Friday, December 31, 2010

Best Walking Wishes for 2011

Wishing a very happy and healthy New Year to all Brittany Walkers and other followers of this blog. We had a great 2010 with lots of good weather luck, new walks and new walkers, so I'm setting the same agenda for 2011.
Have a look at our website ( for recently added information for those whose resolutions include building up their fitness from scratch and improving their health through gentle walking. It really is the best antidote to winter blues.
Our first walk is at Huelgoat on January 11th.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Christmas

Wishing all Brittany Walkers a very Happy Christmas and lots of good walking in 2011. Photo shows Tuchenn Kador in the Monts d'Arrée.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Barbara Leary

I'm very sad indeed to tell Brittany Walkers that Barbara died last week. The funeral is at 1pm on Thursday, 23 December, at Grosvenor Church, Old Station Road, Barnstaple. Family flowers only, but donations to the Marie Curie fund most welcome.
Barbara was a remarkable lady, with a great store of knowledge about plants and the natural world. On our walking holiday in Le Conquet we all greatly appreciated this, as well as her quiet sense of fun and pleasure. Brittany Walks sends heartfelt good wishes to Barbara's daughter Beverly, who has joined us on several occasions in the past.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Xmas presents for walkers

Our website ( has some suggestions for Christmas presents for walkers and potential walkers, or even couch-potatoes ;-). Have a look for some unusual books and practical stocking fillers. If anyone wants to give a partner or friend a voucher for free walks with us (in any multiple you like) in 2011, just ask!
Dates for January and February events are now on the website too.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

December Walk and Trip to Rennes cancelled

Very sorry to say that the walk scheduled for December 7 at St Rivoal is cancelled, and also the trip to Rennes on December 14. Apologies, but current and predicted weather conditions make it impossible to be certain of paths and roads that are passable. As I have just spent three days stuck in a centre for 'weather victims' in north Brittany after suffering the worst driving conditions of my life, hope everyone will understand!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lesley's Nature Watch - URGENT.........

They need YOU!! Save a life now; feed the birds.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Lesley's Nature Watch - They Flew in from the Cold!

These hardy Lapwings have come here for the winter to escape far worse weather in the North, so a 'Wintery Shower' of hail & sleet has little effect on them. Here, they can still find food in the fields & this is why you will see many huge flocks of Lapwings, or Peewits as they are affectionately named because of their call, feeding on farmland or reeling in flocks in the sky above. Already this winter, I've enjoyed the sight & sounds of many such flocks, one of my many favorite winter spectacles. Imagine my shock therefore, when last night on television, many eminent british bird experts lamented the loss of such flocks, over recent years, from the British countryside.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

November....and beyond

We only have one walk a month from November to March, partly because weather conditions tend to deteriorate (although December has been better for walking than August in recent years) and hence places with reliable paths are harder to find. It's a good idea to make use of the Green Ways (old railway tracks and canal towpaths) in winter, as well as the coastal path, where rocky terrain is often preferable to trawling through the deep mud of rural lanes. There's an article on Winter Walking on the Brittany Walks website ( if you are looking for a bit of exercise, or buy the new Red Dog guide to the Green Ways for some inspiration.
Join us for a walk on December 7 at St Rivoal, or for a day in Rennes on December 14th.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hot, sunny walk - honestly!

We had a great walk in warm sunshine yesterday afternoon, quite unexpected after heavy rain and lowering skies in the morning. It was a really lovely occasion with new French friends joining us and drinks afterwards at Ty Grean. Thanks to everyone who participated. And THANK YOU DAVE for the photos!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Walk at Ty Grean, Tues 9th November

Our walk on Tuesday, 9th November starts at 2pm from the large parking area at Ty Grean, on the main road (D785) between Pleyber-Christ and Plouneour-Menez. There's a well-signed café/bar there. It's a very pleasant rural route, mostly very easy, but be prepared for mud in places after rainy weather. Some uphill stretches, but nothing too strenous, and not too long (about 7kms). Look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lesley's Nature Watch. AUTUMN................

