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In the footsteps of the GR37 – Bretagne markers


At the beginning of July, the weather is playing a choppy score. A generous sky in showers and squalls covers Carhaix, the capital of Poher. On the Place de Verdun, a dozen walkers, affiliated to the French Hiking Federation (FFRP), are getting ready. Annie, Hélène, Michel, Odile, Solange, from the Marcheurs du Poher, are joined by their Quimper friends Bernard, Jacqueline and Marcel, from the Marcheurs de Cornouaille. Marcel, departmental vice-president of Finistère, who provides training in beaconing, is in his business. “The markup is a pleasure. We are among friends, it is the culmination on the ground of a long work upstream. This is the icing on the cake… “

The FFRP has decided to upgrade the GR 37 (long-distance hiking trail), which runs from Mont-Saint-Michel to Camaret (29), via inland Brittany. Between Carhaix and Huelgoat (29), the new route will greet the Valley of the Saints, in Carnoët. The route imagined by these fine connoisseurs of the topography and the realities of the field matured for months, before being validated at the national level.

GR markup takes priority

The theory of the walkers is shaken. Odile, a sworn beacon, tinkered with an old covered dish washer, a basket containing two bottles: one of red paint, the other of white paint, brushes and a pair of gloves. Solange, she carries a small basket for the material provided by the federation: metallic directional beacons and self-adhesive, spikes, hammer …

The Finistère section of the GR 37 starts at the Goariva bridge, south-east of Carhaix, on the edge of Côtes-d’Armor. For nearly two kilometers it follows, towards the west, the green and quiet towpath of the canal from Nantes to Brest, then oblique towards the north and meanders through a wood to reach the city center. While until now it had taken a portion of macadam, the GR will now follow a path, already marked in yellow as a short hike circuit (PR).

“The markup of a GR, explains Marcel, takes precedence over any other: it must be placed above other signs. Depending on the supports, we use metal plates, of better longevity, nailed in wooden stakes or small stickers on the electric, telephone or indicator poles. If the need to mark out on a tree arises, we take care not to damage the bark: we adorn the trunk with white and red marks, placed using a suitable stencil. Long-distance hiking trails, he insists, must be signposted in both directions, unlike short-hike trails, which are loops in one direction ”.

Relevance and visibility

Each walking club affiliated with the FFRP is in charge of the marking and maintenance of its sector. “We make sure that the markings are clearly visible from one year to the next, that the signage has not been damaged or torn off. The reputation of the FFRP and its topo-guides depends on it. »As the crossings and directional changes are the subject of special care, the markers ensure the relevance and visibility of the marking.

We leave the path, walk along a cultivated field and reach the Prévazy manor house, built in the 16th century. The path branches off to reach the Vieilles Charrues site and the Kerampuilh castle. The route then reaches the city center, skirting the Kastell Ruz (the Red Castle), now a library and music school. He crochet until the place of La Tour d’Auvergne. You reach the Town Hall and, via rue Brizeux, you cross the historic heart of Carhaix. At the corner of rue Félix-Faure, one marvels at one of the city’s gems: the superb Sénéchal house, with half-timbered walls and Renaissance pilasters. You reach the Saint-Trémeur church, with its imposing Gothic bell tower.

On the way, the markers made sure to affix the white and red marks, sesame for hikers. The commensals are unanimous: “The GR 37, which allows you to discover the little-known riches of the Argoat, is essential for bringing our territory to life”.

On the Roman road

After the picnic, the team leaves for the Saint-Pierre church in Plouguer and Petit-Carhaix. The day ends at the bridge over the Hyère. “We are waiting for an authorization from the Equipment to validate and mark out the rest of the circuit”, underlines Solange, impatient to see the work come to fruition.

Beyond the bridge, the route will take the Roman road before reaching the Valley of the Saints. The future occasional walkers and confirmed hikers of the GR 37 will have a thought of gratitude for all those and all those who, upstream, worked in the shade, whatever the weather, in order to facilitate and magnify their walk in the heart of the ‘Argoat.

To read

Find the complete 21-page dossier on the GR37 in Bretagne Magazine from September-October. On sale at newsstands.