Saturday, September 20, 2014


Old slab bridge on the Queffleuth
We had a Brittany Walks event this week looking at the landscape of the Queffleuth valley near Pleyber-Christ. This beautiful little river - although capable of flooding the centre of Morlaix when aroused - features in the river chapter of my new book and has been thoroughly studied by the Association Au Fil du Queffleuth et de la Penzé. Riboul Potic is a labelled circuit of 2kms, extended through woodland on the other side of the D769 to give a 5.5km route. Information boards (in French, but well-illustrated) offer a good idea of the radical changes to the appearance of the terrain over the last 150 years with the loss of small parcels of land and destruction of hedged boundaries  on one side to facilitate larger-scale agriculture, and the intensive tree-cover of today on the other where farming the heights became un-economical in the late 19th century.
The water-quality of the Queffleuth is high, making it a habitat for otters, trout and salmon, just as it once made the river good for paper-production and the site of many mills. The most interesting feature on the circuit is perhaps the irrigation system once used to keep the Prat ar Gaor (Goats' meadow) well-watered even in times of drought. A mini-barrage and valve system were constructed to feed a bief - a supply channel similar on a smaller scale to the bief de partage of the Nantes-Brest Canal - cut straight to enclose the land and connect the two ends of a wide bend in the main river course. From this trenches were cut across the meadow in the 'fish-bone style' with a central spine and many off-shoots, taking moisture to almost all parts of the pasture land. This skeleton outline is still just visible on the ground.
Apart from historical and natural interest, it's a pretty route, well worth a gentle afternoon stroll. Park in the lay-by just off the D769 at Le Pléen (turning to Pleyber-Christ) and follow well-placed and (for once) consistent green waymarks.

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