San Sebastian, The Zumaia to Deba Hike

May 2015

Next stop, San Sebastian! I had heard many good things about San Sebastian, and I was very pleased with my visit there.  San Sebastian or Donostia, is a coastal town on La Concha Bay, with the River Urumea splitting the town in half.

bridge
The Zurriola Bridge, also known as the Kursaal Bridge built in 1915 with the River Urumea flowing out to sea

Leaving the train station, I crossed the Puente de Maria Cristina Bridge with four monumental obelisks, located at its ends, copies of the Alexander III bridge in Paris, crowned by sculptures.

River Guards
Puente de Maria Cristina Bridge Sculptures

After checking in, I headed out to explore and familiarize myself with the town. I came upon a nice and unique plaza

Plaza de
Alderdi-Eder Garden

right in front of the San Sebastian Ayuntamiento, which is actually City Hall.

Palace.... - San Sebastian
San Sebastian Ayuntamiento (City Hall) – Gran Casino from (1897-1924)

This was right off the beach.  La Concha beach was beautiful.

San Sebastian - La Concha Beach
San Sebastian-La Concha Beach-Boys juggling a soccer ball

After enjoying the view of the beach, I continued on, which lead me to the Basilica Santa Maria.

Basilica Santa Maria - San Sebastian
Basilica Santa Maria – San Sebastian
Basilica Santa Maria - San Sebastian
Basilica Santa Maria – San Sebastian

As I wondered through the “Old Town”, I came across another church, although at the time I didn’t know which one it was. I later discovered it was the Church of Saint Vincent.

Church of Saint Vincent - San Sebastian
Church of Saint Vincent – San Sebastian
Church of Saint Vincent
Church of Saint Vincent – San Sebastian

As I continued walking the town, I came across Constitucion Square, which has been used for Bullfighting in the older days, and is currently used for major city events.

Constitucion Square - San Sebastian
Constitucion Square – San Sebastian

Working my way back to my hotel, I ran across a lovely park. It was the Guipuzcoa Park or Plaza de Guipuzcoa. Very peaceful.

Park G
Plaza de Guipuzcoa

One of my reasons for a stop here in San Sebastian was an adventure I was told about, a hike from Zumaia

Zumaia - Start of the Zumaia to Deba hike
Zumaia – Start of the Zumaia to Deba hike

to Deba, along the coastline, for approximately 8.37 miles, if you make all the correct turns!

I took a train from San Sebastian over to Zumaia. It was a cool foggy morning.

Zumaia Beach from the trail's ridge
Zumaia Beach from the trail’s ridge

After picking up a trail map and some rations, I was off and running.

Zumaia - I couldn't help but laugh. All of these kids were fishing with a string line
Zumaia – I couldn’t help but laugh. All of these kids were fishing with a string line – I Loved It

You climb up a hill to a small old church for the start of the trail. It jettisons out to the end of a thin ridge high above the water. What a view!

Zumaia Ridge where the trail really begins
Zumaia Ridge where the trail really begins

The path leads down the ridge, along the coastline, and into the country-side.

Zumaia to Deba Hike
Zumaia to Deba Hike

There were beautiful farms, fields of sheep or ponies, and fantastic views all around!

Zumaia to Deba Hike
Zumaia to Deba Hike
Zumaia to Deba HIke
Zumaia to Deba Hike (Click on for full picture)

The trail I chose is marked in Red and White (R/W). There was another trail following along marked in Yellow (Y).

Zumaia to Deba Hike
Zumaia to Deba Hike

When I got to the small, make that a very small town of Elorriaga, there was a sign with 7 or 8 different arrows providing directions, none where for the R/W trail, so I continued down the road about ¾ of a mile. At that point I had seen 2 (Y) arrows and no (R/W) markers, so I headed back up the hill, back to Elorriaga.  Coming from this direction, I saw the R/W marker behind the original set of signs. It pointed me down what I will call an alleyway. This separated me from any other hikers. I saw several hikers going downhill, down the road, on my way back up to the little town, but I didn’t see anyone else on the R/W trail the rest of the hike.

Zumaia to Deba Hike
Zumaia to Deba Hike (Click on to get full picture)

A little ways down the trail I came to a pasture with a sign on the gate showing a body being thrown by a bull, and guess what, the bull was laying at the next gate. There I was with my burnt orange jacket and my “red” backpack. The bull stared me down, but never got up, thankfully. (-:   I don’t know why I didn’t get a picture.

There were many hills or mini-mountains, and miles of trail to be had on this journey.

Zumaia to Deba Hike
Zumaia to Deba Hike

I finally came around a bend, and the coast was right in front of me.

Zumaia to Deba Hike
Zumaia to Deba Hike

Gorgeous!

Zumaia to Deba Hike - Flysch area
Zumaia to Deba Hike – Flysch area
Zumaia to Deba Hike - Flysch area
Zumaia to Deba Hike – Flysch area

One of the reasons for taking this trail was to see the rock/Flysch formations on the coast.

Zumaia to Deba HIke - Flysch area
Zumaia to Deba HIke – Flysch area

Flysch is a sequence of sedimentary rocks that is deposited in a deep marine facies in the foreland basin of a developing orogen. I stole this from Wikipedia. I guess I could ask my youngest daughter the geologist to put it in layman’s terms! (-:

Zumaia to Deba Hike - Flysch area
Zumaia to Deba Hike – Flysch area

As I sat down to take a quick break, and snack on my rations, I heard a bell, and a heard of sheep were rolling in.

