Route published by Pedro Pablo Uriarte ”19 circular walking routes around Gorliz”
*Map of the route: Pending*
DETAILS OF THE ROUTE:
Total time: 7 hours 30 min.
Distance: 34 km
Cumulative elevation gain: 900 m
This is without doubt the longest circular route in this guide. It is well over 30 km and takes just over 7 hours to complete, with a cumulative elevation gain of almost 900 m, which, bearing in mind that it runs through this area of Uribe Kosta where there are hardly any large mountains, is a big deal. It is a typical “leg breaker”, recommended only for experienced people who are used to several hours of walking. Of course, another option is to do the route in two days, dividing it into two stages. Doing that makes the challenge a little more manageable.
As we have said, this route can be considered a “hard” route due to the distance and cumulative elevation gain, but this difficulty is more than compensated for by the incomparable beauty of the places through which it passes, already mentioned in previous routes. Completing it is a sporting challenge that I encourage anyone who is used to mountain walks of a certain magnitude to take on. If I may, I would like to make a recommendation: do it relatively calmly, without haste or excesses, and enjoy the marvellous and changing landscape. Remember that you need to finish well and it is not worthwhile, especially at the beginning, to force the pace in order to get there quickly, unless you are a consummate athlete. Be strong and go for it.
As in all cases, start at Plaza Ibarreta (Plaza Iberrebarri) and walk down Itsasbide to the beach, taking the beach promenade that runs in front of the hospital to get to Astondo. Climb up the rustic steps to the peak of Astondo and go down them to reach the turn-off to the Fort of Azkorriaga. Then climb a steep slope to the peak of Larragan, which immediately drops down to the road to the lighthouse, which you will reach shortly afterwards.
Keep going towards Fano, walk across the pastures there and head for the first summit, Ermua Mendi (1 hour 20 min.). Once you have climbed Ermua, continue onwards and head towards Armintza via the classic and most frequented descent (although you can also turn off towards Etzandarri and go down to Armintza via the route closest to the coast).
When you have reached Armintza (1 hour 50 min.), leave the coastal district of Lemoiz by taking the road to Bakio. Just after the bridge, turn off to the right and climb Urizarmendi, the second summit along the route with a letterbox. The ascent to this second summit of the day follows part of the GR 280 Armintza-Bakio section. To go up Urizarmendi, just follow the red and white signs and, without any major problems, you will arrive at the pretty mailbox, which simulates a small house with a red roof (2 hours 20 min.).
Continue straight on along the ridge, passing by a number of sites of the “English Line” along the Iron Belt. The route that you are following along this stretch is very straightforward until you reach Andraka, as most of it is a wide track with no turn-offs, and the few that you do come across are signposted. You will come to the main Gorliz-Mungia road and about 200 m further on to the right you will reach Andraka, another neighbourhood of Lemoiz (3 hours 10 min.).
To get down to the estuary and reach Butrón Castle, you will follow another stretch of the GR 280 Trail. In fact, you should already be able to see some red and white signs in Andraka. Take the lane that goes down and comes out behind the chapel next to a restaurant. Walk along this lane, which is lined with pretty farmhouses and slopes gently downhill, but after going past some wide open meadows and when the road turns sharply to the right, there is a path in front of you that leads off under the trees, which is where you want to go on.
In about 10 minutes, having walked along a rather broken and somewhat rough path, with red and white signs half-erased on some of the trees, you will come to the Plentzia estuary (3 hours 27 min.). There is a sign indicating the direction to follow towards Butrón Castle. Turn left towards the Butrón Castle. Up to this point we have followed part of Route 5 exactly.
The path is now stony and runs uphill until you reach some enclosed pine trees that make it look as if you are entering a tunnel. The wide path continues for a while into the pine forest with a fence on your right and old Lawson pines acting as a palisade. Shortly before reaching the road to Butrón Castle, you will go past a signposted turn-off that shows you the direction to go up to Andraka. You could also have gone via this route, but it would have taken a little longer. It is one of the variants on Route 9.
Carry straight on and in a few hundred metres you will reach the road that will take you to Butrón Castle after about 2 km, passing the Arbina dam and the old tide mill next to it. The road is very flat, rarely used and pleasant to walk on, with the estuary on one side and mostly under the canopy of trees. Finally, you get to the castle, which has an impressive structure and is well preserved, reminiscent of the style of the imposing Bavarian castles built by Ludwig II of Bavaria (4 hours 7 min.).
