The cultural Park of Mount Buciero invites visitors to travel five routes where they will discover lighthouses and cliffs, the forest ecosystem, the Fort of Napoleon and endless successions of marvellous countryside.
Starting point: Fort of San Martín Type of route: Circular.
Total distance: 12 km.
Degree of difficulty: Not difficult (except for the descent to the Lighthouse of el Caballo).
Differences in altitude: 250 metres in all.
Time: Four hours. Accesses: Fort of San Martín.
Parking: There is a large car park in the area of the sea promenade
Connectivity with other routes: Connected to all the routes along the Mount Buciero Routes Network.
This circular path, approximately 12 km. in length, including the descent to the Lighthouse of el Caballo, is important due to the fact that most of it passes through one of the most important Holm oak groves in Cantabria, forming part of Annex I of the Directive "Habitats".
From the landscape standpoint, it has some impessive cliffs where the typical fauna and flora of this ecosystem abound. Its most important patrimonial assets are two lighthouses dating from the nineteenth century, a true reflection of the seafaring tradition, as well as the forts and batteries that are yet another milestone along the way.
The path starts out at the end of the sea promenade, next to the Fort of San Martín, which was built on an ancient castle dating from the times of Philip II, forming the last vestige in the Carnot system. From the castle, a flight of steps ascends to a road with two directions. Take the fork to the right and a little further on, turn to the left. In this way, you will see next to the road, the High and Low Batteries of Galvanes. After passing a series of semi-abandoned quarries, you will come to a stony path that ascends rapidly to the cliffs. One kilometre from the starting point, you will see the Fort of San Carlos. Carry on up and the path takes you to a wooden rail, and opposite, the impressive Peña del Fraile (Friar’s Rock), where several caves can be seen with prehistoric remains. Legend has it that the simultaneous firing of all the guns in the batteries and forts on the mountain caused the head of the Friar to fall off. A little further on you will come to the Casa de la Leña, and just a few metres on, a mass of vegetation that leads into the forest, towards the old mine which you will pass by. Carry on along the main path crossing an area of rocky outcrops and large clefts in the rock until you come to a crossroads.
Here, turn to the right to visit the Lighthouse of el Caballo and the Battery of San Felipe, which requires you to make a sharp turn right again. From the Battery, there is a fabulous view of the cliffs, and at the foot, the Lighthouse of el Caballo, with its difficult access, that means descending almost 700 steps, 800 if descending to the sea. This Lighthouse, which was put into operation in 1863, is now abandoned. After making the climb and turning at the crossroads, turn to the right, to avoid missing the main path. During the next two kilometres, you will pass through a beautiful wood of Holm oaks, arbutus and laurel. These two last species are particularly abundant along the path, due to the more favourable climatic conditions.
At the next crossroads, take the path that climbs up on the left and further on, leave the route and go down a track on the right, which takes you to a small area of steeply sloping bends, where you must tread very carefully. A little further on, the path widens and passes through a wood of laurels and arbutus, straightening out again and taking you to the Faro del Pescador (Fisherman’s Lighthouse).
This lighthourse was put into operation in 1864, using a lamp fuelled by olive oil; it had to be rebuilt and modernised after being seriously damaged caused by a cyclone in 1915.
From here, continue along the road that emerges along the route and you will see Berria beach and the Prison of el Dueso, formerly the Imperial Fort in times of Napoleon. Nearby are the Battery of el Aguila (take a small path near Eagle Point that leads off the road, to the right). The two artillery platforms can still be seen and the two rooms for housing and storing ammunition. Having reached the Prison of el Dueso, take a small path that leads to the Battery of La Cueva situatd on Berria beach. After returning to the main path, take the path that runs along the edge of the prison to the left, which comes out at Barrio del Dueso, and then climb to the top part, leaving behind the old Gunpowder Magazine of l Dueso and take an asphalted road to the right of it.
You will then come to the Fort of el Mazo and the Gunpowder Magazine of Helechal. Continue along the road that is lined with Holm oaks and enjoy the wonderful views over Santoña and the marshes at points such as the Vantage Point of Casablanca.
