Route published by Pedro Pablo Uriarte ”19 circular walking routes around Gorliz”
DETAILS OF THE ROUTE:
Total time: 1 hour 50 minutes going down the most popular descent.
Distance: 8,26 km
Cumulative elevation gain: 309 m
This is the quickest and most direct route up Ermua, starting from the town centre. It is the one we have always used, ever since we were kids and climbed it long before they built the lighthouse with its road. In the past, almost the entire coastal area of Gorliz was under military occupation, which is why us young people of the time climbed up “our usual path”. Although one part of the climb is a little awkward, it is not difficult at all, and if you walk a little briskly, without dawdling, you can reach the summit in less than an hour.
Setting off from Plaza Ibarreta (Plaza de Iberrebarri), the route starts along Travesía de Iberre to Andra Mari Bidea. Turn left and you immediately come to the town’s main street: Itsasbide Kalea. Cross the road and go along Talaia Bidea, then go down Aldapabarrena until you reach Ondargane Bidea, which you follow on your right until you reach a roundabout (7 min.). Carry straight on along Urezarantza Bidea, then passing through the main access to the camp-site and a little later through its rear access.
You will arrive at what we have always called the Entrepinos area, where the bar and hostel of the same name used to be (15 min.). Turn right here, next to some beautiful holm oaks, and take Arteaga Bidea. After a few metres, turn left towards the Itsas Gane residential estate, and then turn right again onto Urtiene Estrata.
A gentle ascent will take you to a chalet and the Haurreskola de Gorliz next to it (20 min.). Right there, at the end of the lane, on your right, among the bushes, you will find the beginning of a very rough stony path, particularly at the beginning, which will gradually lead you to the road from Orabille to Fanos.
As we mentioned, this section is difficult for people who only like to walk on smooth, stone-free terrain. This is quite the opposite, especially at the beginning, when the rocky, uneven nature of the path makes it difficult to walk on. Be warned that the terrain is somewhat difficult going. There are clear signs that this is also a route used by mountain bikes. The ground is clayey in places and sometimes overlies large stone and slate slabs across the path. In fact, you are walking on a transverse flysch. Climb gently uphill on undefined paths. You will come across a number of paths that always lead back to the main path.
You will come to a wire fence on your right with holm oaks that mark the boundary of a pasture. Further on, to your left, you will begin to make out the stunning bay of Gorliz. Not long after and on flatter, less demanding terrain, the path suddenly narrows and under a few bushes you will come upon the road from Orabille to Fano or Fanobidea (30 min.).
To your left, you will see a paved road that leads to the upper part of the Urezarantza district just over a kilometre away, the upper section of which runs under holm oaks, bordering the back of the Fanos grasslands. It is an extremely attractive track that we will comment on when we look at another route.
But today let’s get down to business, to Ermua. You are now on Fanobidea. At the junction there is a sign showing the different directions. Carry straight on and, on your right, you will see a beautiful, well-kept farm with a couple of large, well-preserved, two-storey stone buildings, and on the left a cultivated area where they rent out land for vegetable gardens.
Just after you have gone past this flat part of Fano, which is no more than 200 m long, just where the road turns to the left towards the three farmhouses in the neighbourhood, there is a path on your right under the trees that will take you close to the top of the hill.
The path is sometimes muddy and, in some sections, quite rocky, but it runs under the permanent shade of the holm oaks. You will now come to a Cantabrian holm oak grove that stretches along the southern slopes of Ermua. Watch out for the wire fence on your right that separates the path from the forest. Not many years ago this section was a slightly better track, but time and rainfall have finally ruined it. Carry on climbing gently without too much effort until you reach a clearer area where there is a signpost with markers (45 min.): going straight on will take you towards Armintza (which we will discuss on other routes) and to the left towards your goal: the summit of Ermua.
In a few hundred metres, still ascending along a well-trodden path lined with bushes and wooded areas, you will come to the stone hut at the summit, and a little further on you will find the summit of Ermua Mendi with its two mailboxes on the right-hand side of the path (50 min.). If you are not careful, you may miss the summit, as it is small and a little obscured by the holm oaks.
You are on Ermua Mendi, at an altitude of 292 m., which drops almost vertically down a grassy cliff to the sea. In front of us, down below, close to the coast, is the island of Billano or Dragon Island, as it is commonly known because of its shape. It is an islet no more than 300 m long, very steep and battered by the sea, where at least four species of sea birds nest, and sometimes, it is said, a gannet. On days when the sea is calm, it is common to see little orange balls floating down there, indicating the presence of a diver. The views are amazing, and on clear days you can see the Basque coast as far as Cantabria, with the Serantes and Punta Lucero on the other side of the Abra, the Eretza, Ganekogorta, Gallarraga, etc.
And now it’s time to go back. The return trip to the town of Gorliz can be made along a number of different routes. One option is to retrace your steps and return exactly the way you came up. That would take about the same amount of time, about 50 minutes. That is the quickest round trip and in less than two hours in total you would be back in Gorliz.
But to give the route a more circular feel and to make it a bit more interesting, you can continue onwards along the path to the summit and walk down almost to the farmhouses of Fano. Walk through the wide open meadow above the hamlet to your left and downwards so that you can take a path that can be seen at the bottom next to the trees beside the wire fence that surrounds the meadow. Take this path and, in a few minutes, you will come to a muddy track. Turn left and shortly after you will come out onto the aforementioned concrete track. Just follow it down to the right until you reach the neighbourhood of Urezarantza and take the road of the same name.
From this neighbourhood, you walk down to the sports centre, passing by the traditional, long-standing Kilimanjaro chicken restaurant and bar. A little further down there is a walkway that runs alongside the football pitch and the sports centre track, and which will take you to the road next to the entrance to the camp site. Just follow this road in the direction of the church or go up Ordargane Bidea to get to Ibarreta Plaza (Iberrebarri Plaza) (1 hour 30 min.).
Although on this route up to Ermua we opted to go down via Fano and Urezarantza, we should point out that the most common way, and what many people do, is to do a more complete route.
To do this, you would descend following the path along the crest, with the holm oak grove on your left and the gully down to the sea on your right. In a few minutes, after climbing over two fences, you would reach the meadows of Fano, as mentioned above. Pass the three farmhouses in the area on your left and follow the path through a wide open field that descends gently until you reach a mesh barrier. Once you have climbed over this barrier, the path takes you straight to the lighthouse, which is almost entirely downhill. There are exceptional views of the sea along this stretch of the path.
From the lighthouse, just follow the road which will take you to Astondo beach. Getting back from there to the starting point is not difficult at all: walk beside the beach along the Gorliz Bay promenade, past the hospital and up to the centre of the town along Hondartza Ibiltokia, the traditional “promenade”. This longer but more scenic downhill route takes about an hour.