Day 2 – O Courel, a journey through time (13.4 km)

ROUTE SEOANE – FERRERÍA VELLA

SUNDAY, MAY 3

Camiño do Courel (Courel Trail) starts in Seoane to explore the beautiful valley of the Pequeno River until you reach Paderne, a typical village in the mountains where the subsistence economy is the first resource. From there, we ascend through the Devesa da Escrita, of great botanical diversity, and see from the heights the different mountains and valleys that form this geological jewel. In the descent we cross forests of huge chestnut trees and the magical Val das Mouras before arriving at Ferrería Vella, the end of this perfect stage to enter Courel.

Dificultad ALTA
Difficulty MIDDLE-HIGH
Dificultad ALTA
13.4 kilometers
Dificultad ALTA
7 hours
Dificultad ALTA
+924 m, -1010 m slope

Let yourself go by the adventure...
... and enters the forest ...
where the trees are hundreds of years old ...
... and the stones millions
O Courel, a journey through time
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Seoane do Courel is the beginning of our route through this magical region. Located at 640 meters altitude, it is one of the most lively places in the mountains and here we can find a supermarket and several rural houses and restaurants.

We start the trail along the Ruta do Río Pequeno, which leaves Seoane through the Campo da Feira, crossing the meadows of As Míllaras. We walk along wide paths (corredoiras) where we will see several “sequeiros“, small constructions where chestnuts were stored and smoked for later consumption, both by people and cattle.

Soon we arrived at Aldea do Mazo, a rehabilitated complex for rural tourism and that keeps the name of the old mallet, a large hammer that, with the force of water, served to forge iron. In its reconstruction, we can see the typical houses with large slate slabs.

Water is also always present. After crossing a small wooden bridge over the Rio Pequeno we find Cabanas dos Carballois, an ethnographic group of great interest. In these constructions of limestone next to the river the cattle and the grass were kept. Further on we find the Cabanas dos Corvos and, after crossing the Rego dos Bois, we arrive at the Cabanas de las Caseliña, another set of 15 constructions.

In Ervellegas we can see, in the rainy season, how the water drops down the slate walls from 20 meters high by the waterfall of Pozo da Grada. A water that was “domesticated” through canals to power the old Miraz power station, closed in 1965.

From here, the path separates a little from the Pequeno River, which runs encased between high vertical walls, until reaching the place of Os Cangros. We cross the Miraz stream through the wooden bridge and can see, in its vicinity, another waterfall and the ruins of the Barreiro mill. We continue on our way and, after a slight ascent, we reach Paderne.

Paderne is another of the typical villages of O Courel. Combination of wood and slate, where time has really stopped and hardly any neighbors live in the hard winter months. Once the land of great musicians, nowadays several rural tourism houses are trying to maintain life in these small places in the mountains. It has the second most important devesa after A Rogueira. We will cross Paderne to go back down the river and cross a wooden bridge.

The path leads us to the Devesa da Escrita, one of the most biologically rich forests of the Courel. Through the middle of a chestnut forest we begin the ascent to Chao Grande, from where we will have a wide panoramic view of all the surrounding mountains. Very close, we can see the remains of Castro de Brío. Located at 1057 m high, it is one of the oldest in the area, preserving some housing and part of a wall.

From there, the route is smoothed and we will go down through chestnut forests until we reach the village of Mercurín, which we cross through its main street while contemplating another example of traditional architecture.

From Mercurín, we have two options: go through the Aciñeiral de Mercurín to Ferrería Nova and Seoane to close the circular route or continue along the Val das Mouras towards Ferrería Vella and the rest of the Camiño do Courel.

When we pass Mercurín on the way to Ferrería Nova we find the Aciñeiral de Mercurín. This oak forest is a new example that the variety of rocky substrate and the different altitudes and orientations, present in this Serra do Courel, create many different environments favoring biodiversity.

In Ferrería Nova is the old iron factory, one of the largest decks of O Courel and another example of popular architecture. Built in 1808, iron was transformed from Mount Formigueiros. Later, in 1910, it was transformed into a hydroelectric power station providing electricity to nearby Seoane. Although it was restored a few years ago, it is not possible to visit inside.

From Ferrería Nova we arrive again at Seoane, end of this circular route of the Rio Pequeno, which is very explanatory of the landscape and ways of living of this Serra do Courel.

Going down from Mercurín towards Ferrería Vella we enter one of the most beautiful forests of O Courel. The Val das Mouras is an area of calcareous rock where the water was doing its job, creating spectacular caves, many of them demolished. This karst area, full of capricious eroded rocks, in the middle of a forest of centuries-old chestnut trees and with the green of the moss, create a unique labyrinth and a very magical landscape.

As for the name there are several versions. One is the legend of a Moorish woman who protects the hidden treasures and another, which seems more certain, is that in this place many people lived in these caves many years ago, as could be seen in excavations carried out.

Thus we arrived at Ferrería Vella, the end point of this first stage by O Courel. Located at 535 meters high, there was an iron factory in the place where there are no more remains.

Route Planning

Km StagePointHeight (m)Km Total
0,0Seoane do Courel6330,0
1,1Mazo Village6611,1
1,4Cabanas de Carballois6441,4
1,9Water source6721,9
2,1Cabanas6962,1
2,3Chestnut forest7382,3
2,7Bois Stream7442,7
3,1Sequeiros7323,1
4,0Cantillón Stream7944,0
4,8Paderne8874,8
5,5Crossing Devesa da Escrita8795,5
6,6Devesa da Escrita10206,6
8,8Summit of Devesa da Escrita13258,8
11,3Mercurín water source77611,3
11,4Mercurín76711,4
12,0Aciñeiral of Mercurín71412,0
12,7Mouras Valley60512,7
13,4Ferrería Vella55013,4
Ferrería de Seoane (final beer)

Images Seoane – Ferrería Vella Stage