The Woodlife Way

Crafted from nature

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A new adventure and a new country.

So much has changed since our last post. We have been very busy renovating 2 houses this time, and we are pleased to say that they are finally fully functioning. We now have a self catering holiday Gite up and running in the beautiful Brittany village of Huelgoat, Finistere. I have written all about it and included links on the About us page, so please take a look. There is a kitchen dining sitting room with wood-burning stove, on the ground floor, along with a small utility room and a toilet. There is a comfortable lounge on the first floor, and a double en-suite bedroom. There is 1 double bedroom, and 1 twin bedroom on the next floor with a shower room between the 2.

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Ty Huelgoat
Walking in Huelgoat forest, Autumn
Image may contain: sky, cloud, twilight, tree, outdoor, water and nature

The neighborhood

Ty Huelgoat self catering holiday Gite is located in Huelgoat, Bretagne, France.

The small town of Huelgoat in Brittany has all the essentials for a great holiday. Within the town there are shops, tourist information, small supermarkets, restaurants, bars and a weekly market. There is a lake and the famous millennia-old boulders the “Chaos”, the “Mushroom” and the “Trembling Rock” among many others.
The surrounding forest of some 1150 hectares is part of the protected Parc Naturel Régional d’Amorique. From the edge of town there are easy walks/hikes through the forest to, for instance, the iron age settlement of Arthur’s Camp and those towards the silver mines which closed in 1866. There are also walks around the lake, which was dug in the 16th Century to provide water to the mines and not far away are the moorland walks on Brittany’s highest hills, the Monts d’Arrée.
The area is rich in legends involving Arthur, King of Britain & Brittany, the Devil at the Devil’s Grotto, Giants creating the famous boulders and many more.

HISTORY
There is evidence that the area was settled as early as 4500BC. In the forest surrounding the town, the site of Arthur’s Camp was an Iron Age settlement for a Celtic tribe known as the Osismes who later developed their capital in Carhaix. The motte nearby dates from the 9th century as a defence against Viking raids of that time.
In the Middle Ages the area was part of a very large parish called Ploumenez, in the 11th Century it was a included with Berrien. Documents show that Huelgoat existed as a town by the end of the 13th century and by the 14th century had a ducal market charter. It became a parish in its own right in 1791 and continued to develop as an important market town for the area.
The lake, some 15 hectares in size, was dug by German engineers at the end of the 16th Century to provide water for the nearby silver mines. The water ran to nearby the mines as the river Argent but later canals (channels) were constructed to bring water from the river closer to the mining operations. There were three veins of silver running north to south. The mines were at their height in the 18th Century but closed in 1866 In the 20th century attempts were made to re-start mining but these were finally abandoned in 1934.
By the end of the 19th century Huelgoat was becoming a well-known tourist destination and a tourist office was opened in 1923. Between the wars it continued to develop as interest in Breton culture grew. In World War II German forces arrived in Huelgoat in June 1940 and the town was liberated in August 1944. Today it is a part of the Parc Naturel Régional d’Amorique with its forests, lake and its mass of granite boulders known as a Chaos.
THE CHAOS
The fascinating mass of granite boulders at the head of the Argent as it leaves the lake is known as a Chaos. From underground magma produced over 300 million years ago, this cooled and cracked. Erosion then brought it to the surface where around 50 million years ago warm rains removed the sand and gravel in the cracks and the remaining granite boulders tumbled into the chaos we now see. From a similar process the rock known as the Mushroom (near the Intermarché supermarket) and the Trembling Rock are also fascinating to see.
THE FOREST
Consists of about 1150 hectares with mainly beech, oak and Scots pine. Rich in wild life, the granite boulders of the Chaos, the Trembling Rock and others, the gushing river Argent and sites such as Arthur’s Camp it is a forest walkers’ paradise.
LEGENDS
Arthur’s Grotto is said to connected to Arthur, King of Britain & Brittany and the forest to be that of Brocéliande. Others state that Merlin’s treasure from the Valley of No Return is hidden in the nearby cave. During the French Revolution, monarchists chasing a Republican soldier fled on seeing the Devil in the depths of the Devil’s Grotto. The hill above the Gouffre chasm is said to be the favourite place of Dahut, daughter of King Gradlon of Quimper, where she enjoyed singing, dancing and the pleasures of young men! The Chaos has two main legends: the giant Hok-Bas, on receiving poor refreshments from the townsfolk threw giant boulders at the town. The other, that in a battle the giants of Berrien and Plouyé lobbed boulders at each other but all fell short and rolled into the forest at Huelgoat.

HUELGOAT TOWN
The main square is Place Aristide Briande.
Here there are restaurants, bars, shops, the Tourist Office, two boulangeries and the smaller supermarket Huit a Huit (open 8 till 8 of course!). The open air Market is held here every Thursday morning. Off the square is the Mairie where there is extra parking (all free) and the recycling and “black bag” facilities.
Also in this square is the parish church Eglise St-Yves with Flamboyant-Gothic style dating from the 16th century. Yves is the patron saint of Brittany, an ecclesiastical judge in the 13th century noted for the fairness of his judgements.
Access to the Chaos is by the path beside the bridge at the end of the lake, but it is very uneven and can be slippery. An easier route is across the road from the Intermarché supermarket/Parking du Champignon on the Route de Berrien.
The old building by the bridge is the old mill Moulin de Chaos, built in 1339 by the then Duke of Brittany. It came to the French King after Brittany became part of France in 1532. It has two wheels and two mill-stones.
The chapel at the end of our road is the Chapelle Notre-Dame des Cieux where there are fine figureheads and carvings. The annual Pardon was once held here, drawing large crowds from a wide area of central Brittany.
Across the road from the chapel, down a steep path, is the Fontaine et Lavoir. The lavoir is the public washing-place for linen etc and the fountain source once fed the fountain in the main square.
Worth a visit (open April to October) is the Arboretum Les Arbres du Monde, off the Rue des Cieux, behind the cemetery, close by our house. There are 22 hectares and a lake.
The large buildings on the main road (Rue des Cieux) opposite the chapel is the Hospital Mont le Roux. Founded in 1894 as an hospice for the old and sick of Huelgoat. In 1993 it became a hospital for the elderly and dependant people (EHPAD for short). In front of the hospital are the gardens Jardins de l’Argoat which are open to all just to sit or stroll.

