Route published by Pedro Pablo Uriarte ”19 circular walking routes around Gorliz”
DETAILS OF THE ROUTE:
Distance: 14.68 km
Cumulative elevation gain: 433 m
Duration: 2 hours 50 min.
This circular route is actually the sum of several sections of other routes already mentioned, except that now you will do them the other way round. It is a relatively long route (about three hours) in which you will follow part of the GR 280 Trail in the opposite direction, from Berreaga to Armintza. In general, it is not particularly difficult, although you will have to make some effort to climb the 290 metres up Ermua from Armintza.
We start as usual from Plaza Ibarreta and go up Tribiñu Kalea to Calle Ageo, where you turn right and go up to the top of the street to join the beautiful path that leads to Saratxaga.
I will never tire of encouraging people from Gorliz who wish to come to this part of Plentzia to enjoy the gastronomy at one of its two bar/restaurants – although at the time of writing this route, the one located higher up called Saratxaga has been closed for some time now, so it is only possible to do so at Arriolane – you can get to it along this totally flat, grassy path under the shade of holm oak trees. It is a truly beautiful stretch, although I must say that there is another way to get to Saratxaga from Gorliz, which is little used and which I also recommend.
Let me tell you about it. Start at the roundabout by the little boat and cross the zebra crossing to the other side. Walk between the first line of chalets and turn immediately to the right, passing the rear of the cemetery on your right. As you leave the town, you go past several farmhouses before reaching the last one, which the road passes in front of and which has several hen houses and corrals on either side. Almost immediately you will come to a bend that turns sharply to the right, which takes you to the road that leads from the Sagastikoetxe industrial estate and serves the farmhouses in the area. A little to the right is the entrance to the Arriolane bar/restaurant.
But let’s carry on with today’s route. When you reach Saratxaga along the beautiful path mentioned above, turn left next to a farmhouse and go up a very wide track (they have recently widened it by removing the undergrowth that was growing next to the wall on the right and which was invading part of the track) accompanied by the unpleasant, angry barking of a number of dogs confined in their gardens. When the track ends a little further on, the path continues straight ahead and heads into the undergrowth, before almost immediately turning sharply to the right.
The path, which has already been mentioned on other routes, is almost entirely in the shade and is quite hemmed in by the thick vegetation. In about 10 minutes, you will reach the Andraka-Orabille road, along which part of the GR 280 Trail runs, which from now until Armintza, you will walk in the reverse direction.
Turn left and follow the road, immediately coming across a wire fence that encloses the well-tended botanical garden of the la Larrakoetxea country house and restaurant. There is an impressive variety of large trees and shrubs of all kinds, and we are always amazed when we pass by that there is such a varied and well-tended forest in our town, which is unknown to most people. Unfortunately, as it is a private estate, it is not possible to visit the garden and we are left with the desire to visit it. What a shame.
Next you will come to a junction marked with a sign indicating the neighbourhood of Berreaga (30 min.). Turn right towards Urízar (Lemoiz) along the road. In a few minutes you will pass a large chicken farm. The road is very pleasant to walk on, slightly downhill, passing by enclosed cattle pastures with electric shepherds. In front of you, on the horizon, you can see the Urizarmendi mountain range.
At the end of this section, just after some farmhouses where the road narrows between the walls, you will come to the Armintza-Andraka road, and you cross it. You are in Lemoiz (in Urizar) (43 min.). On the other side there is a GR 280 Trail signpost: Armintza 3 km.
Keep going, past a small square in front of a very old holm oak with a completely decayed trunk, but still with shoots. Genius and icon. The road continues downhill between several farmhouses and there are houses on the right with balconies of coloured glass that indicate that you have reached the renovated washhouse of Urizar under a cluster of large oak trees. It is a melancholy scene worthy of a photograph.
About 200 metres from the washhouse, you will come to a junction. If you turn right, you would be heading towards Urizarmendi, but today you will go straight towards Armintza and head to the left. It is a very flat stretch of road with well-tended farmhouses and farms on either side. The road comes to an end at a half-ruined farmhouse, but the path carries on and leads into a forest of native trees. The surface is now gravel and very comfortable to walk on. This beautiful and well-kept stretch will take you to Armintza in less than 20 minutes.
