Chestnut groves are still today among the most representative natural landscapes in Galicia. The best season of the year to enjoy them is autumn, when they are even more beautiful. Leaves turn into a shade of ochre, so typical of this season, and the ground is softly covered by wet earth, fallen leaves and chestnut burrs. Such display is an invitation to experience the autumn in four woods in As Rías Baixas.
Fraga de Catasós
The Fraga de Catasós, in the town of Lalín, is one of the most popular indigenous woods in the province of Pontevedra. There you can see centenary oaks and chestnuts, some of them being up to 30 metres tall, considered the tallest in Europe. This wood was once owned by the Quiroga de Catasós family, who lived in the pazo (manor house) where the Galician writer Emilia Pardo Bazán wrote Los pazos de Ulloa (The House of Ulloa). Today, the wood is owned by the Galician government and is listed as a Natural Monument. You can discover the area by following a hiking route, signposted by the local government, which leads you to churches, mills, cruceiros (stone crosses) and other examples of the traditional architecture. The chestnut trees from the places of Cardiego and Quiroga stand out, and in the latter, you can find specimens being more than two centuries old.
Natural Park of Cotorredondo
The natural space of Cotorredondo-Castiñeiras, in O Morrazo Peninsula, also includes a large number of chestnut trees, and this can be seen in the name of the place (Castiñeiras). It is an area of great landscape value, where native and exotic trees coexist. In this area, twenty-year-old groves, belonging to local associations of woodland owners, can be found today. In the north, close to the Castiñeiras Lake, you can find the Vilaboa neighbours' plantation and, in the south, the grove of the parish of Santo Tomé de Piñeiro, in Marín. In addition, the highest point of the Cotorredondo Park (550 metres), a fire watchtower serving as a viewpoint, offers amazing views. It is controlled by the association of woodland owners of the parish of Santa Cristina de Cobres, and group visits are available on request.
Woods in Vigo
In As Rías Baixas you can enjoy nature not far from the city. This is the case, for example, of the woods which can be found in the surroundings of the city of Vigo. Here, the worthwhile forest parks in the parishes of Saiáns and Coruxo stand out, not only because of its chestnut woods, but also for the hiking routes boasting picnic areas, fountains and archaeological remains. Among the woods in Coruxo, you can find one of the oldest chestnut groves in Vigo, around 20 years old. You can discover this green area and its surroundings by walking along a nine-kilometre path, which runs through unusual fountains, as the fonte do sapo (the fountain of the toad), petroglyphs and viewpoints over the inlet. On the other hand, 50% of the hardwood trees growing in the forest park of Saiáns are chestnuts and oaks. There are some fifteen-year-old chestnut groves and also other recent ones. You can walk around the park following a three-kilometre circular route, which leads you to charming places as the Cal do Outeiro Wood and the mills of A Estea.
The woods in Ponte Caldelas
In the surroundings of the town of Ponte Caldelas there are lush woods of oaks, chestnut trees and birches which grow on the banks of the Verdugo River. You can follow the path known as sendeiro azul (blue path), starting at the river beach of A Calzada, having a blue flag, and follow the course of the river towards the town of A Lama, until reaching its high part. Along the route you will discover the remains of different mills, cascades, the wayside shrine Almiñas do Río and the ancestral stones used to cross a river, known as poldras, which can be found in the rivers of A Fraga and Portasouto, having a great ethnographic value. Following this route, you will also discover magnificent chestnut trees, especially in the surroundings of the place of Portasouto. Nearby, you can visit the remains of a traditional trap for wolfs in the place of Laxoso de Abaixo, known as foxo do lobo.
In the four woods described here, you can find a lot of chestnut fruits scattered all over the ground. It is important to remember that some of these woods are owned by associations of neighbours. However, they do not mind if visitors take some of these fruits while they are walking, but you are not allowed to do it on a massive scale or for trading purposes. If you want to taste and enjoy this seasonal product, you can attend one of the large number of magostos (traditional chestnut festivals) held everywhere in autumn or buy some chestnuts in the market, where you will find the best product registered under the protected geographical indication Castaña de Galicia.