WALKS
Huelgoat has an outstanding reputation for its walks, particularly in and around the abundant forest.
Signposting is good and many recommended walks take about two hours to complete but, of course, may be shortened to suit the walker.

These include:-
To Arthur’s Camp via parking at Parking de l’Arlquellen on the road towards Poullaouen (D769A).

Around the town’s lake.

Towards the mine along either the upper or lower canal, setting off from the Mairie.

Into the forest to the east of Arthur’s Camp, this time parking at Parking du Gouffre.

Driving 15 or so minutes west on the main road back towards Morlaix (D764) to reach the area of the highest hills in Brittany, the Monts d’Arrée, where there are abundant moorland walks plus those around the reservoir.

Getting around

For those travelling from southern Britain the ferry docks at Roscoff (of Onion Johnnies fame) and Huelgoat is then an easy 50 minutes drive away. Parking is on the residential road at the gate to the house.
Travelling by public transport then we recommend using the site breizhgo – simply input your details and it will give you options on how to get to Huelgoat.

A fresh start

It certainly has been a fresh start to this new year. The mountains are still white and snow is still on and off, as is our outside work. The animals are starting to shed their winter coats and our first daffodil has finally made an appearance, which is more than I can say for the grass.  Hay and wood prices have soared and suppliers have found it hard to keep up with demand. It does look as though temperatures and going to be staying above freezing this week though so maybe that is winter closing the door behind herself, finally.

our first daffodil coming into flower 2018

The deer have had a very hard winter and will be very glad when the new shoots finally emerge. The dog for one though is very happy with the white stuff

Disgruntled Deer

Happy dog

We have been very busy with the woodcrafts over this off season and would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our customers retail and wholesale, for making it possible for us to keep our crafting evolving and thriving. We have new lines added to our collections, many inspired by the museums we have been working with as well as a lot of commission work. We enjoy the challenge and diversity.

Steve loves the camera and will do anything for a photo!

The finished product.

Handmade natural wooden hooks

A few more lines added to the craft side too, there are barely any left to go into the online shops and most are sold before they are made, which is a good thing as it is now 2.30 am and I am writing this post, on this page I have been neglecting shamelessly. Steve will adjust my spelling mistakes and punctuation at 6.30am just before our free zone runs out at 7am.

Getting fibre broadband by the end of year as promised will be life changing for us! Yay sleep.

There is a new page added to the top menu that you may have noticed, Steve has written a new album of songs over the winter and we are starting a new music sharing page for musicians of all talents to share their original material. It is being admin-ed by myself and some of Steves bandmates from down on the bottom of the uk so it really is a coast to coast project. It has been really nice to spend some time chatting with them again as leaving our friends and family to move 700 miles away was a real wrench and takes it’s toll. The page is only 2 days old but being well received we think. We have met some talented and individual characters, which has been an inspiration in it’s own right.

A few more pictures to close tonight/this morning and please do keep an eye on the new page as it builds.

I am also going to add a page featuring  all of the locations our crafts are now being sold. I will include a write up about each as well as  links to their online websites. 

A very snowy start to the new year

Some photo’s of the very snowy start to 2018 in The Scottish Highlands. Absolutely beautiful. The best seat in the garden to watch 

a snowy garden wall with the sun rising above the snowy mountains across The Kyle of Tongue 20/1/2018

not a day for driving, a wonderful day for walking

the horses taking it all in their stride and having a nap in the snow.

we have been very busy with the woodcrafts making new stock for our retail outlets. These are heading to Barn Owl Bothy arts and craft shop in the beautiful cathedral city of Dornoch. This is a Cherrywood feature button with a tartan backing on our handmade paper finished with a string and stick to hang beautifully in your craft space before use, which also makes a beautiful presentation as a gift.

this is a beautiful little cherrywood keyring with we think would make a lovely gift for valentines day.

this is slightly bigger and works well as a little tea light holder or shot glass place mat. With a Scottish knot work Highland heart design . These are heading with our new stock to Barn owl Bothy in Dornoch. If you would like a special design then please contact us with your requests.

 

The thaw has now started and the new year is taking shape. Our guest room calendar is filling up fast  and we are starting to book our craft stalls for the coming year at the Highland game fairs and local craft markets. We are trying to build up some new stock as well as replenish our favourite lines which are diminishing fast. We are hoping to plant some new fragrant herbs for our essential oils and some more coppice trees on the croft. The shelter belt needs to be thickened to protect the fruit trees as the willow is taking so much longer to grow up here on such an exposed site. The deer help themselves too which does not help! We are really trying to hold off having to put up deer fencing and hoping to plant a ratio which will leave us enough even with them taking a few. Maybe wishful thinking but only time will tell. That’s it for now as it is now almost 7am and our free zone internet will allowance finishes at 7am.

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