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Huelgoat, Brittany, France: Facts & a Poem about a Wondrous, Mysterious part of the French Countryside

Updated on July 27, 2017
annart profile image

Ann loves to travel, to visit places unknown. She believes that travel broadens the mind, that much can be learnt from different cultures.


I have now written 100 hubs and this is my 101st. Not such a huge milestone, some might say, but to me it’s an achievement. It’s also where I stop counting because I’ve reached my hubpage goal and do not wish to set another. As long as I keep writing I’ll be happy.

There are other goals to achieve though. What about that bucket list? How about visiting as many unusual places as you can before you kick the bucket? Well, here's one suggestion....

From Lake to Bridge to.... Chaos!

The Lake...
The Lake... | Source
to Weir, then look over the other side of the Bridge to.....
to Weir, then look over the other side of the Bridge to..... | Source
Chaos! | Source

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) | Source
La Roche Tremblante (Trembling Rock - about 12ft long)
La Roche Tremblante (Trembling Rock - about 12ft long) | Source
Push!  I said 'Push'!
Push! I said 'Push'! | Source
Mushroom Rock
Mushroom Rock | Source

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.

Forest, Mists, Sun-rays & Caves

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Through the Trees to the Silver RiverSearchlights from AboveTrees Stretch to the SkyCaves to Hide the Demons
Through the Trees to the Silver River
Through the Trees to the Silver River | Source
Searchlights from Above
Searchlights from Above | Source
Trees Stretch to the Sky
Trees Stretch to the Sky | Source
Caves to Hide the Demons
Caves to Hide the Demons | Source

Where does the River Go?

Silver Symmetry
Silver Symmetry | Source

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 | Source
The Rocks Survey the Forest Floor
The Rocks Survey the Forest Floor | Source
Fronds of Fern in Silver Waters
Fronds of Fern in Silver Waters | Source
Will the Fairies meet you in the Clearing?
Will the Fairies meet you in the Clearing? | Source
Stand on the Edge but Beware the Slippery Moss!
Stand on the Edge but Beware the Slippery Moss! | Source
A Chink of Light from Darkest Cave
A Chink of Light from Darkest Cave | Source
Humidity, Moss & Stone
Humidity, Moss & Stone | Source

Are you a fan of such places? Why?

Are you, first and foremost....

See results

© 2015 Ann Carr


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    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      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!


    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      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.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      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!


    • Faceless39 profile image

      Faceless39 2 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      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 :)

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      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!


    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      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

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

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


    • sujaya venkatesh profile image

      sujaya venkatesh 2 years ago

      great landscape

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      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!


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      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.


    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

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

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

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

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      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.


    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 years ago from london

      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.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      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 :)

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      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!


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      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!


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      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.


    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      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 profile image

      mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      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.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

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


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      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 :)

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

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

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      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.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      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.


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      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!


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      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.


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      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.



    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      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 profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      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 profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      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 profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Oh, happy 101 hubs! A great milestone.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      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

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      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!


    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      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 profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      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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