...............SPEAKS FOR ITSELF. Go out there & enjoy!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Autumnal forest

We enjoyed perfect walking weather for our beautiful stroll in the forest yesterday, including a visit to the menhir at Kerampeulven. Thanks to Judith for the photo. We were pleased to welcome new people and dogs to the group, and a great après-walk was had by all. Thanks to everyone who came and made it such a good afternoon.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Huelgoat walk

We have a walk at 2pm on Tuesday 26th October in Huelgoat. This is mostly a new route (unless you are a very old-time Brittany Walker ;-)) and the meeting place is the large forest parking area on the left on the D769 as you leave the town in the direction of Poullaouen. Good forest paths, but one short section may be muddy in/after bad weather. The forest is spectacularly beautiful at this time of year! The après-walk will be at L'autre rive café/bookshop. All welcome.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lesley's Nature Watch - Where do Butterflies go in Winter?

There is no single answer to this question as different species do different things. Some species such as the smaller Skipper butterflies, overwinter in their egg form. Many others hibernate as catterpillars,e.g. Large Skipper, Meadow & Heath Browns.
Orange Tips & many others overwinter in pupa form while Peacocks, & Speckled Wood are amongst those who spend the winter in hibernation as adult butterflies, often in our sheds, attics & outbuildings. This why, on the first warm days of the year, we can see some very tatty individuals of these species sunning themselves. Conversely, those who passed the winter as chrysalis will now come out as butterflies & look immaculate! The Painted Lady Migrates south for winter which was so wonderfuly witnessed when huge numbers returned on mass in the spring of 2009. Whatever happened to them all remains a mystery.
The Swallowtail (pictured) has an interesting survival tactic. The female lays several individual eggs. Some of those will complete their life cycle in the same year, while others will remain in their pupa form until the following spring.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


We are having a day trip to Rennes on Tuesday, 14 December. As we are arranging car-sharing, please let me know if you want a) to take a car and offer places (petrol contributions) or b) or have a seat in a car. The plan is to meet up in Rennes at 10.30-10.45 for coffee, have a guided tour of main sights in morning, then rest of day free for shopping (Christmas markets), superb museums, etc. Leave Rennes about 4.30pm. Maps and car-parking information will be provided nearer the time to those who have booked.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Glorious Guingamp

We had a most enjoyable walk in Guingamp on Tuesday, with glorious weather and lots of interesting sights. Those who hadn't been before were impressed by the town centre with its medieval and Renaissance houses and grand church in various architectural styles. This really is a good place for a day's visit, with a stroll along the river Trieux and lunch at one of the many good eateries. Thanks to all participants for making the walk so pleasant, and especially to Dave the photographer.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Walk around Guingamp - Tuesday 12th October

We have a walk on Tuesday 12th October at the most attractive town of Guingamp, starting at 2pm from the fountain in the central square (near the church). Easiest and free parking is the well-signed Parking St-Sebastien, then cross the passerelle and short walk to meeting point. The route covers the town centre and a river walk along the Trieux, returning with fine country views and a new perspective on the town, passing sections of the old aqueduct. The walk is easy with one uphill section. All welcome, 3€.
Reminder: the last day for Study Day places at a discount price is on October 15th. For full details of topics offered, etc. see our website

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lesley's Nature Watch. A SINGLE ROOK'S A CROW.........

.......and a flock of Crows is Rooks. So goes the old country saying, & now is the season for flocking amongst many birds. Most evident are the huge flocks of Starlings, Rooks, Mallards, Gulls & Pigeons, but take a look at the flocks of smaller birds. There are flocks of Linnets & Wagtails, Charms of Goldfinches & Gangs of Greenfinches. (I call them 'Gangs' because of their loutish behaviour on the bird table) and many more. Of course this flocking is in preparation for the colder months ahead as roosting in numbers creates warmth & also when food becomes scarce, the more pairs of eyes there are searching for it, the better for all.
Yesterday, I had a long journey through Brittany & saw several Swallow & Martin 'stragglers'. They were sparce & in tiny groups, the largest of which was just 5.
We'll have to wait until spring to welcome the return of those huge flocks of Swallows again! Meanwhile, we shall soon be welcoming the many flocks of Waders & Wild Geese who will come down from the Arctic to spend the winter with us.
What more cheerful sound could there be on a cold winter's day than a 'Gaggle' of Geese?
Photo: Gulls on Alfred Hitchcock's Statue, Dinard

