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Foces de Lumbier

What to see?

Mountains of LumbierColonies of griffon vultures flying over the cliffs, sheer rock faces where birds nest, a river with clean and fresh water that cuts through the narrow and changeable rocks, the remains of a bridge that (according to legend) was built with the help of the Devil, two tunnels through which the first electric train in Spain (the Irati) used to run.

If you visit the Foz de Lumbier you can enjoy wildlife and harsh landscapes in this narrow gorge carved out by the river Irati that reveals a singular landscape of scarped rocks, the home of great birds of prey.

Access to this Nature Reserve is from a nearby car park, and signposted footpaths take you through a narrow pass that brings you to the first foothills of the Pyrenees in the east of Navarre.
From the nearby town of Lumbier you reach a car park located just a few metres from the entry to the gorge. The Foz de Lumbier is carved out of the limestone rock by the river Irati at the western end of the Leyre range of mountains, at the foot of the Navarrese Pyrenees. It is one of the most spectacular gorges in Navarre, a landscape created over millions of years by the waters of the river Irati, which have left their mark on this sanctuary of nature day by day. The gorge was declared a Nature Reserve in 1987.

Lumbier is a narrow and small gorge, just 1,300 metres long, but of spectacular beauty. Its vertical walls reach a maximum height of 150 metres and large birds of prey live in the cracks and ledges, with species such as griffon vultures whose flights will accompany you in your visit to the gorge. It is also a refuge for foxes, boar, badgers and owls, and is strewn with gall and kermes oaks and bushes such as thyme, lavender and gorse that hang from the cracks, vegetation that is transformed into woods of poplars, willows and ash trees at the entry and exit of the gorge.

In contrast to many other canyons, you can walk through Lumbier along an easy track that runs along the bottom of the cliffs for 2.6 kilometres. The route was created for the old Irati train (the first electric train in Spain) that linked Pamplona with Sangüesa between 1911 and 1955.

The signposted path runs along the river and crosses the rock through two tunnels (206 and 160 metres long) that do not have artificial light. Towards the end of the path the route goes around the rock and reaches the remains of the Puente del Diablo (Devil's Bridge), which was built in the 16th century with a raised arch 15 metres above the river. It was destroyed by the French in 1812 during the War of Independence, and owes its name to a legend that says that its builder asked the devil for help to finish it.

There is a second route (5.5 kilometres long) that starts from the same point. Signposted with green and white marks and wooden posts, the route goes around the gorge and returns to the car park through it. It includes a difference in height of 175 metres and offers excellent views of the surrounding area.

If you would like to get to know the ecosystem of the area a little better, there is a Gorge Nature Interpretation Centre in Lumbier which contains a series of exhibitions, audiovisuals and simulations. It also includes information on the nearby gorge of Arbayún.

Take time out to visit the towns of Lumbier and Sangüesa and the remains of a second-century Roman villa in the nearby village of Liédena. If you prefer to continue enjoying the elegant flight of the griffon vultures, stop off at the viewpoint on the NA-178 road a short distance from the junction with the road to Jaca. From here you can see a feeding place of the vultures and the spectacle of the enormous birds suspended in the air before they swoop down on their prey.

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