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Subject Topic: GR34 2021
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Message posted by Ewen c via mobile 07/10/2021 at 12:38pm
Outfit:  Tents     Location:  County Kildare Ireland EU.
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Last year I took a risk and got a very cheap ferry deal, Dublin to France. Our aim was to do a section hike of the GR34 in Brittany from Pontorson to St Malo. This tied in well as a continuation of our hike from Coutance to Pontorson in 2018.
It involved the ferry to Cherbourg then trains to Pontorson, walk to St Malo and train back to Cherbourg for the ferry. We would be staying in a tent, yurt and hotel.
So,at the end of August 2021, we headed for our local train station with 15kg packs. This was an improvement on the previous walk but still too heavy. We had PPE, dried food but no gas as didn't want a spot check on the ferry. This was to cause problems. I usually take an alcohol stove to France. I don't know why I didn't this time.



The gear.



Waiting for the first train. The adventure begins.



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Coleman Cobra Pro 3
Coleman Cobra 2
Naturehike Star River 2
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Message posted by seanfdh07/10/2021 at 12:43pm
Outfit:  Robens Fairbanks Coleman Phad X3      Location:  North Devon
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Go on...

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Sean

Message posted by Ewen c via mobile 07/10/2021 at 12:49pm
Outfit:  Tents     Location:  County Kildare Ireland EU.
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Leaving Dublin on the WB Yeats. Smaller than the Oscar Wilde. We treated ourselves to a meal in the restaurant and woke up to see the French coast approaching. We would spend one night in Cherbourg. We like Cherbourg and usually stay at the Mercure. Handy for the centre and the train station. It was also my 55th birthday so a meal was in order and very nice it was too.







The next day was three trains to Pontorson. Masked up in the station and on the train. We also had our EU vaccination certs loaded up to the Irish and French apps. The only place we weren't asked for it was the hotel reception but their bar did require it. I also got a stamp in my passport. Very 1970s

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Coleman Cobra Pro 3
Coleman Cobra 2
Naturehike Star River 2
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Dutch army goretex bivvy bag

Message posted by Ewen c via mobile 07/10/2021 at 1:07pm
Outfit:  Tents     Location:  County Kildare Ireland EU.
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So we got to Pontorson and pitched up at Haliosis. We were about the only tent there. Campervans and motorhomes everywhere. Even the Dutch have abandoned their tents. Such a shame.



Yup. That is a naturehike star river 2. We needed a lighter tent but with genuine room for two. This fit the bill at an affordable price. It was lighter than our coleman cobras but still 2kg. Two vestibule and good room but you really need to pitch the flysheet high and pulled out at the ends as ventilation is poor. It ksuffers from condensation. We will be getting rid of it. I am hoping to get in on the next batch of Dan Durston x-mid 2 tents. 1kg and very good reviews.

Anyway, off we went to the supermarket to get gas. There wasn't any available in Cherbourg. It turned out that campingaz was everywhere but there were supply problems with coleman type gas canisters. Most are from Asia. We had to buy yet another bluet. Of course alcohol a brulee was readily available. I should have taken the trangia burner and lightweight stand. Oh well...
The next day was spent visiting Mont St Michel... again. Still a tourist trap with the added inconvenience of having to wear a mask as soon as you entered the gates, even on the street.



This would be behind us for the first two days.

That evening we had our first Galette and I had one of many ciders.





The next day was the start of the walk. The weather was a bit too hot for walking but we knew we would have the sea breeze for most of the day.

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Vango Force 10 mk3
Vango F10 Helium 1
Coleman Cobra Pro 3
Coleman Cobra 2
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Message posted by Ewen c via mobile 07/10/2021 at 1:51pm
Outfit:  Tents     Location:  County Kildare Ireland EU.
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Day 1. Pontorson to camping les Couesnons.

Many start their GR34 at the Mont. It actually starts at Vitre, near Rennes. We started from the campsite in Pontorson and headed down the river.





We stopped off at La Gréve for a coffee and toilet break and headed over the bridge into Brittany. We hadn't been sure if you could cross at the barrage downstream so hedged out bets.
Then it started to drizzle. To save on carrying rucksack covers we had invested in decathlon ponchos. We looked ridiculous but they worked and have pit zips to let the fug out. Needless to say the drizzle lasted 10 minutes and was the only time it rained the whole trip.



Soon we were at the barrage. Lots of JCBs but it was crossable. We were now at the coast.



There are two variants here. Right along the coast or a swing inland to Dol and then back to the coast. We were swinging inland to get campsites. The coast was pretty fully booked up. We could have winged it but wild camping was out and we wanted to be sure of a pitch after a long hike.
The route followed the polder before turning towards Roz sur Couesnons. Mont St Michel was a constant companion.



