a small stream swollen by the recent rain and on into a delightful deciduous woodland.Their leaves carpeted the pathway that led us up into the tiny hamlet of Trinivel. Here we had long views over the forest and beyond. By the peaceful chapel of St. Corentin we stopped for refreshment and enjoyed Liz's delicious cakes.Thus refreshed we rejoined the trail passing by Kervellé and Kermarzin. Here we turned onto 'l'ancienne voie ferrée' , the old track was strewn with leaves and the Squiriou burbled alongside us. The group had spread out over fifty metres or so, and as they rustled through the leaves it reminded us of the trains that once use to puff their way along the same route.Back at the car park Dick entertained everyone by showing off his dog handling skills whilst attempting to take a group photo of all the dogs.
Kay & Steve Attwell

Friday, November 14, 2008

Walk next week - 18th November

We have an event next Tuesday: a walk of 9kms involving forest tracks, an old chapel, rural hamlets and an easy return in the valley of the Squirriou river along a former railway track. Meet at 2pm in the parking of the old railway station on the D42 between Scrignac and Berrien.
All welcome: scrummy cake, courtesy of Liz, to reward everyone's efforts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Brittany Walks Recipe Book

Since our summer members' party where the food got a unanimous vote of approval, BWs has been preparing a little recipe book from that occasion and from the delicious cakes provided by various members for our walks. Joan has worked very hard on this project, and we are grateful to all those who have contributed a sweet or savoury recipe to the collection. The result will be available for the first time at the Xmas event on December 12 and subsequently at each BWs event.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Members' News - Starling Watch (and a bird in lacy knickers)

Lesley, Dick, Kay & Steve went on starling watch this week, with surprising results! Lesley tells the story.........

I’m a self confessed ‘Birder’, in fact my late husband pointed out to me that I collect binoculars like other women collect shoes. I confess to that also. Thus it was that when I overheard two fellow walkers, Steve and Dick discussing the amazing spectacle of millions of Starlings coming in to roost over the Somerset levels, I rather rudely butted in and pointed out that such a display was on offer on winter evenings in the Monts d’Arree. They asked me if I would meet them to show them where this spectacle takes place and we agreed that we would meet late one afternoon at the Chapelle St-Michel-de-Brasparts, where the birds fly in just above head height. We would then drive on down to their roosting place where one can witness some 2,000,000 Starlings forming kaleidoscope shapes in the evening sky, just as I had done in November last year. To this end, Steve, Kay, Dick and I all met on Tuesday 4th at 4.30pm. The sky was relatively clear, and as a glowing red ball of setting sun was sinking behind the distant hills, silhouetting them black against the orange sky, everything seemed to be full of promise. There was just one thing missing….Starlings!
It started to get cold, very cold; still no Starlings. I saw one flock flying way below us, towards the roost , and as some cloud had started to move in we decided that perhaps the birds were flying low this evening. Then Steve pointed out a very unusual bird only feet away from us. We discussed what it may be. It was very pretty with a finch-like peach coloured bill. His wings and face were brown, streaked in places with white, and his underneath was the purest of whites. He had fluffy feathers growing down over the tops of his legs that gave the appearance that he was wearing Victorian lacy knickers. After some deliberation, we reached the conclusion that this was a Snow Bunting (later confirmed by our bird books). This bird was amazingly friendly and when he saw Dick with his camera, he positively posed. (He probably thought he would be on Autumn Watch).
We eventually submitted to the cold and drove on down to the Starlings’ roost in time to see some large flocks coming in to settle noisily in the trees…no sky dance this evening, though. So where were the Starlings? Although there were a lot there, there was nothing like the number that I had previously witnessed. (A) We were 10 days earlier than the date that I had photographed the sky dance last year and at migration time this can make a great difference (B) If scheduled wildlife continues to not turn up on cue for Bill Oddie and crew, what chance did we stand?
I have always maintained that the big difference between men and women bird watchers is that men are Twitchers and ‘trainspot’ birds whereas women are more interested in bird behavior. However, I drove away from Monts d’Arree that evening with an ear to ear grin, because I would gladly have stood for hours at the top of that hill, in a bitterly cold wind just to see such a rare and beautiful little bird as that Snow Bunting…….. Oh dear!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Meet the Members (4) Derek Mussett

