Route 8: Circular route from Gorliz through Astondo via the lighthouse, Ermua Mendi, Armintza, Urizarmendi, Andraka, the Plentzia estuary, the Gandia neighbourhood and back to Gorliz

Route 8

Route published by Pedro Pablo Uriarte ”24 circular walking routes around Gorliz”

See the route map on Wikiloc

Duration: 4 hours 15 minutes
Distance: 21.6 km
Difficulty: Moderate–High (due to its length abd the two ascents up Ermua and Urizarmendi)
Cumulative elevation gain: 786 m

I must warn you that this is one of the longest routes in the guidebook and the one with the second highest cumulative elevation gain. It will take about four and a half hours without stops for relatively well-trained hikers. If you take it a little slower – and on such a long route it is necessary to stop for a drink and something to eat, admire the scenery, etc. – you can do it in five and a half hours.

This long route can be divided into four parts: The first part would be from the start to the summit of Ermua, the second to the summit of Urizarmendi via Armintza, the third to Andraka, and the fourth from Andraka to Gorliz via the Plentzia estuary and Gandia.

The first part from Gorliz to Ermua Mendi has already been mentioned in previous routes, although you need to remember that on today’s route you will be going via Astondo, the most coastal route and therefore the hardest (see route 2).

The approximate times for this first part are as follows: to get from Plaza Ibarreta to Astondo will take about 18 minutes, depending on your pace, of course. It will take another 15 minutes to the turn-off to the Azkorriaga fort, and a further 19 or 20 to the lighthouse. And another 20 minutes to get from the lighthouse to Ermua. In total, to get to Ermua from Ibarreta (Iberrebarri) along this coastal route it will take you 1 hour and 13 minutes.

The second part of the route starts with the descent to Armintza and the ascent of Urizarmendi. From Ermua to Armintza by the usual route will take another half hour, so it will take you about 1 hour 45 min. We do not think it is necessary to repeat the description of the downhill route from Ermua to Armintza, which we described in Route 2. It is easy and signposted.

Going down from Ermua, you will come to the roundabout at the entrance to the town with a large car park next to it. Cross it and take the street opposite, between recently built blocks of flats, and you will come to the Armintza-Bakio road. There are a couple of public fountains where you can quench your thirst or fill your water bottles. From now until after the summit of Urizarmendi you will walk along a stretch that is part of Route 4 but in reverse, this time uphill.

Keep going and after passing the bridge that leaves the stony beach of Armintza on your left, turn right onto a country road that climbs steeply uphill, passing a number of farmhouses and large chalets on either side; after a few bends, you will reach a small square with a signpost indicating your first objective: Urizarmendi 1.5 km. Turn right.

In a couple of hundred metres, you will pass a few chalets and the path continues straight ahead, climbing steeply. You will enter a eucalyptus forest with a few steep slopes on the first stretches when you go into it.

You will soon come to a junction. To your left is the mark of a red-and-white cross. Don’t go that way. At the junction, you will see that a large tractor wheel filled with concrete has been abandoned there. It was used to train oxen for the “idi probak” (a competition involving oxen dragging rocks) by dragging it as a “harria” (yoked pair) along these tracks. Carry straight on. There are GR 123 Trail waymarks, and the path turns left into the eucalyptus forest.

Carry on gently uphill under the eucalyptus grove along a clayey track, some of the sections of which have deep furrows carved out by water. In a few minutes you will come to another fork signposted with red and white markings where you carry straight on without turning off. The path is hard at times due to the steep slopes that you will have to negotiate, as well as being somewhat difficult on the ascent because it is broken and there are large stones, especially in the final part before it opens up to a clearer area.

You will reach a junction and turn left. If you turned right, you would go down to Lemoiz. Still without turning off, after a while you almost reach the base of a large electricity transmission tower from the aborted Lemoiz nuclear power station. In this case, the cables are apparently carrying the electricity generated by the Basque Government’s pilot project in the waters around Armintza to generate electricity from wave power.

Keep going along the path, now in a clearer area, following the direction of the high wires between two electricity pylons until you reach another large pylon at another entry point to the forest. The path keeps climbing, but not too steeply. Just below this second tower, you will see a path on your right that also goes down to Lemoiz. You will not be taking that path.

Here the road turns sharply to the left and, a bit further on, to the right. You are on a track that passes an old eucalyptus grove on your right, while on your left there is another recently planted eucalyptus grove. In a few years’ time, the two will be almost identical, so you will be walking with tall eucalyptus trees on both sides. From here, you will be able to get a good view of the Basordas cove at the nuclear power station, but the eucalyptus trees have now grown and prevent you from seeing it.