To be continued.

-------------
Hypercamp Alaska
Vango Force 10 mk3
Vango F10 Helium 1
Coleman Cobra Pro 3
Coleman Cobra 2
Naturehike Star River 2
Eureka! Solitaire
Dutch army goretex bivvy bag

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Message posted by Ewen c via mobile 07/10/2021 at 1:52pm
Outfit:  Tents     Location:  County Kildare Ireland EU.
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The fields were mainly leeks which were being harvested. The tang of harvested leeks mingled with the salt in the air. Brambles were a trail bounty that we made use of.


We headed inland through fields and then the GR34 joined the local cycle loop. The trail changed to tarmac which is murder on the feet. France is a nation obsessed with cycling. The GR34 is a walking trail but is gradually being changed to suit cyclists. No offence but it is a pain. Many don't use bells and it is a bit scary having a bike appear behind you. It is actually quite difficult to turn and check. On many stretches we were having to stop to let cyclists past when they weren't even supposed to be on the trail. Often we would be on clinker or hard concrete paths. There just seemed to be little concern for pedestrians.

Anyway. The usual GR signage was in place. Our game is always spot the sign. They can be on trees, on road signs, on kerbs. We did have our garmin as well. I had left my GPS watch at home to save on charging. We were carrying about 2 kilos in power banks and it did get low one day. I only took my Huawei p30 for photos. The nikon was left at home.



We arrived at Camping les Couesnons(review is up) to a warm welcome from the proprietor and her dog. We had booked and she offered us either our massive pitch or a shared pitch next to the hikers cabane. We chose next to the cabane. Shelter, tables and chairs and free charging.





They have an excellent restaurant on site so we spoiled ourselves. The staff were great craic and the food was very nice. I'd recommend if walking the route.



-------------
Hypercamp Alaska
Vango Force 10 mk3
Vango F10 Helium 1
Coleman Cobra Pro 3
Coleman Cobra 2
Naturehike Star River 2
Eureka! Solitaire
Dutch army goretex bivvy bag

Message posted by Ewen c via mobile 07/10/2021 at 2:16pm
Outfit:  Tents     Location:  County Kildare Ireland EU.
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Dayb2. Camping les Couesnons to Huttopia Baie du Mont St Michel


After a good night's sleep, we prepared for day 2. This would be hilly and would wind through villages and farmland. We would be leaving the way to reach the campsite for the night.



A steep pull uphill got us to the village of Roz sur Couesnons. Again Mont St Michel was evident.



The walk took us through the village and then through farmland. It was hot and sunny and we were feeling the kilometres and the heat.





The farmland was very rich and the cattle were huge. We didn't come across any thru hikers but there many day walkers and cyclists.

Then came the point where we had road walking to reach the campsite. (continued in next post)

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Hypercamp Alaska
Vango Force 10 mk3
Vango F10 Helium 1
Coleman Cobra Pro 3
Coleman Cobra 2
Naturehike Star River 2
Eureka! Solitaire
Dutch army goretex bivvy bag

Message posted by Ewen c via mobile 07/10/2021 at 2:29pm
Outfit:  Tents     Location:  County Kildare Ireland EU.
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Day 2 continued.

Taking back roads we managed to cross under the N176 to get to Baguer Pican. It was then a short walk to Huttopia Baie du Mont St Michel.(review is up)

We had booked a nature pitch. It was massive and quiet. Facilities were good and we took the chance to get a laundry done.

I don't think they were used to hikers but the staff were very friendly.
We bought a bottle of wine and discovered the bar didn't have cider... A Breton campsite with no cider. Imagine.



Our tea (dinner) was Bla Band dehydrated food. It is very good. A tad expensive but never goes wrong and is tasty.



A beer was had at the bar overlooking the lake in the middle of the site and when it got dark it was time for bed.



The map doesn't show the whole walk to the campsite. The trail seems to meander to take in woodland and often crosses the same road multiple times. The uphill and downhill stretches worked our muscles a bit differently from day one which was flat. However day 3 would prove to be a killer.





-------------
Hypercamp Alaska
Vango Force 10 mk3
Vango F10 Helium 1
Coleman Cobra Pro 3
Coleman Cobra 2
Naturehike Star River 2
Eureka! Solitaire
Dutch army goretex bivvy bag

Message posted by Ewen c via mobile 07/10/2021 at 3:00pm
Outfit:  Tents     Location:  County Kildare Ireland EU.
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Day 3 Huttopia Baie du Mont St Michel to Camping Insolite in Saint Benoit des Ondes.

We knew this would be a tough day. Over 25 km and we had to be there by 16:00 ( or so we thought). It meant some fast walking but the way would be flat apart from Mont Dol.
First we had to get back on trail which meant weary road walking to the GR34. The way skirted Dol de Bretagne and was part of an intensive jumble of walking and cycling paths. Mont Dol loomed over the scenery for miles.





