Gorbeia Natural Park

 
Plan

 

The solitary rocky mass at Urragikoatxa, set in the Ugatxa hill range, and its close neighbour, Mt. Illunbe, divide the Arratia and Dima Valleys creating a mountain system full of legends of witches and covens. Between both altitudes, is the district of Lamindao, from where one easily reaches Areatza or via Dima by road which leads to the mountain pass of the same name. The scenery surrounding the mountain is strikingly beautiful which is well worth stopping to contemplate when driving along the road leading to Lamindao pass via the district of Arostegieta.


As the path we must take to ascend begins before the church in Lamindao, we must leave the car in the car park there and double back a little on the road from Dima. Arrows indicate a Short Distance Route (PR) which leads to a field where we must locate a diagonal path among boulders taking us to the crest. Once there, karstic terrain is found next to an easier path which then takes us to the repeater, the triangulation station and the summit box of Urragikoatxa (50 min).


Once at the summit, the gigantic and majestic Mt. Gorbeia appears, with its 1,000 metres towering over the modest Urragikoatxa and visible snow patches on the north side even at this time of year. To the south, Legarmendi and Eskuagatx Massif complete the double slope seen from the summit box, more specifically, both Gorbeia and Urkiola natural parks. Following along Ugatxa hill range, we see the maximum peak of Mt. Altungana (765 m).


After admiring Areatza and the other the villages in the valley, we take a good rest and then descend via the same route to Lamindao (1hr 30min). On the other side of the road that descends to Areatza, there is a Short Distance Route (PR) indicating our second destination, Mt. Illunbe. We soon come across an old limekiln in good condition, a vestige of the long gone trade of lime maker. The terrain is practically flat with a slight grade until we arrive at a steep slope to the left of the path ending in a pasture. The summit, covered by a thick holm wood, can be seen in the distance from there.


The path takes us to the summit quickly (2hr) where we can enjoy a stunning view of the villages of Areatza and Artea from the summit’s lofty crags and sharp drop downward into the valley. This is the only opportunity to enjoy the scenery as the holm wood covers most of the landscape. We return to Lamindao by the same path (2hr 30min).


Since it is not a long excursion, we suggest visiting nearby natural attractions. One recommendation is to take the road to the Dima pass and park the car near the Zamakola farmhouse at the crossroad, to visit Baltzola cave, Gentil zubi natural bridge and a peculiar tunnel at Abaro. A detailed area road map is needed so as not to miss the turn off for road BI-3453. While not deep, visibility in the cave is poor, and visitors who wish to explore it are strongly advised to carry a flashlight.


Summits


Urragikoatxa (588 m) and Illunbe (447 m).