Derek has had a very active life, with flying and gliding featuring largely in his impressive list of past-times and occupations. He has also worked in the London and Essex Fire Brigades. A keen horse-rider and sailor too, it’s surprising that Derek has found the time to work hard on restoring his house in Brittany. But as so many other people come to realise, there must be more to life than bricolage. Joining Brittany Walks and the AIKB has given him a whirl of a social life after meeting, in his own words, lots of ‘lovely people’.
Clearly a man without any sense of danger, Derek’s latest passion is Breton dancing!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Our Loc Envel walk - by Lesley and Denise

Photos above thanks to Dick Westcott

What more perfect way could there be to spend a sunny autumn afternoon than to walk through a beech wood, luminous under a glowing sun that reflects on the golden trees wetted earlier by a seasonal downpour. Crisp fallen leaves tracing a footpath of gold as they rustle beneath your feet. All this, great company, homemade fruitcake, and chocolate brownies….. As we drove through hail and rain under purple black clouds, nothing seemed less likely.
The first surprise came as we drove into the car park at Loc Envel, the smallest village in Cotes d’Armor boasting a population of just seventy. We expected to be two of just half a dozen brave or foolish souls who would even contemplate an afternoon’s country walking in such appalling weather. However, we were just two of twenty four enthusiastic walkers and four dogs. What’s more, the sun was shining!
We set off along a tree-lined footpath to our
first interesting pause - the Chateau de Coat Noz (Wood of the Night). Built in the 19th century, this magnificent building, now derelict, gave the impression of being very much older. Wendy, a treasure chest of the most fascinating historical information, told us that the chateau was a gift from Sir Robert Mond, a nickel magnet, to his wife, a miller’s daughter from Belle-Isle-en-Terre.
Lady Mond was evidently a ‘swinger’ of her time and loved to party. After a spell in Paris and a brief marriage, she returned and settled down here with Sir Robert. Looking at this lovely building, one can imagine the ‘Beautiful People’ draped around the ancient stone staircases, now entangled with brambles, sipping champagne and dancing the night away. Today, it was a huge flock of rooks that provided the ‘music’ and irridescent pigeons that looked down upon us from the glassless windows high above our heads.
We then followed a botanical trail of trees and plants marked with plaques giving their names and further information on the species. A huge sculpture of a Fly Agaric toadstool stood in all its red and white spotted glory in the middle of a clearing to the left of the path.
We continued up the other side of the Guic valley, then down to the river, where there stood an old water mill, now serving very well as somebody’s dream home. Wendy told us that in its hey day the mill served both as a saw mill and a flour mill. It also supplied enough electricity for every home in the village to run a 25 watt light bulb. A
very timely downpour brought us to a halt on the riverside path under the shelter of golden branches, where we were treated to a welcome drink of apple juice and a slice of Sue’s delicious home made cake.
Refreshed, we wound our way along the babbling river that tumbled around rocks and boulders, flanked on either side by coppered ferns. We crossed the river and took a path leading upwards past a fontaine, faced by three menhirs. We eventually came to a clearing where there stands a stone oratory dating from 1892, with a statue of St. Sebastian. This provided a great backdrop for today’s group photograph.
The final part of our walk back to the village, took us along a stretch of footpath lined on either side by huge moss covered stones that resembled giant green fluffy cushions. These, along with some magnificent boulders of quartz, formed part of an old wall, giving the footpath the same look as the old drovers’ roads in England. On returning to the village, there was one final treat in store - the 16th century church overlooking the little bourg in its care, three huge bronze bells visible in the open bell tower. What a stunning interior awaited us! The carved wood rood screen is exceptional. Indeed, the entire decoration inside this church is a credit to the skills and craftsmanship of carpenters and wood sculptors from centuries past. The domed gothic ceiling is entirely of wood, giving the impression of an upturned boat, and everywhere on the ceiling are polychrome sculptures of saints, angels, and dragons.
Driving back home under purple black clouds and through torrential rain and hail it seemed almost like a fantasy that the sun had shone down on us for the almost all of our afternoon’s walk. They say that the sun shines on the righteous. That may or may not be true. However, one thing’s certain, we had just spent a near perfect afternoon in some very good company - dogs included - and there were chocolate brownies!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We have a walk next Tuesday (28th) at Loc Envel (near Belle-Isle-en-Terre), where the church has a fine wooden rood-screen dating from the 16th century. We will also have a look at the semi-ruined chateau once owned by Lady Mond. This is an easy route (6kms), not too long or too hilly, with restful woodland and river scenery. All are welcome - meet in village car-park at 2.00pm.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Meet the Members (3) Three Lovely Ladies

