Gorbeia the mountain of Bizkaia
The mountain that separates sea and land
The limestone massif of Gorbeia raises the back of Bizkaia to the lowlands of Alava.
It is the mountain of the territory. It is the mountain that anyone travelling by road from the peninsula has to go along. Nowadays, the most common way is to use the motorway. The toll point indicated as Altube is on the slopes of Gorbeia in Alava. At this time of year, it is quite common for the summit to appear grey with snow and ice. From this point, it is only a gentle descent to the Cantabrian Sea
Gorbeia is not a high peak. It only rises 1,481 metres. Nonetheless, its impact on the climate, the personality and the local imaginary is massive.
You will check the weather yourself if you arrive by road: fog, persistent rain, snow. The latter arrives just in winter. And the rest can happen at any season.
Three quarters of its surface is covered with beech, oak and pine forests. The bordas (sheepfolds) that bear witness to secular pastoral use alternate with farmhouses, vestige of water mills and ironworks, remains of snowfields, traces of the work of charcoal makers, paths for the passage of wild horses…
Gorbeia is a tough mountain, but it has been inhabited since olden times. For more than a century, its summit has held a cross erected with iron by Altos Hornos de Bizkaia. But, long before that, it was a place chosen by the genies, male and female, of the forests, springs and caves.
Even more so, as a few menhirs that still stand.
It is a tradition in Bizkaia and the rest of the Basque Country to hike up to the cross on 31st December, with great caution, and on 31st of July. Although there are hikers on its paths every day.
Towns such as Areatza, Orozko, Zeanuri, Ubidea, Otxandiano or Dima cannot be understood without Gorbeia.
The paths that lead to the summit start from all of them.
THE KARSTIC HEART
The 500 hectares of the Itxina karst massif are breathtaking. Water has diluted the limestone to form hundreds of hollows, caves and crevices. The easiest access to the interior is in the north-eastern part of the karst, though the spectacular and mythical Ojo the Atxular, which has always been used by shepherds and lumberjacks.
This is an area to walk in the company of someone who knows the place well. Avoid walking in foggy weather or at night.
At the foot of the Peñas de Atxuri mountain is the Saldropo wetland. Three hectares of spongy land with an interpretatio point on the fauna, flora and evolution. It is located on an old peat bog, exploited until the second half of the 20th century.
The best way to get to know the wetland is to follow the circular route from the car park, clockwise.
Pagomakurre, in Areatza, can be reached by car. A gentle track leads to the Arraba fields and the Egiriñao hermitage. From there, walk patiently until you reach the Aldaminoste pass.
To the right rises the summit of Gorbeia and the shiny steel cross. You will need to grit your teeth to reach it. But the landscape is worth it.
There are horse riding, mountain biking, caving and climbing routes, as well as other experiences that we recommend consulting.
INFORMATION POINTS OR INTERPRETATION CENTRES
T. 946 122 695 t
(Open in summer only))
Plaza Nagusia s/n
T. 648 265 246
Gudairen Plaza, 1
T. 94 672 9279
T. 711 776 648 / 946 338 148
T. 688 804 523
T. 635 748 947
Terrace facing the cliffs. Spectacular pintxos bar.
Arriatera beach – Sopelana
Family restaurant with a bar serving tapas, casseroles and delicious ‘rabas’ (fried squid). Kitchen open from 12 to 20h
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After two years of meticulous work promoted by the Provincial Council of Bizkaia.
This photographed forest is located in Orozko, part of the Gorbea natural park.
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