The Spanish Rias part 2.
Leaving the northern Rias we head off around Europe's most north-westerly cape, Cabo Finisterre, and down the Atlantic coast to Spain's main group of Rias.
Muros - Ria de Muros (17th July, 46 miles from Camarinas)
Today the plan was to go and anchor behind Cape Finisterre, the North-western most point of Europe. Many years ago Finisterre was thought to be the end of the earth. As with all headlands there are tales of misadventure, but we sailed past under full sail in a flat sea with the sun shinning, perfect conditions. As we were rounding the cape we were joined for a short while by a dolphin and lots of shearwaters. We also saw what looked remarkably like a sea eagle although according to our bird book it should not have been there, perhaps it hadn't read the book.
We did in fact anchor behind the Finisterre but only for lunch and a swim as the water was 23 degrees, but the trouble was there were lots of small swimming crabs, yes swimming crabs in the water and they nipped given a chance. Had we decided to stay there appeared to be a good path along the cliffs to the Cape which would have made a very pleasant walk.
As the day was still young we decided to sail on to Ria Muros, and anchored just of the village of Muros, a delightful small unspoilt fishing village. Lovely narrow steep streets, lot with huge flights of steps. Beautiful and very peaceful. Apart from the concert on the sea front from which lots of singing, not to our choice, ensued for most of the first night. Ample everyday needs shops, small supermarkets, restaurants, bars and cafes. On the other side of the Ria is the small town of Portosin, which has a marina where we aim to meet eldest son David when he fly's in to Santiago Compostela to join us for 10 days sailing.
According to the yachties grapevine Portosin has a good laundrette, its amazing that almost as soon as you meet new yachts the words "laundrette", and "have you any books for swaps" are among the first questions asked.
Today we watched four or five dolphin playing around the boats in the anchorage, they are probably attracted in by the many fish we can see swimming in the clear waters.
Portosin, Noia and Santiago - Ria de Muros
David arrived in Santiago (15th Aug) and caught the bus to Noia, which is a lovely old town at the top of the Ria where, coincidentally, they were having a medieval festival. The streets were full of interesting stalls selling lovely rustic breads, homemade wines, pies, honey and cakes plus the usual craft stalls. Extra seating at all the bars and cafes consisted of bales of hay, very prickly to sit on in shorts and all the locals were dressed in medieval costume, it was a really good atmosphere. We sat in the sun at one of the cafes in the square close by the church, and had a three course meal including wine for 9 euros a head. The empanada, a cornmeal pastry, stuffed with squid, leeks and clams was very tasty.
On the following day we walked through the eucalyptus grooves to the top, well almost the top of the hill that overlooks the marina at Portosin, not the most inspiring walk, the flies bit and the mist made the views poor but no doubt the exercise did us good.
On Tuesday we were up very early to get a taxi to Noia to allow us to catch the 0900 bus into Santiago. Our intention was to celebrate. along with the rest of Galicia, at a special service in the cathedral at Santiago in praise of St James who's bones rest in the crypt.
It is a major event in Galicia and the crowds were enormous. We managed to get inside the cathedral even tho it was absolutely full including all the seating and every bit of floor space. People were stood outside ten deep at all three entrances. We understood little of the service but the atmosphere was beautiful and the swinging of the incense burner was an awesome sight. After the service we walked around the city and had lunch in one of the squares, again a very enjoyable day. Cathedral details.
After a further couple of days at anchor, once again off the town of Muros, we are moving on the the Ria Arosa.
Carmiñal - Ria Arosa (40 miles from Ria Muros)
Spent a few night anchored off Carmiñal, pleasant enough small town, it does have pontoons owned by the local Y.C. but we opted to anchor as the weather was good and we were only 100m from the slip. So going ashore in the dinghy was very easy apart from having to dodge the small boats, which we think were cockle picking close inshore.
Behind the town is a brilliant walk of about 12 miles in total, following the well mark path of the PRG-90 (a Spanish GR). At a few stages the path was steep, rocky and really tough as it followed a large water course but after 2 hours it levelled and once at the top the views were superb. We walked for a further hour on the summit plateau (about 2000'), passing wind farms under which horses and cattle grazed unperturbed. We saw no dead birds, sliced in half or otherwise. The descent was a mix of narrow paths over scree and paths zig zagging through the eucalyptus forest.