The Northern Way of St. James is known for its beautiful scenery.
Yellow arrows mark the Way of St. James as it passes through Gernika; its route runs past the town’s main attractions such as the museums and the Casa de Juntas (Assembly House). Approaching the town from the Collegiate Church of Zenarruza or from Markina, weary pilgrims make their way into Gernika in search of the rest they need to face the next stage of their journey, towards Bilbao.
To walk the Way of St. James is to experience the essence of a journey. It is time to pull your boots on and make your way to Gernika.
The Pilgrim’s Credential
The Pilgrim’s Credential is one of the most important insignias of the Way of St. James. It is the only document that certifies that we are in fact pilgrims, so no walker or cyclist should set off on the Way without it. The Credential is a personal and non-transferable certificate that lets us stay at the Pilgrim’s hostels along the Way and allows us to obtain a Compostela, making it the irrefutable proof of our pilgrimage to Santiago.
Have your credential stamped at the Tourist Office
The Tourist Office has a specific Way of St. James stamp for paper credentials as well as a QR code for pilgrims carrying a digital credential. The Tree of Gernika adorns the centre of our stamp and beneath it an inscription reads: “Bakearen Hiria” - City of Peace.
Starting out from the Tourist Office, we walk up to the church of Santa María and then along Calle Allende Salazar, bordering the park until we reach Calle Zearreta in the Lurgorri neighbourhood. Heading down Calle Mestikabaso, we come to the Hermitage of Santa Luzia from whence we take a tarmac path that leads to Errigoiti. 100 metres or so after you cross the Mikene stream, you will see a track climbing up to the left. This will take you all the way to the top of the Bilikario ridge; follow this track, taking care not to lose sight of our signs and the white and yellow PR markings. Shortly after you come to a stone cairn on the side of the path, you will see a crossroads: take the path to the left that will lead you downhill to a local road. Keeping to the left, we will pass by several farmhouses in the Pozueta neighbourhood of Errigoiti. We stay on this road until we reach the underpass that runs beneath the Gernika-Mungia road. From here we just have to cross the road to Larrabetzu to reach the hermitage of San Esteban de Gerekiz.
(Km 6.6) Gerekiz
Next to the hermitage, we take the tarmac road that leads to Eskerika until we come to a track that cuts off to the right, next to the Landotz farmhouse. We walk down this track for a short distance and then we continue along a path that runs alongside a small river until we come to a sharp bend where we will see another track. Turning to the right we will find ourselves in the vicinity of the Pepiena farmhouse. After skirting the farmhouse, turn right onto a gravel track and follow the signs to the Aretxabalaga pass on the Morga-Larrabetzu road. Taking all due care, continue along the road to Larrabetzu until you reach the Astoreka neighbourhood, where you take a turning to the left to continue along an old path to Goikolexalde.
An alternative route from Lezama: You may prefer to take the old road from Gernika to Bilbao. This runs through a large oak grove and over an old Roman bridge and it would save you having to walk along the main road and through the centre of Zamudio and the industrial estate. This stone path is clean and well-signposted, and it is also a little shorter than the route through the industrial estate and Zamudio. The two paths eventually converge.
(km 15,4) Goikolexalde
After leaving the church of San Emeterio and San Celedonio and the intersection behind us, we follow the road towards the pretty town of Larrabetzu, and then continue on towards Lezama. Here we have a decision to make. We can either decide to spend the night in a new space that the town council has provided for pilgrims to rest in, or we can carry on - Bilbao is just ten kilometres away. So, whether it’s that same day or the next, we will pass by the hermitage of Christ Crucified and then, without leaving the road, we will reach the church of San Martín in Zamudio.
(km 22,7) Zamudio
Just beside the church there is a turn-off towards an industrial estate. We take this path and after we’ve passed over a road known as the Corredor de Txorierri, we continue along to the right. We’ll see a nearby farmhouse and shortly afterwards we climb to the left along an old path that leads to the ruins of the Gaztanazabalaga farmhouse. We continue along a tarmac road until we reach the Santo Domingo road, which we follow for about 50 metres until we come to a turning to the right that takes us towards the Iturritxualde mountain along the so-called path of the Zamudianos. After passing through a recreational area, we walk down a local road and over a footbridge over the main road, until we come to the Arabella neighbourhood of Bilbao. From here all that remains is to walk down to the Begoña neighbourhood, passing by its spectacular basilica and then along the Calzadas de Mallona to the Cathedral of St. James in the capital of Vizcaya. (Km. 29.8) BILBAO
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