After walking the 2 kilometres from the Fort of el Mazo, you will come to the old High Battery of San Martín and a few metres further down, the Fort of San Martín, at which point you will have gone around the Mountain and completed this route.
Differences in altitude: Aprpoximately 100 metres in all.
Time: One hour.
Accesses: From the Fort of San Martín (at the end of Santoña sea promenade) along a narrow road for a distance of about 2 km that leads to the Fort of el Mazo. It is also possible to get there through the quarter of el Dueso along a narrow asphalted road.
Connectivity with other routes: Connection with the four other routes in Mount Buciero Routes Network.
The route is just over 2 kilometres long and links the Fort of el Mazo with Cuatro Caminos and the Lighthouse of el Caballo, crossing from west to east.
It runs under the peaks of el Buciero, through the leafy heart of the Mountain and its treasured Mediterrean Holm oak forest.
The route starts out at the Fort of el Mazo, a fort built in the times of Napoleon, the structure of which has been adapted to the promontory upon which it stands. The only access was by crossing a small dry moat over a drawbridge. In 1886 the larger building with two storeys was constructed, to serve as a pavilion for prisoners. From the Fort of el Mazo, the route descends along a narrow asphalted path towards the quarter of el Dueso. To the right of the path is the Gunpowder Magazine of Helechal, a building flanked by two towers (originally built to protect the building from lightening) which is now used as an improvised stable. This building was used to provide services to the Fort.
After reaching the path, 100 metres, you take a dirt track to the right next to the Gunpowder Magazine cattle pens. This is the origin of one of the historic routes with the greatest importance on the Mountain, which was often used when el Buciero was a very important military site. The low trees next to the undergrowth conceal the path, giving visitors the sensation that they are walking through a green “tunnel” of vegetation.
Carry on along the path and observe the different geomorphological elements caused by the karstification such as an underground cave that emerges to the right of the path. The path gradually narrows, and after a couple of bends, reaches a hut at the site known as El Portillo. At the end of this area of meadows, completely surrounded by the Holm oak grove, you will come to a wooden fence that you must cross to carry on along the route.
After a short climb you come to a small field (Collado de Las Cuestas) from where there is a wonderful view of the mountain. Here you can admire the forest that must be crossed and the peaks towering above it: to the right, the rocks Buciero and Ganzo and to the left, La Rabona and la Atalaya, crowned by a their unique surveillance structure. This is a good place to rest and take a break before entering the forest.
Then take the path that is in front of you, to cross the forest from west to east without taking any alternative route. The path descends to a large hollow of Karstic origin (dolines or ravines), although given its extension and thick vegetation, walkers will not be able to observe this very clearly. Carry on along through the interior of the forest along a clear path, with small dolines on both sides.
Once inside the forest, walk along a well-conserved path that is quite wide through the tangled forest, dominated by Holm oaks (Quercus ilex ilex). You are walking through the most valuable Holm oak forest on the coast, a relic forest from the north of Spain, and a true relic from the past, which has survived on limestone ground. During the Tertiary peiod, they dominated practically the whole area; later, with the climatic changes of the Quaternary period, they were reduced in size and confined to the warmer limestone rocks.
Thus, along the path you will see that the Holm oak species abounds, together with the plants that usually accompany it (laurels, arbutus, laburnum, buckthorn). There are also other Atantic species that occupy depression with greater soil thicknesses and concentrations of moisture (hazelnut, oak, holly), and some species that adapt well can also be seen (blackthorn, hawthorn, white beam). The tangled undergrowth where climbing species abound gives it the appearance of a "jungle". This protects the vertebrates, and together with the shy nature of the most species, makes them very difficult to observe. Large mammals such as deer, boars or wildcats, once abounded here, but constant hunting has led to only smaller mammals surviving (genets, badgets, weasels, foxes or stone martens. If you look closely, you will see small birds such as finches, stonechats, warblers, cuckoos, blue tits, or their predators such as the tawny owl, barn owl, black kite, hawk or kestrel.
