It had been 12 months since our last visit, which was probably too long. Morbihan (which means “Little Sea” in Breton) has to be one of the great paddling areas of Europe. Don’t expect dramatic scenery and a wilderness experience though. This is a popular tourist and sailing venue but the combination of world class historical sites, tidal streams reaching 8 knots, a diverse bird population and usually pleasant weather conditions produce a fascinating kayaking area.
The entrance to the Golfe de Morbihan. A knowledge of buoyage is vital here because of the numerous craft which navigate the waters and the speed at which they travel.
The small fishing boat was closing pretty quickly upon us, even though the GPS was registering nearly 8 knots and we were barely paddling. The narrowing of the channel to the south of Iles Berder and Gavrinis forced the stream to accelerate as it rushed towards the open sea, still nearly 2 miles away. We were taking advantage of this liquid conveyor belt but clearly the fisherman had other ideas about both our sanity and paddling ability. The raised, shaking fist and the shouts that we were stupid and likely to die did little to improve the confidence of the more hesitant members of the group.
History from the water. The stone circle at Er Lannic at low water, as the tide rises it is possible paddle between the stones. Just to the north, across the fast moving tidal stream is Gavrinis, the world famous passage grave, is visible in the trees.
We were on the final rush towards the open sea at the end of two days of superb paddling. Although the tidal streams do run fast in the Gulf, with appropriate planning it is possible to harness that power to your own advantage and so enjoy a relatively effort free ride around the inner recesses of the Gulf. Although many people are put off by stories regarding the power of the tidal runs do not be unduly apprehensive. Try to arrange your first visit to coincide with neaps, use a detailed chart and be sure of your position at all times.
Saturday was a leisurely exploration of the islands close to Larmor-Baden. One ferry glide after another allowed us to access golden sandy beaches, narrow inlets and historical sites. To me the most fascinating location is the semi-submerged stone circle of Er Lannic, due to sea level rise the circle is largely submerged at high water, where else is it possible to paddle through megalithic monuments? As the afternoon progressed we jumped onto the ebbing tide and hitched a free ride back to Locmariaquer.
Locmariaquer at dawn. A great place to base yourself for the weekend or longer.