Route published by Pedro Pablo Uriarte ”24 circular walking routes around Gorliz”
DETAILS OF THE ROUTE:
Duration: 2 hours 9 min.
Distance: 9.5 km
Cumulative elevation gain: 433 m.
Difficulty: Medium – Low
The idea is to climb the three small peaks that mark the Ermua range, although to tell you the truth I think that the range, which stretches between the Astondo beach and Armintza, has five peaks: the first is the Astondo peak, 127 m high; the second is Larragan, 149 m high; the third is Lehorarri; the fourth is Ermua Mendi, and the fifth and last is Etzandarri.
We have already mentioned in route two that, in its hardest variant, you climb the first two before reaching the road to the lighthouse. However, on this route, you will climb the remaining three: first you will climb Lehorarri, then continue on to Ermua Mendi and finally complete the route by climbing Etzandarri.
We will return to Gorliz along the old road, the same as the return to the town on routes 1 and 6. I’m not sure why it is, but maybe I have an excessive tendency to go up and down Ermua along this stretch because it is the one we used when we were kids.
Although you will walk through areas mentioned in previous routes and which we will comment on in later ones, this route has its own personality, because, among other scenic charms, it allows you to see the island of Billano from both sides, which is not very common for most people who climb Ermua.
Starting from Plaza Ibarreta, take Itsasbide Kalea to cross it and go straight down Talaia Bidea and Aldapabarrena to Ondargane Bidea to get to the roundabout.
Right there, at the roundabout, we can see that to the left of the fence of the sports centre, there is access to the public park with its pine forest, dotted with wooden tables, barbecues and even a beautiful snack bar in the lower part. Walk straight through the grassy sandy area and the sparse pine forest in the park. Carry on climbing to the right through grassy and sandy areas and a path that is not very well signposted at first, which at the end becomes a small path, and which leads through an opening in the wire fence to the road to Urezarantza, almost at its highest point.
Cross the road to the pavement on the other side and, a few metres up the slope, you will come to a lane that starts on your left and continues steeply uphill (Txosnako Estrata), which is the road you need to take to go up. The slope is steep but short, bringing the asphalt road to an end, and leading you almost straight onto a stony path that is difficult to walk along. This will take you to the road that comes from the Urezanrantza neighbourhood and which, after just over a kilometre, leads to the road to Fano, which you will not get to for the time being.
From now on, part of the route will be the same as the previous route, Route 9 (Ascent of Ermua via Urezarantza), which, although we have already mentioned it, is worth a reminder.
Once on the road, carry on upwards and you will pass a tiny white house with a fence. I am not sure what it is used for. Keep going uphill along the road. The asphalted area ends after you pass a red and white farmhouse with a well-kept hedge around it and becomes a concrete road. Carry on along it until you reach the first turning on your left, a wide path that goes under the holm oaks like a tunnel. Shortly after, it comes out onto a grassy path that in a few hundred metres ends in another wider path. Take this path to the left and walk a few hundred metres to a clear area with views of the Bay of Gorliz and the Abra and Santurtzi in the background.
Now you need to be very attentive, as a little further on from the cleared area you will find a small path that starts off to your right between some bushes, which is not very easy to see. It is the only path that leads off to the right through bushes and uphill, and it is also the last turn-off before reaching the fence that separates the territories of the provincial council-owned farm.
Take it and climb steeply up a path that is half covered by tall grass. Near the top, you will see that on your left the grass is more trampled, as if in a line heading towards some small trees. Although you may wonder whether you have made a mistake, you will be in no doubt when you come to a clearer path that gradually climbs through a couple of switchbacks between bushes to the small summit of Lehorarri (219 m), the first peak on today’s route (40 min.).
The views of Gorliz Bay are breathtaking. But we must say one thing: we strongly recommend that people who want to climb this way come dressed in long trousers, as the brambles and thorny bushes on the path are sure to leave a few marks on your legs. Nothing that can’t be fixed with a little Betadine when you get home.