June, Val and Mary (l-r above) are stalwart supporters of Brittany Walks. All three are great walkers and have been keen to keep fit since moving to Brittany.
June – a former county badminton player and teacher in Northamptonshire – is also an experienced sailor, having travelled around Europe with her husband by boat. After settling in Cornwall for a while, they came to Glomel five years ago and she has explored the countryside on foot with friends as well as joining many of our walks.
Mary and her husband used to be members of the Rambling Association in England and particularly enjoyed walking on Dartmoor. After retiring from the prison service, they moved to Brittany and kept up the walking habit with a group of friends. Mary is also a keen artist and we hope to see her work at the Xmas event.
Val has been in Brittany for 11 years after a career in the insurance industry. Having walked in the north of England over many years, she continued in France by joining a local group of randonneurs in Langonnet. Unfortunately her husband is no longer able to walk long distances, but Val continues to enjoy walking with us and discovering local history.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Howard's account of our Langonnet Abbey walk

(thanks to Dick for the excellent photos)
An impressive group of 32 members and guests, plus 4 dogs, assembled in the car park of Langonnet Abbey for our walk. The weather was overcast, but mild.
The Cistercian Abbey was founded in 1136 and continued as a functioning, flourishing institution until the French Revolution, after which it remained empty until 1806 when Napoleon, leaving the monks’ vows of chastity far behind, made it the first National Stud Farm. Later in its history it became the base for the Freres de Saint Esprit Missionary Order and they are still there to this day.
Once away from the Abbey confines our walk took us through a wooded area flanked by a gurgling stream where the path was strewn with freshly shed chestnuts. Two fallen trees provided the group with Agility Tests number 1 and 2 -duck under the first and clamber over the second.
In true grand old Duke of York style Wendy marched us up to the top of Morvan’s hill and marched us down again. In between times she explained that Menez Morvan was the last fortified stronghold of the 9th century Breton chief, Morvan, but that he was captured and beheaded in 818 by the forces of Louis the, on this occasion, not so Pious.
The walk then proceeded through a marshy area alongside a cow pasture. The cows were held at bay by an electrified fence that in Agility Test No 3 required Steve and Roger to raise the fence with wooden sticks so that the group could limbo beneath it. All managed this successfully. The cows watched with interest, presumably seeing this as a possible escape route for themselves. The last I heard was that they were still looking for volunteers to hold the fence up. At this point I happened to notice that the marshy area had transformed our Golden Retrievers into a new breed of Black Muddy Retrievers.
We then had our cake stop. Karen gave us a choice of raspberry and coconut buns, pear and almond buns, or a French carresau citron. By clever planning on Karen’s part there were enough cakes and more to go round. I tried the pear and almond bun. It was excellent. I tried to lay my hands on a raspberry and coconut bun, but without success. All snapped up within seconds of being on offer. Note to cake monitor, Liz -ask Karen again, soon, please.
Continuing on our walk, duly refreshed, we passed a Bronze Age tumulus dating from 1500 B.C., long since robbed of its treasures and contents, and an early medieval motte. The wooden tower had gone but there were still remains of a dovecote. The motte had been built in fairly low lying country so its presence may have been more symbolic than practical.
At the end of the walk we had an opportunity to look around the Abbey. All in all an excellent walk in good company. Special thanks to Wendy and Karen.
Howard Lawson

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Langonnet Abbey

We have a walk this Tuesday (14th) starting at 2pm from the abbey parking area, with a gentle rural route passing many points of historical interest, including a Bronze age tumulus and a medieval motte. Langonnet Abbey was originally a 12th century Cistercian foundation: after the Revolution it became an important haras breeding war-horses, and is now a missionary centre, with an excellent African museum (limited opening) on site. All are welcome to join us for this event.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

committee meeting

This morning we had a committee meeting to discuss the Xmas event we are organising for December 12th. This is to be a festive occasion with things to do, things to buy, and seasonal fare, like mulled cider and hot chestnuts. We spend a long time trying think of ways of making the day enjoyable for members and their guests. There will be workshops (card-making and cake-decorating in the morning, morris dancing and upholstery in the afternoon), tarot readings, stalls with walk/guide books and gifts for sale, and the new Brittany Walks Cookbook with some fabulous cake recipes will be available for the first time. Not forgetting gift memberships to Brittany Walks for 2009 - what a perfect present idea!
So we have a lot to talk about -with plenty of food and drink details to be decided and tasks to be assigned, as well as all the entertainment to be organised - and the morning passes quickly, but very pleasantly, thanks to our great hosts John and Joan.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Brittany: A Day out in Nature

