Route 9: Climbing Ermua via the Urezarantza neighbourhood and descending along the path through the holm oak grove and the old route

Route 9

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

See the route map on Wikiloc

Duration: 1 hour 30 min.
Difficulty: Easy.
Distance: 7.5 km
Cumulative elevation gain: 305 m

This is another alternative to those already mentioned for climbing Ermua. It is a short but very attractive and sometimes quite demanding climb.

As usual, we leave Plaza de Ibarreta and go through Plaza de San Pedro to Itsas Bide Kalea, the town’s main street. Take Calle Eloisa Artaza and go straight past the exhibition hall, arriving at Calle Ondargane Bidea. Turn right and walk until you come to the roundabout in front of the football pitch and the sports centre facilities. (8 min.). Right next to it, after passing the Bizkaibus bus shelter, there is a red asphalted road that runs alongside the sports centre, flanked by numerous walnut trees on our right, which will take you to the neighbourhood of Urezarantza.

This short, gently ascending path passes in front of a municipal warehouse with a magnificent mural by Paul Ygartua, a famous English painter and muralist who visits and exhibits his work every summer in the town of his ancestors’ birth.

A bit further on you will come to the back of the long established Kilimanjaro bar and chicken restaurant (15 min.). Access Calle Urezarantza Bidea via a short but steep street, which takes you to Artebiondo Estrata directly in front of it. Take this road and, immediately after passing a house, turn left, passing a beautiful farmhouse.

The road is quite steep. Shortly after you will see a sign indicating Txoznako Estrata, turn sharply right and after a steep slope you will come to wide open fields where the annual gastronomic “sukalki” meat stew competition takes place as part of the Urezarantza fiestas in mid-August. There is a small hut protected by a fence.

The road continues gently uphill and dips under the tall holm oaks until it reaches a white farmhouse surrounded by a neatly trimmed hedge. The road turns from asphalt to a concrete track that runs almost entirely under the holm oak forest.

Follow the concrete road for a few hundred metres and you will come to the junction with the Orabille-Fanos road, or rather Fanobidea, where the first part of Route 1 starts.

But on this route, you are going to take a more mountainous detour. Not long after the start of the concrete road, on your left, there is a wide path under the holm oaks that looks as if you are literally walking inside a tunnel (26 min.).

When this tunnel of vegetation comes to an end, the path becomes narrow and is lined with tall grass that leads to another, wider, perpendicular path.

Turn left. The track is flat and runs between trees to start with, but soon you will see a path to your right through the grass, which will take you to the lower part of the Fano pastures in a few minutes. On your left there is a large enclosure where there are normally Pottok ponies grazing.

Follow the path through the tall grass to get to the top of the pasture, where the grassy path that you are following joins the more trodden path that leads to the lighthouse. Climb up through the tall grass towards the top with a fence on the right, until you come to a fence that you have to climb over to follow the much more frequented path that leads to Ermua (35 min.).

At the junction with the path coming from the lighthouse, simply follow the path already mentioned in Route 2, walking between the cliffs and the holm oak forest until you reach the summit of Ermua (50 min.).

Once at the summit you can descend to Gorliz by several of the alternatives mentioned in previous routes, but we recommend going as far as the casemate near the summit and descending through the winding holm oak grove. It is a real joy of nature.

It is perhaps time to say a few words about the Cantabrian holm oak forest. It is an intricate forest with a high density of small trees (Quercus Ilex) that allow little light to pass through, both in winter and summer. The ground is completely covered by its hard, thorny leaves. The odd thing is that the Cantabrian holm oak is a type of Mediterranean vegetation located on the Basque coast, which does not exactly have a Mediterranean climate. These forests were heavily exploited by man for firewood or to make charcoal or to supply fuel for ironworks. At the start of the 20th century, overexploitation put an end to the original holm oak grove, although it has been recovering spontaneously since this ended and is currently in good health. This forest is of great naturalistic value as it is a holm oak forest with poor siliceous soil, part of which is on steep slopes. It provides shelter for a number of shrubs, such as mastic bushes, and there are often strawberry bushes at the edges of the forest. It is also common to see areas colonised by lianas and sarsaparillas, making the forest impenetrable where they have settled.

In fact, just to the right of the hut on Ermua, you will see a path that leads off into the depths of the holm oak grove. It is a barely perceptible path, but you can follow it quite well as it is less covered by the leathery leaves of the holm oaks. We have already mentioned it in Route 2. I am sure that the footsteps of the walkers and the tires of the cyclists have cleared a little of the path that leads into the heart of the holm oak forest. It is undoubtedly a stretch to enjoy at leisure, walking calmly, enjoying the shadowy darkness of the forest and the silence.

The path descends until it reaches the most frequented path from Fano and leads to the turn-off to Armintza. Once you are on this path, turn right and, in a few minutes, you will reach the road to Fano. About 100 m further on, you will come to the start of the concrete track that you climbed a short while ago. However, this is also where the traditional, somewhat difficult path that climbs up from the Haurreskola, which we described in Route 1, comes to an end.

Walk down to the aforementioned Haurreskola until you come to the Urezarentza Bidea road and then walk down it to the sports centre, where you will have come full circle on the route.

Go back to Plaza Ibarreta (Plaza Iberrebarri) however you like.

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