Sunday, November 15, 2009

La Playa De Las Catedrales

In another of our summer trips to the north coast we spent a weekend exploring the coastline lying on both sides of the Asturias/Galicia frontier. We based ourselves in the small Asturian town of Tapia de Casariego, which turned out to be a good choice. On day one we headed for what is probably the most famous beach on this stretch of coastline, La Playa de las Catedrales. Our route started and finished in the village of Rinlo, just a few kilometres inside Galicia. From here there is a signposted Ruta de las Playas which takes you for about 7 kilometres along the coast to Catedrales. It's an easy route to walk and much of it passes directly beside the coast, although some stretches have to be walked on the road. Whilst thousands of people at this time of the year head directly for the Playa de las Catedrales, there are other beautiful beaches along the walking route we did.

Many of the beaches on this coast are only accessible when the tide is out, and it makes sense to check the time of low tide before doing this walk. We got to the Playa de las Catedrales at a good time for the tide, but also at the point when most of the people on holiday in the region decided to descend on the same spot. Despite the crowds, the beach is big enough to take it and walking around the caves and rock formations of the beach was still quite possible. Our route took us along the top of the cliff above the beach before finally descending.

Obviously with so many people on the beach at low tide you can spend a lot of time taking photographs of people who are in turn taking photos of other people.

Because the high tide completely covers the beach, many of the rocks on the lower part of the cliff are home to colonies of mussels and the inexplicably popular goose barnacles - percebes.

A final comment on this route, the reward for the walk was a hugely satisfying arroz caldoso de marisco in the restaurant run by the Cofradía de Pescadores in Rinlo. Strongly recommended if you like that sort of thing - I think you might need to reserve at a busy time of the year.

In the afternoon we did another walking route around the estuary of the River Eo, from Figueras to Castropol. This is also a marked route although finding the starting point in Figueras is not so easy, it's up in the village rather than down by the waterside. They say the route is 4 kilometres one way, although I suspect its a bit more than this. Perhaps it was just the effect of the arroz de marisco that made me feel that way. In any case, doing both of these routes on the same day is probably a bit too much for those who prefer a more relaxed pace of life.

The next day we walked another coastal route, this time starting in Tapia itself. From the village you walk across the beach and up the other side where they have a recently built urbanisation/coastal atrocity that makes you imagine that the Ley de Costas has never existed. From here there are two choices, if you follow the "official" route then you follow the road for a while before getting to a path that takes you down in between the maize fields to the coast. The less official way is to try and follow the coastline from the part of the urbanisation nearest to the sea, which will soon bring you to another beach. From there you can pick up the coastal path, although this occasionally veers inland to avoid the rougher and more inaccessible parts of the cliffs.

We walked up to a point where things got just a bit too difficult to continue following the coast. The beaches on this route are completely wild and can be just as beautiful, but much less popular, than Catedrales. The Atlantic coastline is almost always more impressive than that of the Mediterranean. There is of course the slight detail of the weather in these parts, but we were lucky yet again. I can't remember the name of the beach below, not sure if I ever knew, so for me it will always be Iguana Beach.

Back in Tapia there was a festival of Celtic music in the evenings, as I found out years before on my Navia visit it's a mistake to assume that Celtic Spain starts and ends in Galicia. It's not normally South of Watford policy to recommend restaurants but as I've already done it once in this post I might as well do it again. The pulpo and calamar en su tinta served to us in Tapia´s El Pilón were worth the wait in this busy place.

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