Route published by Pedro Pablo Uriarte ”19 circular walking routes around Gorliz”
DETAILS OF THE ROUTE:
Total time: 2 hours 40 min. along the GR 280 Trail and 5 min. less via Txipio Bidea
Distance: 13.9 km and 13.7 km, respectively
Cumulative elevation gain: 251 m and 272 m, respectively
Difficulty: Low, except for the variant along the GR 280 Trail as it passes along the wooded path, which can be considered a section of medium difficulty due to the intricate, uneven nature of this section.
Although this route starts in Gorliz, most of it runs along the road through the towns of Plentzia and Barrika, before returning to Gorliz. Despite that, it has some really interesting stretches, due to the wildness of one of them and the scenic beauty of another part of the route, as well as the charm of the nearby sea. The plan of the route shown at the end is the alternative route along the wooded section of the GR 280 Trail.
The route to the Plentzia metro station is exactly the same as the previous route, i.e. from Plaza Ibarreta you go to the roundabout with the little boat and down the red pavement passing the cemetery and the Sagastikoetxe industrial estate. When you get to the big roundabout at Mungia Bidea, turn right at the Andra Mari chapel and go down through the old town of Plentzia to the bridge over the estuary (20 min.).
Cross the bridge and, once at the metro station, go past the Bizkaibus stop, turn right and walk along the tree-lined pavement, going past the climb up to the Plentzia schools on your left. The Txipio marshes are on your right. The road turns in a few hundred metres. On your right, a little to the side of the road, you will see some green blocks of flats.
After passing a car park you will come to a junction. You will see a large sign indicating that you are entering Barrika, and another sign saying “Barrio Musaurieta” (30 min.). There are now two alternatives for this route, one much more rugged, wild and intricate, and the other quieter and calmer, as it runs along the road. The two come back together later on, as we shall see, to reach Barrika.
Option 1: follow the route along a part of the GR 280 Trail (more rugged section)
If you continue to the right, along the GR 280 Trail (there are unmistakable red and white signs), there is a stretch of road (approx. 1.5 km) with some farmhouses and pastures until you reach some nurseries covered with large white plastic sheeting. Cross the stream over the bridge and turn left, passing the farmhouse with the nurseries.
After a while the road ends and the path leads you to a stream, which you ford. There is a GR 280 Trail sign indicating that you are heading towards Sopela and Goierri. From here the route, which, we repeat, is signposted with the usual red and white stripes (some of which are half erased), changes from a road to a wild path that is easy to see but sometimes divides and can be a bit confusing, as well as being very muddy in some sections. There are numerous unmistakable bicycle tracks in the mud. You will have to ford the stream two or three times in the forest.
The whole while you will be walking in an intricate, dark, damp and thick wild forest mass, which can be a bit intimidating if you are walking alone in this wilderness. The babbling brook is always nearby, and you can hear all kinds of birds singing and chirping. It is hard to believe that there is a place as wooded and enclosed as this so close to Plentzia. You can always hear the furious barking of dogs in the distance.
After about 15 minutes of walking through the forest you will emerge from it, walking with some difficulty between bushes, brambles and tall plants to the side that are taller than you and that tend to block the winding path. There are a few uphill and downhill stretches and some more muddy sections.
Stay on this path, which now leads out of the forest to an overgrown area, winding your way through the undergrowth. At one point the path becomes a track with a rough artificial stony ground and turns a little to the right and then to the left again, passing a fence with a tall hedge that marks the boundary of a farm, which climbs up to a house and the inland road between Barrika and Plentzia (55 min.). This is the road that you take on the other variant of this route. From here on, the two variants become one.
Option 2: follow the route along the road (quieter section)
Let’s go back to the junction in Musaurieta. For the second option, you need to continue up the steep slope of the road called Txipio Bidea, which leads to the Musaurieta neighbourhood with houses and farmhouses on both sides. You will soon come to a junction where another road comes in from the left. This road takes us to the last part of the previous route, Route 14.
But you should carry straight on and, without turning off for a long stretch, with steep uphill slopes and wooded sections, you will come to a clear plain where you will see a beautiful farmhouse on your left with a large meadow. Go past it and you will see that the road continues and turns to the right. There is a sign indicating “carretera sin salida” (dead end road). And no, logically, that is not the way to go. Follow the path that turns to your right and continues for another long stretch with some downhill and uphill sections and a eucalyptus forest running alongside.
After about 10 minutes and after passing a long wall hiding a farm, you will reach a flat area where on your right you will come to the junction with the GR 280 Trail. As we have said, this trail also comes from Txipio and is the route that we described in the previous variant.
This junction between the two paths is hardly visible and you have to look carefully. It is next to the fence of a farmhouse on your right, signposted with the GR markings (or rather, it used to be, because some joker erased the red and white signs that were painted on the wall of the farmhouse). So far, you have walked 4.3 km from Gorliz.
From this point onwards, follow the road ahead until you reach the main road to Uribe Kosta, which comes from Getxo and leads to Plentzia.
Shortly after the junction of the two variants, there is a wide path to the left of the façade of the first farmhouse, which will take you to the centre of Sopela after about two kilometres, which is lined with stately homes and farmhouses. The turn-off is also signposted with GR Trail markings.
This is another variant, another possibility for this route, whereby, instead of going to Barrika and walking up its beautiful cliffs, you can head towards Sopela. It is about two kilometres to the town centre, from where you can return to Plentzia by metro and then to Gorliz by Bizkaibus.
