Stage 4: Deba Markina-Xemein (24.3km)
Here the pilgrim is faced with the most inland and mountainous stage and the one with the greatest grade differences in the whole of the Basque Country, meaning that it rises and falls very steeply. In ancient times, according to Juan Uria, the Route made its way through Deba by the Sasiola convent hospital neighbourhood and proceeded to Astigarribia, with a monastery dedicated to St Andrew since as far back as the 11th century, later connecting via Aparain to today’s itinerary. Not advisable for biking pilgrims, who can take the road via Mutriku and Ondarroa, the route starts rising very steeply in Deba, climbing up to the Calvario de Maia hermitage. Next, on the way to Olatz through tunnels of Cantabrian holm oaks, the sea will disappear from view until stage 8.
Following the course of the Anu stream will serve as a warm-up for the most difficult part of the route along a track through trees on the side of the Arno massif, the separation between Gipuzkoa and Bizkaia. A brief descent to muster strength is followed by a long stretch of ups and downs, passing isolated farmhouses and patches of planted pine trees. Once past the steep uphill slope behind the Amulategi farmhouse, the grade is a little more favourable, before falling sharply, with a strong risk of slipping in the last part of the stage.