To Ayamonte and the Rio Guardiana – 23 September to 1 October, 14 miles

A short run brought us to the entrance to the Guardiana, where we anchored off the fish dock in Ayamonte.

Aymonte (26K) SunsetCastroMarim (18K)
The plaza in Aymonte Sunset over Castro Marim, opposite Aymonte
Ashore, we found a much nicer town than we’d seen when we came by car, with a town square full of families enjoying their paseo. Our main aim was to buy a large-scale map showing all the tracks suitable for cycling and walking – like a British 1:50000 OS map – but the best we could get was only 1:150000, and missed out a lot.

GuardianaBridge1 (18K) GuardianaBridge2 (22K)
Bridge over the Guardiana
At lunch-time, we raised sail and ran up-river on the sea breeze, under the splendid suspension bridge, past some unfortunate and half-finished modern housing development, into the almost deserted upper river.

Alcoutim1 (22K) SanLucar1 (22K)
SanLucar2 (29K)
SanLucar3 (29K)
Alcoutim and Sanlucar
As we went further, the hills on either side got higher and closer, until we reached the twin villages of Alcoutim in Portugal and Sanlúcar in Spain, each with its castle overlooking the other.

There were dozens of boats anchored here, but plenty of room for us right between the villages. We chatted to the crews of several, including one Canadian Wylo, with a steel hull, centreboard and no engine. The crew comprised a father a three youngsters, and they all zoomed around the anchorage rowing their solid dinghy.

Laja (23K)
Puerto de Laja
We had a splendid cycle ride on the Spanish side, first along rough paths by the river, but then along a canal delivering water from the hills to Huelva, and then along an old railway was once used for bringing minerals down to the river for loading into ships for England. We had beers and delicious, complimentary tapas of grilled fish in a café in El Granado.

Pomarao (28K) Pomerao2 (28K)

Pomerao3 (26K)
Scenes from Pomerao
After a few days we decided to explore further upriver, using a privately-produced pilot lent by the Canadians. The river wound past Puerta de Laja, which we’d visited the day before by bike, to Pomarao, another defunct mineral port, but with an open bar and another that promised to open in a week’s time. It would have would have been fun to go further up river, but there were a lot of rocks, and we thought this was a trip to be made in short stages, exploring ahead by dinghy. Maybe next spring.

On the way down to Ayamonte, we were passed while anchored to wait the ebb by a boat with a defaced blue ensign. As we followed them, we realised they were from our club, the Royal Harwich, so we quickly switched our red ensign for the Royal Harwich blue, and caught them up. Over drinks on Silent Wings in the marina, we discovered that we had cruised with Colin years ago, and I could even remind him what boats he’d had at the time.