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Report 1982: Megaliths, Parish Closes and Cider - Part 3 Northern Finistère

By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2011

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Page 31 of 32: Huelgoat

photo by MAW

Moulin de Chaos

Huelgoat features in all the guide books for its forest, river and rocks and the legends that are woven round them. There is the Fairies’ pool, the Virgin’s kitchen, Arthur’s Cave, path to Hell, the trembling rock, devil’s cave...

The village lies on a large artificial lake dug by German miners in the late 16thC to supply water to the local lead-silver mines and now supplies a small power station. The area was once an important industrial centre with mines and granite quarries. It is now a tourist centre.

It is a large and busy settlement with a lot of shops and eateries. In early afternoon it was busy with many parked cars. We walked to Moulin de Chaos where there are good views down the lake.

There is a highly decorative, but pretty useless map showing walks up the river valley. However all did seem to be well signed. There are signs warning that the paths are unsuitable for the elderly and children and the authorities take no responsibility if you have an accident.

The stream bed is a mass of huge granite boulders formed from magma which was pushed to the surface and has weathered. The sides of the valley are covered with the remains of native oak, beech and chestnut woodland which was once widespread across Brittany.

The paths pick their way through, round and under the boulders. There is a steep ladder down to the Grotte de Diable which I didn’t attempt. There is then a scramble under a low rock for views of the river, which Michael didn’t manage. Apparently the views are good.

It is a lovely walk along the stream bed through the trees. Further up the boulders are covered with moss. We climbed up the side and along a flat rock for views of la Roche Tremblant, which is a massive boulder. If touched in just the right place it will rock.

Walking got more difficult as there are large roots, many rocks and steps to negotiate. We saw the steps up to La Grotte d’Artus but didn’t bother to explore. We didn’t bother with the Ménage de la Vierge (Virgin’s Kitchen) either. The rock formations are supposed to resemble different cooking utensils: a cauldron, a ladle, a butter dish...

Ignoring the mystery and legend, this is a delightful river valley and we enjoyed the walk even though we didn’t get very far.

We took the scenic D769A from Huelgoat which follows the river valley. There are footpaths signed off from the different parking areas. It is good walking country but a detailed map is advisable.

We found the road signed off to the site of the old mines. It was a good road at first but then degenerated into a rough track with a large notice board indicating no motorcycles. Our French wasn’t up to working out whether the rest of the sign meant no cars or 4x4 only. The road did look pretty rough, so we decided discretion was needed and turned round.

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