A Historical tour of the Golfe du Morbihan

This trip takes place around the Western reaches of the Golfe.    Brittany in general is well known for it’s Megaliths Cromlechs and Burial Mounds, and the Morbihan department has many,  then include a low spring tide into the mix and you know you will enjoy a good days paddling. The plan was to launch on the ebbing tide and to tour the smaller islands during a trip out to the small island Meaban situated outside the Golfe in the Bay of Quiberon.
The start point for this trip was Cale de Bilouris. (Cale = Slipway )    This particular slipway has been the starting point for many paddles on the Golfe.  It is accessed by a short lane from a car park. Recently the local authority have carried out improvement works installed  new WC’s.  but also included paymeters for July and August.  It also Bans Camping Cars which translates to Motorhomes (They are directed to use the designated Camping car Aires nearby)

Alongside the slipway is a small beach ideal for loading the boat and launching from

Our route route was from Bilouris North up to Île de Jument  working the current to avoid being pulled between the intervening islands,  the co efficient of 79  ( mean Spring tide = 95 ).  meant this was not at all difficult. At the Northern tip of Île Jument  a small race exists and is a useful play spot for practicing moving water techniques,  a few members from Vannes were there, we had a little chat sending regards to mutual friends

Then continued to our first point of Interest, Île Gavrinis.  This involved crossing the 300 meter wide straight that lays between Île Berder and Île Gavrinis.     This is the major channel  that drains the larger part of the golf and on the Ebb the current races through.   Looking at the Tidal Stream atlas give mean Spring and Neap rates as 7.1 knots and  4.6 Knts  using the adjustment chart a corrected  Rate for a 79 Coefficient returns a speed of 6.4 knots.

Looking at google earth its clear this is a fast moving stretch of Water. We crossed the straight and broke out of the mainstream into an eddy to catch our breath and look at the next section, it’s a bit like running a river. Next Stop Île Gavrinis, the straight opens into a much larger body of water, but still the current flows at a decent rate a corrected rate of 5.1 Knots,  so again practising more moving water skills we broke out of the main stream into the eddy alongside the Cale

there is Public access to visit the tumulus, but is organised with a boat crossing included in the price, on one occasion we tried to join a visit after the boat delivered a fresh bunch, but were told we had to arrange via the ferry boat, so to date it still remains unseen

Looking South, We could see the stone circle at Er Lannic was displaying its usually submerged Stones, so we decide to go view once again. It involved another large manoeuvre to cross the ebbing current

To the right of the photo are the remaining stones situated above high water, and those much darker  on the left are the submerged stones

Its interesting to view this on google earth, in addition to the stone circle that can be viewed, there exits a second circle completely submerged, its just discernible on Google Earth directly below the visible circle to form a figure 8

Er Lannic is a bird sanctuary so for a large part of the year landing is forbidden,  this has led to the island becoming overgrown so sheep have been  introduced to manage the growth.   The sheep are the famous Black sheep of Île Ouessant

Our journey continued  moving north back into the ebb flow leaving the Golfe to the Pointe de Kerpenhir

Statues of the Madonna with child appear all over Brittany and not uncommon at ports and harbours to ensure a safe return for fishermen. At Pointe de Kerpenhir the statue is quite recent

The first statue was destroyed during the German  occupation. At the end of the war, Locmariaquer town commissioned a new statue to be carved by Jules-Charles Le Bozec, and in 1946 it was installed in the local church.  It was not until 1962 that it was relocated to its current position

From Pointe de Kerpenir it is just 3 Kilometers to the island Meaban.    This island too is a Bird Sanctuary and access is restricted
There’s not a lot to the island really except of course its status as a protected area, access is forbidden during the breeding season from April to September.  The nearby Port of Crouesty with its enormous marina has come into conflict with the Protection organisations  for organising power boat and Sail  racing events.

The next leg was to visit Port Navalo to call into the nearby Port Cafe for a coffee, so after  a short paddle back to the port entrance we could see the cafe was shut,  so on again to Pointe de petit mouton.

This is the white painted marker at Pointe de Petit Mouton, another playspot

There’s a very short clip of video taken on the other side of the Marker where the speed of the flow can be seen. This was less than an hour after slack water so the tide is only just beginning to rise

the corrected rate working out to 2.2 knots at the time if the video, in approximately 2 hours this would have increased to 4 knots which taking into account the increasing volume of water you can understand the Need for the prominent marker

Our return retraced our outbound route taking us along with the flood, as we approached Er Lannic we spotted more paddlers,  we thought at first it was the group from the Vannes we met that morning, but no.  We greeted Alexander and friends, an informal group of paddlers on their annual news years paddle.  Alexander was carrying a large cooking pot strapped to his rear deck, he explained they enjoy a communal lunch of Stewed Deer on this first trip of the year, nows thats winter kayaking !

now  to the Race at the Northern point of Île Jumment.  The race was developing nicely and we bounced through the small waves.   Very quickly the flood took us straight to our launch spot Cale de Bilouris

A tidal streams atlas is essential to be safe and get the best out of the Golfe, and The SHOM Chart for the Golfe is No. 7034L


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