This weekend sees the annual event 'Une journée dans la nature' with a programme of outdoor happenings all over Brittany. Many guided walks are on offer and many animations revealing the vast wealth of natural wonders here. Don't worry about language barriers, just get out there and use your eyes! For details see:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Meet the Members (2)

Joan & John Cundy

Both of us, Joan and John, in our youth, spent happy holidays in France, before we ever met and then again after our marriage. Our real “love-affair with France” began in 1984, when in January, John was invited to join a multinational company in Paris. On the 8th of June, I was offered a position with the same company. In six-short-weeks, I left the job I loved in Leeds, sold our house in Harrogate, kennelled our two dogs and joined John in Paris. By the 13th of August we were “En-Franced”.
In the wonderful years that followed, our walking was in two parts. One: the pavements of Paris, hard on our soles and glorious on our souls. We found ourselves entertaining business, family and friend visitors, frequently. Our love of the history and culture of France meant that our poor visitors were subjected – to it all.
Two: the forest of St Germain, north of Paris, where we had chosen to live and which our dogs adored, having forgiven us for removing them from their beloved Yorkshire. The Autumn and Winter walks hold special memories as the dogs, Highland Rough Collies, preferred these seasons.
Many more joyful years passed between Paris and the Vendee, where we walked the beaches of La Tranche sur Mer, also adored by the dogs, all that sea, sand and space; before we returned to the UK and new careers. The love-affair continued during many holidays in various parts of France. In 2005, retirement brought us to Brittany. Our need to learn the history of the region was ever present. Thus, one fine day John remarked, to me,
Joan – What’s this? – “Brittany Walks” ...
Following many wonderful walks, I can reply ...
This Brittany Walks is: delightful people and their delightful dogs; it’s fun and it’s learning; it’s being in open space, shrouded woods, wild and wonderful coast, warm walled cities, all with the very best of guided knowledge and ... scrummy cake.

Joan Cundy

Sunday, September 28, 2008

history of brittany course

In line with the association's main aim of making the history of Brittany accessible to anglophones, we are offering a course in 2009 in conjunction with the AIKB in Gouarec. There will be a taster day and then three days studying specific periods, with focus on special topics featuring individuals or themes that give a flavour of their time. There will be oral and written exercises using evidence and visual material. The objectives? To understand more of Brittany's past and present, and to have fun. Details are on the association website now.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Quimper historical walk

Thanks to Karen for this account of our outing
We began our walk around Quimper, one of the oldest Breton cities, at the junction of the rivers Steir and Odet, taking a leisurely stroll along the north bank of the Odet admiring the many Passerelles. We then entered the Cathedrale St Corentin, a beautiful and gothic building constructed between the 13th-16th centuries. The cathedral has wonderful stained glass windows, we also admired the painting of Pere Maunoir being kissed by an angel which enabled him to speak Breton, I am sure many of us were hoping for a similar miracle, but it wasn't to be!! We then walked north and came to part of the old city wall which encloses the 'Jardin de la Retraite', a small garden filled with palms, banana trees and other plants. It was very peaceful and worth a visit. After the tranquility of the garden, we strolled along the bustling streets in Quimper, enjoying the architecture of the old buildings. Many of the shops have wonderful window displays of antiques, gifts, gateaux and chocolate - definitely need to go back and enjoy (and sample!) them at a more leisurely pace! The city has been vulnerable to flooding and some of the buildings close to the river Odet have plaques to indicate the levels to which the water has risen, in the last flood on 13th December 2000. Those of a petit stature should beware as water levels reached over 1.5m in places! We finished our walk by heading West along the South bank of the Odet past the famous Quimper pottery factories (and Biscuiterie!) to the Eglise et Prieure de Locmaria. In contrast to the Catherdral, this earlier building was much plainer, but if anything, more beautiful and atmospheric, definitely, my favourite. (Photo above taken in the cloister there.) Then to the Jardin Medieval next to the church for refreshments. The garden is symbolic of 'Paradis', a series of beds of herbs, fruits canes, arches, rose pergolas, and a fountain, interspersed with benches where you can sit and contemplate. A cup of juice and a delicious slice of bananaless banana cake, and Paradis was complete!

