From the foothills of the Sierra Cantabria to the wild Cantabrian Sea, muleteers used to leave in the past, carrying wine, wheat and vinegar in their carts from Oyón, in the Rioja Alavesa, to the ports of Bermeo, Lekeitio and Ondarroa, where, once their goods were unloaded, they returned loaded with the precious fish. This GR 38 is known as the Route of the Wine and of the Fish because it follows the paths that these hard-working muleteers once took.
The GR 38 Route of the Wine and of the Fish Section 1 Oyón-Laguardia starts from the wine town of Oion in Alava, whose historical importance is reflected in the Palace of the Counts of Bureta or in the Palace of the Marquis of the Port. From there, this emblematic GR begins, taking us into the colourful landscape of the vineyard under the watchful eye of the steep mountains that make up the Cantabrian and Toloño mountain ranges. A route that is accompanied in part by other important paths such as the GR 99 also known as the Path Natural of the Ebro. A GR from which we will say goodbye on our way through Assa, one of the towns we will visit in this stage between Oyón and Laguardia.
The imposing river Ebro greets us at this point and we quickly leave it as we undertake a new up and down journey that will take us to the town of El Campillar, a magnificent place to recover our strength for the final stretch of this stage of the GR 38. This route will take us to a paradise for birds, the Lagunar Complex of Laguardia, an unbeatable habitat that is used by many birds as an obligatory stop in their migrations. The Ignatian Way, signposted as GR 120, has been with us for some kilometres and will guide us until we reach the medieval town of Laguardia, but not before allowing us to enjoy the magnificent landscape that precedes it, before stopping and following, in this town, our journey along the GR 38 Route of the Wine and of the Fish.
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Legend has it that many years ago, when the muleteers still travelled these roads from north to south and from south to north carrying their precious loads, one of these hard-working travellers, either motivated by his desire to finish the journey, or by the desire to deliver his load and start a new one, or by his youth, disregarding the advice of his fellow muleteers, who were older and more experienced than he, decided to continue with his route even at the risk of facing the great storm that his companions predicted. The latter, safe in their shelter, saw their predictions fall short in comparison with the impressive storm that occurred. The day after they arrived at their destination they found to their dismay that nothing was known of their young companion, and nothing was known anymore, beyond some stories of muleteers who tell that on stormy days they have been able to see the blurred silhouette of a muleteer, his wagon and his mules struggling with the storm.
Several roads lead to Oyón, such as the A-2126, which links it to Logroño on one side and to Yécora and Lapoblación on the other. You can also get there by following the A-3226, which joins it to the N-232a between Logroño and Laguardia and to the neighbouring town of Moreda de Álava. In turn, Oion also has a daily intercity bus service that connects it with the different towns in its surroundings as well as with Vitoria and Logroño. Once there, we will have different areas where we can park our vehicle and go to the starting point of the GR 38.
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Except for the abrasive asphalt, this first stage of the GR 38 should not create many complications for our partner, but we will have to be extremely careful at crossroads and road sections.
It is essential to bring water and food for him as it will be a few hours with hardly any shade and no areas where he can drink or we can buy some food for our dog.
Except for other pets that are doing the route and the dogs that surely we have to find in the towns where it passes, it is not usual to find more animals.
The church of Santa María de la Asunción, in Oyón (0h 00min) marks the starting point of this GR 38.
We continue for a few meters, direction Logroño, the road that crosses Oion from the nearby Sierra Cantabria.
At this point we reach the junction with the road that connects the town with the national road that leads to Vitoria and which we must continue.
This relatively short stretch of road takes us without further ado to the outskirts of Oion where we encounter a new detour that we must follow.
This new street that we are crossing crosses a residential area, soon we will arrive at a new junction where the asphalted track begins that will guide us from now on.
This conditioned path definitely takes us out of Oyon leaving it behind us. There will be many crossroads with other paths that we will encounter at every step and that we will have to leave behind us without deviating from our course.
We will see ourselves navigating through an authentic sea of vineyards under the attentive gaze of the mountains that await us in the next sections of this GR 38.
