Dartmoor Impressions & Celtic Promise

15-17 March  2019

As we had all day before the ferry we decided to take a slightly less than direct route to Plymouth and cross Dartmoor. We had a vague vision of bleak, flat moorland and were pleasantly disabused. Taking the B3212 right across the middle of Dartmoor National Park, we started with a few miles of up-hill and down-dale, through thick woods and neat fields,that slowly became more wild. Crossing a cattle grid into the wilder part of the National Park, the hilly moorland showed patches of green grass and pools of dark water below the with the winter yellows and oranges of tussock grass and sedge, blowing flat in the wind. Low grey dry-stone walls were a thing of the past and Dartmoor ponies grazed freely on the moors. Full streams tumbled across the open moorland, spanned in places by slabs of local stone or prettily arched larger bridges. Visibility was bad as we appeared to be driving inside a cloud, but we still appreciated the unfamiliar scenery.

Dartmoor in a cloud

At Plymouth we were frisked & inspected by security who rather bizarrely asked us if we had any sharp implements – yes, a kitchen full of them! They solemnly insepcted Danny’s Leatherman but ignored the set of newly sharpened kitchen knives in the drawers. More sobering was the presence, throughtout the voyage, of  heavily armed soldiers and policemen – it was less than 24 hours since the terrible New Zealand shooting. 

Disembarked on a grey but dry Saturday morning into Brittany, our chosen route took us through Morlaix, dominated by a huge viaduct carrying the Paris-Brest railway which towers over the centre, and along the coast. As we drove out of the small vilage of Locquirec, our plans to make progress ground to a halt as we saw a lovely expanse of sand and a number of motorhomes parked behind it. An open campsite – a rarity in Brittany in March! We instantly decided to make the most of this lovely spot and checked in, parking in a great spot overlooking the bay.

Our pitch – Camping le Fond de la Baie

Our exploratory walk to the village started on the beach where we were surprised to find that the red balls bobbing in the sea were actually women swimmers, their red caps bobbing about like buoys in the swell. When they emerged in their swimsuits we felt rather overdressed in our thick down jackets!

We celebrated the start of our Brittany adventure by having some delicious local shellfish – oysters and winkles – in a very pleasant bar/restaurant with lovely views across the bay to our campsite.

Later, at campsite reception, we joined an array of people gathering for the villager’s St Patricks Day match. Wearing a bizarre mix of “Celtic” fancy dress – green leprechaun hats, long kilts, tam o’shanters some with fake red hair attached, there was a band (five button accordians, a guitar, a fiddle and a clarinet) playing Breton, Irish, Welsh and Scots music and of course the rest were the football team! 

On the beach, a pitch was marked out with fishing rope and goals made of bamboo and fishing nets. The referee, a colourful character in grey kilt, red tartan jacket, green tartan tam o’shanter and a cow bell round his neck was carrying a vuvuzela instead of a whistle. After fortifying themselves from a large bottle of spirits, both teams headed down to the beach. 

There followed a hilarous game that kicked like football, used a rugby ball, and seemed to count as a goal any kick that went in or over the net. Good-humoured foul-play was standard, such as hugging your opponent, and some of the players were not designed for running! The wind was so strong they had to embed the ball in a pyramid of sand every time they wanted to make a freekick!  All far more fun than watching Ireland get slaughtered by Wales in the 6 Nations Cup!