The elver-fishers’ route
Taking advantage of the warm summer days, there is nothing better than enjoying leisure activities that combine sport with the contemplation of nature. And that is precisely what the elver-fishers' route offers us, a 5km kayak or stand up paddle surfing trip along the mouth of the Butrón river.
The Butrón river, 30 km long, is fed at its source by the waters that flow down from the Mendigana and Bizkargi mountains. After crossing the village of Morga and receiving the waters of Errigoiti in Olabarri, its flow increases thanks to the streams that come from Sollube. From Fruiz, the river flows through a fairly wide valley, crossing Mungia, the area where, on its way to the sea, the river suffers the most from the consequences of human activity, due to the population density and the industrial activity that takes place in the municipality. Downstream, the river enters a more rural area, where the Butrón recovers its natural habitat along its course.
The route of the elvers takes place precisely in this section, where the river becomes an estuary, and the fresh water merges with the sea water, under the influence of the tides that penetrate from the estuary, providing refuge for the elvers that, since ancient times and still today, are fished in a traditional way. The riverbed depends on the tides, except in the part near the castle, and the river flows slowly, creating meanders. All the land is made up of alluvial deposits from the Quaternary.
The route is done depending on the tide, always going with the current, starting either from the estuary in Plentzia or from Butrón Castle, an ancient medieval tower that was an important bastion in the wars of the banderizos. In the 19th century, the tower of the Butrón lineage was transformed into a Romanesque-style castle, in the style of German castles, by the Marquis of Cubas. The gardens surrounding the castle are a magnificent botanical park with a wide range of exotic tree species, including the largest sequoias in Bizkaia.
From the point of view of the landscape, two quite different parts of the route can be distinguished. In the back part of the valley, the river is very narrow, squeezed through forestry land, and a large stretch of the banks is still covered with trees. Further on, the Butrón opens up and the riverbed widens. Here, silt prevails, and the marshland and estuary surroundings make their way through agricultural and urban land.
The estuary area, well preserved, opens out into the bay of Txipio, between the capes of Barrikaondo and Astondo, until the waters flow into the sea in the sandy areas of the beaches of Plentzia and Gorliz, whose dunes have now been recovered by removing the road and part of the buildings that for decades stole their space.
The course, either in
paddle surfing or kayaking
offers an unforgettable
Despite the fact that part of the estuary suffers from human and road pressure, large areas of marshland vegetation are preserved and excellent examples of various species can be found, such as Spartina maritima, Salicornia ramosissima, Juncus maritimus and even reed beds, among others.
Upstream, in the area where the high tide does not reach, we can find populations of aquatic plants and the ecologically important gallery forest is preserved. There are both woody and herbaceous plants.
The fauna is also of great interest. The Plentzia estuary, like all estuaries that conserve part of their original habitat, is a resting area for migratory birds related to the aquatic environment. For some of them it is also a place to spend the winter. The rooks, teals, kingfishers, dabchicks and cormorants find refuge here.
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