Rivers and Gorges

After Las Medulas we began a hunt for a likely lunch spot, which actually carried on until the evening. The valley was populated with mostly industrial towns, and so was interesting from that point of view, but not very attractive. Slate mining is clearly the big thing in these parts. 

In the large town of O Barco we found our Lidl, and so stocked up accordingly. At a town called A Rua we visited their aire, but just took their water, choosing to carry on. 

Park4night promised us a great stop, just short of A Pobra de Trives. However, as it turned out this entailed a precipitous road downhill in a particularly high mountainous area, with rather sharp drops. I was tempted for a second but knew I’d never get away with it and whilst going down would have been OK, there was no guarantee we’d ever be able to drive up again in the morning. 

So we had no choice but to continue. We then came upon the aforementioned town, and thought we’d find something there, but nothing. Coming out the town we saw a sign to a panoramic view, so reckoned there’d be somewhere to park there. The road became narrower and narrower and the viewing point turned out to be just a gap in the trees along the road. We went through another narrow village, then did a U-turn to continue back on sensible roads. 

As it happened, we did soon come across a pull-off at the side of the quiet road and decided this would do and I’d even turned on the gas. Then a cursory glance at Park4night showed me an actual aire at Castro Caldelas, 25 minutes away, and this is where we ended up. 

After arriving latish, tired, and hungry, Sophie noticed our only other neighbour was from the UK. In her inimitable style she had to go over and immediately have a chat – she clearly hadn’t yet used up her daily word allowance. 

In the meantime, I spent the time trying to “rehumanise” myself by grabbing a large triangle of Brie, shoving it in a chunk of torn off baguette, and accompanying this with my customary celebratory small bottle of beer. I then slowly came round and could almost contemplate human contact once again. 

This was just as well because Sophie eventually reappeared having invited our neighbours across in 30 minutes for drinks. Honestly, I am a sociable person, but sometimes I do require the essentials of food, drink, and recovery time before I can face the world. 

We had an excellent evening with Philippa and Pete over Australian red wine and cashew nuts. In a blink of an eye it was midnight, and way beyond our normal bedtimes, so we said our “good nights”. Like us, P&P were not up early the next day and they did their obligatory town tour whilst we worked & blogged. 

After they’d gone on their way, we too checked out the town and were off ourselves. First visit was the Ponte do Sil, one of the few crossing points of the gorge of the Sil river. The gorge is actually impressive, with very steep sides, and remarkably terraced vineyards everywhere. In fact it’s sort of how I’d imagine a Norwegian fjord to look. 

I’d originally planned to explore the Southern bank but as that would have entailed quite a bit of backtracking plus a pretty winding route along likely narrow roads, I thought I’d be less unpopular by organising a whole new route. The Satnav was determined we’d travel through Monforte de Lemos, and seeing a well spoken of aire there plus the promise of yet another medieval town, it seemed rude to simply bypass the place. 

The aire was fine, and no-one else there. So armed with my live mapping maps.me app I led the way. Sophie suggested going right along the river but being the pragmatic male I saw a bridge to our left and insisted this was the way to go. Needless to say, after a trek through an uninspiring part of the town, I did eventually find the perfect route up to the town’s crowning glory, an old building at the top of a very high hill. Sophie was not exactly impressed. 

I thought I’d redeemed myself by subsequently arranging a lovely route down through medieval streets, a bridge to match, and a riverside walk involving swans, geese, and feral cats, but sadly I received no credit for my efforts. When I explained the number of calories we’d burned as a result of our exertions, Sophie said that it would have been easier to have foregone her earlier “pain au raisin” and to have bypassed the town completely. Some people are never satisfied. 

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