CEDEIRA: Highest coastal cliffs of Galicia and Europe

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After winding around endless mountains through heavy fog, we arrived very late in the village of Cedeira which will be our new home for the next few weeks. We were impressed by yet another lovely beach at our doorstep. Our expectations were of a more touristy town full of holiday resorts……we were so wrong! Cedeira is another fishing village, but a serious working port with fishing boats large enough to cross any sea in the world. Legends tell of the men and women of this coast originally descending from whales and fish. We have eaten so much seafood, we should be looking like fish and I know if I don’t stop eating all this bread and patatas, I will soon definitely resemble a whale.

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Ship yard of Cedeira

We usually spend our first day in a new place just walking as far as we can in the immediate area to gain a feel for the place. Enjoying our first stroll around the stunning harbour, which is almost enclosed by continuous cliffs towering 600m above the charming village of Cedeira, we really thought that the scenery couldn’t get any better than this.

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Harbour of Cedeira

Of course, we were wrong again!

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Monument Cedeira

I am not one for photographing every monument and church I walk past, but this one was lovely and quite moving. A tribute to a fisherman who lost his wife, unfortunately there is minimal information about it. It seems to me that this monument contains more meaning.

The promenade around the harbour seemed to end at the wharf, until we spotted some stairs hidden in a corner…….so what do you do? You climb up them! A bit of grunting on the way up, then behind the cliff’s edge we found an oldĀ  fort with cannons placed inside, unfortunately it was all locked up. Further along the cliff, we looked down into what looked like old Roman baths which we later discovered were used in the past as a live fish holding area.

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Live fish holding bath

Venturing further around the cliff tops we found a small area carefully excavated, which we assumed was a discovery of some ruins. An investigation of the internet revealed it was a very recent discovery; only 6 months ago. To date, they have found a monument with oven and a sauna bath (not so sure if the translation was so accurate here…..ha). It looks like it could be some more hill forts (castros), which are prevalent along the coastal regions of Galicia. I am constantly amazed by nature, when man abandons his constructions how effectively the natural environment can bury or camouflage these structures for centuries. We can think our inventions and architecture are so very important, but when we are gone the environment will just carry on without any fuss like we never existed.

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Punta Sarridal, archaelogical excavation
Ria punta sarridal Cedeira Galicia Celtic seascapes photo art travel
Ria entrance to the Atlantic

The following weekend, we decided to drive beyond our first walk as we had a lot of ground to cover. My obsession with lighthouses has not yet ended, our first stop after winding down another road wide enough for a cow, was the Faro de Punta Candelaria. A gorgeous setting, tucked between rocky cliff faces with the most divine coastline as far as the eye can see with the occasional horse and cow wandering passed.

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Faro de Punta Candelaria
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Prelim sketch for painting

I decided not to paint this particular lighthouse, however I am painting a series of faros and this is what my preliminary sketches look like prior to commencing a painting. The sketching allows me to capture the true perspective of a scene because a photograph shortens all the perspectives and you lose a lot of form and sense of space.

SAN ANDRES de TEIXIDO

We continued on the narrow road to a spectacular lookout point, where we could see the village of San Andres de Teixido at the bottom of the cliffs, nestled amongst deliciously green hills. It didn’t look far, so I suggested walking down an inviting grassy track and then we would have earned a big boozy lunch. I have no words to describe the scenery from the lookout and a photo cannot possible capture this………….

Lookout San Andres de Teixido Cedeira Galicia village Atlantic coast seascapes photo art travel
Lookout before San Andres de Teixido

So we began our pre-lunch walk…….it was all downhill, can’t complain!!

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John walking in pain

The very steep grassy path turned into a rocky downhill climb resulting in legs of jelly and a few back pains for some. I had also a few passing thoughts about the uphill climb back to the car later….help! Our village was in sight again, hunger pains pushing us on.

Village San Andres de Teixido Cedeira Galicia Atlantic coast highest cliffs photo landscape art travel
Village of San Andres de Teixido

The village of San Andres de Teixido is a pre-Christian pilgrimage site with a holy well with a current population of approximately 45 people with the occasional tourist. This region is known as the “Sea of Barnacles” because there are many locals who risk their life daily, often suspended from cliffs down to the lower rocks to collect percebes (goose necked barnacles). Being a speciality for the area, we promptly ordered a serving of percebes to try with our beer. They are quite interesting, resembling a prehistoric crab claw attached to a tube of rhinoceros skin. Before I started gagging at the sight of them, I quickly gestured to the waiter to demonstrate how to eat them. There was no way my mouth was biting through that!

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Goose necked barnacles

Eating percebes is an easy technique where you hold it near the head and snap it just a little and pull the contents out.

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Breaking the head of the percebe

Be careful not to break it right through, because if you blow it……then you are going to have to suck it!

Eating the percebe
Eating the percebe

Oh, we could have had hours of fun with this – they were delicious. After staggering uphill to the car, we continued north along the coast to the lookout from the highest cliffs in Europe. It was the most incredible coastal scenery I have ever seen, enhanced by the cattle wandering everywhere – lucky there were only a few cars along this stretch.

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Highest cliffs of Europe
Coastal views Carina highest cliffs Europe Galicia Atlantic coast seascapes photo art travel
Coastal views Carina
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highest cliffs
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happy cattle

After feeling completely satisfied from lunch, the scenery leaving us speechless, and spending time with some very happy cattle, we drove further north wondering what we would find next. Galicia is such a special region and we suggest to anyone interested to come and visit soon, before the rest of the world realise how amazing it is too.

Our day finished at Faro de Cabo Ortegal, the point where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Cantabrian Sea. While the lighthouse is nothing special, the drive out to the headland was absolutely divine, including the view from the lighthouse.

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Faro de Cabo Ortegal
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Meeting of two seas