This route between the towns of Betanzos and Betanzos takes us to the northern part of Galicia. Those who have visited this region before know that it offers a multitude and variety of attractions. Its natural beauty, its monuments and its traditions will provide some unforgettable memories to those who choose to spend a few days’ rest here.

Throughout our route we will journey within the limits of the province of A Coruña, mostly along the coastline, but with a few trips inland. The characteristic landscape is a fusion of sea and mountain. The coastline offers numerous stunning beaches, to suit all tastes. Some are charming, sheltered coves, protected from the waves by the estuaries, but there are also others that are wild and open, at the mercy of the ocean's battering waves. The relief of the A Faladoira and A Capelada mountain ranges gives this area its beauty, but it also makes for a difficult terrain to move through. There are even altitudes of over 500 m right beside the sea, providing the coastline with some spectacular cliffs.

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Its natural beauty, its monuments and its traditions will provide some unforgettable memories to those who choose to spend a few days’ rest here.

The combination of frequent rain and mountainous terrain has led to the formation of numerous rivers. The most important is the River Eume, which has its source in the O Xistral Peaks, at an altitude of over 1,000 m, and flows into the ocean at the Ares estuary. Along the way, its waters irrigate the Fragas do Eume Nature Park, a true wildlife paradise. Considered to be one of the most important Atlantic forest in Europe, it contains a large variety of animal and vegetable species.

In terms of culture, Betanzos is a gem, with numerous monuments to visit. The town of Pontedeume, and the monasteries in Monfero or Caaveiro – to name just a few – round off the artistic repertoire that we will admire along the way to Ortigueira, located on the beautiful estuary of the same name.

Among the innumerable celebrations that take place in these lands, there are two in particular, with no disrespect for the others, that are worthy of a special mention. On the one hand, there is the pilgrimage to the shrine of San Andrés de Teixido, and on the other – of a more recreational nature – the Ortigueira International Celtic Festival.

Route

The route we propose is of low difficulty with the help of a vehicle and includes short journeys on foot. It is suitable for everyone and ideal to do as a family. It takes an estimated three days. The time distribution should just be taken as an example as each person can be vary it according to preferences.

Day 1

Our route begins in Betanzos, the "Ciudad de los Caballeros" (City of Knights). The quantity and quality of this town's attractions are difficult to summarise in a few words. Betanzos has something for everyone. The banks of the Rivers Mendo and Mandeo provide some beautiful natural corners for those who seek peace and quiet.

While the more energetic can participate in some of the most renowned festivities in all of Galicia. For art lovers, there is a broad, valuable repertoire, among which the churches of Santa María de Azougue and San Francisco, both of which have been declared National Monuments, are worth highlighting. The Gothic Church of Santa María was built in the 14th century over the remains of another Romanesque temple. The San Francisco Church, also Gothic, was part of the monastery of the same name founded in the 13th century.

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And of course, we cannot forget to visit the complex known as O Pasatempo (The Pastime), a park built by the García Naveira brothers – true philanthropists at the service of their native Betanzos – in which fountains, gardens and sculptures of all kinds vie for attention.

Once we have visited these and other places, we leave Betanzos along the N-651 or the AP-9 towards Pontedeume. After travelling 16.5 km, upon reaching Campo Longo, we take the right turnoff to the monastery of Monfero, which is a further 16.5 km away. . We will be able to visit the parish church located in this historical/artistic complex. Our visit will take place during the hours of worship.

We start back to Campo Longo. From there, after travelling barely two km, we reach Pontedeume, where we will visit the Torre dos Andrade in the centre, part of the old preserved manor house of the counts. And we can also visit the keep of the castle that is outside the village on the summit of Pena Leboreira. These are two symbols of the former power with which the Andrade lineage gripped these lands.

Our next destination is the monastery in Caaveiro. In Pontedeume we take the detour to the right before crossing the bridge over the River Eume just at the petrol station. We travel four 4 km to the hamlet of Ombre. Here, we will take a turnoff to the left onto a local road. This route will take us along the River Eume to Caaveiro. On our walk, we will penetrate about 10 km in the Nature Park das Fragas do Eume, considered one of the largest Atlantic forests in Europe. It contains innumerable animal and vegetable species of great value, all of them essential for this breathtakingly beautiful region's biological balance.
 

