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Brittany, France: Huelgoat; Facts and a Poem About a Wondrous, Mysterious Part of the French Countryside

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I love visiting places unknown, at home and abroad. Learning about history and traditions helps us understand the world around us.

Travel Goals

I have many places to visit on my bucket list, some are thousands of miles away, some are closer. Here is one place which is not a long way from my home. If you want somewhere which holds hidden mysteries, beautiful countryside and walks, here's one suggestion....


From Lake to Bridge to.... Chaos!

The Lake...

The Lake...

to Weir, then look over the other side of the Bridge to.....

to Weir, then look over the other side of the Bridge to.....

Chaos!

Chaos!

The Village

Let’s cut to the chase; Huelgoat is a village in Finistère, Brittany, France. It sports a Breton name, coming from ‘Huel’ meaning high and ‘Koat’ meaning wood or forest. I suppose an English equivalent would be High Forest or Upwood. It is pronounced ‘uwell-go-at’, the ‘t’ being pronounced as it is Breton not French. The 'u' is the tricky letter; try squeezing everything in your face to the smallest proportions, then push out the sound 'oo'. It should come out pinched and short. Don't try it in company - it's not pretty.

Huelgoat is in the heart of inland Brittany. It is associated with the valley of La Rivière d’Argent, the Silver River. Charming though the river is, that’s not the main draw for visitors nor what creates the mystery. Within that river valley is ‘Chaos’, an unending pile of massive boulders some giant appears to have chucked into the water, piled one next the other.

Some are scattered about the surrounding forests and fields. You come across them as you walk to the abandoned Silver Mine, to Arthur’s Grotto, to the ‘Gulf’. You can even move one if you push hard enough against your back; the ‘Trembling Rock’ will pivot for you a few inches from its axis. The ‘Mushroom Rock’ is to be marvelled at as you park to shop in the town’s supermarket; you won’t find as large a mushroom to eat though you could buy one a little softer.


Where is Huelgoat?

Finistere, Britanny, France: Huelgoat is just north of Carhaix (middle right)

Finistere, Britanny, France: Huelgoat is just north of Carhaix (middle right)

Rocks to make you Tremble

Le Gouffre (The Gulf)

Le Gouffre (The Gulf)

La Roche Tremblante (Trembling Rock - about 12ft long)

La Roche Tremblante (Trembling Rock - about 12ft long)

Push!  I said 'Push'!

Push! I said 'Push'!

Mushroom Rock

Mushroom Rock

Why are the Boulders There?

There have been some beliefs that the valley was glacial. However, the latest theory is that these smoothly rounded monsters worked their way up to the surface from forming within the earth, presumably gathering substance as they advanced. No one is sure as to their origins but there is plenty of mystery and many stories surrounding them. You only have to see them and you are drawn into a world of long ago, of legend and fairies, of Arthur and Merlin (akin to stories from the South West of England), of dark and light. Think 'Hobbit' and 'Lord of the Rings'.


Atmosphere & Legend

The valley is mostly forested so you walk through lush, flash-light vegetation, humid and steamy. Morning mists hang in the trees, evoking a mite of fairytale or hobgoblin you have lurking in any distant niche of your mind. Dust-dappled stabs of sunlight push apart the sky-stretched foliage above you. You can smell the must, the dank caves and the creatures who hide themselves away, good or evil.

North of the forest lies the moorland, covered in heather, gorse and yet more boulders flung towards the compass. Here you could get lost on a winter’s twilight, in a cold mist or in a boggy hollow which sucks souls to the stony ground. If you’re in favour, maybe a sprite will come to your aid, in return for a favour of its own of course. There is always a price.

Come to visit! See for yourselves where the magic is made, where it has been woven for centuries and where it will continue to make its mark on this valley and all who enter here.


Where does the River Go?

Silver Symmetry

Silver Symmetry

Huelgoat - a poem

And the boulders belched from birth below,

Grinding their grotesqueness,

Grating gobs of grass and soil

To reach a world of wondrous worthiness.


Mottled stone curved into giant colliding cannon blasts,

For men to marvel and mull over the mystery.

Silver-mined river racing with moving machinery,

Still the rocks reigned, surveying the forest floor.


Wood wept from wrenched roots announcing death,

Death from dappled sunlit dreams of weeping willow.

Man managed to mar the crisp-sticked bed

of early growth and flowing fronds of fern.


Fairies fey did seek the souls doomed to devils’ depths,

Souls to succour, souls to search for light, solution, lilting steps.

All would feel their touch, their breath, before they walked the valley’s floor,

Before they reached that floodlit clearing, bathed in welcome, sighs and tears.


Feel the rough touch, wet-clothed in moss!

Walk to the edge to view the river’s journey!

‘Ware the slip, the step which plunges to devil’s cave,

To darkness, where you can only look upon the chink of light above.


Once more the wizards pull you from the crevice,

Again you gaze upon the humid heart of stone,

From whence you came and will again return...

