Daybreak on the summits of the Monts d'Arrée

Watch as the sunrise breathes new life into nature and the legends of Yeun Elez

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Even if you’re not really a morning person, you can’t fail to be enchanted as you watch the sun rise at the top of the Monts d'Arrée mountains. The typical beauty of the scenery, the magical effects of the play of the light, the mystery of the surrounding moorland …plus Youenn’s impassioned commentary – a treat for your eyes and your ears. Wake up gently from the land of dreams…

Daybreak in the mountains

Lever de soleil sur les Monts d'Arrée

Our little group warms up by climbing through moors studded with St Anthony’s laurel, wild pear-trees, and gorse … and as we slowly awake so does nature. Above the ferns, between two rocky outcrops, our guide points out Mont St-Michel de Brasparts, Tuchenn Gador,  Roc'h Trévezel, Brennilis lake… Below, we can see wisps of mist playing in the heather. Further away, Morlaix bay glitters in the early morning light. We all choose our favourite mountain-top. I prefer the rounded domes of the ‘Tuchenn’, while others go for the needles of ‘Roc'h’. And we can also make out the steeples of Commana and Plonéour-Menez, reminding us of the region’s historic prosperity.

Gates of hell or heaven’s door?

Aube sur les monts d'Arrée - légendes avec Youenn notre guide

With the sunrise, Ankou (a kind of Breton ‘grim reaper’) must leave his look-out post on Tuchenn Gador, from where this black-garbed death-worker keeps a 360° watch over the dead souls of Brittany. There’s no mistaking it: we’ve reached the legendary land of the Yeun Elez, the marshes that lie at the heart of the Armorique Regional Natural Park. Here lie hidden, amongst the peat-bogs, the gates of hell. A bottomless pool, that cannot be seen, and swallows up damned souls.But I can vouch for the fact that more cheerful beings like to come here too, for as we made our way along the mountain ridge, I definitely saw some creatures that I knew to be korrigans (a kind of Breton leprechaun) because of their dishevelled hair and beards. The more rationally-minded might say it was just moor grass and lichen, or Old Man’s Beard, but I know different. This remarkable site is steeped in myth and legend; peat and rock whisper their fantastic stories to the wind.In fact, as we pass by the slate-quarrier’s hut, we’re sure we can hear the hammer ringing. Was it a mirage or was it real? Never mind. Either way, the blueberry bushes growing near the blue stone are real enough – there’s no fruit yet, but they may well provide a welcome snack for some passing ramblers one of these days.

A delicious adventure!

Aube sur les Monts d'Arrée_8

Our path takes us to the banks of the river Elorn at its source. Springing from the peat so well-nourished by the rain, the water forms a babbling brook. At our feet grow Venus flytraps and marsh lilies in the now clayey soil. Moorland gradually gives way to hydrangeas, and the 8.5 kilometre walk draws to an end close to thatched cottages topped with rustic slate. Youenn’s dog Chaudron is beginning to look a little tired, but we haven’t yet reached the end of our adventure. A generous  breakfast  is waiting for us; St-Thégonnec organic bread, jam from Huelgoat, and warm crêpes cooked on the traditional 'billig' - Breton round griddle - soon refresh us. We take as much pleasure in the food as in Youenn’s tales of local tradition and culture, our appetite for the secrets of Breton food, legend and language amply satisfied !

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