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The castle, fortress and gorge of Pancorbo

The Mountains Obarenes-San Zadornil Natural Park stretches across several districts of Burgos. Its characteristic relief treasures spectacular landscapes that are covered by countless hiking routes. In addition to its natural heritage, there is also its historical heritage, proof of the importance that this land held in ancient times. A route that perfectly combines these attributes is the path that takes us to the Pancorbo gorge, the fortress of Santa Engracia and the ancient castle of Santa Marta. This is undoubtedly a route that allows us to enjoy a film-like landscape while we take a journey through the history of this area of the Obarenes Mountains.

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How to get to Pancorbo

The town of Pancorbo is located in the middle of the N-1 road, on the section between Miranda de Ebro and Briviesca. The N-232 road and the AP-1 motorway also pass through Pancorbo. Once there, there are several ways to park your vehicle and start the route. The best option is to drive through the whole town in the direction of Miranda, as on the outskirts of the town there is a parking area and even a car park set up for motorhomes next to the church of Santiago. If you are coming from Miranda de Ebro, before reaching Pancorbo there is a turn-off that takes you directly to these car parks.

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Itinerary of the Pancorbo Gorge Route

From Pancorbo to the Rock of Mazo Viewpoint 2,1 Km

We start the route in the car park next to the church of Santiago in Pancorbo. We descend following the concrete path we came along from the old road that crosses the heart of the town. As we can see from the information signs, there are several routes that we can follow from here. In our case we are going to combine part of the Pancorbo PRC-BU 89 footpath with another part of the PRC-BU221 footpath which visits the Santa Engracia Fortress and the Santa Marta Castle, among other places. Once next to the road, where another parking area is located, we will see the beginning of the steep concrete path that we must follow.

It is of course possible to walk through the Pancorbo gorge from below, following the path that leads to the Santo Cristo del Barrio hermitage, but in our case we preferred to get away from the hustle and bustle of the traffic on the motorway and the road that crosses the gorge to see it from another perspective.

This track that we are following leads us not without effort to a crossroads. Once there, we continue ascending, leaving behind the path we will return to later on. Almost without noticing we reach another car park next to the water well. Between the car park, which serves as the usual starting point for those who walk the Pancorbo PRC BU 89 footpath, and the water well, a rough path awaits us that will take us past some antennas. We leave the antennas behind to go to the nearby Viewpoint of Mazo Rock (0h 45min), from where we can enjoy spectacular views of the Pancorbo gorge.​

From the Viewpoint of Mazo Rock to the Fortress of Santa Engracia 3,1 Km

We say goodbye to this privileged place to retrace our steps back to the crossroads we passed on the way up. We then take the path that will lead us to the final ascent to the fortress of Santa Engracia. The slope invites us to take a break to contemplate the rocky outcrop where the remains of the old fortress can already be glimpsed. The slope becomes lighter as you reach the esplanade that serves as a parking area for those who drive up to this point. At this point we say goodbye to the path by which we arrived in order to undertake the final tough stretch that separates us from our objective. An effort that is rewarded by the views of the plain and the mountains that mark the ascent. These views we leave behind us to enter the defensive complex of the fortress of Santa Engracia (1h 50min), which we walk through following the different paths that cross it.

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From the Fortress of Santa Engracia to the Castle of Santa Marta 2,6 Km

The route around the fortress takes us from viewpoint to viewpoint, from corner to corner, until we look out over Pancorbo and its gorge once again. A solitary information post marks the beginning of the path that will take us down to Pancorbo. As we walk around the fortress, its route is already visible on the opposite slope to the one we arrived on. We start to lose height, leaving the ruins of the fortress above our heads. We quickly came to a fork in the path. If we continued straight on, we would enter a steep, cobbled path, more advisable to climb it than to descend it.

The official route changes course radically at this fork to continue descending along a much more comfortable path that hardly increases the distance to be covered.

This trail begins to follow the typical zigzags that allow us to overcome the slope more comfortably. Naturally, we will come across shortcuts that cut through these curves. After a while our path comes across another crossroads, which is well signposted. We follow the signs and continue descending towards Pancorbo. Our path comes to an end at another water well. From here we can already see the remains of the castle of Santa Marta (2h 30min), where we are heading. After walking around the remains of the castle and contemplating the surrounding landscape, we only have to return to the path and continue descending to enter Pancorbo (2h 45min), and walk through its streets in search of the car park from where we started.

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Tips for do the Pancorbo Gorge route

1-Although the ideal is to enjoy the route and the surrounding landscapes, if you consider it appropriate, you can get to the vicinity of the viewpoint, the fortress and the castle in your own vehicle, thus facilitating your visit.

2-The route, in principle, has no technical complications as long as you use caution and common sense.

3-Regardless of whether you do the whole route or visit each place individually, it is important to wear suitable hiking shoes.

4-Although the main junctions along the route are signposted, it is important that you are clear about the route to follow to avoid complications.​

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Waypoints of the route
NAME PLACE OF PASS TIME TO HIM ALTITUDE DISTANCE COORDINATES UTM
1-Pancorbo 0:00h 630m 0Km 30T 490959 4720588
2-Mazo Viewpoint 0:45h 809m 2,1Km 30T 491632 4721175
3-Santa Engracia Fortress 1:50h 1042m 5,2Km 30T 490066 4721124
4-Santa Marta Castle 2:30h 710m 7,8Km 30T 490805 4720386

Coordinates UTM Datúm WGS84

Profile of the Pancorbo Gorge route

Profile of the Pancorbo Gorge route

ico-distancia-totalDistance: 8.8Km

ico-tiempo-totalTime: 2:45h

ico-dificultadDifficulty: Medium

ico-desnivel-acumuladoSlope: 970m

ico-desnivel-positivoSlope +485m

ico-desnivel-negativoSlope -485m

ico-altitud-maximaMaximum altitude: 1042m

ico-altitud-minimaMinimum altitude: 625m

Cartography and Maps

Map of the Pancorbo Gorge route

This route diagram is not to scale and does not contain all the information about the area, it is merely indicative.

Topographical map of the Pancorbo Gorge Route

ico IGN

This schematic with the path is approximate and has been created from the derived cartographic base © Instituto Geográfico Nacional "Cuadrante 169-1 1:25.000".

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The history of the Castle of Santa Marta or Pancorbo dates back to the 7th century, and over the years it has undergone various modifications until its destruction in the 19th century during the Carlist Wars.

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A visit to the town of Pancorbo, where you can discover its rich history, traditions and legends and even experience the re-enactment of the capture of Fort Santa Engracia.

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Route information updated on 25-06-2021. 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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