A flock of shaggy sheep grazing in a green meadow is possibly one of the most typical rural scenes in the Basque Country. Beyond this idyllic image, these pastoral landscapes tell the story of an age-old profession that has worked with and cared for the natural environment for centuries.
Tracing the thread of this livestock-rearing tradition, the Shepherding Path (Senda del Pastoreo – GR 282) links upland pastures in Alava, Guipúzcoa, Vizcaya, Navarre and Burgos, situated in the mountains surrounding the Llanada Alavesa.
As well as these historic meadows, the route explores protected natural areas including the Urkiola and Gorbea limestone massif, the origin of the River Nervión in Monte Santiago, the ravine of the River Purón in Valderejo, the oak groves in Izki, the genesis of the River Urederra in Urbasa and the beech woods of Aralar. You’ll also discover the shrines, hermitages, medieval bridges, megalithic monuments, shepherds' cottages and huts dot this rural terrain, disclosing the symbiotic relationship between humanity and nature.
In its entirety, the Shepherd's Path spans approximately 470 kilometres (292 mi), distributed across 20 stages in this Collection. The scarcity of settlements on certain mountainous stretches means that a few stages exceed 30 kilometres (18 mi). This, coupled with the steep incline, constitutes the main challenge of the route, which otherwise poses no technical challenges. You’ll need a good level of fitness and to be comfortable hiking for long days through the mountains.
Most of the stages finish in villages with a limited array of lodgings, eateries and shops. Occasionally, you’ll encounter a hostel or guesthouse, for which I’d recommend booking in advance. The 19th stage ends in an area with no overnight accommodation options, so you’ll need to camp or tailor the stage to end in a place that suits your requirements.
For this trip, you’ll need sturdy footwear and a good rucksack, along with an ample supply of water and snacks – indispensable on long treks. Pack warm and waterproof attire, as the Basque meadows are well known for heavy rainfall. If you’d prefer to avoid wet weather, June to September is drier and has a gentler climate.
This loop starts and finishes at the sanctuary of Arantzazu in the province of Guipúzcoa. You can arrive by car or catch the bus from the town of Oñati. Accessing this site is feasible exclusively by car or bus from the town of Oñati, which has connections to other towns.
I hope you enjoy this nomadic adventure that calls you to the lands of the shepherds!
Ready to get going? Create and customize your own version of this adventure using the full Tour below as a template.
Last updated: October 31, 2023
Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.
The Pasture Path begins its journey in the heart of the Aizkorri-Aratz Natural Park. The GR 282 starts at the impressive sanctuary of Arantzazu, an architectural symbol for its mix of styles.
The track runs through the mountains of the Debagoiena region, between peaks that exceed 1000 meters, extensive…
Straddling the provinces of Guipúzcoa, Álava and Vizcaya, the GR leaves the Aizkorri-Aratz Natural Park behind and heads north through beech and pine forests that offer a beautiful mosaic of colors and forest fragrances.
The track skirts the beautiful Albina reservoir, part of the Zadorra system reservoir…
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This impressive stage unites the beautiful landscapes of the Urkiola Natural Park with the Gorbea Natural Park, both dominated by spectacular rock formations and lush forests.
In the first kilometers of the Route you have the opportunity to deviate briefly from the GR to ascend to the top of Saibi. The…
This section of the Senda del Pastoreo runs through the beautiful Gorbea natural park. The path runs through mountain pastures, limestone formations and dense oak and beech forests.
The track, which mostly goes downhill, takes you to discover some of the park's biggest attractions, such as the impressive…
Rock and water are the protagonists of this beautiful stage that leads you to discover the source of the Nervión River and its impressive fluvial canyon in a geological setting of stunning beauty.
