According to Breton legend, the Valley of No Return in Tréhorenteuc, Brittany is where Morgaine-Le-Fey, King Arthur’s half-sister, imprisoned faithless lovers until Sir Lancelot finally freed them.
The Valley of No Return
This is the valley in which Morgaine-Le-Fey, King Arthur’s half-sister, is reputed to have imprisoned faithless lovers. It is certainly not a gruesome prison for in the valley, these lovers enjoyed every luxury, except for their freedom. The far end of the valley is blocked by heavy thickets of gorse. The legend relates that the entrance was guarded by a fierce monster, which forced anyone attempting to escape to retrace their steps. Sir Lancelot is credited with overcoming the monster and freeing the valley’s captives.
Le Miroir des Fées (The Fairies’ Mirror)
A pleasant walk of thirty minutes or so will take you to the end of the valley and back (no monsters to bar your path now). At the head of the valley is a beautiful still pool called “Le Miroir des Fées” (the Fairies’ Mirror). These are not the ethereal beings of Victorian tales but beautiful young women, practitioners of magic, and often with a supernatural background. For such sometimes vain and malicious young women, of course, a mirror would be important.
The Golden Tree memorial
Shortly after the pool, you come to the Golden Tree memorial. This burnt tree, covered with leaves of gold, was planted downstream of the pool to commemorate the terrible fires that ravaged the forest in 1990.
L’Hotié de Viviane (Vivian’s House)
A small grouping of standing stones called the “Hotié de Viviane (loosely translated as Viviane’s House) can be found at the end of the valley. According to Breton legend, Viviane was the Lady of the Lake who raised Sir Lancelot at nearby Comper Castle and trapped Merlin in a “prison of air” now marked by the megalithic monument, Merlin’s Tomb.
Vivian’s House consists of a megalithic enclosure forming a chamber 3 meters by two meters by one meter high. This is rumored to be Viviane’s tomb.
The Legend of the Valley of No Return
Originally, Morgaine-Le-Fey used the magical powers that she had learned from Merlin for healing but she turned against her half-brother, King Arthur, and began to use her powers for evil purposes when, at Guinevere’s instigation, she was expelled from court because of an affair with one of Arthur’s knights, Guiomar. Arthur’s father, Uther Pendragon, had married Morgaine off to King Uriel, an unhappy union, and she had subsequently had a string of lovers. Knowing that Guinevere was herself being unfaithful with Sir Lancelot, Morgaine was incensed at Guinevere’s interference and there are several stories of her attempts to get her revenge.
The valley’s legends differ in various respects. It was either designed to imprison unfaithful lovers or to keep Morgan’s lovers by her side. Whatever its intended purposes, if you travel down the valley in a clockwise direction, you soon come to a pair of rocks called “Les Faux Aimants” (the False Lovers). It is said that when Morgan discovered Guiomar dallying with someone else, she changed both of them into this pair of rocks in her valley.
How to get to the Valley of No Return, Tréhorenteuc
Tréhorenteuc lies on the D141 between Concoret and Campénéac. From the Tourist Office in Tréhorenteuc, travel down the D141 in the direction of Campénéac. You will find the car park for the Valley of No Return (Le Val Sans Retour) as you leave the village.
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