This is one of the highest mountains in the province of Alava, I think its one of the highest in the Basque Country too (possibly the 10th highest or something). So the setting is in a natural park (Gorbeiako parke naturala) and is an amazing place to go with your family, dogs, children, campervan, bikes etc. Its really easy to walk for several kilometres to begin with and is a steady climb even to the top of the mountain. There are rivers for children and dogs to play in, lots of bridges to play games (pooh sticks!) with. There is also a massive children’s park with toilets and an information centre. The carpark is massive and was full on campervans, I don’t know what the rules are on staying overnight but lots of people seemed to be taking advantage of the beautiful space. Basically what I am saying is, even without hiking there is lots to do and its a great family day out
So I started my wikilocs for the carpark so if you can’t find the location on google maps then it will be on my wikilocs account, link here. I went the steady way up to the mountain, there is other ways to go up the mountain but we stuck to the steady and easy route. On the whole it was a very forgiving gradient, it was not as steep as other Basque mountains I have been up and at the end of the day it did not feel like I had walked 21km. I don’t want to give a false sense of security-it is a mountain and it is hard, it is very long but fairly steady!!
As you can see we went up the same way that we came down therefore creating a very visually pleasing symmetrical elevation map!
So you follow the trail for several kilometres on a very easy path full of lots of people (if its a sunny day). You pass many Roman bridges along the way, which have been very carefully looked after over the centuries and if your anything like my partner, you will get all excited and start spouting off about archaeology and the logistics of living here thousands of years ago (Bless him!).
It was a delight for me (as a former beekeeper and gardener) to see the many beehives in action with thousands (probably millions) of busy bees doing their thing on this sunny day. There would be collecting as much nectar from the flora of Gorbea to make honey, which I presume would then be sold on for people to enjoy the taste as well as the health benefits.
You pass an old farmhouse after the beehives, it is possible that the farmhouse is in charge of the horses grazing at the top of as there was a horse skull on top of the wall (as you do!). It also had some lovely lettering in the stone above the doorway in a very traditional Basque font with the sun and moon making an appearance.
So keep on following the trail until you pass a sign (next to a very narrow Roman bridge) which will point you towards the mountain climb. The climb is then marked with big yellow circles so just follow them along the way.
You are then in much more arid land and the walk goes from easy to moderate. It is also important to note that there are no more water points, so if you have a carrier it may be an idea to collect some from the river whilst you can. It is a question of finding any yellow circles and head onward and upwards!!!
SUBE SUBE, ARRIBA!!!!
The path is fairly obvious most of the time but it maybe a good time to check wikilocs every now and again. There are lots of stunning views and picnic spots if you don’t fancy the next few hours climb. It isn’t ridiculously steep but it is pretty relentless, so just keep that in mind. You then pass a hunters hut which was built in 1990 and would be a cool little hide out if you were allowed!
There are lots of horses grazing along the way up there too and I saw lots of chunks of fox hair as well as wild boar tracks. This is definitely not somewhere you would want to get lost or stuck, I would definately avoid camping here! The horses had little fowls and you could see them being very protective of their young. We kept the dogs very close and the horses far away, ensuring enough space should it kick and avoiding contact with their behinds! They are stunning horses, real muscular with very stocky and wide facial features.
So eventually you get up to the top of the mountain, I am always excited to see what treats the mountain will provide. In my experience the more difficult the climb, the smaller the cross. This was a fairly steady gradient so I was expecting something special! I wasn’t disappointed with the massive cross, topiscope, a statue of the virgin Mary and a letterbox.
So at the top we quickly had a snack and a drink but we did not stay for long as the fog was coming in. You could see the thick clouds whizzing past you and we were loosing visibility fast, so we quickly descended to much a warmer and clear climate. I don’t like mountain fog, its very pretty being above it and feeling like your higher than the clouds but it can be quite scary once it comes in and takes away your visibility. So we carried on down and down exactly the same way that we came. Then we happened to bump into an ice cream van at the entrance, so overall it was a lovely finish to a stunning walk in the rolling Basque hills.