Monday, September 27, 2010

Find out - have fun

Details of the three autumn study days How to Read a Breton Church, Understanding Brittany and Britons in Brittany are now on our website, with discount for early booking.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sunshine, Scenery & Sybil's Hospitality

It was hot & beautifuly sunny for our walk yesterday. Starting from the chapel at Locmaria-Berrien, we enjoyed a stunningly scenic walk which included a reasonable amount of wooded areas providing us with adequate shade.
Sybil, a regular walker with Brittany Walks, lives near to the route that we were walking & very kindly invited us all to tea, cold drinks & home made cakes provided, with Sue's help, in her lovely garden. This very welcome break came just after an uphill part of the walk, & with only 2 kilometres left to go. Impeccable timing!
It's always a joy to walk & chat with the many friends whom I've met through Brittany Walks, & yesterday we were happy to welcome some new friends who share our pleasure in walking through the stunning Breton countryside in good company.
Many thanks to Dave for the great photos!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Walk at Locmaria-Berrien, September 21st

We have a long walk (about 10kms) on Tuesday, starting at 2pm from the parking by the church at Locmaria-Berrien (between Huelgoat and Poullaouen). No particular difficulties, and mostly on good paths or quiet roads. There will be a tea stop on the route, thanks to kind offer from Sybil! All welcome.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lesley's Nature Watch - Where have all the songbirds gone?

This is a question I have been asked frequentlyover the last few weeks by some very anxious people. There's no need for worry. Every year in late summer, birds, like most other animals, moult. Many loose their more colourful spring & summer plumage to replace it with the lower tones which will provide the necessary camouflage in the leafless trees of winter. Chaffinches & Bulfinches are prime examples of this. During the moult, the loss of the primary wing & tail feathers can render the bird almost flightless, thus leaving the smaller birds highly vulnerable to their preditors. Don't worry, they're still there. They are just laying low in the thicket..........& they're keeping quiet.
I have noticed this week that the Robins have begun to sing again. No doubt others will soon follow. However, we'll have to wait until next spring to hear again the full blown dawn chorus of courtship & territorial ownership.
Photograph: Peacock butterfly on Dahlia.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Strolling in the rain...

We had a most enjoyable if rainy day in Pont Aven, with many taking advantage of nice restaurants, shops and cafés before and after walking. Leaving the town via the Xavier Grall river gardens, we made our way up to the Chapelle de Tremalo to see Gauguin's inspiration for his famous Yellow Christ painting. Then a pleasant stroll through the Bois d'Amour and back along the river. It was great to see regulars and holiday makers alike (thanks to the Central Brittany Journal's kind publicity), and to meet Brittany Walks latest addition, Roger and Sue's puppy Megan, photographed by Lesley.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pont Aven - Tues 7th, 2pm (new start time)

We have a short walk at the pretty artists' town of Pont Aven on Tuesday 7th, starting at 2pm (NOTE NEW START TIME). This is an easy stroll on leafy lanes and woodland tracks. The meeting point is at the wooden passerelle over the river in the rue du Port, near the restaurant Le Moulin du Grand Poulguin (about 300m south of road bridge in town centre). Please note that this is market day, and parking in the area very near the meeting point may be difficult in the morning. After the walk some of us will be visiting the town art gallery, which has many examples of the famous Pont Aven school of painting, a style developed in the late 19th century by a group including Gauguin, Bernard and Sérusier.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Autumn Study Days - find out and have fun

Brittany Heritage Services will be offering three study days this autumn:

How to Read a Breton Church will give you all you need to understand churches and chapels around Brittany (and be able to give your friends and visitors impressive guided tours!). We'll cover basics of architecture and statuary in the morning, then go out for some practical work.

