I have to confess with the rain pouring down outside my office window over the last few days that I have my fingers crossed for brighter weather for our trip to Ty Hir in just over a week’s time. When we were there in March it was lovely and warm and sunny and I was working in the garden in a t-shirt – hoping for the same again this time!
If you happen to be thinking about visiting Brittany this summer, we only have two weeks left in the Grand Longere – the Petit Longere is all booked up which is great news. It really is the perfect place to escape from the rat race!
Ankou, a personification of death in Breton mythology, is reported to have been seen picking up lost souls with his cart from the marsh, including goblins, elves, leprechauns and other little demons including korrigans who are wicked fairies. They all are a link between the world of the living and the dead. The gates of hell are here aptly named.
Again there are many versions of these legends and these are the ones that I like the most...
At the heart of the Yeun Elez, the feckless hikers would be faced with a bottomless pool called the Youdig or Youdic which translates as ‘petite bouillie’ or ‘small boiled’. This black watery quagmire of sticky mud would would start to boil as the gates to hell opened. The hapless victim would be dragged down into the murky depths and swallowed up by unseen forces below!
Watch where you are walking on the marshes - you might end up with more than a soggy boot if you don't look where you are going!
Between sunset and sunrise, these spectral beings launder shrouds whilst singing in the moonlight. They invite the unwary traveller to help them wring out the shrouds and woe betide those who do not wring out the clothes in the correct manner! If it is spun in the wrong direction the washerwomen winds it around the body of the unfortunate until all their bones are broken! It is believed that these spooky laundresses are a portent of death, either one’s own or a death in the family. Yan’Dargent painted the "Lavandières de la nuit" in 1861 and it hangs in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Quimper.
At night you may hear the eerie sound of dogs baying floating across the marsh. These huge black dogs are the manifestation of malevolent fiends and locals would superstitiously cast their black dogs into the depths of the bog. It is said they portend storms and the emerging of supernatural forces from the gates of hell...
The dogs are supposed to be the embodiment of souls of the dead that have been rejected from hell who remained to haunt the living.
If you wish to find out more about the legends of the Monts d'Arrée whilst staying at Ty Hir then we recommend a visit to the exhibition at the museum of Le Youdig at Kerveguenet near Brennilis.
Again we travelled overnight with Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Caen and had a very calm crossing – it is such a civilised way to travel, it’s like you holiday starts the night before you arrive. The food in the self-service restaurant is great and reasonably priced then you can have a drink in the bar while you are entertained by musicians and magicians (ok, it’s a bit like Butlins but hey, that’s all part of the fun isn’t it?). You get up in the morning after a good night's rest in your own cabin, have breakfast watching the coast of France approach and then it's a pleasant drive on quiet roads to the gîtes - perfect!
The gardens surrounding the property were inviting with lots of hidden nooks and crannies. The houses themselves were spacious and light but one of them had an abomination of an Ikea kitchen (a recent addition apparently) and the floors bowed and sloped. Of course you have to expect this to a degree in older properties but these looked like they could be a real problem which would need addressing. For the price they were asking it just wasn’t going to be worth it. The highlight of the visit was when we accidentally flush a hare out in the field – I’m not sure who was more surprised.
We then headed off to stay for a week at a charming luxury apartment in Loqueffret, not far from Huelgoat. Le Cosquer Huella is run by a lovely couple, Sam and Alan Eden. Alan is a registered builder and renovated the building that we stayed in which was beautifully done. We certainly will be talking to him if we need any major works done at Ty Hir in the future! Here is a link to his website if you are looking for a builder in Brittany: A.E. Building Services. They were very helpful with all our house hunting questions and Sam even provided us with a much appreciated hot dinner on our arrival! Highly recommended.