The views are splendid, overlooking the bay of Gorliz, the cliffs of Barrika, the entrance to the Abra estuary with the occasional merchant ship or oil tanker waiting for the pilot, and on clear days you can even see as far as El Puntal beach in Laredo. Keep going, past the minuscule mailbox at the top. Once you have passed over the remains of an old stone wall that is not very visible, you will immediately come to another stretch of path that is almost completely covered by ferns. At the end of the summer, you can see the path much better because of the trampled, brownish ferns, but, in spring and early summer, you have to walk along the path without being able to see it.
After only a few dozen metres, you will reach the path that comes from the lighthouse and heads towards Fano. We have already described this route in other routes, but in order to be thorough, we will repeat it briefly.
Go to the right and, in a few minutes, you will come to a mesh fence that you need to move aside (and put back in place) to access a wide open pasture on a slight slope that leads to another fence that you need to climb over.
The path, which is now of clay soil, climbs a little until it gets to a new fence, which until recently you had to climb over as well, but now the fence is on the ground and you can just walk over it. The path goes up to the top of Ermua Mendi under the holm oak forest at first and then to your right, with a drop all the way down to the sea on your left.
You will reach the summit of Ermua Mendi, 292 m above sea level (54 min.) and, after admiring the stunning views, you can carry past the old stone watchtower and start your descent to the junction with the path that you will have to follow. It only takes a few minutes and at the aforementioned junction you should turn left. There is a GR 123 Trail signpost here that you can ignore. You need to remember that just a few metres to the right of the junction there is a signpost that directs you towards Armintza or Fano. You will have to pass it on the way back to Fano.
After turning left, you will see that the path descends little by little through a clayey terrain, split by the furrows carved out by water and surrounded by abundant vegetation on both sides.
You will come to an area where the path opens up to the cliff edge, from where you can enjoy a marvellous view. To continue the route, head down towards Armintza. A few metres further on, there is a barely visible path through some pine trees and profuse vegetation that will take you to the summit of Etzandarri. You will need to look carefully to identify the path, but, once on it, it winds its way upwards through the thick vegetation until you reach the summit a few minutes later. Every now and again the path gets quite close to the cliff edge. Take care not to trip in these areas and don’t go near it on very windy days.
In almost no time you will be on the summit of Etzandarri, 209 m high (1 hour 15 min.), called Atxakarri in the list of mountains in Bizkaia. Recently, a laminated decal with the name and altitude was added to the mailbox, as the old plate on the mailbox had disappeared. We were struck by a beautiful initiative by someone who has hung poems in Basque in little plastic envelopes on the branches of a tree at the summit. Magnificent. I wish that instead of vandalising the mailboxes on the summits, people would write poems and hang them on the nearest tree or put them in the boxes.
The return to Gorliz will be along the same route to the aforementioned junction. When you get there, follow the signpost and head towards Fano along a stretch of road that is a little uneven and a little difficult to walk on, which we have already mentioned on other routes. The route passes under the trees, next to a wire fence on your left. Before long you will be on the road that connects Fano with Orabille, known as Fanobidea (1 hour 40 min.). Keep going and after 200 m take the old path that comes out next to the junction of the concrete track with Fanobidea.
On other routes, we have already mentioned that this stretch is not easy to walk on and it is even worse going down than going up, due to the broken and rough terrain, with the rock slabs of the flysch sticking up in the air where you have to walk and sometimes jump. In about 10 minutes you will reach the Gorliz nursery school or Haurreskola and shortly afterwards you will be in the Entrepinos area. Walk along the pavement next to the road until you reach the sports centre and from here you retrace the morning’s route until you reach Plaza Ibarreta (Plaza Iberrebarri). You have come full circle on the route of the three summits of the Ermua mountain range, a route which is 9.5 km long and with a cumulate elevation gain of 433 m in just more than two hours (2 hours 9 min.).