Advantages A good day out.
Disadvantages Not so good for the disabled or small children.
|Is it worth visiting?|
HUELGOATDo you remember that Wow feeling when you are child seeing something new for the first time, like the seaside or mountains or moorland ? Well, that feeling can happen to adults as well, and it certainly did that to me, when I first encountered what Huelgoat has to offer.
Situated on the road from Roscoff to Carhaix, Huelgoat hides it's treasures from the traffic that passes on the bye-pass, although for those adventurous enough to take a detour, there is an absolute wealth of interesting things to see at this little town in Brittany.There is little in the way of public transport in this area of Brittany, and so therefore, a car or independent transport would be necessary.
Arriving into the town itself, the roads all lead down to the waterside, but the voyage of discovery doesn't end with Ice cream or coffee in the waterside cafes. Walking the length of the water as far as the bridge takes the visitor to a mysterious and wondrous place that amazes the eye. Looking from the bridge, you get the first glimpse of what Huelgoat has to offer and it is truly amazing. As if sent from a meteor many eons ago, there are boulders the size of houses, all nestling along the riverside, with little pathways that lead you through the shaded valley into a wonderland of myth and magic.This is not a place for the disabled or unsure of foot, since the pathway is worn, and steps that lead down to the Rocks a little steep, although handrails are in place for those who enjoy even a short walk. You have choices, like going down the steep pathway to the Devils Grotto, a natural one that has been formed simply by the positions of the rocks. Many legends have been told, and each time I visit, a new one starts. Who knows what the history really is of this spooky place ? To me, the importance of the Rocks is not paramount. To me, the wow factor is.
The rocks form little corridors, which lead along the riverside towards the woods beyond. It is an area suitable for those who want a short walk and a picnic, or for the more adventurous walkers who want to walk the length of the woodlands. Ideal picnic areas abound, and the sunlight playing amongst the summer trees makes this an ideal spot for those who love nature and the wonderment of it. The trembling rock is indeed a wondrous thing. If you push against it, and close your eyes, you can actually feel the movement of this huge monster of a rock and believe in its trembling ability.Chose a pleasant day that is dry, as the pathways can be slippery, and I would also advise people with children under a sensible age to keep an eye on the little ones, as some of the areas are steep. There are disclaimer notices asking that parents take care with their children.
In the middle of the forest area, there is refreshment, in the form of a cafe which offers crepes, snacks, coffees and drinks, and the cafe is well equipped and offers seating in both shaded and sunlit areas at reasonable prices.Huelgoat not only offers "Les Rochers" or rocks. Further out of the village itself, it houses an Arboretum (a collection of tree species) housed in 8 hectares of land. This isn't the best example I have seen of an arboretum but it does offer calm away from the more touristic centre of Huelgoat. More impressive to me are the gardens of the local hospice, which have been carefully nurtured to provide an interesting walk through and having plants of all kinds to inspire the gardener. Again, pathways through the garden are not easy and suit the sure footed. Entry to the garden and arboretum cost 7 euros, whilst the garden itself without the visit to the arboretum costs 5 euros.
The town centre of Huelgoat is an interesting mixture of all things French, having restaurants at each side of the main street, as well as the riverside cafes. There is a tourist information centre, and adequate parking which is free, and gift shops, whilst offering local wares, are not too tacky or expensive. The local church which is located off the main high street has some marvellous leaded glass, and one of the shops that I enjoyed the most was a local pottery which makes pottery in art nouveau style, which is affordable and decorative.All in all Huelgoat offers a good day out, and what I feel it misses out on is the traffic that simply passes by, and tourists that comment on the strangeness of it's name, dismissing it as just another little Breton town. It isn't. What it offers is that landscape of rocks that takes the traveller into the realms of imagination and reflection, a place created by nature in all its splendour, and a memorable happy ever after, left in thoughts of shaded glades, and rocks that hold mysteries of days gone by.
Worthy of a half hour detour from the main road. Enjoy it as I did.
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