Circular walks tend to be the first thought when planning a day of walking. Itís the simplest approach: park, walk round a circuit, get back in the car. But often circular routes are artificially constructed, with lots of road walking on the return leg from the best bits! So why not give a thought to trying a linear walk instead?
Certainly more forethought and organisation may be necessary, but isnít it worth it for six hours of sensational coastline instead of maybe two plus cross-country hikes shared by motor vehicles? On the Crozon peninsula, for example, the interior is really not very attractive for walking, but circuits usually require time spent on these inland paths.
Out and back
The first method is to walk out and back. The GR34 coastal path right round Brittany (though not always on the coast these days) offers such a variety of sights and sensations that turning back to retrace your steps opens up a whole new world and you hardly notice youíre on the same path. On the other hand, the Nantes-Brest canal and the other Green Ways do not always repay a two-way jaunt for interesting views. Try one way on the non-towpath side of the canal for a little variety of experience and a less-frequented route.
Walk plus public transport
Linear walks in conjunction with public transport enable the walker to cover much longer distances in a day. For this plan to work, you must choose your area carefully. The interior may be tricky, but many coastal places are well-served by buses in the summer, and there are some useful routes running all year. Line 15 from Lannion to Perros-Guirec (or vice versa) goes around the Pink Granite coast and can easily serve as one leg of a linear walk. On Belle-Ile which has at least five days of coastal walking, there is a daily bus circuit that can serve as the return hop to either of the main towns and many other places on route.
Bus tickets are very cheap and timetables are easy to check on line. The system is usually very reliable, often arriving and departing exactly on the minute, so make an effort to be on time or the day could all go horribly wrong! When planning, consider getting a bus out first thing in the morning and then walking back to your departure point. This takes the stress out of trying to reach a bus-stop in time when youíre tired at the end of the day. You can walk at your own pace and take as long as you like to get back.
For a longer walk, maybe over several days, donít ignore the possibility of a train trip between towns. A leisurely walk from Morlaix to Roscoff, stopping a night at Carantec and then coming back by train makes a good weekend. Train routes and times can be found on www.voyages-sncf.fr (TGV) and www.ter-sncf.com/bretagne.
If all else fails, a taxi ride wonít be unreasonably expensive, and if you walk around a peninsula, the journey may be quite short. Again, BWs advice is to start with the taxi ride first thing and then spend the day walking back without any transport worries.
BWs would like to hear of any recommendations for linear walking using public transport Ė based on successful experience!