Children’s route 1: Ascent of Ermua via Fano

Children’s route 1

Route published by Pedro Pablo Uriarte “15 circular routes from Gorliz for families with children”

View map of the route on Wikiloc


Duration: 3 hours 16 min
Distance: 7,35 km
Cumulative elevation gain:  287m
Difficulty: Easy

This is perhaps one of the easiest routes to climb Ermua, with relatively little accumulated height gain (287 m) and a total distance of less than seven and a half kilometres, very suitable for walking with children. My intention on a day like today is to minimise exposure to direct sunlight and make the route as shady as possible.

Today is 13 July 2022 and we are immersed in the second heat wave of the summer. Temperatures are predicted to be over 40 degrees, and despite this I have decided to climb the mountain with two of my grandchildren, Nahia, who has just turned seven, and Pello, who will be five in October. I want to take them from Gorliz to the summit of Ermua. And so that the heat doesn’t overwhelm us too much, we’ll be on our way at 9 in the morning, with the exception of me carrying a fairly heavy rucksack with plenty of water and fruit, as frequent rehydration is essential. And I say as an exception, because as I said before, it would be good for each child to get used to carrying their own little backpack.

After smearing the kids with high protection sun cream, I start recording the route in San Pedro square, and through Aldapa Barrena we go down to Ondargane bidea to turn right until we reach the roundabout at the sports centre. A little further on, before the entrance to the Arrien campsite, we turn left and, after skirting the football pitch, we reach the Urezarantza road, right next to the Begoña restaurant and the Bizkaibús stop (BI 3158).

We cross the road to the other side to go into Txoznako Estrata, a small road that climbs a steep slope of about a hundred metres to the top. We continue ahead, taking a shortcut along a stony path that starts almost straight ahead until we immediately rejoin the small road a little further up.

We continue along the road passing a small house surrounded by a wire fence which I suppose is a small reservoir or water regulator. We soon get under the cover of the holm oaks that grow on the sides of the road. We soon reach a pretty farmhouse on our right with a well-kept hedge. The path continues straight on, but now the road becomes a small concrete road. We continue upwards and soon turn off to our left onto a wide path under the canopy of tall holm oaks.

We soon leave the forest and continue along a path through the grass, leaving some old abandoned wooden livestock buildings behind the wire fence on our right. After a short while we reach another path that crosses and we continue along it to the left. If we were to go right we would come back to the small concrete road.

As I said, we continue to the left. We immediately see on our right the wide pastures of the farmhouses of Fano where the sheep of Mrs. Casiana feed, whose milk produces some extraordinary fresh cheeses in season.

Now we must pay close attention, because shortly after, on our right, there is a small path half covered by the side vegetation and by some brambles that bother the children and which will lead us to cross the path to Ermua that comes from the lighthouse after a while. The kids don’t like the little cobwebs that we find along the way. I try to convince them that there is nothing wrong with them, but so that things don’t get any worse, I get in front of them and move them out of the way.

As I said, the path that we have taken becomes clearer and easier to walk, arriving at a wire fence that we have to open and leave closed, as it was. We are next to a wire fence that encloses a large field where some ponies and goats are grazing. The animals approach us and the children get very excited when they see a small pony that is almost a newborn. They try to pet them but I tell them that it is better not to reach through the fence.

We continue ahead leaving the path that turns to the right towards the farmhouses of Fano. We continue ahead and upwards through some tall grass until we reach a path next to two vertical stakes. The path continues to the right until you reach a wire fence that you can see a little further up. We only have to reach it and follow it to reach a small fence that we have to jump over. Previously, we have coincided with the path that comes from the lighthouse. The children jump over the fence with astonishing ease, as if they were doing pirouettes on a playground.

Now the path is very simple and uncomplicated. At the beginning it is clayey and gently ascends and soon it goes through the holm oaks. We have reached the summit ridge and until we reach Ermua we will always walk with the sea below us on our left and the Cantabrian holm oak forest on our right. Be careful, in some areas there is no vegetation to protect you from the emptiness and you have to be careful not to let the children get too close. There are two or three short stretches that do not allow children to run around, although the majority of this stretch at the top has no problems whatsoever.

We only have to continue along the clear, beautiful and well-trodden path under the holm oaks until we reach a slight slope with the summit of Ermua on our left (292 m) with its two classic letterboxes (the old one and the miniature lighthouse, recently renovated). There is also an old plaque from the Areeta-Las Arenas mountain group written in a curious Sabine Basque.

The children are delighted… they have climbed to the top of Gorliz, Mount Ermua! After taking the obligatory photo, we went to the nearby stone hut to rest for a while, drink plenty of water (we also had a smoothie) and eat some fruit. The truth is that the brambles are invading the small field around the hut and the hut itself. A clean-up with a brush cutter would be a good idea. In the watercolour below, which I made a few years ago, it was still fairly free of weeds.

For the return to Gorliz I have thought of going down the path through the holm oak grove to the road to Fano and returning along the concrete road we came up. This will protect us most of the way down from today’s inclement sun.

La senda del encinar parte justo al lado de la caseta de piedra del Ermua. La verdad es que hay que fijarse bastante bien para no perder la senda, porque está prácticamente cubierta por las hojas coriáceas de las encinas. Sin embargo siempre hay una zona más pisada que nos la va indicando. El encinar cantábrico es una maravilla de la naturaleza y a la sombra de la hojarasca se esta muy bien. Les digo a mis nietos que estamos inmersos en un bosque encantado y que esta habitado por gnomos buenos que no se dejan ver, pero que ayudan a los caminantes que se extravían. Al instante ven señales de los gnomos por todas partes. Imaginación infantil al poder.

In a short while we reach the path that comes from the Fano road and which heads off to the left towards Ermua, taking a detour and heading towards Armintza. But when we get there, we turn right and we soon reach the Fano road. We continue along this road and after passing a fenced farmhouse with large plots of land on our left we reach the intersection of the road with the cemented track along which we had previously climbed part of the way up. It is a signposted junction and we take the cemented track.

We soon reach the turning that we took to the left on the way up and which is now on our right. From now on the path is practically the same as on the way up. We go down the cemented track, which has the generic name of Txoznako Estrata without any deviation, until we pass in front of the farmhouse with the hedge very well trimmed. We have regained the road again. We leave the little water house on our right that we saw on the way up and continue straight on down a steep slope until we join a branch of the road, turning off to the left at the crossroads. We have deviated a little from the route uphill. After a short while, after passing a couple of pretty farmhouses, we reach the Urezarantza road, which we cross straight on.

We pass the famous Kilimanjaro brewery and soon reach the track that surrounds the sports facilities and sports fields of the Polideportivo. There is a colourful playground on the left where the children want to enjoy the facilities for a while. Soon we continue along the path passing the beautiful mural by Paul Ygartua on the wall of a municipal building. Next to it we see the open door of the sports centre and we take the opportunity to refresh ourselves for a while in the various water spouts provided for washing the kids’ football boots.

We soon reach the road to Urezarantza and return to where we had passed on the way out. We reach the end of this circular route in the Plaza San Pedro, but not before taking a short detour to Ana’s shop to buy bread

And we have finished. A great circular route from the centre of Gorliz, 7.5 km long, done with two of my grandchildren and we encourage people to do it with their children too. Aurrera!

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