And the boulders belched from birth below.


Dark to Light to Dark & Light Again

Moss-covered Curved Rock

Moss-covered Curved Rock

The Rocks Survey the Forest Floor

The Rocks Survey the Forest Floor

Fronds of Fern in Silver Waters

Fronds of Fern in Silver Waters

Will the Fairies meet you in the Clearing?

Will the Fairies meet you in the Clearing?

Stand on the Edge but Beware the Slippery Moss!

Stand on the Edge but Beware the Slippery Moss!

A Chink of Light from Darkest Cave

A Chink of Light from Darkest Cave

Humidity, Moss & Stone

Humidity, Moss & Stone

Are you a fan of such places? Why?

© 2015 Ann Carr

Comments

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 19, 2015:

Thanks, teaches, for your congrats and also for the lovely comment. Glad you enjoyed this. Good to see you today. You never know when the chance might present itself!

Ann

Dianna Mendez on September 19, 2015:

First, congratulations on your 100th Hub! You have really given readers a lot to enjoy with this one: photos, history, and poetry. I would love to visit one day if only I could.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 16, 2015:

Faceless39: Well, thank you so much for your wonderful comment. Glad you liked this. It is a marvellous place to visit and so many little places to walk and enjoy it all. Hope you like my profile!

Ann

Kate P from The North Woods, USA on September 16, 2015:

An absolutely fantastic and wonderful hub that makes me want to get on a plane and go walk around this beautiful area! 10/10, and just amazing pictures to boot. And after this I am going straight to your home page to follow you!! Great work :)

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 16, 2015:

Thank you, Frank, for such a great comment. I appreciate the feedback and I'm glad you liked the poem - it came out of the rocks and the valley as I walked back from our evening stroll!

Ann

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on September 16, 2015:

what a window to a fantastic place annart and congrats on 101.. also a well constructed hub leading up to a worth the read poem.. bravo

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 15, 2015:

sujaya venkatesh: Yes, it is. Thanks for reading.

Ann

sujaya venkatesh on September 15, 2015:

great landscape

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 15, 2015:

Thanks, Alicia, for the lovely comment regarding the poem. It is fascinating and I'm glad you like the photos. I love the angles and different light you can get wherever you go. The rocks are begging to be in every shot!

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 15, 2015:

Hi Audrey! Thanks for your comment. Brittany is full of extremes; lush forests and wild coastlines, all with plenty of history. Do visit if you can.

Ann

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 14, 2015:

You've described a fascinating place, Ann. I love the photos. The poem is a great contribution to the mysterious atmosphere in the hub.

Audrey Howitt from California on September 14, 2015:

Just beautiful!! I really want to visit Brittany--and I like the u vowel--so maybe I would do well there!!!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 14, 2015:

manatita: Thank you for your kind words of praise; greatly appreciated.

Yes, I think many places have a charm (literally) of their own and work their magic as they are supposed to do; usually the little hidden corners and peaceful settings away from the world.

Hope you have a wonderful week.

Ann

manatita44 from london on September 14, 2015:

Ann, that was one immaculate poem! So beautiful, so clever and full of depth! Exquisite and lofty, too ...

Like you, Keats visited a lot of the places he wrote about. I think that there is some magic in this. I did this with my Battersea Park poem and to an extent Diverse London, but I'm essentially an intuitive poet. Added to this, God has given me a strong command of language and a very vivid imagination.

Such beautiful places! I know of Brittany and its folklore magic and I remember it as I remember Tuscany. Alas! So little money; so little time. I have been to forty two countries and some a great many times.

Yo do such justice, even to the stones, in your most eloquent words. Much Joy and happiness to you, and stay alive. We don't want the bucket getting too close, just yet. Peace and Love, my fellow English rose.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 14, 2015:

Thanks, bill, and glad you liked the tour. This place probably inspires me more than most; it lifts my heart and the wonder of it all is breathtaking. Part of it are the lovely people we know here.

You can tease me all you like, bill, and I'll still rub it in! This will please you - the rain is pelting down after keeping us awake all night too. The sun teases us for five minutes then hides again - I blame it on the goblins.

You have a great week too and I'll be working on a hub about home!

Ann :)

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 14, 2015:

Thanks, Ruby, for your very kind words. 'Grand' it certainly is here, with a mixture of mystery and a sense that it belongs to another world. A visit is a must for anyone nearby. Good to see you!

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 14, 2015:

Well, Mike, thank you for your beautiful compliment; 'deep richness' is more than I could hope for! Your setting for the poem is perfect and I'm glad it makes for good Sunday reading. This place lifts us to realms we only dream about. It's definitely magical and I'd love to meet the spirits that pervade. I think your carriage driver might like it here!

Ann

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 13, 2015:

Well congratulations on the 100 milestone. As for this article, there you go bragging again and flaunting your frequent miles status at the rest of us. :)

Thanks for the tour. Brilliant as always. You know what would make an interesting article? If you actually stayed at home and wrote about that. LOL Do you even know where home is, my friend?

