with tips for cycling & hiking
As we continued along the coast, still in Asturias, we arrived at
I could not fault this site, receiving a warm welcome and even sympathetic to my concerns re soft ground though he did have his eyes on my bottle of red wine in my wine cellar, aka the door compartment on the drivers side.
The toilets were spotless with all facilities and a motorhome service point. It was a very attractive setting with spacious grass pitches.
If you turn right out of the site and a good mile down the road with a fairly steep descent you arrive at the glorious beach of Playa Aguilar. There is a cafe on the beach.
If you turn the other way out of the site and take the first turning right and then turning right again you take a steady descent into the picture book village of Cudillero.On the way down you pass some magnificent but now dilapidated buildings until you reach the square and its cobbled streets and very colourful buildings. Everyone appears to be a restaurant geared to tourism and I can imagine this place gets rammed in the season.
Or the beach of Cathedrals is located between the towns of Ribadeo and Foz and was our first stop in Galicia and this is a must see.
We stayed at
which was an excellent ACSI site situated close to a beach. We received our normal great welcome and there was a motorhome service point. The showers were excellent. The pitches were a little small which was ideal for us motorhomers and caravans in transit but caravans staying might struggle, as they could not build their normal fortresses.
There was a cycle path in both directions with a mixture of purpose built cycleways and quiet roads connecting the various beaches and a cycle ride is a great way to appreciate this magnificent coastline.
The highlight, however, was the Praia Das Catedrais, a short walk from the campsite but the only way to appreciate the spectacular arches, caverns and stacks carved out by the sea , is to get up close and personal and of course you need the benefit of low tide.
There is some great birdlife with chats, serins,linnets, marsh and sedge warblers a plenty and wild flowers in abundance. We saw a local lady removing flower plants and we thought what kind of conservation was this, but no she was just helping herself for her garden.
Ribadeo was the first Ria town we came across and on the border between Asturias and Galicia and it is not unimpressive as you cross the river but there is more to come.
Was literally our next port of call. There is a campsite but it is not open until June, so we parked up on the other side of the river and walked over the bridge into the town.
Vestiges of its elegance can still be seen with fine renaissance buildings and enclosed balconies, typical Galician style, gallerias, offering protection against the wind. The old port area is still attractive and you can wander the old streets, relatively traffic free. We also took advantage of the excellent fish stall in the covered market.
We continued to the coast to the magnificent beach, the bay is enormous with sand dunes protecting an inland lagoon, a haven for wildlife and in May there was only a handful of people on the enormous beach.
We stayed at the ACSI Camping Valdovino
the entrance to which does not look too imposing but it was fine and off season we had an area designed for 3 to 4 units all to ourselves with even glimpses of the sea. The sanitary facilities were as you come to expect in Spain, spotlessly clean. I saw no evidence of a motorhome service point but water was accessible from the pitch. It is a stones throw from the beach.
You know when you are approaching Santiago by the not inconsiderable number of modern day pilgrims, either on foot or bike that are entering the city. When you reach the main square you will also come across many more at the climax of their achievement, recording their success with the backdrop of the cathedral. One of the most poignant moments was when we came across 3 modern day pilgrims singing an aria in Latin in the nave. It was incredibly touching, as these guys obviously tackled the Camino for religious reasons rather than I suspect was the case with the vast majority, who do it to tick a box, albeit a mighty big box and at the end an amazing achievement. Less touching was the number of people who went to hug a 13th century statue of St James, allegedly to get close to the apostle, Did I not read somewhere something about craven images. Allegedly the cathedral is the burial site of the apostle St James and a whole evangelical industry has grown up around this and who am I to declare that this is myth or not, but when you see the grandeur of the cathedral, you can appreciate the power of the church.
What I also learnt on a previous visit to Spain is there is no one Camino and in fact there is a veritable motorway of routes and you often come across the Camino signs. I am not sure what the lure of this walk is, unless you are religious, There are many more iconic and more appealing and more picturesque walks in the world.
What is not in doubt is the commercialisation behind the Camino, though this does bring its attractions, as it is possible to travel very light, as there is accommodation and refreshment all along the route. You could also get into the spirit of the occasion, excuse the pun, by staying in the basic pellegrino 'hotels' along the route and participate in the basic pilgrim meals offered. Do not forget to get your pilgrims passport stamped along the way as you will need this to get your certificate of completion at the end of the walk. What is also a fact is that for a lot of these walks, you are walking on roads and traffic is not too far away and scenic it is not.
