In the mi(d)st of the Camino Portugués

The fourth day started in more typical Galician fashion – mist after a night of rain showers.

But it took just the time for us to breakfast (desayunar) to transform into a brilliant blue sky. The gods had smiled on us again. Repack the waterproofs (keeping them handy) and we were ready to go.

The path took us down to the mosteiro, where we’d failed to get in last night, and on to the waterside path – the ruta de piedra e de agua, the route of rock and water. This had started on the hills before Armenteira the day before, but now ran alongside the small river with its abandoned mills, rocky paths and an abundance of trees keeping off the strongest of the sun.

It’s humid here and, although enchanting for much of its length, made the packs feel heavier somehow. The absence of landmarks didn’t help and it took two hours to reach, and minutes to pass by Barrantes. Os Castaños would have been a good breakfast stop after an hour if it hadn’t been for the hotel buffet we’d taken advantage of at the Pousada.

The path runs not only along the river to (or rather near) Barrantes but afterwards follows the much wider Rio Umio as far as Pontearnelas. The fact it isn’t well signposted wasn’t much of an issue as frankly there wasn’t really anywhere to take a wrong turn. Just follow the painted yellow arrows and the yellow bars. What could be clearer? Especially if there’s the odd cross telling you where NOT to go, which path not to be tempted to take.

Signposting, in this case with the vineyards.

The road from Arnenteira to Villanova de Arousa showed examples of past local ingenuity for using the water to feed mills and what appeared to be outdoor communal laundries. Then from around Barrantes in particular there were a lot of vineyards and fields of maize, and all along the route plantings of eucalyptus and other trees from fig to lemon to walnut.

On day 5 we aimed for a shorter walk and longer rest stop at Carril, a little after Vilagarcia de Arousa. The route took only two and a half hours of walking following the coast, ending appropriately at Playa Compostela where we’d booked a hotel stay.

The approach to Vilagarcia wasn’t promising, along a waterfront passing huge storage tanks and shipping containers, but then it’s a working port! Venturing into the town itself we found a good choice of taperias, bocaterias and bars, all quite busy.

When we reached the hotel it was a perfect example of hospitality, with a generous welcome and every effort to make our short stay a comfortable one. The beach was only a few minutes away and, though cool, the water was clean and clear. Not an enormous range of places to eat but A Esmorga proved a great choice with a view towards the setting sun and great food to finish a restful day.

Published by John Humphreys

Education and leisure industry professional with over 30 years' experience and a focus on delivering international experiences and employability development.

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