Britons in Brittany will look at some historical connections between Great Britain and Little Britain, covering culture, trade and conflict. This will provide a lot of insight into Brittany's past and reveal some surprising cross-Channel links.

Understanding Brittany will be a simple guide to the key events and issues that have led to Brittany's distinctive development, also giving a clearer perception of the region today.

The location for these study days will be Huelgoat, and there are only limited places for each one, so think of booking early (discount) for these lively and stimulating events! Details of dates and prices are on the Brittany Walks website ( or

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lesley's Nature Watch - Why everyone needs at least one Buddleih!

Seen on 1 of my 8 Buddleias in just 10 minutes yesterday: Swallowtail, Meadow Brown, a pair of Brimstones (Male pictured), Comma, Red Admiral, Gatekeeper, Small White,....these were just the butterflies. there were also many Bees of different species, a green Shield bug & so much more....... Note: Plant in sunny spot, dead head flowers when finished to promote longer flowering & prune hard in the apropriate season (BBC Gardeners World have a great website where you can find all pruning information).Most butterflies prefer the highest flowers that are sitting in direct sunshine.
Saw a Swift yesterday, the first I've seen for over a week. I think the majority have left us now & flown back down south. Of Swifts,Swallows & Martins, Swifts are the last to arrive & the first to leave.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lesley's Nature Watch

For the last few years Brittany Walks has benefited greatly from Lesley's wide knowledge of all aspects of the natural world. She tirelessly answers all our questions about birds, butterflies and flowers, as well as illuminating our coastal walking holidays with her astute observations.
We are very grateful for all her contributions, and now Lesley has kindly agreed to post a regular nature watch series on this blog, so keep a look out for her entries in this space.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lucky with the weather AGAIN!

Only a few drops of rain fell on our Plouezoc'h walk yesterday, and we are able to enjoy the lovely scenery - even the rare sight of the Dourduff estuary with some water in it (one of those half-full/half-empty attitude tests) - in perfect walking conditions. After a break at the Café du Port, we continued up the Bay of Morlaix with good views of the Chateau du Taureau, and then along narrow rural paths back to the bourg. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Plouezoc'h Walk

Our next walk is on Tuesday 17th August at Plouezoc'h, north of Morlaix. This is one of our favourite routes, including a wooded estuary, the Bay of Morlaix and a cross-country return. We will make a stop at the coastal village of Dourduff - time for a coffee or a seat by the sea if the sun is shining. The route is about 8kms, Level 2 with no particular difficulties.
Start from the church in Plouezoc'h at 2.30 promptly. All welcome, 3€.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


We had a really good Monts d'Arrée walk yesterday. The weather was perfect and everyone enjoyed the off-the-beaten-track route. The après-walk in Brasparts was well-deserved!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Monts d'Arrée Walk - Tuesday 3rd August

We have a walk on Tuesday starting promptly at 2.30 from the parking area at the Ferme des Artisans on the D785 near Mont St-Michel-de-Brasparts (7kms north of Brasparts). Walking boots are essential - rough, stony ground is the norm in the Monts d'Arrée. PLEASE NOTE that this is quite a long walk (just over 9kms) and although there are no steep hills, the paths are very uneven and may be waterlogged in a few places. This particular walk involves some less well-known tracks with beautiful views. A section of quiet road walking in the middle joins up the circuit. All welcome, 3€.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Summer Party

The BWs summer party yesterday was a great success, with good weather and superb food provided by everyone. Special thanks go to Roger and Sue for providing such a beautiful venue and warm hospitality, to Lesley for the dancing and to Jean and Don, Karen and Graham and Di and Nigel for all their help.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Breton Landscape

