The Ria de Ferrol does not sound overly attractive when the guide book is read, mainly because its a large naval and commercial port with little in the way of marinas or anchorages.
However because it is close to where we were and because we like to make our own minds up about places we decided to take a trip and have a look.
As we left the Ria we let out the trolling line and much to our surprise had a bite within a few minutes (very different to the hours we spent the days before trying to catch one of the thousands of elusive Mullet that were swimming around the boat). Unfortunately we didn’t recognise the fish we hooked but landed it anyway and it transpires it was a needlefish. Perfectly edible, although the filleting left a lot to be desired meaning the small fillets were full of tiny greeny-blue bones, which after a bit of research we found was completely normal for this type of fish. The fish likers said the flavour was nice so one we will try again if we get the opportunity.
The few miles across the mouth of the Ria de Betanzos were a slightly rolly affair with the Atlantic swell that had obviously built since we entered the Ria, hitting us directly on the beam, and no wind to steady the rig. However after a short time we were entering the steep sided valley and headed up the estuary to the imposing defenses which guard this natural harbour.
Our friend Julie on the bow, with the older fort behind
The entrance seems narrow due to the height of the hills either side but there are tankers and naval ships inside so it is obviously an illusion.
We passed the anchorages and continued into the wide open commercial area then after a quick tour around, returned and dropped anchor in the middle of an almost empty bay – a few local yachts on buoys on one side, a small beach on the other and nothing else.
I can’t say it ranks as a ‘must go back’ place but certainly one we are glad we visited. The anchorage was perfectly still overnight, and watching all the locals fishing in small open boats all down the estuary as we left in the morning, certainly left an impression of a true ‘locals’ Ria, we were left wondering if they were fishing commercially or just for the fun of it. Unfortunately we had to leave to come home so didn’t have the opportunity to find out.
Just 15 minutes from La Coruna marina is the small sheltered bay of Ensenada de Mera.
We had passed it a few times previously but decided we would use it as a lunch stop having flown in for a few days and left the marina late morning. We didn’t go ashore but it was a small charming bay offering us an excellent sheltered anchorage for lunch and an early afternoon siesta for some, content to get back into the spanish way of life after a 02:45 get up to get to the airport! With the added benefit of a clean anchor when we decided to leave, it will certainly be used again, maybe even for an overnight stop.
A short hop under genoa, back into the Ria de Betanzos, meant we had many choices of where to stay the night, but we opted to head south for a couple of miles to Sada on the western shore of the Ria. The chart plotter showed the favourable anchorage might be a little shallow for us but when we arrived and did the calculations we were able to find a spot tucked in behind the breakwater for a very pleasant evening.
A trip ashore landed us in the marina where we were not immediately taken with the buildings. The marina is however built a little to the north of the main town centre in what appears to be a more commercial environment, and a short walk south along the front took us to the main shopping and eating areas – a much nicer prettier environment. What struck us was the mix of old and new; there are some very old buildings, then closeby some modern glass fronted buildings, but somehow in the main they seem to work together. What we also concluded, is that the town has been hit quite hard, presumably with the recession. There are many closed down and boarded up buildings, some rather nice buildings, and also some very old buildings that have been demolished – strange to wonder down a street and see the last building in a terrace, or half a several hundred year old semi demolished with the rest still standing and occupied.
Worth noting for us is that there is a large modern supermarket just a couple of minutes walk from the marina – so this may well end up being a regular first stop having arrived in Spain!
Just to the east of Ares, we anchored off the Ensenada de Redes, tucked away behind a headland completely sheltered from the Atlantic.
A short blast in the dinghy took us first to the small town of Pontedeume, sitting behind the long roman road bridge, which for many years was the longest bridge in Spain.
Pontedeume certainly has some charm. Built on the hillside, the narrow streets in the old town are interspersed with little squares and many of the buildings feature traditional Galician architecture.
A small walk up the hill is the impressive Church of Santiago.
Its difficult to get an overall view of the church because its packed in between other buildings but the western facade has some very fancy detailing.
Across the old bridge is the beautiful beach of Redes, Close to a mile in length, and sweeping gently around the bay, the sand was soft and the shallow water completely calm, We were able to take the dinghy into the beach and anchor it in a few feet of water, wading ashore to take a stroll through the small town, where we found little in the way of shops – maybe people shop in Pontedeume, but what appealed in Redes was the woodland between the beach and the houses, creating a shady area with the lovely aroma of pine needles that we can imagine would be an absolute delight in the heat of the summer to shelter from the afternoon sun.