Part of the route runs through the natural monument of Monte Santiago. Here the spectacular Nervión waterfall…
This is a tough stage, both because of the long distance it covers and because of its great unevenness. Unfortunately, the scarcity of populations in the area means that shortening this section is not easy, unless you choose to deviate several kilometers to Orduña (which also implies saving even more…
This short stage runs between the provinces of Álava and Burgos and runs from north to south through the Valderejo Natural Park, located in the eastern foothills of the Cantabrian Mountains.
One of the greatest attractions of this route is the section through the Purón river gorge. Here large rocky walls…
The Senda del Pastoreo continues through the Valderejo Natural Park, this time from west to east. The section runs through dense forests that stretch between steep limestone peaks.
After passing the pretty town of Valpuesta, at kilometer 18 of the Route, you have the opportunity to deviate from the GR…
This demanding stage that borders on 1,000 meters of unevenness covers a large part of the protected area of the Sierra de Arkamo, in the Valles Alaveses region. From the ridge of the mountain, the path offers you fantastic views that are more than worth the effort.
Starting from Espejo, the Pasture Path…
This section of the Senda del Pastoreo, shorter than the previous ones, leaves the Arkamo mountain range behind and takes you to Nanclares de la Oca, the most populated town in the Añana or Valles Alaveses region.
From Aprikano a short but steep climb awaits you to the top of Santa Cruz, at which point…
This beautiful stage covers a good part of the Montes de Vitoria mountain range, a mountain range that acts as the boundary between Álava and Burgos. The fantastic views from the various peaks that crown the path, as well as the varied vegetation of this protected area make this a very entertaining walk…
This short section of the GR 282 allows you to enjoy the beauty of the Ayuda River gorge without rushing. Waterfalls, pools and lush riverside vegetation offer you countless places to stop to cool off or simply relax with the sound of water as background music.
The gorge stretches from Okina to Sáseta…
Water and rock intermingle with thick and varied vegetation on this long stage that enters the beautiful Izki natural park.
After resuming the route of the GR, the Senda del Pastoreo runs between fields and crops and small forests. As the path gains altitude, agricultural lands give way to the impressive…
The scarcity of places to spend the night in this mountain area means that today you have to face a titanic stage of 36 kilometers and almost 900 meters of altitude. However, the environment is unbeatable, as you will travel the crest of the Iturrieta mountains and the Entzia and Urbasa mountains, with…
This beautiful stage runs mainly through the Urbasa y Andía Natural Park, in Navarre territory. First, the path advances through extensive beech forests, with hardly any unevenness. In the last few kilometres, however, the GR enters the Urederra canyon, an impressive karstic landscape where the river…
The Pasture Path continues its journey through Navarra through beech forests, pastures and karstic landscapes on the eastern border of the Urbasa y Andía Natural Park.
The path crowns several peaks that are over 1,000 meters high and from where you have fantastic views of both mountains, with their thick…
This is the last stage that runs through the natural park of Urbasa and Andía. In this section, you will enjoy spectacular views of the most emblematic peaks of the Sierra de Andía while you walk among beech forests, green meadows, bushes and limestone outcrops.
The walk is very comfortable because the…
At this stage, the Senda del Pastoreo enters the Sierra de Aralar, an impressive karstic massif that forms part of the easternmost slope of the Cantabrian mountain range. Declared a natural park, it is full of beech and oak groves and peaceful pastoral landscapes.
The stage begins with a long and strong…
Megalithic monuments, beech forests and pastures characterize the penultimate stage of the Senda del Pastoreo. The first part of the route borders the Aralar natural park, and the second returns to the Aizkorri-Aratz natural park, where you started this pastoral adventure.
The path takes you to discover…
The Pasture Path ends its journey with this stage that returns to the point of origin, the sanctuary of Arantzazu. The karstic landscapes of the Sierra de Aizkorri are the backdrop for this last section that runs through hills, megalithic monuments, beech forests and areas of great importance for livestock…
Hiking Collection by komoot
Hiking Collection by komoot
Mountain Biking Collection by Holger S.
Mountain Biking Collection by GIANT Germany