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Huelgoat, Brittany, France: Facts & a Poem about a Wondrous, Mysterious part of the French Countryside
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!
Where is Huelgoat?
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.
Rocks to make you Tremble
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'.
Forest, Mists, Sun-rays & CavesClick thumbnail to view full-size
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?
Dark to Light to Dark & Light Again
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.
Copyright annart/AFC 2015