Winter Walking

Don’t let the calendar or cold weather put you off getting outside, but do pick your terrain carefully. Whilst cross-country walking in Brittany’s hilly and wooded landscape at this time of year is likely to be wet, muddy and slippery, there are plenty of other safer and just as scenic options. Firstly canal tow-paths, which are often hard-surfaced, provide a level and fairly dry-under-foot walk, with the added benefit of beautiful watery scenery if you choose a part of the Nantes-Brest Canal following the Oust, the Blavet or the Aulne. Many managed lakes have full circuits on solid paths: Lac de Drennec near Sizun has a 7.5km route with superb views at any time of year, and sections on the north side of Lac Guerlédan or the Lac du Duc in Ploërmel are also suitable for winter walks.

If you are interested in bird-watching, Brittany’s many estuaries are good viewing points for over-wintering visitors. There’s a beautiful walk down the river from Pont l’Abbé to Loctudy, punctuated by information panels about the birds you may see. The Rance valley is another option, or the sheltered Gulf of Morbihan around Arradon. All of these have footpaths suitable for year-round use.

Cliff-top walking near famous beauty-spots ensures well-made and level paths for a stroll far from mud. Cap Frehel and the Pointe du Raz offer spectacular sea views and a network of routes on the top of their peninsulas to avoid steep changes of gradient. The coastal scenes are often most dramatic under wintry skies, and an invigorating walk along the beach is a good morale-booster during the long cold months.

Town walks shouldn’t be forgotten either – some museums and galleries are free on Sunday afternoons in winter, and there’ll always be options for hot chocolate or something stronger afterwards in Rennes or Vannes or Quimper. One top choice for a winter walk must be round the ramparts of St-Malo – swimming in the free access sea-water pool below maybe optional!

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