The path, which is almost straight, is easy to see and runs through the forest. After one kilometer you will come to a crossroads. Here, there are two forks, to the right and left. Take the latter towards the ridge of the Watchtower. But then carry on along, climbing up slightly to then descend until you reach Cuatro Caminos, where the route ends.
From this point, there are several alternatives:
- Continue along for about 200 metres, descending to the Lighthouse of el Caballo to visit the battery of San Felipe and enjoy its spectacular views.
- Return to the starting point, along the same route, or link up to any of the other routes ("Lighthouses and Cliffs" and "Peaks of el Buciero") that converge at Cuatro Caminos.
Total distance: 8,5 km. Degree of difficulty: Moderate to high.
Difference in altitude: About 300 meters.
Time: Four and a half hours.
Accesses: From the Fort of San Martín take a narrow path that leads to the Fort of el Mazo. You can also get there through the district of el Dueso along a small asphalted road.
Connectivity with other routes:
It connects up to the other four routes in the Mount Buciero Routes Network.
Observations: An alternative route for coming down from la Atalaya: Descending along the circular route may be dangerous if the terrain is muddy, and there is an alternative route consisting of walking as far as the hillside that comes before the ascent to la Atalaya and taking a turning that is signposted. After walking for about 1.3 km, you will come to Cuatro Caminos, where you can then get back on the original route.
A circular route that includes a climb to the three most important peaks, Peña Ganzo, Buciero and La Atalaya, all of which are 300 above sea level and offer spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
It also enables one to see the main ecosystems that flourish on the Mountain (relic coastal Holm oak forest, Karst, peaks area), regions where strange botanical similarities can be observed in this Mediterranean forest “island” (around the abandoned iron mine) and important constructions (the Atalaya (Watch Tower), and Fort ofel Mazo).
The route starts out at the Fort of el Mazo, about 2 kilometres from Santoña, which was constructed by Napoleon’s engineers after taking the peninsula with an army of 4,000 men. From this point, take the asphalted road to the left heading towards El Dueso. To the right is the old Gunpowder Magazine of El Helechal, that supplied the Fort of el Mazo. Continue along the road for less than half a kilometre until you come to another asphalted road that climbs up towards the site known as Yusa, an area where there are several cattle farms. At the point where the cattle farms join the Holm oak forest, there are patches of woodland, transition points and the frontier areas between the ecosystems of the pasturelands and the forest which provides shelter and food for different types of fauna. Just before reaching the end of the road, turn to the right along a dirt track. After crossing a cattle gate, you will come to a small field.
At the top of this small clearing the path continues on up through the forest, where there are Holm oaks, laurels or arbutus trees. After going past a turning to the right, carry on up along the zig-zagging path where you will see, near the peak, a strange looking opening in the limestone rock. Finally, you will come to the peak (312 metres), upon which is the circular surveillance post of the Atalaya, which dates from the 19th century. The views from this exceptional beauty spot (references can be found describing its use as a whale-sighting post in the 11th century) are quite spectacular.
From here, go along a small path that emerges on the opposite side of the place from where the peak can be reached, which enters a thick forest. The narrow path descends the steep, bordered by Holm oaks, laurel, arbutus and many climbing plants and creepers, and finallly joins the circular path that goes around the mountain, (see Observations: Alternative route for coming down from the Atalaya if the path is very muddy and slippery).
Carry on along to the right, and you will come to Cuatro Caminos, where, unless you wish to visit the Battery of San Felipe and Lighthouse ofel Caballo to the left, you should carry on along a beautiful track that crosses the forest and comes to Casa de la Leña, where there is a wonderful view over the cliffs and Rock of El Fraile.
To get to Peña Ganzo and el Buciero, take a turning about 50 m on. The path enters the forest, crossing a unique "gorge", where you will see that the leafy forest mass gradually changes in appearance. This is due to the fact that an open cast iron mine was once operated in this area, at the beginning of the 19th century.
Upon being abandoned, the Atlantic species (hazelnut, oak, holly, beech) which were better adapted to the current climatic conditions, replaced a large part of the pre-existing Mediterranean vegetation. Small trial pits can still been seen along the route, the remains of the former mining activity that destroyed the original vegetation.
