43°40.98'N 007°51.6 W Friday 10th July
Santa Marta de Ortigueira, Galicia, NW Spain
Left Viveiro for the next ria, the Ria de Barquero. Another beautiful spot, clear blue sea, steep sided to the cliffs and rocks with pine and eucalyptus right down to the water's edge. One night in a little bay, then we made our way round to the next ria, in between the Cabo de Bares and the Cabo de Ortega (most northern point of Spain). Margaret & Roger had recommended coming here to the town of Santa Marta de Orteguerira. They warned that to get here is a bit heart-stopping, so those with a faint constitution should probably not try it. It is another beautiful wide bay, narrowing to where you enter the river proper. There is an island to your left that you have to pass and it looks like you are heading straight for the beach before the river bends round to the right. The difficult bit is there is a sand bar to cross, the whereabouts of which changes, and it is not marked. The deep channels of the river also change but one can feel one's way along these.
We approached an hour before High Water and followed the charted route in, accepting that it may not be accurate. Once past the island, we started to turn west with the river. We bumped the sand, I looked back and saw a large swell approaching - it lifted us off the sand, Richard slewed the boat towards the beach and we were clear. M & R were right, it is a bit hairy! But safely in we could navigate the rest of the river trip fine.
It's all sand dunes and trees. Santa Marta is a lovely little town with friendly marinheros who instructed us where and how to fill up with water. We are up against the quay, the little marina is too shallow for us. We found that by chance we had arrived as the town was preparing for an annual 4 day festival, the International Celtic Festival of the World no less! An enormous stage was being erected with sophisticated lighting and sound systems. We cycled out to the beach and the forest in the dunes, to find a vast extended campsite with literally thousands of tents and people and dogs and campfires. Apparently the festival attracts 100,000 people, from all over Spain and some from the rest of the world. (A Scottish band was playing). It is a bit like a cross between Glastonbury and Woodstock. A strange mixture of traditional Galician music and costume with bohemian stalls, music, dreadlocks, beads and the rest.
We decided we needed to stay for the first day and a half. The bands started with a procession at about 8.30 last night in the little convent square that moved eventually to the main square by the port. It really got going about 11pm with the sound system deafening and people clapping, dancing and cheering the acts. We gave up sometime in the early hours and went back to our grandstand seat on the boat (just far enough away!). At 3am it was still going strong and even heard clapping at 5am! And this goes on for 4 days!
Will see what is on offer today then head out on the evening tide and stop in the bay overnight. Next bit of civilisation will be Cedeira. Aiming to be in Coruna by 15th when friend Paul O is flying out to join us for a few days exploring that region.
Signing off with music ringing in the ears from the Ortigueira Festival do Mundo Celta.