Fragas do Eume is one of the best-preserved riverside Atlantic forests in Europe. Fewer than 500 people live within its 9,000 hectares, which gives an idea of the untouched state of these lush forests that follow the course of the River Eume. The park is shaped like a triangle whose corners and borders would Pontes, Pontedeume and Monfero.  

The best way to discover the park is on foot. Thus, if one knows how to see, one may discover the playful elves who inhabit it. Oak, poplar, ash and alder trees, and more than 20 species of lichens and ferns 200 live here. Sometimes the vegetation is so dense it hardly lets any light pass. But this shady and secret forest is as generous as its waters, springs and waterfalls. There's no green here; what there are, are landscapes of a thousand greens. And hidden in the heart of the forest, the monastery of Caaveiro, ancient  – with more than 10 centuries of history – and spectacular views of this magical "fraga" (forest).

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The dream forest

The river Eume, some hundred kilometres in length, cultivated land for most of its course, ending in a deep gorge. Craggy hills, with a 300 metre drop at some points, still have the original vegetable covering of the Atlantic forests.

A forest we have all dreamed of: the denseness, the seasons transformed into colours, a river which shares the salmon’s adventure and seeks to reach the sea to become an estuary.

“Fraga” means a forest with different species of trees. Oaks and chestnut trees provide the deciduous cover, accompanied by birches and alders, ash trees and yews, hazel nut trees and wild fruit trees; and there are perennial laurels, holly trees and strawberry trees. They all form a heterogeneous jungle in which each species has its space. The cork trees, for example, grow on the hills facing south, their northernmost limit in Galicia. On the damp, sombre hills grow a wide collection of lichens, moss and ferns, relics of the Tertiary Period, which are the treasures of climatic forests like the Eume.

Not to be Missed

The Park has four access gates, with no connection between them. The most visited is that which leads to the monastery of Caaveiro. Because of the sloping hillsides this entrance is only possible by following the course of the river through the fishing reserve of Ombre, ten kilometres from Pontedeume. The routes start from the fishermen’s hut of Cal Grande and go through the forest.

There are restrictions on vehicles at weekends, but there is public transport to the bridge of A Figueira, the closest to the monastery. From this point it takes about fifteen minutes on foot to climb up to the recently restored Benedictine monastery of San Xoán de Caaveiro, a complete monument of Romanesque art, in the heart of the countryside and with panoramic views of the luxuriant forests and the sky. Entry is free with guided visits at approximately 45-minute intervals. This is no problem during the weekends, public holidays and the high season. If you plan to visit the monastery out of these dates, ask for information. Opening hours change according to the season.

Having climbed the mountain, and visited the monastery, the path can be continued downwards for a short distance to the murmur of the Sesín, which drains into the Eume, below the monastery. The churning of its pools and its green springs filtered by moss are well worth admiring. The Sesín itself can be approached upstream by another, different route. From the road going from Cabanas to As Pontes de García Rodríguez, take the turnoff in As Neves which leads to Gunxel, where the Sesín mills are located, and then continue on towards the old hydroelectric station of Ventureira. The track gets narrower here on the numerous curves of the tree-covered hills of this route which connects, on the left bank, with the Rebordelo (Monfero) road.

The dam of the Eume can be reached via the same Cabanas-As Pontes road, and taking the Goente turnoff. It is an outstanding lookout point over the falling water which in winter becomes a veritable waterfall owing to the design of the flood gate. All this between vertical, bare granite walls but without the landscape losing at any time the charm of its richness.

On the left bank we would recommend a visit to the monastery of Monfero with its baroque façade chequered with slate chips. Afterwards we can go deeper into the Park where the river Frei Bermuz feeds into the tail of the Eume dam amidst luxuriant vegetation.

The Sotavento Experimental Wind Farm is located on the top of the Serra da Loba, between Monfero and Xermade. It is dedicated to providing information on renewable energies, with all kinds of activities and guided visits, and also lends out bicycles.

 

Outstanding Nature

A luxuriant mixed forest regarded to be one of the most extensive forests on the Galician coast. Oaks cover the slopes of the river gorge along with a wide variety of vegetation and riverside forests. The humidity favours the growth of a variety of interesting ferns.

Mention must be made of the 103 species of birds, 41 species of mammals and the eight species of fish as well as endemic species of invertebrates and reptiles, including the Iberian frog.

 

Other information of interest

Location

  • Coruña municipalities of Cabanas, A Capela, As Pontes de García Rodríguez, Monfero and Pontedeume.

Area

  • 9,125.65 hectares. SCI: 9,076.82 hectares.

Access

  • From Pontedeume to the monastery of Caaveiro, passing through Ombre, on the local road. Access to the right bank on the turnoffs from As Neves and Goente, on the AC-141 Cabanas-As Pontes de García Rodríguez road.
  • Access to the left bank via the local road which passes the monastery of Monfero.

Services

  • Available in several villages around the Park.

More information

  • Office of the Natural Park (Esteiro, 23, Nogueirosa - Pontedeume; Tel. 981 495 580).

Facilities

  • Reception Centre on the Ombre-Caaveiro road, km 5. (Tel. 981 432 528)
  • Information panels.
  • Sotavento Experimental Wind Farm. (Reservations: Tel. 981 563 777).

 

 

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