Continuing along the path, you will come to the unique "Valle de los Avellanos", (Valley of the Hazelnut Trees), a doline that is almost completely covered by this species due to the reasons explained above. To the right is a narrow trail climbing up through the forest where the Mediterranean species again predominate. You now come to two complicated stretches: the first is near an area of rocky outcrops where the path appears to carry straight on, next to the rocks, but where it is actually necessary to turn to the right, and cross the lapiaz for a few metres until you again come to the earthen rail. Further on, in an area with a slight slope, take the path that goes up to the right, without taking the path that continues straight on.
Here, cross the meadow until its upper limit where you will see a crossroads. Continue along to the right, entering another forest and you will come out practically on the hill between Peña Ganzo and Buciero. This area has many karstified zones, and is dominated by shrubs with the occasional Holm oak where one must be careful not to lose sight of the path. About 100 metres after leaving the forest, there is a crossroads with two forks. The one on the left goes to Buciero and Fort of el Mazo, and the one on the right to Peña Ganzo.
If you decide to take the latter, go along the edge of a thick Holm oak forest until you reach a small meadow at the foot of the largest peak. From there, go towards the foot of the peak, and from there, cross a small, deep channel to eventually reach the milestone indicating the highest peak in the massif (378 metres). The views from this peak are not all that good, and those offered by the rocky peak of Buciero are much better. To get there, go back along the path until you reach the crossroads on the hill, and follow the path through shrubs and rocks until you eventually reach the summit (367 metres), where a large cross rises, with a pole. The views over Santoña, Berria beach and the estuary of the Asón are quite spectacular.
From this exception vantage point, start the descent towards the Fort of el Mazo. First of all, you will cross bare, rocky ground until you come to a narrow path that descneds towards an abandoned hut. Here, after going through a gate in poor condition, go down the path between the walls of the plot until you reach the path to the Fort of el Mazo.
Extensive parking areas in the sea promenade of Santoña.
Connectivity with other routes:
Connected with the other four routes of the Mount Buciero Routes Network.
This is an easy route through the town of Santoña that enables visitors to see the principal fortifications built during the time of Napoleon, and subsequent years (three forts, two magazines and two batteries).
Get to know in situ the secular seafaring tradition of the town (fishing port, canning industries, marine lanscape) and the valuable ecosystems of the marshes and coastal Holm oak groves.
The route starts out at the end of the sea promenade, near the Fort of San Martín, the construction of which was carried out in 1863. It rises majestically over the bay of Santoña, and, together with the nearby Fort of San Carlos, defended the entrance to the bay from enemy invasions. This strategic site was used in previous times, since at the beginning of the 17th century, the inhabitants of Santoña had erected a fortification to defend the town. After climbing up some steps that emerge from under the fort, you will come to a crossroads where you should take the fork to the right. The one on the left goes to the Fort of El Mazo, which you will take later. A few metres on is another crossroads, where you turn to the right again towards the Fort of San Carlos. A
At the fork itself, you can admire the two batteries of Galbanes, the high one next to the road and the low one, on the sea promenade. These were situated between both forts and served to support and complement the defensive system that covered the entrance to the bay and its harbour.
Less than one kilometre from the Fort, is the Fort of San Carlos. The fortification dates from 1688 and was constructed on the site of the Castle of Torrecilla, which some sources say was built in the times of Felipe II. After many reforms during the 18th century, it was used during the time of Napoleon, and its current state dates from the reform work carried out in 1859.
From this point, return to the Fort of San Martín, from where you take the fork leading up to the Fort of el Mazo. About one hundred metres on, you will come to the High and Low batteries of San Martín, a large esplanade from which the Fort of San Martín was protected, and where today, one can still see the supports on which the cannons rested. Carry on along the route which enters the relic Cantabrian Holm oak forest, a site of great ecological value in el Buciero, where you climb to the Vantage Point of Casablanca, halfway between the two forts, with wonderful views over Santoña and the estuary of the river Asón.