The walking was quite easy at first following the canal and farm tracks.



It gradually turned to a metalled surface and we got to Mon Dol. This was where I tripped, twisted my ankle and jarred my knee. It wasn't that bad so we carried on.
The coast was near but the GR34 was again part of a cycle track. It was surfaced by this:



That would have been OK in boots and double socks but it was 26°c and we were wearing Salomon walking shoes and light socks. My wife's feet were in tatters.
To be continued.

-------------
Hypercamp Alaska
Vango Force 10 mk3
Vango F10 Helium 1
Coleman Cobra Pro 3
Coleman Cobra 2
Naturehike Star River 2
Eureka! Solitaire
Dutch army goretex bivvy bag

Message posted by Ewen c via mobile 07/10/2021 at 3:19pm
Outfit:  Tents     Location:  County Kildare Ireland EU.
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Day 3 continued.

Overall we had a sense of urgency. We couldn't dawdle as we had been told reception shut at 16:00.
Getting to the sea was a relief. Once we got across the busy main road we stopped for our first real break.



The sea would be on our right for the rest of the walk.



Time was pressing so we pushed on at some pace


We got to St Benoit des Ondes at just before 15:30. Ignoring shops etc we pressed on. The site was at the other end of town. We passed the municipal where we could have camped but this was a treat night.

Just about 16:00 we babystepped into the campsite. Reception was open and would be until 17:00. We could have slackened the pace a bit if we had known.

Anyway, instead of a tent, we were staying in this:







We could get our electronics charged, cook, have stuff in the fridge and sleep on a bed. All that remained was to hobble into town for water and cider and a seat in the tabac. Needless to say we got the cider but forgot the water.
Food was Bla Band again and cider.


All in all a difficult day due to the speed we did it in. To give you an idea. My step count was 38000.



-------------
Hypercamp Alaska
Vango Force 10 mk3
Vango F10 Helium 1
Coleman Cobra Pro 3
Coleman Cobra 2
Naturehike Star River 2
Eureka! Solitaire
Dutch army goretex bivvy bag

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Message posted by Ewen c via mobile 07/10/2021 at 3:36pm
Outfit:  Tents     Location:  County Kildare Ireland EU.
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Day 4. St Benoit des Ondes to camping les Bois pastel Cancale.

This day we had decided for a short 16km walk. It took us along the beach to Cancale and then round to the site. All along the shore was oyster beds and les bouchots festooned with mussels.
The day started well with breakfast we had ordered the day before. Luxury backpacking at it's finest.



Then we hit the coast past the oyster farms. They even had self service oyster vending machines...
Most of the walk would be on the beach. Fine on the rocky or damp parts but we avoided the soft sand.





On the outskirts of Cancale was a fine old house above the beach protected from the waves by tree trunks rammed into the beach. The same method is used at St Malo







The house was owned by one of the oyster families and was used to clean the oysters. Water was being pumped down from the house and we had to tippy toe across.

-------------
Hypercamp Alaska
Vango Force 10 mk3
Vango F10 Helium 1
Coleman Cobra Pro 3
Coleman Cobra 2
Naturehike Star River 2
Eureka! Solitaire
Dutch army goretex bivvy bag

Message posted by Ewen c via mobile 07/10/2021 at 3:46pm
Outfit:  Tents     Location:  County Kildare Ireland EU.
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Day 4 continued.

We left the beach at Cancale and walked along towards the harbour for some lunch.









The campsite was had a nice bar, pool and a pizzeria. Again we were just about the only tent. The clientele were all our age or older. We pitched the tent, my wife went to swim and I went to the bar.





We had a very nice pizza and steeled ourselves for the next day.




-------------
Hypercamp Alaska
Vango Force 10 mk3
Vango F10 Helium 1
Coleman Cobra Pro 3
Coleman Cobra 2
Naturehike Star River 2
Eureka! Solitaire
Dutch army goretex bivvy bag

Message posted by Ewen c via mobile 07/10/2021 at 4:06pm
Outfit:  Tents     Location:  County Kildare Ireland EU.
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Day 5. Camping les Bois pastel to St Malo.

We had wanted to stay 2 nights in St Malo so had to do a push from Cancale to there. In retrospect this needed two days. Due to the distance we decided to call the hike over as soon as we were at St Malo and not walk the 7 km through the town to the campsite. Instead we got a local bus. It saved us walking along the esplanade.

This day was cliff walking, up and down and very wiggly following the coast. It was also the most scenic. We were feeling the past 4 days. My knee was giving gip but the scenery made up for it.