What,however, is certain is the end result, the arrival in Santiago is worth the walk or in our case the motorhome trip. The town is beautiful and the old medieval centre is compact and is a delight to wander around and can be easily appreciated in half a day but not to return in the evening and eat would be a sacrilege.
We eat in the restaurant Ribadavia where a lobster paella with a superb salad, a white Ria Baixas wine to wash it down for less than £40.
At the restaurant we met a young Polish lad who had biked the 'French Route' from Pamplona via Burgos as a religious pilgrimage. He expressed surprise at the number of 60 plus pilgrims he had met. I pointed out that we were not all past it. The evening demonstrated one of the big pluses of the Camino de Santiago and that is the social interchanges, you will never be alone.
We stayed at the Camping As Cancelas
The site is about 2km from the centre of town and it is an easy walk, though there is a bus. It is easier to walk down as it is downhill.
At 26 euros it is not over the top for a city centre site. The facilities are good and there is a motorhome service point and wi fi is free.
There is only so much that we can take of a town, no matter how beautiful it is and the sea was making its siren call. Having said that the one regret is we did not go to the town of Lugo, which has some of the finest Roman walls in Europe but there is always an excuse now to return.
The plan was to stay outside a site at Ribeira but it was too far from the coast, so we headed along the AC550 coast road, despite protestations from the Sat Nav, which wanted to take us back on the motorway. The coast road was glorious and this is when you really appreciate the high driving position of the motorhome.
The Ria de Muros y Noia is the most northerly of the Ria Baixas and the campsite is just outside the village of Louro and about a 30 to 40 minute walk along the road to the delightful coastal town of Muros. Here you can pick up all your basic supplies at the two Gadis supermarkets.
The coastline is totally unspoilt and the campsite accordingly blends in unnoticeably with the surrounding area and we were lucky enough to have a pitch with uninterrupted views of the sea.
This is a campsite which appears to have nothing but in reality has everything. Pretty it may not be but its position on the coast makes this a glorious setting. The facilities are good and as normal in Spain spotless. Take the path down to the superb beach and walk into the village.
The site has a very acceptable restaurant where for 48 euros for two you will have a mixed seafood starter, followed by a grilled fish main with dessert, wine, coffee and a couple of local liquors thrown in. Simple food cooked superbly with the backdrop of the ocean, you couldn't ask for more.
A short bike ride takes you to the lighthouse at Punta Louro and then continue along the coast towards Carnota, with superb views of seemingly endless beaches which is more than just reward that this cycle ride involves a fair amount of up and downs.
We stayed at the ACSI site at Mougas which was about 6 miles along a dedicated cycle path to Baiona, which follows the PO522 into town, though the professional lycra boys would not be seen dead on it, preferring to keep to the road.
The coast along here could easily be called the rocky coast and you can not be failed to be impressed by the foaming Atlantic smashing onto the rocks and this is in benign conditions,
Baiona is a superb natural harbour – a mini ria complete with its own superb beaches.
The best views can be had by taking the rampart walk around the imposing fortress, which guards the entrance to the harbour. There was supposed to be a charge but not only was there not but the guy at the gate looked after our bikes for us and from the fortress you get superb 360 degree views of the ocean, the ria, the harbour and the two superb beaches.
Also in the harbour was a replica of the Pinta, one of the ships in the Columbus expedition and it was the first ship to bring the news of the discovery of the New World on 1st March 1493. This event is celebrated every year with a festival where people dress upin 15th century garb and the replica was built as part of these celebrations.
A visit to the replica is very informative and very humbling when you see that a crew of 26 in a boat 23metres long by 7 metres crossed the uncharted waters of the Atlantic. The hardships endured were unbelievable and sleeping on the open deck was just one of them as the space below was needed for supplies. It was only 1.5 euros and this included an excellent audio guide.
There is also a lower pedestrian walk around the fortress and we pushed our bikes along this.
Just south of the town is Virgen de la Roca, a massive granite image of the Virgin Mary holding up a boat and for 1.5 euros you can climb up to it, though it only holds a handful of people. It is a bit of a climb up by bike but it is great fun coming down.
The cycle path continues in the other direction and though it does leave the main road in places, it is well worth the visit. You can go to the baroque monastery at Oia,which seems to rise from the sea and here in the village there is a superb restaurant overlooking the sea and views to die for and lo and behold it is on another Camino to Santiago.