The profile of this section of the Route of the Wine and of the Fish is not so demanding as to wear us out too much, although it does force us to a continuous up and down. The typical marks of the GR leave no room for doubt in the different junctions we encounter.
After a while we reached the point and end of our paved track. On our left, another path quickly emerges that we must follow and forces us to make a sharp turn to the right, in order to recover our lost orientation.
After a few metres, we will again reach another junction where we must once again follow the path to the left. This dirt track, in quite good condition, will guide us in this area of the stretch between Oyón and Laguardia of the GR 38.
As up to now we keep running into more crossroads, well signposted, which we will leave behind without turning back.
In the distance we can already sense our still distant destiny today. The stony track becomes again a paved road where we will start to lose height in search of the nearby Ebro Valley.
This fast descent takes us to the encounter with the national road that joins Logroño and Laguardia, through which, being extremely careful, we will continue to reach Assa (1h 40min).
We continue along the national road that crosses Assa until we find the crossroads with the road that leads to the town of Lanciego, a road that we will continue along, saying goodbye to the GR 99 Natural Path of the Ebro that accompanied us until here.
A few meters of steep ascent brings us closer to the beginning of the cemented path we have to follow, saying goodbye to the road that brought us here.
This initially steep cement road reaches its end, leaving us at the beginning of this section of the route of the wine and of the fish in worse condition.
A battered road that, not far away, brings us back to the conditioned asphalt tracks we were used to.
We then began to lose the height gained while following this new paved road. A path that, after crossing the small Assa river, leaves us at the mercy of the road that leads to El Villar.
Luckily, a few meters to our right we will see in front of us the pass that allows us to avoid the road.
This short and battered stretch of old path ascends until it meets a dirt track that comes from the nearby town we are heading for.
El Campillar (2h 10min) awaits us almost half way through today's route, allowing us to make a stop to recover the energy lost that will allow us to face the long stretch that awaits us.
With hardly any detour we say goodbye to El Campillar facing a new ramp that will take us out of the town.
Luckily we will not have to go up this ramp in its entirety as we will quickly make a detour in search of the national road that leads to Laguardia.
National road that we will cross with the due precaution that it requires, to continue the march to the other side. From now on, we will travel, almost until the end, through a conditioned asphalted path that will be in charge of leading us in this final section.
Of course, we will meet again with many junctions that we will leave behind us. This part of the first stretch of the GR 38 is the most demanding of all the stretches we have travelled.
Almost at the end of the hard ascent, our Route of the Wine and of the Fish joins its route to the Ignatian Way, which is signposted as GR 120.
Little by little we are approaching our final destination with our eyes set on the steep mountains that await us on the next stage of this GR 38.
After a while we arrive at one of the crossroads that can generate more doubts, because in many official brochures as well as in many hiking websites even today they still describe the old route that this GR 38 followed and that forced us to turn right to go through the lakes that precede Laguardia on that slope. If we choose this option, we will not have the typical marks of all the GR routes and we will have to follow the signs of the Green Route of the Lagoon Complex of Laguardia, which follows this old route.
At present, after the creation or rather after the enlargement of the GR 120, both long-distance trails have been unified as they pass through Laguardia. We continue then obeying the red and white marks of the GR and without taking any detour we let ourselves be guided by the paved track that brought us here.
A track that allows us to enjoy some of the lakes that make up this complex offering us, in addition, the possibility of approaching some of its observatories.
A good stretch further on, our track ends when it meets the well-known national road, which we must cross in order to continue on the other side.
We're going through a residential area that's coming to an end very quickly.
Almost immediately, we will have to abandon the paved track we were walking on to continue in search for another lagoon in the resort.
This dirt road, when it reaches the height of the lagoon that we are going to border in part, joins the old course of the GR 38 that arrives by our right.
Already together, we will have a pleasant walk along the limits of this beautiful lagoon.
A walk that reaches its end after passing the second of the fences that we will meet and that prevent the passage of vehicles.
A short stretch of path that leads to the dirt track that will take us to the town we are about to visit.
