Iurgi de excursion

21 septiembre 2013

Trail running & hiking in Biscay 1

When going back to my hometown, Bilbao (city) / Biscay (province) in the Basque Country, I like to enjoy its trails. Here some of them run and hiked in the last two visits.

Kanala is my grandparents' village. It's situated inside Urdaibai, a nature reserve: an estuary which is a stopover point for tons of birds migrating from Europe to Africa and back yearly. Mixture of sea & river surrounded by green hills. I run a loop circuit around.

See Urdaibai Loop map bigger

Up to San Pedro. A little hermitage on the top of the hill from where to see all the estuary.

And Izaro. A little island next to which one of the best surfing waves in Europe is formed. Usually quite calm in summer, powerful after September. Here a video of all its might.

From this hill you can run down to Laida and Laga beaches, my last lifeguard destinations before starting my "professional career". Instead I turned to the South and crossed a forest way to Ereño.

Dirt paths and some concrete leaving the village and big church behind.

Up, up to San Miguel, another chapel on the top of the hill, from where to see more of the landscape below.

The descent from here is quite technical. Rocks and rocks. Follow the signs which point upwards, more secure, although did not care much doing it reverse, slowish.

This route finishes next to the Cave of Santimamiñe. Historical site with paintings from the cave dwellers.

Close to the entrance you can find a road that leads to the Painted Forest of Oma. I was running short of time to arrive back home for lunch and therefore run down to Arteaga instead. Nice castle-tower, nowadays a hotel and restaurant.

Got lost couple of times around marshland and the estuary trying to snap some pics.

And back to Kanala for a nice mum home made lunch.

Urdaibai is full of wonderful places including our "hidden adventure place". We used to spend all summers when we were kids in Kanala and one day we found close around a cave. Childhood fun going in with super basic torches, or just candles, a tiny raft to cross the "lake" with the torches inside plastic bags... Day by day we got deeper and deeper till my mum discovered what we were doing and forbid us to go in "till you guys are at least 18 years old, no way!".

During last holidays it was a good time to rediscover it with my bros and a friend. This time with a bit better material. Having fun remembering old stories and going deeper than what we had never gone. In any case, still more galleries to try some other day, as according to some speleology team (who left the ropes there) it is several kilometres long. Video:

Some days later I run from Kanala to Bilbao. I took the bus to Arteaga, to avoid some extra concrete road kilometres.

See bigger map

I got bit lost initially trying to find the path next to the river side. Now I know that the easiest way is to start just after the church of Kortezubi and turn to the West. The path is pretty flat with nice views to grazing, crops and wetland.

Next stop Gernika. Historical city since ancient times for Basque people but mostly famous for Picasso's painting, which depicts the suffering of the first city been bombed by an air-strike. Hitler helping Franco and testing his aircraft tactics to be used later in the WWII.

Here starts one of the stages of "Camino de Santiago", one of the main Catholic pilgrimage routes. It has some different routes but it mainly goes from France to the very West of Spain, Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Therefore you only need to follow its signs since now on: the yellow arrow, shell or walking stick.

Up and down a not specially picturesque landscape, partly on dirt paths fun to run but also too much concrete, secondary roads with almost no cars.

After the town of Lezama I decided to move out from the "Way of St. James" and head to the mountain. Best dirt path for trail running.

And down to Bilbao through the old quarters.

Guggenheim museum and back to my old neighborhood.

Home, sweet home.

To be continued...