Resembling something between the Asian Steppes and the African Savannah, Les Landes de Cragou and slightly further to the east, Les Landes du Vergam, are moors which stretch out along the crest of the Monts d’Arrée.
Traditional farming management methods
Moorland is an environment which has to be managed or it becomes overrun by scrub and then transforms into forest. The peatlands of Le Cragou are grazed by Nantes cattle and Dartmoor ponies belonging to Bretagne Vivante, as well as livestock belonging to farmers who work in partnership with the organisation. Thee moors at Le Vergam, just like the drier moors of Le Cragou are mown by the farmers who then use the straw as bedding for livestock.
Any Breton moorland worth its name is made up of broom, purple moorgrass and gorse. Thanks to the mowing, slender-billed curlews and field swallows can nest on the ground whereas the Northern Harriers and Montagu’s Harriers criss cross the moors in search of prey and the reptiles take advantage of the sunshine to regulate their body temperature. On the moorland pastures, meadow pipits join the common reed buntings amid the bog Asphodel – a star-shaped yellow flower – narrow-leafed cotton grass, also known as bog cotton, carnivorous plants like sundews or Portuguese butterwort, lycopode inondé, a very rare tiny fern only found in peat bogs and Pylaie peat moss. The moorland covered with gorse also shelters its share of birds: the Dartford Warbler, the Whinchat and the Linnet. On the moorland edge, the bocage is home to discreet species like the hazel dormouse and the golden tortoise beetle and it surrounds natural meadowland where butterflies, including the very rare Marsh Fritillary butterfly, play.
Not to be missed
Les Landes du Vergam maybe difficult to access for the general public, however at Le Cragou, there is a discovery trail that visitors can use all year round if you are wearing a good pair of all terrain walking shoes. So that you get the most out of your visit to the site, there’s a downloadable guide at: www.aht.li/2033323/livret_cragou.pdf
To get to Le Cragou, follow the signposts from the centre of the village of Cloître St Thégonnec and they will lead you to the start of a farm track where you can park. Continue on foot for two hundred meters, then turn left after the barn and follow the path for about a kilometre. At the end of the sunken path, you will come to a small lane where you should turn left, then 150 meters on, turn left again at the intersection and you will come back to where you parked.