Too many pintxos on Saturday night? Maybe one too many cañas too? Want to stretch your legs but a trip up into the mountains is beyond your effort level today? This could be the ideal place to clear your head on a Sunday morning if you are staying in the Pamplona or San Sebastian area. Lekunberri and it’s Plazaola Green Route is absolutley perfect. No hills, no crowds, just the peace and quiet of the countryside and stunning mountain views!
Lekunberri is a small Basque town about halfway between Pamplona and San Sebastian. The old train station is now a tourist information office and interpretation centre. Unfortuantely for us, it was closed when we visited! Luckily the footpaths are well marked and there are informative maps nearby to help you on your way. A highlight at the station is the collection of colourful, quirky figures which are positioned around the grounds to help you imagine what life was like when it was a bustling transport hub.
From the station there are 2 possible walking routes. One goes towards Mugiro but it is only 2km each way. We chose to head towards Uitzi which was a bit more energetic at 5km each way. The path is flat and easy to negotiate, even for pushchairs and wheelchairs. Most of it follows the old train line. At times you have to pass through disused railway tunnels. Some are unlit so a torch is handy but they are not that long so it’s ok without one. Some are lit but we couldn’t figure outhow to turn the lights on! They did work because on our return journey they were on, although they did go off just as we left the tunnel!! All along the way you can see cute cartoon sheep telling you that you are going the right way. The snow capped mountains truly took our breath away, but that could have been the near freezing temperatures too.
We made it as far as the Uitzi tunnel before heading back. Our trip was two years ago now (December 2012) and the tunnel has been renovated since our visit. It is 2.7km long and now that it is open to the public, You can make this a very long 38km walk and you can download maps and further information here. Instead we followed a footpath alongside the river for a while. It was so cold that the leaves were frozen and there was ice on the surface of the puddles. Even so, we loved it.
Having retraced our steps we had a wander around Lekunberri. It’s a lovely little town and it’s not hard to see why Ernest Hemingway spent a lot of time relaxing there. No doubt he had a few beers sat by roaring log fires too!!
Afterwards we drove over the Aralar mountains. There seem to be countless other possibilities for exploring the area further. The Mendukilo Caves look well worth a day out. Just look out for the horses blocking the road – they are in no rush to get out of your way!!!!