You know I love to tease you about this traveling fetish you have. Thanks for letting me.

Have a superb week.

bill

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on September 13, 2015:

This is a beautiful piece of writing. You make the pictures come alive with your words in poetic form. Who wouldn't want to visit such a grand place?

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on September 13, 2015:

Hello Ann. You have shared with us a magical place full of wonder. And you your poem has such a deep richness to it, made for reading or listening to in the shade of the forest floor near the sound of water making its way along a quiet path. Perfect Sunday reading.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 13, 2015:

ecogranny: How good to see you here! Yes, the geology is spectacular. I'm glad you enjoyed the tour. Thanks for the visit.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 13, 2015:

Thank you, Eric. What a lovely thing to say! I love writing, that's the crux of it all, and this place inspires in spades. A walk in the forest refreshes the soul, or is it nectar from the fairies?!

I trust your Sunday is serene and cerebral.

Ann :)

Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on September 13, 2015:

What a lovely place to visit. Thank you for the pictorial tour. Fascinating geology.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 13, 2015:

How wonderful and delightful. To be able to take people away with you on a journey with words and pictures is a special talent. I just love it when people set a goal and reach it and then share it and do it in splendid fashion. Thank you for everyone of your hubs.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 13, 2015:

Thanks, John, for your congrats and for the lovely comment. Glad you liked the poem. It came to me as I was walking back from the 'Gulf', a walk near the campsite, yesterday. I had the first two verses by the time we reached the caravan, the rest followed! Not often that happens but I guess this place is just so inspiring. It fills me with wonder and awe.

Have a scintillating Sunday, John.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 13, 2015:

Hi Jackie! I'll be off to find that hub of yours with the rock with a face; sounds great! I can't stop taking photos and round here is a photographer's paradise so I'll just keep on clicking.

Have a super Sunday!

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 13, 2015:

Flourish: Thanks for your kind words; glad you liked this. The photos are a mixture of mine and my partner's.

Congrats to you too for your 100. It was fun to get to that number but I feel the writing now completely takes over and just keeps on coming, so pointless aiming for a mere number!

Talking of the edge of those boulders, it amazes me that there are no barriers as it's so easy to slip on the moss after the rain; my young granddaughter was on reins when we went there! It's good in a way that France doesn't tend to stop people going here and there at their own discretion, whereas in Britain we tend to put up barriers and notices saying, 'don't do this, don't do that...', to the verge of paranoia. Maybe that's why people have a diminished responsibility these days!

I digress! Hope you have a great Sunday and that your Autumn isn't too chilly.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 13, 2015:

Hello, Theresa! How good to see you on a Sunday morning, here with soft mists and the sunshine trying to break through.

Thank you for your lovely comments. It's interesting that you have similar boulders; I'm sure there exist many areas like this but they are so intriguing in themselves aren't they?

I must admit that traveling our short hop over the Channel is just within my comfort zone now. Not too far away from the children and easy to dash back if we have to!

I do so appreciate your best wishes for our journeys and for hub 101!

Looking forward to reading more from you, dear Theresa.

Hugs,

Ann

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on September 13, 2015:

Congratulations on achieving your goal of 100 hubs Ann. This is a delightful hub from the beautiful photos, through the interesting commentary and wonderfully descriptive poem. Great work.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on September 12, 2015:

One of those places if I lived near I would really get to know. I have some photos on a hub much like your mushroom rock and mine seems to have a face, so these things do greatly interest me. Thanks for sharing yours!

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 12, 2015:

What an unusual offbeat place and great photos, poem and description. I sure wouldn't want to live on that ledge. Congratulations on meeting your hub goal. I just passed 100 too and like you am not setting another goal, just continuing on in earnest.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on September 12, 2015:

Oh, happy 101 hubs! A great milestone.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on September 12, 2015:

Ahh, Ann, I love to travel along with you via your hubs! What a wondrous place of natural beauty and interest. We actually have similar boulders here in the foothills in the Deep South. They do give one pause to imagine how did they form and are able to balance on other rocks in that manner. I thoroughly enjoy your photos and thank you for sharing.

Of course, your poem is marvelous.

That is funny about the sound of the "Huelgoat" ...

Peace and blessings for continued safe travels

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 12, 2015:

Hi Phyllis! Thank you for such a kind comment. Glad you were drawn in and that you loved it. I love it here and we've just come back from a magical walk down the 'Gulf' after our supper - so soothing and absolutely in another world.

I had to laugh at you trying that in front of the mirror! Good for you!

Ann

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on September 12, 2015:

PS: I tried the "ooo" sound for "Huelgoat" while looking in a mirror and you are right - I won't do that in public. LOL

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on September 12, 2015:

OMGosh, Ann - what a marvelous, magical place full of natural beauty. It looks like the kind of land I belong in. Your photos are wonderful and your words drew me into the land of the Fae. I love it !!!

Thanks for sharing this lovely place in Brittany.

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