In the first part of the walk, you are in the middle of the forest with the babbling brook on your left. The path then clears and, after crossing two pretty wooden bridges, you almost reach the main Armintza-Lemoiz road, although you don’t, because just before you reach it, after a short walk along the roadside path, you turn sharply to the right towards two houses located about 100 metres away.
The lane now meanders for a few hundred metres between beautiful, well-tended farmhouses, and, just as it turns to the left to rejoin the main road, a path leads off to the right. You need to be vigilant because that’s where you need to go. This is the last stretch just before entering Armintza. The path now runs through vegetable gardens and orchards before coming upon the Andrakos stream, but if you look closely, the path turns round a hut and passes over the beautiful little bridge in the photo under the branches of the leafy trees on the riverbank. You can access Armintza via a roundabout opposite the car park (1 hour 15 min.).
Now is the moment to have something to drink and eat, as the climb of the day is coming up: the ascent of Ermua Mendi from Armintza. Remember that on other routes we came down this way. To tell you the truth, the climb up Ermua from Armintza cannot be considered a hard climb. It may have a few short, slightly more demanding climbs, but in general it is a fairly straightforward climb.
Go round the roundabout to the right and you will see that on the other side of the roundabout there is a small road that also goes off to your right and starts with a steep slope of just a few metres. The slope is steeper at the beginning, but then it becomes more gentle. You will have the wall of the Arresi hotel on your right until you reach the back gate a little further up, where the road turns into a gravel track and the slope becomes gentler. Go through a half-open fence in the middle of the path that prevents vehicles driving through, and shortly afterwards you will see the start of a stony, clayey path on the left-hand side of a bend. That is the path that you need to take and that you have used most of the time on this route.
On this initial stretch of the ascent to Ermua from Armintza, on your right further back, you will see a wide watercourse with recently planted eucalyptus trees, which also gives you a magnificent view of Armintza and its charming mountain pass, until, of course, they grow. I must also say that as I write these lines, they have put machinery there to smooth and widen the track at the start, which was certainly somewhat uncomfortable to walk on, especially if we are going downhill towards Armintza.
The slope gradually eases and enters the eucalyptus forest. Further up, you will come across some very muddy stretches, even in summer, which you will have to get past by edging along the side of the path.
You will come to a somewhat clearer part where to your right you will see another large watercourse bounded at the bottom by the Etzandarri ridge. Soon the path becomes almost flat and shortly after you reach a dividing point: straight ahead you go down to the road to Fano and to the right you climb up Ermua, which is what you want to do.
This stretch to the summit is short but climbs steadily and is mostly protected by the forest. At this point we should point out that just after taking the turn-off to the summit, another path leads off in the direction of Etzandarri, which we mentioned in Route 7.
Almost without realising it, you will reach the summit of Ermua Mendi, where the first thing that you see after going round a bend is the old, ancient stone hut, which is partly in ruins, with a triangulation station on its roof. It was probably an old watchtower. The views are breathtaking, with the island of Billano at your feet. A few metres further on, the summit is set back from the path a few metres to your right (1 hour 50 min.). It has two mailboxes, an old one and a more modern one that has unfortunately been damaged, having been installed there a few years ago by the local mountain group, the Gorlizmendi, and is a replica of the emblematic Gorliz lighthouse, an icon of the town. There is also an old plaque in Basque from the Areeta mountain group.
The return trip to Gorliz to complete the circle will be along the traditional, most frequented route, via Fano and the lighthouse. Follow the path along the crest until you reach the area of Fano a few minutes later, passing its three farmhouses on your left. After climbing over the fence, walk across the wide open pasture and over a mesh fence. Then continue straight along the path which descends steadily past the entrances to two former firing posts of the coastal batteries (see Route 2), and in no time at all you will arrive at the lighthouse (2 hours 13 min.).
Go down to Astondo via the lighthouse road, and from there, walk along the beach promenade to the roundabout where the PIE (Plentziako Itsas Estazioa – Plentzia Marine Station) is located and turn up Itsasbide Kalea to Plaza Ibarreta (Plaza Iberrebarri), thus completing the circular route (2 hours 50 min.).