We started early with our usual morning coffee (coffee bags), struck the tent and headed off.















At one point we were lucky the tide was out. We were able to take a shortcut over a causeway only accessible at low tide.



This saved a long detour.

Finally we reached Parame, a suburb of St Malo and got a bus that would take us closest to our campsite - Camping La cité d'Alet. It was a lot of kilometers.



-------------
Hypercamp Alaska
Vango Force 10 mk3
Vango F10 Helium 1
Coleman Cobra Pro 3
Coleman Cobra 2
Naturehike Star River 2
Eureka! Solitaire
Dutch army goretex bivvy bag

Message posted by Ewen c via mobile 07/10/2021 at 4:25pm
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Camping La cité d'Alet.

This campsite had tents. Big ones, little ones as well as campervans and motorhomes.
The place is difficult to describe but in a good way.

Our pitch was in an area mainly for backpackers though not ideal as slightly sloping. It was OK for 2 man tents. Anything bigger would find a distinct slope inside. A few motorhomes in this are had levellers deployed.



It looks quite flat in this pic though. The next show inside.



Basically imagine if the town had put barriers across the roads into a park which sits on a heafland and changed aforesaid Park into a campsite. Add in the fact that a national monument is at the tip of the headland, underneath is catacombed by WW2 German galleries and one of the toilets is in what looks like a roofless air raid shelter.
Those toilets were mingling but luckily there were newer ones by the dedicated cycle tourer pitches.
The site has a rented barsurrounded by grass where you can lie or sit on your own chairs. Various street food wagons come and there is live music and a Sunday flea Market. All attended by locals.
The atmosphere is friendly and a bit Boho. We didn't feel as if it wasn't secure.

Now, that monument. We'll to give you an idea. This was in the bar area



And these were dotted all around.





Those holes are from armoured piercing ordnance.There are quite a few of these cupolas. As a historian, interested in WW2, I was in 7th heaven.
This was the citadel that the Germans held out in the siege of St Malo in 1944. I will continue in the next post. Basically that evening we ate, got some cider from the bar and crashed, exhausted in the tent.



-------------
Hypercamp Alaska
Vango Force 10 mk3
Vango F10 Helium 1
Coleman Cobra Pro 3
Coleman Cobra 2
Naturehike Star River 2
Eureka! Solitaire
Dutch army goretex bivvy bag

Message posted by Ewen c via mobile 07/10/2021 at 4:40pm
Outfit:  Tents     Location:  County Kildare Ireland EU.
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The next day we explored.

The Cite d'Alet is the oldest part of St Malo, founded by the Romans. The campsite has the remains of the Roman Wall that ran round the headland. Below is the marina and ferry port. On the other side is the river and it looks over to Dinard. First we needed a launderette and a place to get a knee brace. We combined that with a coffee and headed back to the campsite.
The citadel was designed by Vauban ( surprise surprise) and like all such coastal forts has massive German bunkers added on. The parade ground has the cupola from a tobruk emplacement



and a German 88mm which I forgot to take a picture of. Memorials to the American troops and French resistance who died in the battle are there as well as to those executed for resistance.

There are also examples of beach obstacles and you can have a guided tour. We wanted to go into the underground galleries but this was cancelled due to covid.



Just up from our tent was a liberation milepost



After this we headed round the marina and port to the old town of St Malo.

-------------
Hypercamp Alaska
Vango Force 10 mk3
Vango F10 Helium 1
Coleman Cobra Pro 3
Coleman Cobra 2
Naturehike Star River 2
Eureka! Solitaire
Dutch army goretex bivvy bag

Message posted by Ewen c via mobile 07/10/2021 at 4:51pm
Outfit:  Tents     Location:  County Kildare Ireland EU.
Joined: 22/8/2013
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Ewen c
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The Americans liberated St Malo so hard, there wasn't much left of the city of Corsairs. The port was blocked. The old town was razed and, it could be argued, for nothing.
After D day and the capture of Cotentin, the Resistance in Íle et Vilaine Brittany rose up and controlled everywhere except St Malo. Bottled up there were garrison ( fortress troops) and the remains of Ost battalions and other units mauled in Normandy. They had been ordered to hold the city as a festung and were ready to do so. However, was it necessary to attack when they were bottled up with no transport and could be bypassed? The argument was that the port was needed but the battle for Cherbourg had shown that the Germans would render the port useless.
A lot of deaths could have been avoided, the destruction of St Malo could have been avoided and civilians could have been saved.
Anyway, that is all in the past and hindsight is too easy.
Reconstruction finished in the 70s and the French avoided rebuilding in the way they rebuilt the likes of Calais. Instead they reconstructed a copy of the original town.
In the next post I will load up photos. We had to wear masks outside as the streets are narrow and we walked all round the walls.

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