CAMBADOS, Mariscadoras, water mills and Fervenzas

I won’t tell you everything about Cambados, because you really should visit here to experience this enchanting place yourself………..and you will need some surprises! Sadly, we are only staying here for four weeks and it would take a year for me to be of any use.  Luckily the weather for the last 10 days has been superb, so we have taken the opportunity to appreciate some of the surrounding countryside which holds so many wonderful treasures. We soaked up the sunshine while strolling  through local vineyards, narrow country lanes and through wetlands adjoining the river. The beauty and intensity of the spring flowers is beyond words.

Cambados nature walk wildflowers spring primavera landscape photo art travel
Spring is here


View of Cambados mussel farm barges galicia spain photo art travel
Highest Point of Cambados

Cambados is packed with streets of charming architecture and medieval churches. Not a day has passed without a stroll along the bay and through town, taking the occasional opportunity to listen to comic banter across a bar. The locals seem to enjoy teasing one another as much as Aussies do……….you won’t get away with much here either!

sketching Mariscadoras leonie walton artist australian galicia spain travel art
Sketching Mariscadoras at their fishing location

During the week, I have been flicking my brushes around, preparing for my exhibition in Santiago de Compostela in September. The fine weather of late, has allowed me some time to sketch my compositions at some lovely locations. We are having such a busy time being tourists, painting, learning Spanish and 2 hours of daily yoga practice…..but we love it all!




Last weekend we drove 30 minutes inland from Cambados to a powerful waterfall (fervenza) cascading over a rocky landscape, with a series of 17 old watermills arranged along the fervenzas. As we climbed, we explored the gorgeous old mill rooms, many being in various states of ruin. The mills comprised of two large granite wheels which were powered by the rushing water to grind grains. Until only a few decades ago, every town had at least one still in use as they were an extremely important part of their economy. Apart from the historical interest, the “Ria de Barosa” park is a very beautiful nature reserve with lovely walks at the top along the river which feeds the fervenzas.

flour mill near Cambados barro water mills galicia spain wheat
Well preserved flour mill near Cambados, Barro
Old watermills near Cambados waterfall fervenza cascadas galicia spain art travel
Fervenzas & Watermills


On the same day, we decided to visit another waterfall only 15 minutes from Barro, near the town Caldas. This one proved a little difficult to find……….I was the navigator of course! After driving in circles for half an hour, we decided to park in this tiny village where I happened to see a tiny sign hiding amongst trees. The path led us passed a terrifying (not happy) German Shepherd who seemed quite determined we were on his property. Hearts pumping, we traversed the side of another mountain along a goat track and found a very quaint, old Roman road passing over a very old Roman bridge (reconstructed in the 17th century).

Roman road near Cambados galicia spain walks photo art travel
Old Roman road near Cambados
Roman bridge Galicia fervenza power station photo art travel
Old Roman bridge

We diverted off the track and found more ancient infrastructure with rickety old steps over  aquaducts. After another 30 minutes of following a path up and downhill, we finally found the Fervenza de Segade, Caldas. Apart from the thundering 30 metre waterfall, there were also the remains of a hydroelectric centre build around 1900 and again, old water mills following the course of the Umia River.

Roman monument fervenza cascadas waterfall power station galicia spain cambados
Possibly an old Roman monument

Mi esposo, John obviously thought he fitted in well with the ancient scene.

Cambados, mariscadoras, water mills, waterfalls, Galicia spain art travel photos















This week we have explored the Rias Baixas from Combarro to Pontevedra. I would like to firstly, introduce my husband John, who has joined me on this exploration of Galicia; he happens to be an excellent cook and is immersing himself in local recipes to keep the fuel up to the worker! We are both loving everything we have experienced so far. Although we only speak a little Spanish, we have managed to make friends with some locals “the Allcocks”. I don’t think they speak Spanish either!

My happy helper
Chickens chooks gallos galicia spain art travel free range eggs agriculture
Our new friends







The weather is warming up and Spring is here. Grape vines are all sprouting leaves which seem to grow an inch every day. Now the rain has stopped, we are enjoying evening walks and spectacular sunsets over Cambados.

Sunset on Cambados ria waterfront galicia spain marina
Sunset on Cambados




Last year after my Pilgrimage, I treated myself to a bus tour of the West Coast of Galicia, where I learned about these gorgeous, rustic little buildings dotted around the landscape called Horreos. Traditionally, horreos were used for storing grains to keep them dry and out of reach of rodents. Due to today’s large scale agriculture, they are no longer practical and are mainly used as a decorative store on many properties.