From here to Urduliz, the route is the same as a section of Route 9, but we will summarise the route again. The route follows round behind the castle along a road to the left, passing the Mahasti rural lodge and entering the Dobaran neighbourhood. You will come to a junction here, where you turn right. The lane runs between pretty, well-kept farmhouses and is very quiet with hardly any traffic. You will come to another junction, where you turn right again, which will take you to Izuskiza (Abanico de Plentzia). You will then pass several junctions with paths leading to farmhouses, but you should keep going straight on along the most obvious route.
After a while you will come to another junction. Take the path on the right, which leads to the Elortza neighbourhood, now in Urduliz. If you turned left, you would come out onto the main road. You will come to the neighbourhood of Elortza, going past the first houses in Urduliz, almost immediately reaching the main BI 634 Urduliz–Plentzia road (5 hours 10 min.).
Walk a few dozen metres to the right and turn left onto Antsonekoa Bidea. Continue along this street for a good stretch, which climbs steadily upwards.
Keep going past the Ortulane farmhouse and a little further on, you come to MB Sistemas. Here you turn right onto Igeltzera Kalea and climb a steep slope. You will come to a junction where there is a municipal water facility enclosed by a high wire fence (5 hours 35 min.).
Take the track on the left. In a few hundred metres, you will pass a water tank before reaching another junction, turning off the road to the right and continuing ahead in the direction of Barrika along Goierri Bidea. The option of turning right at this junction would be for Route 10, where after a short stretch you would take an inconspicuous turning to the left, along a small path that starts beside a sign that says “Plentzia” and in a short time would take you to Txipio.
However, we have already said that now there is another stretch of road ahead from the junction along Goierri Bidea and, in a few minutes, you will come out onto the road from Txipio (see Route 11), just a few metres after meeting up with the variant which, on the aforementioned Route 11, comes along the GR 280 Trail.
Carry straight on along the aforementioned road, passing the chapel of San Andrés de Barrika and the cultural centre of the same name, until you reach the BI-2122 or Getxo-Plentzia main road, along which you continue to the right until you reach a roundabout a little over a kilometre further on (6 hours 12 min.).
Cross the roundabout and immediately reach a car park, which you cross diagonally to the opposite corner, where you will come to a well-trodden dirt track, which is easy to walk on and runs along the cliffs of Barrika. The scenery that unfolds before your eyes is breathtaking and you will inevitably stop for a few moments to admire it or to take a few photos.
After a short descent, the path leads you to the access to the nudist beach of Muriola (6 hours 40 min.). Before you get there, the views from the highest point are extraordinary: the Astondo headland, Gorliz beach, the hospital, and the houses in the background of the urban areas of Plentzia and Gorliz. You are at a privileged viewpoint and, if you are not in too much of a hurry, it is better to stop for a while and enjoy the view.
You are at the access to Muriola beach by a small wooden bridge. Just to the right, on a low wall, you will see the red and white markings of a branch of the GR 280 Trail. You ascend along a path that is very well covered by undergrowth on one side but still visible, and which will soon be completely hidden if the path is not repaired. Follow it and, in a few minutes, it will take you to a dead end, an abandoned road that was supposed to serve the chalets in the area but which was never built due to a long-standing coastal dispute.
Carry on uphill to your right and shortly after you will come to another dead-end road where you turn left (red and white markings) and immediately, next to a gate, you join a path that is almost entirely downhill, flanked entirely by pampas grass (Cortederia Selloana) that leads to a track very close to the back of some houses in the San Telmo neighbourhood, which is still part of Barrika. Turn right and you will come to a large gate that completely closes off the track. To get to the other side, you have to go around it to the right (7 hours 2 min.).
To return to the starting point and finish this very long and demanding route, all you have to do is get to the Plentzia bridge along the wonderful wooden cantilevered path over the estuary. Cross the bridge and walk towards the end of the route, towards Gorliz, along the estuary promenade to the port of Plentzia, which is well worth a visit for its special charm.
Continue along Areatza Kalea until you come to the PIE (Plentziako Itsas Estazioa – Plentzia Marine Station) and the roundabout in front of it. All that remains is to climb Itsasbide Kalea until you get to Plaza Ibarreta (Plaza Iberrebarri) a few minutes later, having covered 34 km on your legs spent 7 and a half hours since we set off, with a cumulative elevation gain of 800 m.
It’s time to rest and recharge your batteries, which is something you definitely deserve. If you set off very early, it may still be lunchtime and you will be able to regain your strength in one of the many restaurants in the town.