After ascending the trail for one and a half kilometres, you will come to the Fort of el Mazo and Magazine of Helechal, located in a sheltered spot, safe from the impacts of enemy fire. The Fort of el Mazo was also erroneously referred to as the Fort of Napoleon, due to being confused with the Imperial Fort of Napoleon, built at the same time as this Fort, and demolished at the beginning of the 20th century to construct the buildings that are now the Prison of el Dueso.
Returning to the path, head towards the District of el Dueso, continuing straight on along the asphalted road after the small turning to the Fort. Gradually descend, passing a turning on the right, 500 metres further on. After another 500 metres, you come to the district of el Dueso, where you will see the Magazine of el Dueso, in this case, constructed with the aim of supplying the Imperial Fort, which was demolished.
Then take the path upwards from the small square with the children’s play area and sports complex, turn to the left and and carry on along the road until you leave el Dueso and end up at a crossroads, where you then take the turning to the left. Follow this road, passing the quarry of Sorbal, carry on for a new metres until you come to some hidden steps on the right, next to a stone wall.
Go down the steps and you will come to a small dirt track that runs along the edge of the Marshes of Sorbal. This is a freshwater marsh that is supplied by underground waters from the Buciero, at the foot of which it is located.
The path which runs between ditch reeds and other species of plants that are typical of the marshes, ends next to the national highway. Here, turn to the right, go along the hard shoulder for 30 metres and cross the road, taking great care. Enter the industrial estate, where, if you walk along the outer perimeter, near the sea, you will observe firstly the largest concentration of anchovy canning plants in Spain, and secondly, a fantastic view over the Marshes and the Asón estuary.
Carry on along the outer edge of the estate, and you will come to the regional road CA-241, that crosses the Marshes. Continue on to the left, and you will then come to the singular and traditional Fishing Port, with its fish market and the recently installed Vantage Point of the Marshes in the shape of a ship’s bow. This is the port area, one of the most emblematic and traditional ports in the whole of Spain, due to its large quantities of fish and all the activities related to this activity, which continue to be carried out in the town. For this reason, we recommend strolling around the port and taking a few minutes to admire the area that surrounds it from the vantage point.
The pleasant sea promenade starts from the port. This promenade "invites visitors to walk to the Fort of San Martín in about 20 minutes. To do this, walk round the Bull Ring (built in 1907), carry on along the promenade, where you will see the beach of San Martín (at the foot of the promenade), the traditional activities of searching for shellfish, the Monument to Juan de la Cosa, a famous sailor from the town, and author of the first mapamundi, or the boat landing that joins Santoña to Laredo. You will finally come to the starting point, underneath the Fort of San Martín.
Degree of difficulty: Low. Difference in altitude: 140 metres. Time:
Accesses: La Alameda, at the entrance to Santoña from the road from Argoños. If walking the route back, access is from near the Fort of el Mazo, along a small hidden path between the Fort and the small car park.
Car park: There is a large car park near La Alameda, near the start of the route
Of the five routes, this is the shortest one, and is important due to the fact that it links up the town of Santoña with the Mount Buciero Routes Network itself.
This is a straight route that runs throughout practically all its length through the important relic Holm oak forest, the characteristic feature of the Mountain.
Starting out from the Alameda de Santoña, head towards the fork that leaves the roundabout in the direction of El Dueso and Berria. From there, the path starts out, hidden among different buildings. After climbing some steps, there is a narrow path between some walls, to the left.
The path climbs up to the Fort of el Mazo, coming out in the area mentioned above, and carries on until it reaches the forest. It gradually enters a green corridor where the thick vegetation reduces the light to a minimum: it crosses an area defined by the most important relic Cantabrian Holm oak forest in the north of Spain.
The path is bounded on the right by a wall separating the plots, that accompanies you to the end of the route. Beside it, the route continues until you come to a small gate. After crossing it, the path continues to zig-zag up the slope and ends at a crossroads at the start of the stone path that leads to the Powder Magazine of el Helechal and the Fort of el Mazo.
Palace of Manzanedo, S/N - 39740 SANTOÑA - Tel.y Fax: 942660066 - E-Mail: email@example.com
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, from 10.00 to 14.00 and from 17.00 to 20.00 Sundays, from 11.00 to 14.00