A couple of hundred metres further on, when the old eucalyptus grove ends, there is a small, red-roofed metal house on your right that serves as a mailbox for Mount Urizarmendi, next to a broken triangulation station. It is 294 metres high, two metres higher than Ermua Mendi (2 hours 20 min.).

Keep going and the descent will start next to another smaller electricity pylon that you walk round. The path goes downhill for some way until it reaches signposts marking various routes. A few metres further on you will see a path which, if you follow it, after a stretch under a forest, leads to a road that goes down to Urizar – Lemoiz, and you can return to Gorliz by the previous route (Route 4) that we described earlier. Ignore this path. Also discard the routes that lead to Bakio and Jata (GR 123). Carry straight on, towards Andraka and Maruri.

In a few minutes, you will come to a pretty little white house with green painted windows, which you pass behind a wire fence on your right. In the watercourse below, you can see a farmhouse that was being re-roofed at the time of writing this guide. Go past a turn-off that would take you to a rehabilitated machine-gun nest from the Spanish Civil War. It is signposted. These are the remains of the defensive line of the Basque gudaris (fighters), the so-called “English Line”. Along several sections of this route, you will see small signs indicating rehabilitated trenches and machine gun nests signposted by the organisation “Memorial del Cinturón de Hierro de Bilbao” (Memorial Museum of the Iron Belt), which has a museum in Berango.

You will come to an area where there are two options. Both will take you to the same point. Take the wider track, the one on the right. The one on the left is a path that climbs upwards and enters the forest, leading to the main track that you are on after a few hundred metres. There are signs pointing towards Goikomendi (238 m), which you should ignore.

You will reach a clearer area, an open field with a large electricity pylon at the side of the road with a wide firebreak under the high voltage power lines on both sides.

Continue along the wide track and in a short while the gravel and dirt track becomes a concrete track, and, after a gentle descent, you will reach the neighbourhood of Andraka, where it joins the main Mungia-Gorliz road.

When you reach it, turn right and in about 200 m you will come to a roundabout on the main road. You are in Andraka, by the restaurant of the same name (3 hours 10 min.). Next to it, there is a country road leading downhill past a probadero (area for traditional Basque sports) and a chapel, with a public fountain bext to a set of stone steps to your left. If it gets hot, it is an excellent place to cool off. Continue along this road lined with beautiful, well-kept farmhouses. Every now and then you will see the red and white markings of a GR Trail.

After descending the road for about 500 m, between meadows separated by wire fences and a few loose mastiffs behind them that are a bit intimidating, you come to a sharp bend in the road that turns to the right. You leave it right there, at a GR Trail post, and take a path that goes straight on through the trees and is covered with patches of grass, which after a few hundred metres also turns to the right and descends steeply towards the Plentzia estuary. Keep going downwards, ignoring any other tracks or paths you might come across. There are a few GR Trail signs marked on trees. This is a somewhat difficult section to walk on because of the sometimes stony and somewhat muddy ground, which is always quite uneven.

In about 10 minutes, descending through the tall vegetation, sometimes under wild trees, you will reach the estuary and a signpost. (3 hours 26 min.). Turn right (the path left goes towards Butrón Castle), and in approximately another 15 minutes you will reach the junction with the road that leads from Gandia up to the Koala nursery facilities and the Andraka neighbourhood (3 hours 45 min.). This part of the route is easy to follow.

First turn left and then turn immediately right. This is the road that goes down to Gandia and in the first stretch you walk downhill between the wire fences of the vegetable gardens and orchards on both sides. There is an industrial workshop on your left before you reach the flatter part of the road. This road is called Mandañu Bidea and will take you to Gandia Bidea.

Now you are strolling through the Gandia neighbourhood. As soon as you pass the stone fountain and reach Gandia Bidea, turn into the first street on your right called Larrabeiti Kalea and immediately turn left, until you come to a small roundabout. Then turn right onto Iturribidea, which, after a short uphill stretch and a short descent, leads to Kautela Bidea. Follow this street on your right until you have passed the first roundabout and arrived at the next one, which is the access road to the Mungia road (4 hours 5 min.).

This roundabout marks the last few hundred metres of today’s route, taking you past the Gorliz cemetery and then on to the roundabout with the little boat at the entrance to Gorliz and, therefore, to the Plaza Ibarreta (Plaza de Iberrebarri). (4 hours 15 min.).

Remember that this route is for mountaineers who are used to hiking and long walks lasting several hours in the mountains, sometimes negotiating steep slopes. However, it should be said that this is not a walk that should be considered hard. It is simply a long walk with a cumulative elevation gain of almost 800 m.

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