Climb to the point where the three provinces of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country meet, where you will find breathtaking views and a rather curious monument.
Besaide or Betsaide is a hill between Mount Udalaitz (or Udalatx) and Mount Anboto. Its peak stands 564m above sea level.
What makes this spot special is that Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa, the three provinces of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, meet there at a point marked by a marker stone. At the same point stands a “Monument to Missing Climbers”, commissioned by the Basque Country and Navarre Mountaineering Club in the 1950s and designed by the architect Pueyo.
Down some steps just a few metres away is another monument, dating from 1990, by Japanese artist Yoshin Ogata.
Besaide stands at the end of the Arrazola Valley, and there were once copper mines in its foothills. On the River Deba side it overlooks the hamlet of Santa Águeda de Mondragón.
THE TRAIL FROM ELORRIO
The starting point is the top roundabout on the Elorrio bypass (the exit for the industrial estates). A cement path signposted “Betsaide” leads off from this spot and winds its way first to a fork where a path branches off towards Mount Memaia (a 55 min walk) and then down to a crossroads where it meets the GR-123 trail and the path up Mount Udalatx (1 h 5 min).
Following the main path you will soon come to the Betsaide well-spring. A few metres further on, take the path to the left that climbs up to the peak and the monument (1 h 20 min).
THE TRAIL FROM KANPAZAR
On the other side of the road, opposite the Kanpazar recreation area, an unpaved path marked by a wooden marker pole leads off towards Betsaide.
This easy walk follows the marker posts for the GR-121 trail through the foothills of Mount Udalatx, running through clear areas, fine beech woods and larch plantations. Less than an hour’s walk takes you to the foot of a hill densely wooded with holm oaks. At the top is the chapel of Santa Lucía, adjacent to which there is an open mountain refuge. A carved stone figure of the Virgin Mary looks down from a niche above the door.
A few metres further on is a small “summit mailbox”. This spot affords fine views over the municipality of Elorrio and its surroundings. Continue along the path until you reach a crossroads, where a marker indicates the way to the peak of Mount Besaide.
THE TRAIL FROM ARRAZOLA
This is a great walk to do as a family, as even the younger members will be able to make it up Mount Betsaide. The path starts at the car park and covered picnic area, and the trail involves around an hour’s easy, accessible walking.
On your way you will pass the Baroque style chapel of San Roque (17th-18th centuries) and will see the remains of the railway line which opened on 1 February 1904 as a narrow-gauge line serving the local mines. It ran from El Tope (as the old station was known) to Apatamonasterio, where it connected with the Durango-Elorrio line. Up to 1925 it carried iron ore, lead and copper from the mines of Arrazola. It then continued to carry passengers and lumber until it closed down in 1950. The train was pulled by a steam locomotive called Aurrera.
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