In the Rías Altas of Betanzos and Ares, the rivers Mandeo and Eume meet the sea. These riverbank woods, leafy and full of life, accompany both rivers on their journey, leaving behind them beautiful landscapes, pools, waterfalls, bridges, mills, fishermen’s huts…

The Parque Natural das Fragas do Eume boasts an infinity of routes that allow us to get to know all of its nooks and crannies, dodging the river under the oak, chestnut and alder trees, which live alongside the giant ferns of the Tertiary Period. This time we propose that you start discovering the woodland here on the Senda dos Cerqueiros (Monfero), a path that will take you deep into the last Atlantic woods.

Walking down the River Mandeo, you’re very likely to see some trout, as well as a succession of alder, willow, birch and hazel groves. As in the case of the Fragas do Eume there are various walking route here,  we propose starting with one in particular: the route along the River Cambás, a tributary of the River Mandeo. On this route you can find  pools and waterfalls, and explore the beautiful Fraga das Barbudas (Aranga).

You wouldn’t want to miss out on the chance to get to know these two woods! Come on! They’re close by, and well worth a visit!

The last atlantic woods

Fragas do Eume

Hidden away, nestling in a deep valley, the River Eume gushes energetically as its waters are freed of the dam. The reservoir's surface reflects the whole mosaic of colours contained in the impressive woods that surround it. The power of the water is palpable: it’s as if the river were just taking a breather before bursting through the steep sides of the gorge.

The great Atlantic woods of Galicia, Fragas do Eume, conceal in their midst the most incredible trees, mosses and lichens, wild animals, and old water mills whose whispering waters fill visitors’ senses with their magical sound. The old Monastery of Caaveiro rises up in the middle of these woods. Within its walls the monks dwelled, praying and tilling the soil in perfect harmony with nature.

Today, Fragas do Eume offer pleasant walking routes that make a journey into the heart of the woods much easier. And in that green heart you can lose yourself among holly, strawberry, oak and century-old chestnut trees. Perhaps the sprites that enchant this space are hiding under the huge leaves of the primitive ferns that grow here. The colour palette ranges from autumnal yellows to the umbrella of green formed by the leaves that shelter visitors from the heat of spring and summer afternoons. To begin, we recommend one of the most beautiful routes on offer here: Os Cerqueiros.

Os Cerqueiros Route
Starting pointRoute typeKmEstimated time requiredTerrain difficultyOrientation difficulty
A Pila da Leña (Monfero)Circular83 h.LowLow
PROFILE: All walkers

The track through Os Cerqueiros is very easy: you can’t get lost, and it will allow you to get to know all the vegetation of this Natural Park. To find the starting point, you need to get to the Monastery of Monfero and head towards A Visura. Once there, head in the direction of A Pila da Leña until you reach some useful information panels that officially welcome you to Os cumios de Sanguiñedo and our route: Senda dos Cerqueiros. This path begins and ends among pine groves, crossing intense and deep woodland and coming out in scrubland. As if that wasn’t enough, it also gives you the chance to walk down to the shore of the reservoir or visit some old abandoned villages that tell the tale of traditional life in these lands.

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But be careful! You will be passing through areas inhabited by wolves, which are evasive and prudent in their contact with humans.

Our route begins descending through pine woods and meadows. Very soon you will see the valley and forest of Teixeiro to your left, which quickly become deeper, hiding in their midst some marvellous trees, wildlife (you may see signs of wolves here), mills, moss, lichens and the magical light of the wild woodland. All this treasure is protected by the absence of paths and the steep sides of the valley. This stretch of track is even more open to great views that compete with the mysterious atmosphere of the valley that falls away to our left. In the background of this natural landscape you can make out the Fontardión peak.

Follow the route until you reach a 90⁰ curve to your right, where you need to make a decision: you can continue on the Os Cerqueiros path or you can venture off on the wide path that will take you to the reservoir and an incursion into the mysterious woods that have been in view since the start of the route. Once you return to the main track, continue on the route which will enter into a forest that offers various short but very interesting detours which you shouldn't miss out on if you have time! The route will reach the tarmac road once again, which in just a few minutes will take you back to the start of the route.

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Peace among the waterfalls

Fraga das Barbudas

There is peace in the roar of the river. The waters run and leap among the rocks, filling the valley and woods with their voice: it is the sound of peace and tranquillity.

The River Cambás cuts a deep, jagged route through the woodlands, the Fraga das Barbudas. Numerous waterfalls multiply the voice of the river. This is a landscape of steep slopes and great trees that both filter rays of sunlight onto a meadow and shelter shady corners where moss and lichens can take hold.

Goats, foxes, roe deer and wild boar are witness to this intense relationship between the river and the woods. Downstream, the River Mandeo awaits, and with it the lush vegetation of other woods that accompany the river on its journey to the sea.
 

 

A Fraga das Barbudas Route
Starting pointRoute typeKmEstimated time requiredTerrain difficultyOrientation difficulty
Ponte de Reboredo (Aranga)Linear8 (there and back)4 h.HighMedium
PROFILE: Occasional walkers

The route we propose follows the course of the River Cambás starting at the point where it meets the River Mandeo. Since this route forms part of the network of trails known as the Senderos del Mandeo it is signposted, so just relax and enjoy the countryside! You can leave your vehicle near the Ponte Aranga, leaving the river on your right as you walk to the starting point of the route.

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Each waterfall is more beautiful than the last, culminating in a series of three falls that reach up to 20 metres in height. They never fail to impress!

The first stretch of the route ascends by the course of the river among woodland and rapids, mills and meadows, until it reaches the small electric power plant of Barreiros.  From there, the route can get complicated, but don’t worry: you will find walkways and handrails that will help you to continue with ease.

When you reach the point where this river meets the Río de A Palanca, the route follows the course of the latter among some waterfalls. Once again, a small power plant will be the next landmark on your trail. It is an old, abandoned facility that once supplied the local villages with electricity. The work carried out on the steep sides of the hill to facilitate access for the people in charge of descending to “switch the electric on” is spectacular. You can ascend the steep slope using the stone steps that still survive from the old route to get to the top of the valley. The trees in this area are impressive.

The route will give you the chance to leave the valley to visit the village of O Couce. It is worth stopping just before reaching the village among meadows and crop fields to take in the great forest that you’ve just rambled through: it’s a sight guaranteed to make you smile. With this feeling of satisfaction inside you, inspired by what you have achieved and these newly discovered, marvellous surroundings, this is the moment to turn around and return to our starting point.

At the confluence of the rivers A Palanca and Cambás you can see some old signs that mark the old route winding alongside the Cambás up to the Castro Rodicio waterfall. A landslide has blocked the route, although it is possible to cross the river – if the water is not higher than usual – and follow the traces of this forgotten path. But we are talking about a route that is not signposted which brings with it certain risks. Make sure that all members of your party have sufficient strength and technical knowledge before taking on this route.

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