Route published by Pedro Pablo Uriarte ”24 circular walking routes around Gorliz”
DETAILS OF THE ROUTE:
Total time: 3 hours 55 min.
Distance: 19.85 km
Cumulative elevation gain: 414 m
Difficulty: Medium due to its length
This is another relatively long route. You can do it in about four and a half hours walking at a leisurely pace, stopping to take photos, and have a drink or a snack. However, people who are used to long treks could easily do it in three and a half to four hours without stopping. Walkers can adapt the route to their own pace. However, in all honesty it has to be said that this is a route without severe gradients: 414 metres of elevation gain over almost 20 km.
Most of the route is on roads, although in general they are small country roads, some of them shady and most of them charming, with hardly any road traffic, serving the many hamlets and farmhouses in the rural areas through which you will pass.
The route is exactly the same up to the turn-off on the longest variant to climb Andraka on Route 7, but we will nevertheless give you a brief reminder of the route: Leave Plaza Ibarreta in Gorliz and, via the roundabout with the little boat, walk past the cemetery and the Sagastikoetxe industrial estate, arriving at the roundabout on the road to Mungia. Keep going straight on and you will come to the next roundabout. Carry straight on down Kautela Bidea until you reach the roundabout at the access to Plentzia, where you turn left onto Gandia Bidea (20 min.) and follow this street until you get to a stone fountain. Continue uphill along the road or Mandañu Bidea until you get to the top, where you take the turn-off to Butrón castle (GR Trail signs) (33 min.).
After a short downhill stretch, almost all of it under trees, you will come to the Plentzia estuary, which will be on your right until you reach Butrón. Follow this wide path for a while under the trees next to the estuary until you reach the first signposted turn-off of the GR 280 Trail that goes up to Andraka (52 min.). Keep going and, in a few minutes, you will reach the second turn-off on the GR Trail towards Andraka (see Route 12) (1 hour).
The track continues downhill and, almost immediately, leads to another wider track which is first gravel and then asphalted. This leads to Butrón Castle. You will see that, at the start of the path, there are entrances to several farms and a rural house on your right.
This is a quiet and completely flat stretch, mostly wooded and pleasant to walk, with the peaceful estuary close by on your right. Soon the estuary, until now called the Plentzia estuary, becomes the River Butrón, and it is no longer affected by the tides once it reaches the Arbina dam. The salinity of the water decreases as the estuary gets closer to the dam, where it becomes the Butrón river.
Upstream of Arbina, the water sometimes turns green due to the number of micro-plants that grow on its surface, thanks to the stagnation caused by the dam. You will see how the branches of the riverside trees brush and almost rest on the water in imitation of tropical and jungle rivers. It is a very relaxing environment.
As you admire the forest, you will come upon the impressive Butrón Castle almost without noticing it, after a bend on your right. It looks like something out of a fairy tale, although its origins are not from a fairy tale, but rather from the fiery warriors of the Butrón family, and this was their ancestral home (1 hour 30 min.).
Its history dates back to the 11th century, when a medieval tower-fortress was built on the site of the old Butron tower. This tower was transformed into an impregnable castle in the 14th century and on its battlements flew the feared banner of the Butrones, who, as the head of the Oñacino band, fought bloodthirsty wars against their eternal enemies, the Gamboínos, in the famous War of the Bands. From the time of Henry IV and the Catholic Monarchs onwards, these buildings became the habitual residences of the nobility, and this is what happened to the castle. Over the centuries, many stories and legends have been told behind its thick walls, but in the 19th century, the Marquis of Torrecilla, owner of the castle, had it rebuilt with the funds obtained from the income from the numerous farmsteads that he also owned throughout Bizkaia. He built it in the romantic and exotic style of the Bavarian castles constructed by the ill-fated Ludwig II. The slow reconstruction, due to limited funds, began in the 19th century and was completed in the early 20th century. It is currently owned by a private company. It is worth stopping for a while to take in this extraordinary monument which is part of the municipality of Gatika. Every time I pass it, I wonder why it is not better protected by the public administrations to prevent it from falling into disrepair.
Go around the castle to the right and at the back of the castle you will see a track that turns off. The track on the right borders a stretch of the river but is a dead end, as it only goes as far as the Arbina dam on the left bank of the river. You should take the road to the left and then turn left again, ignoring the track that goes off to your right that leads to Hípica Butrón (the Butrón Equestrian Centre). Once youhave passed the entrance to the Mahasti rural lodge, you will come to the Dobaran neighbourhood, which you will walk through for a while (1 hour 50 min.).
There is a junction here. Turn right, because, if you go left, after a couple of sweeping bends, you will come to the main Gatika-Urduliz road. You do not want to go on this road, as there is much more traffic on it.
Follow the lane that runs between beautiful farmhouses and after a few ups and downs you will come to another junction, still in the Dobaran neighbourhood. Turn left here (2 hours 5 min.), because, if you turn right, after a while you will come to the Isuskiza (also known as Abanico de Plentzia) residential estate.
You will pass asphalted entrances to a number of farmhouses that are more or less set back from the road. Don’t let this confuse you. In general, the route is quite obvious. In a few minutes you will come to another junction. If you turn left, in a few hundred metres you will come to the main road, which you do not want to follow, so turn right. You are entering the Elortza neighbourhood, approaching the first houses and residential areas in Urduliz, entering the town at a roundabout on the Urduliz-Plentzia road (2 hours 25 min.).
When you get to the aforementioned main road (BI-634), turn off to the right a little further along Antsonekoa Bidea.
This is a side street in the town of Urduliz, which leads to another side street also known as Antsonekoa Bidea after a few hundred metres. You can’t get lost because there is no other possible route.
Continue along the aforementioned street, passing over the metro line that runs underground beneath your feet. Walk along the pavement past the Ortulane country house, and when you reach Igeltzera Kalea, turn right at MB Sistemas. The climb is short but demanding and you will reach a junction where there are some municipal water regulation facilities enclosed in a high wire fence (2 hours 50 min.). Take the track to the left, which is the continuation of the track from your right, along which route 9 runs, which you will share from now on until you reach Plentzia.
You are in the Gane neighbourhood. Soon after, you will pass a water tank just before reaching another junction, where you turn right, despite the fact that there is a sign indicating “dead end road”. Ignore that and carry on along the road on a short steep slope that goes under the trees. The road soon starts to flatten out, and about a hundred metres from the top there is a clear sign on your left next to a fountain showing the direction to follow: Plentzia (3 hours).
Go in the direction shown. You will enter a stretch with a path that is almost completely overgrown by the vegetation under the trees in the forest. There are some muddy stretches, but the downhill path is very beautiful, shady and secluded. The shade is appreciated, especially if it is mid-morning and the heat is intense.
When you reach a new path, follow it downwards until you reach the road not long after. Turn left down the road and then turn right onto a wide path when reach a bench and a fountain and, almost without noticing it, you will come to Txipio and the Plentzia metro station, after passing a large, abandoned farmhouse and then some buildings with flats (3 hours 20 min.).
Cross the bridge and continue straight on up the Escaleras del Cristo steps and street, which start next to Batela bar, until you reach the small chapel of the same name, located at the top of the street on the right. Go past it and continue climbing without turning off. You will soon be in the municipality of Gorliz. The boundary is right beside a fountain. You will soon come to the chapel of the patron saint of Gorliz: Andra Mari de Aguirre y de las Nieves, which you pass. In a few minutes you reach the roundabout on the road to Mungia and from here, walk to the roundabout with the small boat, where you will have come full circle. This is just round the corner from Plaza Ibarreta (3 hours 55 min.).