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.
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.
The plaza in Aymonte
Sunset over Castro Marim, opposite Aymonte
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.
Bridge over the Guardiana
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
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.
Puerto de Laja
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
Scenes from Pomerao
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.