Zumaia to Deba Hike
Zumaia to Deba Hike

On up and over the hill, to the next wrong turn. Seeing a trail with a R/W marker, I headed up a cliff. It was very steep. I came to a part where the fence was missing. By now, I had figured out it was an animal trail, or old trail, very narrow and too close to the edge.

Zumaia to Deba HIke
Zumaia to Deba HIke
Zumaia to Deba HIke
Zumaia to Deba HIke

Continuing on down the trail.

Zumaia to Deba HIke
Zumaia to Deba HIke
Zumaia to Deba HIke - See trees with cliff, I walked most of that edge
Zumaia to Deba HIke
Zumaia to Deba Hike
Zumaia to Deba Hike

After correcting myself and getting back on the right path, I was on the last leg of the hike. Somewhere around 1.5 miles from Deba, I thought I was following the R/W trail, but once again the markers disappeared about the time I got to the bottom of the hill.

Coming into Deba from the trails on the mountain
Coming into Deba from the trails on the mountain

Once more, back up the hill, correction made. My engine was just about out of gas. I passed an old rundown church that I didn’t even get a picture of as I was too tired to walk up, around, and in front of it to get a picture. I regret that.

Deba's Santiago Beach - End of the hike from Zumaia
Deba’s Santiago Beach – End of the hike from Zumaia

I finally finished and headed for the Deba local train station to ride back to San Sebastian.

The next day it was raining off and on all day, and rather cool, but I still had a few things on my list to see. In some of the pictures already shown, you may have seen a statue on a hill in the background. That is the Jesus Statue on top of the Castillo De La Mota. The Chateau sits on top of Monte Urgull.

Jesus Statue on Monte Urgull
Jesus Statue on Monte Urgull

You can tell that the Castillo De La Mota was quite a fortress in its time, going back to the 12th Century.

Cannons at Castillo de la Mota on top of Monte Urgull
Cannons at Castillo de la Mota on top of Monte Urgull

Walking the Castle you can still see the cannons and the arrow slits used to defend it.

Cannons at Castillo de la Mota on top of Monte Urgull
Cannons at Castillo de la Mota on top of Monte Urgull

Walking this “Monte” is fun, and quite impressive. Be sure to check out Monte Urgull if you go to San Sebastian. From the hilltop, you have a good view of the other beach in San Sebastian.

Zurriola Beach - San Sebastian
Zurriola Beach – San Sebastian

As I worked my way down from Monte Urgull, I came out right at the San Telmo Museum. The building was originally a convent of Dominican friars, built around 1562. The friars were expelled in 1836, and the building was used as an artillery barracks. Around 1902 it became a museum devoted to illustrate the evolution of the society Basque.

Courtyard of San Telmo Museum
Courtyard of San Telmo Museum
San Telmo Museum - San Sebastian
San Telmo Museum – San Sebastian
San Telmo Museum - San Sebastian
San Telmo Museum – San Sebastian

A couple of other sites to take in while in San Sebastian:

Buen Pastor
The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd – The Catedral del Buen Pastor de San Sebastian
Miramar Palace - San Sebastian
Miramar Palace – San Sebastian

My time ended quickly, as it has in most cities. It was time to return to Madrid, but I enjoyed every minutes of San Sebastian/Donostia.

3 thoughts on “San Sebastian, The Zumaia to Deba Hike”

  1. Looks as though the hike was beautiful if a little daunting. Glad the bull was nonplussed. Love all the pictures. Gives a sense of being there.

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  2. This hike looks incredible. I am so glad that you got to do it — wrong turns and all. It makes for a great story even if you were wiped out. The ridge line is stunning. Thanks for the geo shout-out!

    Here’s a breakdown of your Flysch definition:
    Flysch is a sequence of sedimentary rocks (<–rocks formed from layers of deposited sediment) that is deposited in a deep marine facies (<–fancy way of saying the rocks were formed from oceanic sediment; the "deep" part specifies the sediments were deposited in a low-energy, high-pressure environment which would generally mean fine-grained rocks would form) in the foreland basin (fancy way of saying "the area parallel and adjacent to…") of a developing orogen (<–"…a developing mountain range").

    Let's see if I can do a real simply layman's explanation of what I understand "flysch" to be…

    If you imagine that a continental plate and an ocean plate are moving towards each other very slowly, and when they collide, the ocean plate, being denser than continental crust, goes under ("subducts") the continental plate. The point at which the plates meet is pulled down into somewhat of a valley due to the friction of the oceanic plate pulling down the continental plate. At the same time, the continental plate is still slowly moving towards the oceanic plate, and it starts to buckle up behind the point of collision due to pressure. This buckling will continue and start the formation of a mountain range ("orogen"). As the continental plate keeps buckling, the mountains keep forming. As the ocean plate keeps subducting, the "valley" at the point of collision deepens due to the force of the oceanic plate pulling the continental plate down with it, but this "valley" begins collecting sediment that is scraped off the top of the oceanic plate as it is sliding under the continental plate. These sediments form along the point of plate collision and adjacent to where the mountains are forming (<–so yes, this is the foreland basin). And you guessed it, these sediments that have been scraped off the top of the oceanic plate as it slides under the continental plate deposit in a "deep marine" environment, forming sedimentary rocks. These are known as FLYSCH! You see them on land due to sea level changes over time and plate movement upward (more buckling).

    I hope that helps and isn't more confusing! Anyway, they look beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

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