At the entrance park the park are the Visitor Reception Centre where we can find out about activities to do at this nature site as well as the conditions for visiting the monastery. In high season there are restrictions on private vehicles, and the use of the free buses provided by the Park is compulsory. We recommend getting more information on Tel: 981 432 528. Whether we arrive by bus or private car, we walk an additional 500 metres from the car park.

CCrossing a river and climbing a small slope will allow us to admire a spectacular landscape. Walking along a narrow path shooting off to the right, we can reach the old mill and the bridge over the River Sesín. In Caaveiro, next to an Eume that snakes between the mountains, and surrounded by thick woodland, we will discover why it is that this setting makes such a profound impression on all who come here.

To end our day, we backtrack along the route and return to Pontedeume.

Day 2

This second day of the route begins at Pontedeume, from where we go towards Ortigueira, along the N-651 or the AP-9 in the direction of Ferrol.

 

The municipality of Ortigueira occupies the space between the mountain ranges of A Capelada and A Faladoira. In absolute terms, the peaks in this area cannot be considered of great height (the maximum altitude is barely 600 m), but the terrain is abrupt and is made even more difficult by the proximity of the jagged relief of the coastline. It is precisely this combination of these two elements – sea and mountain – that constitutes this area's most recognisable seal of identity. The Ortigueira estuary is wide at its entrance, but it becomes sinuous and full of curves and bends as it goes inland. We will stop off to visit the Santa Marta parish church and the Old Dominican Convent. Additionally, it would be a good idea to visit some of the many beautiful beaches that dot this part of Galicia's northern coastline.

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We leave Ortigueira travelling along the AC-862 road. After a few kilometres we take a signposted turnoff to Cariño, situated 17.8 km further on, still on the banks of the Ortigueira estuary. This town, with its marked fishing-village atmosphere, is the gateway to an area of particular beauty. We are at the northern tip of Galicia, and, therefore, of the entire Iberian Peninsula. If, to its privileged location, we add the proximity of the A Capelada mountain range, we have all the necessary ingredients for a truly beautiful landscape. The mountains in the mountain range offer spectacular views over the estuaries and their villages.

At a short distance, only a few kilometres to the north, we will visit Cape Ortegal, which is surrounded by some impressive cliffs that look out onto the spot where the Atlantic Ocean merges with the Cantabrian Sea. At this point, on the edge of the ocean that extends beyond the horizon, we end the second day of our route.

Day 3

We leave Cariño towards Santo André de Teixido. A few kilometres away, perfectly signposted, is the Montes de Miranda Viewpoint. From this vantage point, located in the A Capelada mountain range, we will admire incomparable views of the Ortigueira estuary and Cariño.

To move around this area, a must in our visit to the region, it is best to do small sections on foot. The terrain is very steep, but this inconvenience is more than compensated by the area's natural treasures.

We will enjoy the close presence of animals such as foxes and wild horses, among many others, and not forgetting the goshawk – a bird of prey for which the serra da Capelada provides the perfect setting to fly down, majestically and at a vertiginous speed, to trap its prey. This area's vegetation harmoniously combines thick forests and ample meadows dotted with groups of cows pasturing with their proverbial patience.

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We continue on our journey towards Santo André de Teixido, along the local road that comes from Cariño. At a short distance we will find the Garita de Herbeira Viewpoint, which offers spectacular views over the Iberian Peninsula's – and one of continental Europe's – highest cliff: a 600-m drop to the sea, with a gradient of over 80%. 

At Santo André de Teixido – the next stop on our route – we will find ourselves before one of the most important places of worship and pilgrimage in Galicia. According to the popular saying, "Those who did not go in life to Santo André de Teixido, go after death".

We leave San Andrés and move on towards Cedeira, situated 23.5 km away. To recover our energy, in this well-preserved fishing village we can enjoy some Cedeira-style monkfish. We can also go to the lighthouse on Punta Candieira for a good view of the estuary.

The strip of coastline between Cedeira and Ferrol has many beautiful beaches; of these, we will mention the ones in Vilarrube, Pantín and Valdoviño. In Valdoviño – in addition to bird-watching in the A Frouxeira Lagoon  – we can watch the ocean pounding fiercely against the cliffs.

To end the day – after travelling about 35 km from Cedeira – we reach Ferrol. Stopping at this important city is a must. You will have to spend more than just one day to get to know its unique urban design – typical of the Enlightenment – and its surroundings, where nature imposes her full force.

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