From estuary of estuary of Ferrol to that of Cedeira, there are many long beaches of fine white sand which alternate with charming little coves and lighthouses on jagged cliffs.

This is an ideal area for pleasant strolls at any time of the year and to practise water sports such as surfing or windsurfing.

“When it is raining and then sunny,
the devil roams through Ferrol
laden with spoons
calling after the women”.

“Shortfin mako shark, monkfish, tuna and barnacles are the most common species for making the most popular dishes in the area’s cuisine”

Day 1

We start in Ferrol. We begin our route through the seafaring neighbourhood of A Graña, with its typical narrow houses and cobbled streets that take us to a visit inside the Castle of San Felipe, with the populated area underneath. This fort is a faithful reflection of the style of the academic models of its time, the Enlightenment. Contemplating the magnificent views over the estuary from here and the Castle of A Palma, located in the municipality of Mugardos, it is impossible to forget the historical and cultural importance of the site formed by the defensive fortresses of the Ferrol estuary and the Military Arsenal, which made this entrance unassailable from the sea, especially for incursions from England.

We continue on our way towards Cariño to go to Doniños, the first wild beach on our route, by the lagoon of the same name. There is a legend about the lagoon, which tells how the ancient city of Valverde was destroyed here by divine punishment, and it also appears in the history of the Battle of Brión, as it  was here where the English troops disembarked and withdrew defeated by the troops and inhabitants of San Felipe and A Graña. This confrontation is commemorated on 25 August with a re-enactment, and furthermore, forms part of the more and more frequent theatrical visits to the Castle of San Felipe.

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On the beach you will discover the remains of a coastal battery, and from the left side, you come to the little beach of Lumebó. If your visit coincides with low tide and at the end of the day, you can enjoy a stunning sunset among sculptures of natural stones. At the other end of the beach, you can continue the walk along a wooden walkway and, if you take a bicycle, you can follow the bicycle lane almost all the way to Covas.

Our next stop is San Xurxo beach, located at the south end of Cape Prior. Crescent-shaped, with very white sand and open to the northern wind, it is one of the most popular beaches among residents during the summer; perhaps because its more than two kilometres make it an ideal place for long walks over the dunes or by the shore at low tide, feeling the waves break against our feet. We come to Herbosa along a nearby path, and enjoy a view of the whole arc formed by the beach of San Xurxo, Esmelle and O Vilar, popularly known as the Covas beaches. A perfect frame of turquoise waters among tall pine trees.

At Cape Prior lies the lighthouse of the same name, operating since 1853. There was a military detachment here, of which only the infrastructures remain, with a peculiar shape if you see it from a distance. There are steps at the back of the lighthouse, which allow us to go down part of this isthmus of 171 metres and see the beach and island of Santa Comba to the north, with its Romanesque chapel. You can also go to Fontes cove, where the sea forms emerald pools: a perfect place to paddle and lie in the sun.

We now come to the little beaches of Sartaña and Medote and then reach Ponzos, the wildest of the three. There is a nudist beach to the right, and at low tide, you can cross the rocks to get to the solitary beach of Casal, in the municipality of Narón. Walking barefoot while the wind ruffles our hair is an experience that you should not miss on any of these wild beaches.

Day 2

The first stop on the second day is in the direction of Valdoviño, to give us the first panoramic view of the day from A Frouxeira Lighthouse. Admire the immensity of the beach of the same name, leave your footprints anywhere on the three kilometres of sand until the waves or the strong winds that blow here erase them. You can also wander through the tunnels under the lighthouse. At the end, you will feel the force of the sea breaking and you will realise how dangerous the barnacle pickers’ job is, although they do keep a tradition alive. People no doubt pray for them in the Virxe do Porto festival at the beginning of July, just as for all fishermen from the area. The chapel lies very near, about three kilometres away, on a small islet you can reach across the narrow steps. It is small and simple and its walls are white – it rises majestically in this natural scenario.

Leaving the wildest part of A Frouxeira beach behind us, from where we can reach the lighthouse, we now come to the protected space of the beach and lagoon of Valdoviño: open to the sea in a natural way, it is an important area for bird watching, especially in the winter. Species such as the royal duck, the red knot and the coot all live here.

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Towards the north, on the same side of the cliffs, from Paraño Viewpoint there is a panorama of the other end of Frouxeira beach – and then we start the descent down a road that leads directly to the beach of Rodo or Pantín. The latter is the name by which the surfing championship that has been held here since 1988 is popularly known, where the worldwide surfing elite gather.

Our next stop is Vilarrube beach: a delightful beach of calm waters, ideal for long walks, and where you can try the delightful cuisine, like razor shells and barnacles, in the taverns around the area. If you have the chance and the weather helps, go swimming in these waters rich in iodine to favour your suntan.

Once we come to Cedeira, when the evening still provides some daylight, walk through the historical area to the white chapel of Santo Antón. This natural viewpoint gives us an excellent panorama of the entrance to the estuary as we start going up to the Lightouse of Punta Candieira. Here, on the peak of Mount Purrido, you can go down the ten famous “ribbon-shaped” curves on the road towards this maritime signal, which has been operating since 1954, or admire the rugged landscape from a hillside amidst the occasional wild goat or horse.

At the last meal on this journey through the Rías Altas you should not forget to include “shortfin mako stew” on your menu - a kind of shark - “Cedeira monkfish”, “tuna in sauce” and “pastelón”, a kind of pie made with puff pastry instead of bread dough and stuffed with delicious ingredients such as tuna, cod with raisins, conger eel … Barnacles are also a usual dish; they evoke the unmistakable taste and smell of this rough sea.

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