Horreo galicia Cambados rias baixas spain grain storage


For my next painting, we decided to travel between Combarro and Pontevedra in search for that special horreo. Almost always when you look for something, there are none to be seen! Finally, one captured my attention just outside of Combarro which just happened to be close to a lovely restaurant overlooking the bay of Pontevedra. We could not resist enjoying an extremely generous lunch with the most stunning views.

About 2 hours later, we waddled off our lunch through the old town of Pontevedra, which is full of historic buildings and churches. Situated in the rias baixas (lower bays) of Galicia, Pontevedra thrived for centuries, prospering from fishing, farming and trading. By the 16th century, Pontevedra had become an international trading port.

However, the city was nearly destroyed as a result of wars, political unrest, the plague, and then long term erosion clogging its estuary. The city has since recovered and boasts a very charming medieval centre.

Town centre plaza Pontevedra galicia spain
Town Centre


There is also the contrasting of old and new with the Los Tirantes bridge and the 12th century Burgo bridge over the Ria Lerez.

Pilgrims church Pontevedra galicia spain
Pilgrims chapel Pontevedra

Pilgrims church

Los Tirantes Pontevedra galicia spain
Los Tirantes Bridge

On our way home I tested my driving skills, changing gears with my right hand was downright scary……fortunately, I only found myself on the wrong side of the road once. I can only improve from now on…..

Burgo bridge ponte Pontevedra galicia spain
Burgo bridge

Rias Baixas, Combarro to Pontevedra, Galicia

Artist from Australia, travel and painting in Galicia, Spain

I am Leonie Walton, an Artist from Australia travelling for 6 months in Galicia, Spain. Here, I will be creating a series of paintings celebrating the unique culture and beauty of the region, which will be exhibited in Santiago de Compostela (home of the Camino de Santiago) in September 2018.

I have been painting for 15 years in between work and being a mother. Last year I was able to retire from my previous work and take an exciting step towards following my passion for painting and becoming a full time artist. Without any expectations, I began an 800 km Pilgrimage across Northern Spain, seeking solitude and a new direction for my art. The immense beauty of the Spanish countryside and forests were overwhelming. As each day and then each week passed, my awareness of time diminished to the point where I didn’t know what day of the week or how many days I had been walking. I did notice that I had all the time in the world to just walk and observe nature, an artist’s dream. It was such a privilege, I promised myself that I would never allow my life to become so busy that I couldn’t spend time appreciating the creation of life.

When I returned home, I had renewed enthusiasm for my painting and soon created these paintings below. They are two of my favourite memories of the Camino de Santiago.

Artist Leonie Walton, Wheat Fields painting galicia spain Australian
Wheat Fields Oils on canvas
Artist Leonie Walton, Lazy Days painting landscape Galicia Spain Australian
Lazy Days Oils on canvas










I decided during my walking that I would return to Northern Spain and just paint!

Now here I am, back in Galicia living my dream as an artist. My intention is to take you on an incredible journey through one of the most beautiful regions in the world. I will introduce you to some of the locals, giving you interesting insights into their culture, food, history in the land of witches and myths……………but are they??



My first home in Galicia is in the small fishing town of Cambados with a population of only 14,000, in the Rias Baixas. With a history which may have begun in prehistoric times and ruins throughout Cambados dating from the 12th century, there will be many places of interest for me to visit.

So far it has rained every day since arriving in Galicia and today was no exception, with the addition of gale force winds. Before having a chance to investigate any historical sites, the sounds of 100 women chatting excitedly grabbed my attention outside. Quickly donning my raincoat (my seventh layer), I braved the weather to see what all the excitement was about. In the harbour, women were gathering in waders, wetsuits and coats, pushing baskets on trolleys towards the water. Most were talking like you would expect from any other group of women in the world. However, I will never forget the look of dread of one young woman as she was pulling her coat on tightly. These women are called “Mariscadoras” (shell- fisherwomen). Every day at low tide, they trudge out as far as the eye can see to collect shell fish in their baskets.

Artist reference photo mariscadoras landscape galicia spain Australian
Artist reference photo for painting Mariscadoras

Later I strolled out over the long walking bridge to get a closer look at the action. I felt so privileged to be witnessing such an event, even though for them it was their daily job. I felt so much admiration for these women, facing the wildness of the Atlantic Ocean, working together for a common goal. I would never have the courage and strength to do this! How will I ever capture these incredible women in a painting?

After only two days of exploring in and around Cambados, I knew, being an artist, I needed to stay here for 6 years…..not 6 months, to even scratch the surface of a region so rich in culture.

Artist painting in Galicia Spain travel art landscape culture
Artist painting in Galicia