The first houses of Laguardia welcome us with a steep street that we will not be able to climb all the way up, as the GR 38 Route of the Wine and of the Fish turns radically to get into Laguardia (4h 35min).
This street on the outskirts of Laguardia is the point and end of the section between Oyón and Laguardia and will be the starting point of the next stage of the GR 38.
Total distance. 17 Km
Total time. 4h 35min
If we decide to follow the old route of the GR 38 we will have to add 2 km more approximately to the total, which will mean another 30 minutes more or less of journey.
Time of year. A colorful landscape
It goes without saying that autumn is possibly the time to cover this stretch of the GR 38, although we should not neglect other times of the year such as spring or certain days in winter. The summer, on the other hand, can turn it into a calvary if the heat is too hot.
Required equipment. Pretty civilized terrain
We must not forget that we are in the middle of nature so it is important to equip ourselves properly. It is true that the conditioning of much of the route allows us to use for example a lighter shoe, such as hiking shoes. It is important to take water with you, as we will not have many points to drink or restock along the route. With hardly any shaded areas, protection from the heat and sun is vital to avoid complications. Consult our list of material and equipment for hiking. Read more.
Slope acumulate. 727 m Slope positive. 445 m Slope negative. 282 m
Even if we choose to follow the old route of the GR 38 when it arrives at Laguardia, which is a little longer than the current one, we are facing a distance that for this kind of paths should not suppose great complications. As for the unevenness, it is true that we will have continuous slides all along the route, but it is only in the final part where we will find ramps of a certain size and distance.
Severity of the environment
Given the importance that the vineyards have in this land the paths that follow, in this area, the route of the wine and of the fish are generally quite well taken care of and even asphalted almost in its entirety. With the exception of a couple of short stretches that are a bit rough, it is the stretches on the road and the junctions with them that will cause us the most complications and danger.
Perfectly signposted in its entirety, it is the accumulation of the signs that accompany the different routes and trails with which we will coincide that can give us the most headaches. We must also take into account the variation that the GR 38 has suffered on its arrival in Laguardia, as it is not well reflected in many of the places that describe the route.
|1-Oyón - Oion||0h 00min||433 m||0 Km||30T 546185 4706149|
|2-Assa||1h 40min||384 m||6,7 Km||30T 540418 4707600|
|3-El Campillar||2h 10min||410 m||8,5 Km||30T 539265 4707409|
|4-Laguardia||4h 35min||597 m||17 Km||30T 534241 4711431|
Coordinates UTM Datum WGS84
This sketch of the route is not made to scale nor does it contain all the information relating to the area, it is merely indicative.
This schematic with the path is approximate and has been created from the derived cartographic base © Instituto Geográfico Nacional "Cuadrante 170-4 y 171-3, 25.000"
Senditur has manipulated the tracks to correct the aberrant points that may exist, caused by problems with the reception of the GPS signal. In any case the tracks are always approximate. SENDITUR encourages you to use the new technologies within your reach, using them as support and consultation in your activity, not basing the realization and orientation of the same only and exclusively on them, since they may see their functioning altered by very diverse causes, not functioning correctly and their indications may not be precise.
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The GR 38, also known as the Route of the Wine and of the Fish, has at present a distance of approximately 208 km distributed in 7 main stages between Oyón and Bermeo and 3 additional sections that correspond to the variants that from Maskagorta arrive to Lekeitio and Ondarroa respectively.
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The ancient Roman bridge of Mantible, which although in a poor state of conservation, its history, which dates back to the second century, and the importance it held in the communications and disputes of the time, is well worth a look. To reach it we will have to deviate for a moment from the route shortly before reaching the town of Assa.
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This route has been carried out in the field by SENDITUR on 15-08-2018. The route may vary greatly depending on the time of year, weather conditions and terrain, as well as the actions of third parties and the evolution suffered in the natural environment where it is located. All opinions, advice and/or assessments made by SENDITUR in their descriptions are for guidance only and are subject to and/or refer to the specific conditions of the specific day of the route, referring to that specific day, taken from trained people, with the appropriate experience and with a high level of physical and technical preparation as a reference, as well as correctly equipped.
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