Camping O Muino Mougas ACSI Site
Excellent sanitary facilities, motorhome service point and small swimming pool which we parked next too and enjoyed uninterrupted sea views.
This is very much a mixed site with a mixture of statics, holiday houses and toures on small terraces overlooking the sea and it even has its own windmill.
Some of the pitches seem quite small but this was not a problem off peak.
It has its own restaurant and small shop but neither were open when we stayed.
The town is fairly unimposing and is situated on the southern border of Galicia the mouth of the river Minho, which acts as the border between Spain and Portugal. The port area is pleasant enough but this is a very much a work a day town.
The reason we called in was because there are extensive remains of a celta, a pre Roman fortified settlement on Monte Santa Tecla and bearing in mind that these date to around 600 & 200BC, you can not fail to be impressed. There are well over a hundred circular dwellings crammed in an encircling wall and this settlement numbered some 300 buildings. There are a couple of restored huts, complete with thatch roofs, to give you an idea of what they looked like. It is highly likely that the hut foundations have been tidied up .
There is a series of stone crosses which lead to the church on top of the hill and radio masts but the good news is that there is a cafe with spectacular views of the town and the River Minho.The refreshments are useful as it is about a two mile climb to the top, though boardwalks cut off the corners of the road which goes up.
We stayed at Camping Santa Tecla
You access the site by taking the road to Tui, past the Eroski supermarket, good for supplies, and then turn right, signposted, past the church and take this road which ten turns into a gravel track.
It was a massive site with only had about 4 tourers on site in mixed woodland overlooking the river. It was a brilliant setting.
The sanitary block was a bit like a school changing room and had not been swept since the weekend but it was not dirty. The cost was 22 euros.
You can easily understand why Galicia is so popular with the Spanish, fabulous cuisine with the freshest seafood possible, a gorgeously attractive coastline with a variety of rugged coves and gorgeous beaches and it has escaped the excess development so evident in the Mediterranean Costas. It is additionally a delightful area to visit with your motorhome, offseason, offering low cost and uncrowded campsites and in most cases toll free carefree motoring.
There is always a tendency to head south when you first arrive in Santander as you will invariably be met with damp weather, as this area is not called the Costa Verde or Green Coast without reason. If, however, the weather is set fine, this area is one of the finest in Spain and much favoured by the Spanish. No high rise coastal developments here but with a rugged interior,lush green valleys and a coast to die for with pristine white beaches and cliffs and a wildness comparable with anywhere in the world. I also have to mention that it has to be the one of the best places to eat seafood without breaking the bank. The area is huge and naturally one tends to gravitate towards the coast and of course one of its star attractions, the cathedral city of Santiago de Compostela.
With the ferry arriving at Santander at about17.30 you do not really want to drive too far and Ribadesella is a great stopover,at just over an hour from the port and I defy you not to stay more than one day, even if it is raining. You have the backdrop of the Picos and a golden graceful beach, the Playa de Santa Marina backed by elegant villas, built by returning emigrants, who had made their fortunes in the Americas. The kilometre long promenade then leads you into another surprise as it bends around towards the harbour and the town facing you. The river Sella cuts the town in half and on the other side is a promenade giving you a vista of the town and the Playa Santa Marina but climb up to the lighthouse on the other headland enclosing the town and you will be rewarded with the most magnificent view of the whole town and its harbour and beaches. This elegant resort is as far away from the Costa's of Southern Spain than you can imagine. There is no need to make a direct descent but just head towards the direction of the town and you will gradually descend to meet its narrow streets and pretty plazas providing ample places to eat and an opportunity to sample the fine cakes and confectionary and the pungent blue cheeses.
We are in the province of Asturia here but it is a great start to the Costa Verde.
We stayed at
which is conveniently located just off the A8 motorway though the Sat Nav does take you down a fairly narrow road for the final part of the journey but you do need to avoid going through the town, The actual entrance looks much narrower than it is.
The campsite is terraced and though they are narrow access roads it is not too difficult to get to the higher levels, other than really big units, with the views of the Picos, weather permitting.
I can not fault this site, it is on the ACSI list, it has a swimming pool, great sanitary facilities and a motorhome service point and it will provide bread for the morning. There is a restaurant but this has limited opening off season.
It is a short walk turning right out of the site and then the first narrow lane on the left, downhill, past the yapping dogs on the smallholding, half way down and thankfully tied up and it is about half an hour walk.