We had a great walk yesterday - and great luck with the weather too, only a few drops near the beginning. Lots of people came to hear Yves Marhic give a most enjoyable presentation of the basics of Breton language, and Breton place names in detail. These included settlement words and the vocabulary of the landscape as we made our way through the attractive environment of Lannedern. We won't forget Reunamoic - Little Pigs' Hill. Everyone managed to participate in a noun/adjective matching game when we reached the Chapelle de la Croix in the woods, before strolling back to the lovely parish close in Lannedern.
We are very grateful to Yves for sharing a little of his extensive knowledge with us on this walk, and making it all so interesting and relevant to our surroundings. Anyone with further questions about Breton place names can reach Yves via and he will be happy to answer. A written summary of topics covered on our walk will be available at the party (July 30), or by email on request.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Breton Place Names Walk - Tues 20th

We have a walk on Tuesday, July 20th, starting from the church at Lannedern (D14) at 2.30pm.
Yves Marhic will be talking about Breton place names and how the language works, as we follow a short walk (about 4.7 kms in total) on country roads to a beautiful chapel in a woodland setting. Some long gradual slopes. All welcome, 3€.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Perfect summer walk

Yesterday we enjoyed a shady walk on a warm day in the wood-covered Black Mountains, but with some fantastic viewpoints over the surrounding very green countryside. Thanks to all participants, and especially to Monique for devising the route and taking us round, as well as recording the event in some great photos. One by Dave here too.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Black Mountains walk - Spezet - July 6, 2.30pm

Our next walk is on Tuesday afternoon, meeting at Spezet to drive on a short distance to the start (where there is limited parking). We'll leave the parking area in a side-street opposite the tourist office in Spezet at 2.30.
This is a glorious walk, mostly in shady woodland with some great views and a visit to the towering statue of the Virgin above the tree-line. Medium, Level 2 but with an option for agile walkers to return via rocky crest, easier path for others.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Party - July 30

The Brittany Walks summer party is on Friday July 30 near Mael-Carhaix. There will be an optional short, easy walk in the morning at 11, and then a picnic. Many people have already 'signed up' but if you haven't been on a walk recently to get the official slip, please just let us know numbers and what food you will bring. Cost is 3€ per person.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hot walk!

We had a beautiful but very hot walk yesterday around the hilly country south of Plouyé. Thanks to all who gave up football and tennis time to join in! Thanks to Chris for the top photo.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Walk on Tues 22nd

Meet at Chapelle Ste-Marguerite on the D117, about 2.6kms south of Plouyé (direction Landeleau). This is a pleasant country walk on good paths and quiet roads, with verdant views and pretty river valleys. Medium, Level 2. Walk starts at 2.30pm.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Summer Strolls and Eating Out

For a relaxing day out without strenuous walking, our website ( - link opposite) now has a feature about good places for a summer stroll. Nearby restaurants are also recommended for eating experiences from better than average creperies to a Michelin star establishment.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pleyben & Pont Coblant yesterday

There was a bit of rain during our visit to this fabulous parish close, and then a slightly damp picnic by the Nantes-Brest canal at Pont Coblant. But in the afternoon, we were lucky with the weather again and had a dry walk by the canal and then through some scenic countryside with excellent long views to Menez Hom. Photos by Dave.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Visit & Walk, Tuesday 8th June

We have a guided visit to Pleyben, one of the most famous parish closes, on Tuesday morning at 11.00. This will be followed by a short drive (3kms) to the Nantes-Brest canal for a BYO picnic and then a walk (medium, Level 2)in the afternoon. The walk will start at 1.30 (note time), from the bridge in Pont Coblant.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fantastic holiday!

Despite a soaking on the first morning, we had a wonderful time and mostly hot sunny weather on the north Finistere coast for our three day holiday. Fuelled by those two essentials, wine and salted caramel, we walked along most of the beautifully rocky coast between Plouescat and Plouguerneau, with diversions to places of interest and stops for Lesley to identify all the birds and flowers for us. Our accommodation at the restored fishing village of Meneham was really a delightful place to stay. We ate extremely well and had a lot of fun - together with all the coastal wonders of nature, it would be hard for ask for anything more. Thanks to everyone for great companionship and laughter.
Here is a link to Monique's album of fab photos from our trip. Thanks, Monique!