The world’s greatest swimming pool

We are anchored on the west side of the Ria de Arousa, just off the beach of the pretty town Pobra do Caramiñal. After a few days of intense, oppressive heat, the clouds came over, offering us a welcome respite and a chance, at last, to go walking in the hills. The woman at the tourist office recommended As Piscinas on the Rio Pedras and we figured the 6km round trip wouldn’t be too much for the girls to undertake.

IMG_20140801_134011We walked out of town on a gradual incline, soon getting away from the main road and onto a walking track through the woods. Since arriving in Galicia, we have been struck by the profusion of eucalyptus trees and were so confused by their presence (and not trusting ourselves that that’s what they were, despite all evidence they were) that we turned to the Internet for answers. We discovered eucalyptus trees were introduced to the region from Australia only 150 years ago, for pulp and charcoal production, but quickly became a problematic invasive species, rapidly spreading over the hills and blocking natural wildlife corridors. Yet, despite the harm they cause, it is impossible to not be impressed by their beauty and aroma. Their slender silver trunks, stripped of bark, and dusky leaves cast a grey-blue glow on the land. Their soft swooshing as they sway in the breeze, and their unmistakable eucalyptus aroma, makes walking through these woods a joy to the senses. I can’t help but wonder what these hills were like before they took over.

IMG_20140801_135516We walked up the beautiful river valley – at times along a path than ran beside the boulder strewn river, at other times alongside small fields of vines or maize, the tinkling sound of the river always in our ears.

Katie contemplating the vines

Katie contemplating the vines

Upwards we went until the sound of teenagers alerted us to the proximity of the first pool on the upper reaches of the river. We climbed down the bank to a pool in the river where a family with four teenagers swam and ate their lunch. We ate our picnic lunch sitting on the rocks with our feet dipped in the fast flowing river, but then decided to search for more pools farther upstream.

DSCI4212We walked for another fifteen minutes until we reached the last of the pools, one of the most magical places I have ever been. The bedrock was smooth underfoot as we stepped into the warm river water, shallow enough in places for Lily and Katie to stand up, but deep enough elsewhere for Julian and me to enjoy a swim. A little higher up, a waterfall fell into a smaller pool. Julian and I took turns sitting on a rock underneath the waterfall. It was a natural Jacuzzi and we sat there with the water foaming and bubbling around us, massaging our bodies and roaring in our ears.

DSCI4195A natural water slide led from our pool to the next one downriver, lined with slick moss, and Julian entertained himself for ages by repeatedly sliding down. I tried it once and laughed so hard my sides ached. That first day we failed to convince the girls to have a go, but when we returned the next day, Lily eagerly went down the slide sitting on Julian’s lap.

DSCI4206Katie found a little pool all to herself and, holding on to a ledge, splashed and kicked her legs and had a glorious time. When not in the water, the girls foraged for juicy blackberries in the brambles.

My own little bit of paradise

My own little bit of paradise

The most wonderful thing, however, was that we had the place all to ourselves. Our own private piece of paradise. All along the 3km walk back home the girls asked if we could go back again. So we did, two days later. This time we shared ‘our’ pool with some other families, and later moved down the river to another pool that we had all to ourselves. What a treat!




4 thoughts on “The world’s greatest swimming pool

  1. It sounds just like I imagin Paradise to be . What a wonderful life you have and what an amazing experience for the girls ! They could be sitting in school desks all day in England !!!! Wow , there’s no comparison 😄 Martina have you read My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell ? It’s my all time favourite book and I read it years ago and have re-read it lots of times . It’s set in Greece and doesn’t involve sailing but its a beautiful story about the author and his family moving from dull England to Corfu ( I think ) and when I read your account of Lily and Katie’s adventures it brings this book very much to mind . So much so , that I must search it out and read it again . Love to you all
    Liz x

    • Hi Liz,
      I love ‘My family and other animals’. I read it years ago…great book. Another fantastic book about an unusual upbringing is ‘Twenty Chickens for a Saddle’ by Robyn Scott, about a family growing up in Botswana. I gave it to Mammy – it’s on the bookshelf in her bedroom. You should borrow it from her! Fascinating read about being home schooled in the dessert. One of the kids ended up going to the cookery school in Ballymaloe.
      We’re in Bayona today, the city where Columbus’ ship the Pinta was the first to arrive back in Spain with news that they’d discovered the New World. So we’re having a Columbus day today. Julian’s even found ways to do Columbus-themed maths with the girls!! When I finish web-surfing we’re going on board the replica Pinta.
      We’ve also met another family from Plymouth – daughters aged 4 and 6 – anchored right beside us. The four girls have a play date booked on the beach later this afternoon!
      Love to all

  2. Wonderful Martina! Would give anything to be there with you all! I agree with Liz, it sounds and looks like Paradise. Love to all. XXXX

  3. Pingback: Reliving the past | Carina Of Devon

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