Fragas do Eume
The “Fragas do Eume Natural Park” is one of the best preserved Atlantic riverine forests in Europe. Within its 9,000 hectares less than 500 people live, which gives an idea of the virgin state of these lush forests that follow the course of the river Eume. The park has the shape of a triangle whose vertices and borders would be As Pontes, Pontedeume and Monfero.
The best way to get to know the park is on foot. That way, if you know how to see, you might discover the playful elves that live there. Oaks, poplars, ashes, alders, more than 20 species of fern and 200 species of lichen can be found here. Sometimes the vegetation is so dense that it barely lets in the light. But this shady and secret forest is as generous as its waters, fountains and waterfalls. There is no green here, there are landscapes of a thousand greens. And hidden in the heart of the forest, the monastery of Caaveiro, an old monastery with more than 10 centuries of history and spectacular views of this magical “fraga”.
The Dream Forest
The Eume River, which is about a hundred kilometres long in total, has carved out a deep canyon in most of its middle and final course. The steep slopes, in some places with a difference in level of up to 300 metres, preserve the original vegetation of the Atlantic forests.
A real dream-like forest: thick, seasonal lush colors, a river that knows the adventure of the salmon and seeks the proximity of the sea to become an estuary…
Because “fraga” means forest with trees of different species. Oaks and chestnuts form the deciduous blanket accompanied by birches and alders, ashes and yews, hazelnut and wild fruit trees; and the perennial laurel, holly and strawberry trees. They all form a heterogeneous forest in which each species takes its place. The cork oaks, for example, have their northern limit in Galicia on these south-facing slopes. On the humid and shady banks, a large collection of lichens, moss and ferns is preserved, which are one of the jewels of the climate forests such as Eume, relics of the Tertiary Age.
Not to be missed
The Park features four individual access points with no communication among them – being the most visited one that which leads to the monastery of Caveeiro.
Due to the inclined slopes and prominent cliffs, the only allow to access this route is by following the course of the river through the Ombre fishing reserve, at aproximately 10 kilometres from Pontedeume. Every forest itinerary begins at the the fishermen’s refuge of Cal Grande.
There are restrictions on vehicles at weekends, but there is public transport to the bridge of A Figueira, the closest to the monastery. From this point it takes about fifteen minutes on foot to climb up to the recently restored Benedictine monastery of San Xoán de Caaveiro, a complete monument of Romanesque art, in the heart of the countryside and with panoramic views of the luxuriant forests and the sky. Entry is free with guided visits at approximately 45-minute intervals. This is no problem during the weekends, public holidays and the high season. If you plan to visit the monastery out of these dates, ask for information. Opening hours change according to the season.
Having climbed the mountain, and visited the monastery, the path can be continued downwards for a short distance to the murmur of the Sesín, which drains into the Eume, below the monastery. The churning of its pools and its green springs filtered by moss are well worth admiring. The Sesín itself can be approached upstream by another, different route. From the road going from Cabanas to As Pontes de García Rodríguez, take the turnoff in As Neves which leads to Gunxel, where the Sesín mills are located, and then continue on towards the old hydroelectric station of Ventureira. The track gets narrower here on the numerous curves of the tree-covered hills of this route which connects, on the left bank, with the Rebordelo (Monfero) road.
The dam of the Eume can be reached via the same Cabanas-As Pontes road, and taking the Goente turnoff. It is an outstanding lookout point over the falling water which in winter becomes a veritable waterfall owing to the design of the flood gate. All this between vertical, bare granite walls but without the landscape losing at any time the charm of its richness.
On the left bank we would recommend a visit to the monastery of Monfero with its baroque façade chequered with slate chips. Afterwards we can go deeper into the Park where the river Frei Bermuz feeds into the tail of the Eume dam amidst luxuriant vegetation.
The Sotavento Experimental Wind Farm is located on the top of the Serra da Loba, between Monfero and Xermade. It is dedicated to providing information on renewable energies, with all kinds of activities and guided visits, and also lends out bicycles.