The best views from one’s car
Can a road be nice? Maybe a road in itself cannot, but surroundings most certainly can be. And we are not talking about a lost highway, but rather a dual carriageway. It is convenient, fast, quiet and also has a superb landscape. If you travel by road between Pamplona and San Sebastian you probably know what I mean.
This is the A-15, the Leitzaran, that runs from Navarre into the Basque Country. Just before the border between the two regions, shortly after leaving Pamplona, we come to Irurzun. Here the mountains start above the Larraun valley, just south of the stone Dos Hermanas that the river has carved over the centuries.
The road runs along a corridor flanked by the Gaztelu and Erga mountains, both around a thousand meters high. The road, in stone with dense vegetation, is the point in the mountains that leads to Mount Aralar and Andía.
Near the highway pass is the Urbasa-Andía Natural Park, a haven of beech trees at nearly a thousand metres, with the summit of Mount Beriáin as natural crown.
Slightly higher in some parts of the road, at the foot of the highway small villages are scattered in the truest Gipuzkoa. As the miles go past in the mountains, pastures and large white houses with black roofs appear. Not far from there, a few miles to the west, is the Goierri Valley, considered the most traditional enclave of the Basque Country.
Oaks and beeches on the hills, willow and hazel trees near the river. Trout in the water, foxes lurking in the mountains and medium-sized birds of prey sheltered in the cliffs on the lookout for rodents and small birds. The contrast of a road with two lanes in each direction with nature in its purest form is a real shock as the trip goes on.
And there, in the end, the sea. San Sebastian, considered one of the most beautiful cities in the country. It is the ultimate prize of a trip between mountains, through the Basque tradition of stone and wood to the blowing winds, the Monte Igeldo and the La Concha beach. What better end to a crossing.
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