Karen W

Friday, September 19, 2008

Meet the Members (1)

Kay & Steve Attwell (pictured not in Brittany!)

We bought our house in Morlaix, in 2004, after I retired from the Fire Service after 30 years. I worked as a Crew Commander at Sunbury, Esher and Godstone. Kay is a self-employed stone mason and was the first female apprentice to enter the male dominated trade at the tender age of 16. Among her clients are the Duke of Devonshire and The National Trust. My only claim to fame is having played rugby at Twickenham and my Great Aunt is Mabel Lucie Attwell the children's book illustrator.
We chose Brittany for the varied countryside and rugged coastline. Our hobbies are diving and walking so for us it's ideal. We were fortunate enough to meet Wendy (Mewes) at Morlaix market and have enjoyed walking with her ever since. We both appreciate the very sociable outings with Brittany Walks and have discovered many stunning areas of Brittany by joining the guided walks. The homemade cakes are always scrumptious.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Preparing for our Quimper event next week (Tuesday 23, 2.30pm by Tourist Office) when we will have a guided historical walk around this lovely city, taking in the riverside boulevards, the famous cathedral, bishop's palace, old medieval centre and fortifications, two interesting gardens and the pottery centre at Locmaria, also site of the oldest religious establishment. Quimper with its notable religious traditions, still retains the air of a rural centre, despite being the administrative capital of Finistere, with the green height of Mount Frugy above the city and flowery passerelles spanning the Odet.

Monday, September 15, 2008

green ways

Canals have long provided easy long-distance walking paths across Brittany. Major projects in the last few years have now opened hundreds of kilometres of old railway tracks for walkers and cyclists. Routes from Roscoff to Concarneau and Carhaix to Le-Meen-Le-Grand provide a main axis in the west, with Carhaix taking its traditional place as the centre of a communications network. The concept is admirable, but there are drawbacks and the art of maintaining a balance between development and natural routes is always a fine one. Paths gravelled or even covered with tarmac make for ease of stride but do little to enhance the countryside, and fairly level standard width tracks often lined by tall trees cannot provide quite the same quality of walking experience as the coastal paths or chemins creux and open moorland trails of the infinitely varied Breton countryside. On the other hand, these green ways are a superb resource for straightforward physical exercise and for getting about Brittany, making forages into the wilder surroundings and settlements.
The association is preparing an up-to-date guide to the green ways now available - coming soon on the website (www.brittanywalks.com).

Thursday, September 11, 2008

day in the life of Brittany Walks

Fairly typical day of association business today: answering email messages from members, making arrangements for the History of Brittany course we are offering in 2009, writing publicity material, preparing the Autumn/Spring programme for printing, listing items for inclusion in the October bulletin, writing out recipes for the booklet we are publishing before Xmas. That was the morning. This afternoon, an exploratory walk to check if a route is suitable for the group for future inclusion in the programme. Yes, it is!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

wild wet walking

The Monts d'Arrée are best seen in wild weather. Yesterday the association outing of 14 courageous individuals braved heavy rain to view the neolithic allée couverte at Mougau Bihan, but chickened out of walking the Korrigan trail on planks through the marshes. We went to my house for coffee instead. Once fortified with cake in traditional Brittany Walks style we ventured out again, having a short walk at Le Relec and visiting the 12th century abbey church before going on to meet Dartmoor ponies on the moorland of the Landes de Cragou. The theme of the day was landscape (landes et tourbières, moor and marsh) and man's earliest traces in this distinctive region, the highest hills in Brittany. We finished at the menhirs of Pont-an-Illis. The name ('the bridge of the church') recalls a legend of St-Conven whose followers attempted to build a church between the two menhirs but found their work destroyed during each night. Finally a statue of the saint was put on an ox cart and the beasts allowed to wander where they would. At the final stopping point, the new church was built. They were clearly patient animals, as the current position of Plougonven indicates.