Two cultures, two landscapes
From “real” Spain – vast, dry, formal – to the micro-region known as the Basque Country, is a journey in the mind and heart. The apparent anarchy of the Basque language is mirrored in the relaxed and friendly manner of the Basque people, yet gainsaid by the ordered drama of the hill country that characterises “Euskadi”, and by its history as one of the powerhouses of the Spanish industrial revolution.
The best way to get to the start of the walk from Bilbao is by train – one a day from Bilbao – or from Burgos and the south by bus and a short taxi ride. The walk proper starts in Quintanilla del Rebollar at Olga’s beautiful “Posada Real”, located in a valley whose craggy cliffs accompany you for your first three days. After a limb-reviving circular walk (two nights at Olga’s make a great start), you head east along the valley via the historic town of Espinosa de los Monteros, whose eponymous knights vowed to protect the king with their lives, and whose decorated mansions form the basis of a fascinating walk around this pretty town. The following day you head for the hills, to the ridges that will lead you to your destination, Bilbao. From San Pelayo to Lanzas Agudas to La Matanza (an island of Cantabria surrounded by a Basque sea) to San Martin, the ridges are the best way to see this beautiful green landscape, and the little villages in which you stay, down in the valley at the end of each day’s walk, are all different and charming in their own Basque and Cantabrian ways.
Finally Bilbao, the real capital of the region, even if not the official one, approached from a hilltop with a direct line to its heart, its river, tapas bars, old town and of course the Guggenheim (nb- closed Mondays!).
Walked by On Foot staff: Simon and Debbie.
You may need to have a night in Bilbao at the start if your flight arrives too late for the train. If coming from Madrid, you could add a night in Burgos at the start (we have devised an easy transfer to Quintanilla), and extra nights at the end in Bilbao. Thursday starts in Quintanilla should be avoided if possible.
Self-Guiding introduction by Aznar (subject to his availability) – accompanying you on your first one or two walking days, or guiding services for whole walking route. Contact On Foot Holidays for prices (priced per day).
REVIEWS: For independent walker reviews of this route submitted to the Association of Independent Tour Operators visit AITO.com.
TRAVEL ADVICE: To find the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for UK citizens travelling to Spain, click here. Citizens of other nations will also find it useful, but should always check their appropriate local agency.
Castile to Bilbao along the ridgeways
All tour descriptions and conditions are given in accordance with the information of On Foot Holidays