But let’s get back to today’s route. As we said, keep going along the road, which is quite clear and flat, passing a few houses on your left and some fenced fields on your right. In the background you can see the town centre of Barrika and, further back, outlined by the horizon, the Astondo headland with the Gorliz lighthouse. If you continue along the ridge, you can see the silhouette of Ermua Mendi.
On this stretch of road, you will pass the façade of the chapel of San Martín and the Casa de Cultura (cultural centre) on your left.Then you will pass a block of flats on your left and come to the junction with the main road. (1 hour 5 min.).
Follow the main road towards Barrika for about two kilometres, walking along the hard shoulder and feeling the frequent traffic at close quarters. Fortunately, as this section is slightly downhill, it goes quickly.
You will come to a wide roundabout where you will see a signpost which shows “Residencia Barrika Barri” leading off to your right. Cross the roundabout to the other side, to your left and then go into a large, clearly visible car park used by surfers’ caravans, which you cross completely to get to reach the lower part of the car park. Beforehand, there is a large tourist poster showing the Barrika flysch.
As soon as you have crossed the car park, down and to your right you will see the start of a dirt track that in the grass next to some sparse tamarisk trees (1 hour 20 min.). Unfortunately, the start of this path is sometimes very dirty and full of litter as it is the night “service” used by the surfers who use the car park. If you go early in the morning, you should be very careful on this initial stretch.
This path runs along the entire length of the high cliffs of Barrika, a privileged area with breathtaking views of the Bay of Biscay. Behind you, you can see the beach of Meñakoz, located between Sopela and Barrika, and ahead you can see the solitary path that meanders effortlessly through the fields and hillocks.
You will soon reach the highest point on the cliffs and below you will see the clear path that will lead you to the nudist beach of Muriola. On your right, you can see the town centre of Barrika with its church in the distance.
When the path turns to your right and descends towards the beach, it is worth stopping at the top to take in the magnificent spectacle in front of you: the bay of Gorliz with the sea breaking against the cliffs of Astondo and the long beach of Gorliz with the white Sanatorium in the middle and Mount Ermua in the background on your left. It is a great place to stop and take a few photos and enjoy the scenery. It has taken just over 1 hour 30 min. and the route to date has been almost 9 km.
Keep on walking and the winding path leads down after a short distance to the small, pretty beach of Muriola, which is sheltered by the cliffs.
Just after the little wooden bridge that leads to the steps that go down to the beach, there is a path on the right, next to a wall, which is almost covered but still visible. It climbs up through bushes to the dead end road that used to serve the chalets of Barrika, which are the subject of a long dispute over their legality. There are some red and white markings of a GR Trail.
Turn right when you get to this road. In a few minutes you will reach the road at the back of the football pitch, which has no exit either and is located behind the old Barrika retirement home.
As we said, it takes 15 minutes from the access to Muriola beach to reach the last chalet (1 hour 45 min.).
As you climb, on your left you will see the entrance to a wide path flanked by the thin, long leaves of the ubiquitous and invasive pampas grass (Cortederia Selloana), which towers above you in height. This well-trodden path will take you to the San Telmo housing estate.
The path is flanked on both sides by the long leaves of the pampas grass and leads to a track that runs along the back of the San Temo housing estate. When you reach the junction with this track, turn right. After about 300 metres you will come to a metal fence that cuts off access to motorised vehicles, which you go round through a narrow wooded passage on one side (2 hours 5 min.).
Shortly before this, there is another option: If you turn left at the previous junction instead of right, the track continues for a while, and you will soon come to the fence of a private estate. There is a small path that leads off to the left. Take that and, after crossing a sparse pine forest with clear signs of having suffered a fire, you will reach the top of the cliffs that are just above the Plentzia seawall and that protect the entrance to the estuary. The views from there are marvellous, with a bird’s eye view of the beaches of Gorliz and Plentzia and, behind them, the town of Plentzia. The detour is definitely worth it for the breathtaking views.
But let’s get back to the San Telmo estate. Take the cantilevered wooden walkway that connects San Telmo with the Plentzia bridge, and you will have come full circle (2 hours 10 min.).
To return to Gorliz, I think the best option is to walk along the beautiful promenade along the Plentzia estuary to the harbour, which we walk round, and then take the Plentzia beach promenade back to the PIE (Plentziako Itsas Estazioa – Plentzia Marine Station). At that point you will be back in Gorliz (2 hours 30 min.).
The only thing left to do is to go up to Plaza Ibarreta up the traditional path to Gorliz that leads down to the beach from the town. (2 hours 40 min.)
Depending on the variant chosen and the pace of the hikers, this route can take between two and a half hours (at a good pace) and four hours (very calmly and quietly with a number of stops). It is almost 14 km, enough to spend a good morning and do some healthy exercise among breathtaking scenery. Variant 2 is suitable for anyone with a minimum of experience of walking on paths and trails with ups and downs but without any technical difficulties. The wooded area of variant 1 requires a certain amount of mountaineering preparation and good footwear, as the path in this section is more difficult: fording the stream, muddy and slippery areas, jumps over fallen logs or roots, walking along paths covered by vegetation, etc., without being a section that can be considered difficult. The worst part is undoubtedly the short stretch along the Getxo-Plentzia main road with a fair amount of traffic.