Yes, this is where the woods of Galicia touch the sky.

The Manzaneda Ski Station and Pena Trevinca, the tallest mountain in Galicia (2127 metres) are well-known, but their charm increases when you discover their leafy, deep and hidden forests.

We propose three very different walking routes that offer you the best of this landscape: the Reboleiras do Navea (San Xoán de Río), a calming route on which you may just stumble upon a Celtic druid or two; the Souto de Rozabales (Manzaneda), where you will walk among centuries-old chestnut trees; and Teixadal de Casaio (Carballeda de Valdeorras), the immortal, almost inaccessible forest that never fails to impress visitors. For the last of these we do recommend that you always take an expert guide with you! Where shall we begin? 

The deep woods

Reboleiras do Navea

The River Navea cuts deep between the mountains. The steep sides of the valley are populated with a thick rebollo oak forest. These trees are members of the oak family, and tend to be found living alongside them. All this natural landscape, chiselled by water, has been recognized with the environmental declaration of Protected Landscape, a fact that underlines its beauty and invites us to explore the area.

This is an easy path to follow, winding among oak trees, gall oaks and chestnut trees in the vast woodlands of San Xoán de Río. These are the true woods of Galicia, the woods of the Celtic druids. The ancestral woodland welcomes us on our pleasant, comfortable walk.

Reboleiras do Navea Route
Starting pointRoute typeKmEstimated time requiredTerrain difficultyOrientation difficulty
Mouruás (San Xoan do Río)Circular6,82 h 30 min.LowMedium
PROFILE: Occasional walkers

Near the first houses of the village of Mouruás in San Xoan do Río you will find a signpost that indicates the start of the route: “A Fraga” (“Woodlands”). From this point on, you will find the woodlands that cling to the steep slopes of the valley of the River Navea.

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The views over the river valley will also capture your attention.

Splashes of colour blend in with the strong outlines of the trees. There is a network of tracks and paths that will take you through this area with useful signs that will help you continue on your journey.

The route that we recommend continues on these paths, which will lead you first of all to San Xoan del Río-Fondevila. We recommend that you visit the aula de naturaleza or “nature classroom” here, which is extremely helpful and will guide you with more information on the route, ensuring that you don't miss out on anything! From there you can enter the woods, exploring areas dominated by chestnut trees, other areas of the typical mixed woodland and the tree formations that give this place its name: reboleiras (chestnut groves).

You will follow a gentle, very beautiful trail that will immerse you in unique, evocative woodland which also offers the chance to explore longer routes through the woods and river valley.

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The message of the trees

Souto de Rozabales

Many generations of men and women have passed under the branches of the Castiñeiro de Pumbariños. This chestnut tree forms part of the long list of unique trees in Galicia, and has probably celebrated more than a thousand birthdays!   Perhaps in its youth it heard Latin spoken here!

If we visit the woods of Rozabales in the Manzaneda municipality of Ourense, we can find many centuries-old chestnut trees such as that of Pumbariños, which has been declared a Natural Monument. 

And when a tree is this old, sometimes it is worth listening to. 

It might tell us of wars, or the love affairs that took place among its sheltering branches. If you didn’t know it already, in Galicia the woods have a voice.
 

Souto de Rozabales Route
Starting pointRoute typeKmEstimated time requiredTerrain difficultyOrientation difficulty
Manzaneda (Manzaneda)Linear2,3 (there and back)1 h 15 min.LowMedium
PROFILE: Occasional walkers

Different paths can take you into the woods of Rozabales, but perhaps the best is the one that starts in the town of Manzaneda near the “porta da Vila”.

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This route offers a couple of kilometres walking among centuries-old chestnut trees on a pleasant path near a refreshing irrigation canal. The sign pointing to “Castiñeiros de Pumbairiños” and an information panel with a diagram of the route will offer you the final indications you need on the route and all it has to offer.

At first you will walk down a typical corredoira or old narrow path that links the town of Manzaneda with its rural surroundings. Further on, a path alongside the irrigation channel leads to a wood of spectacular chestnut trees, in an area where any of these trees deserve the adjective "marvellous" for their size and presence. The oldest of these trees, the solitary tree of more than a thousand years old, justifies the route – indeed, the whole journey – with its presence alone.

The route back follows the same path.

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The immortal woods

Teixadal de Casaio

The biggest population of yew trees in Europe can be found in Galicia. This sacred, mythical tree, the temple of the Celtic druids, makes for a mysterious, magical woodland. All of these adjectives could be used to describe the essence of this tree, letting our imagination run wild. To visit these woods is to take a journey into the past in search of a primeval natural space.

Entering the Teixadal de Casaio (yew forest of Casaio) is like coming into a cathedral to nature. Light filters through the branches as if through stained glass windows. The trunks of the trees are pillars that support the treetop vaults. It was, perhaps, in this open-air temple where the gods are free to roam that the Celtic druids held their celebrations.

Situated at the foot of the tallest mountains in Galicia, el Teixadal de Casaio clings to the mountainside in a place that has been able to remain hidden due to its inaccessible nature. Here it is: still going strong, thousands of years into its history.

Teixadal de Casaio Route
Starting pointRoute typeKmEstimated time requiredTerrain difficultyOrientation difficulty
Verea da Surbia - A Cabrita (Carballeda de Valdeorras)Linear9,5 (there and back)5 h.HighHigh
PROFILE: Only recommended for groups accompanied by a guide

There are various options for getting to know the Teixadal de Casaio, although we should warn you that access to this unique ancestral woodland is not easy, and it is not suitable for all walkers by any means. We recommend that if you are not experts in mountaineering, map reading and orienteering, you should contact a nature guide who knows the area well to accompany you on your trip. A guide will not only ensure your safety on the mountain, but also share many anecdotes and stories on the surrounding landscapes with you. 

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It is sensational: just to think of the hundreds of years this ancient tree has stood here!

Of all the routes that lead to Teixadal, we propose the shortest, easiest route. The route begins in a slate quarry situated in the lower part of A Cabrita where you can leave your vehicle. Take into account that in winter you will probably find snow up here, and you may not be able to reach this point by car. From the quarry, you ascend a well marked path until you reach the higher section of the route, at an altitude of 1840 m.

Once you have reached the highest point of the route, you will descend to the hill of Campo de Valborraz. Just before that, at an altitude of 1,700 m, you will descend a steep path until you reach the road leading from the abandoned mine of A Picota. Continuing on your road, which is now smoother and easier, you will soon start to see the first yew and holly trees that welcome you to this hidden spot. You will know you have officially reached the Teixedal de Casaio when you carefully cross the River Penedo on its stepping stones.

Shortly – after just a few metres – you will find one of the oldest and largest yew trees in the forest. IIt is, without a doubt, one of the most faithful witnesses of the passage of time.  Your walk continues among numerous yew trees of all shapes and sizes, many of which support themselves on huge branches that rest on the ground. The yew trees are accompanied by holly, birch, hazel, rowan, willow and maple. The branches of the yew and other tree types hardly let any sunlight pass, giving the sensation that you are in a strange, ancient, magical forest. You might be forgiven for thinking you saw a fairy or a sprite among the branches: if they can be found anywhere, this would be their preferred home. As if that wasn’t enough, at the end of the route there is a waterfall and excellent pool to bathe in during the hot days of summer, the gift of the River Penedo as it passes through Teixadal.

You will return along the same route, taking into account that the steep descent from Campo de Valborraz to reach this road will now become a steep ascent. It is a demanding route, but the experience of having passed through the woods will accompany you on your return journey, making you feel special, unique, and very privileged.

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