Away from the city centre, El Regato is the area of nature expansion par excellence in Barakaldo. Its rural character, almost hidden on the fringe of a small valley surrounded by mountains, makes it the perfect place for a walk or spending a day of rest in family or with friends. Our tour begins in the neighbourhood of Retuerto (N. 1), where we take a diversion from the Bilbao-Santander N-634 road. Very soon we reach Bengolea (N. 2), a place where a mill-forge was placed in the antiquity and has entered into the imaginary of Barakaldo by the lyrics of a song that praises the quality of the trout fished in the river Castaños at this point.
A little further, surrounded by Tellaetxe park, the sports complex Gorostiza (N. 3) offers a perfect setting for doing a great number of sports, with several pools, tennis courts, gym, an indoors hall, a sundeck, and a climbing wall as well as a bar, a cafe and a restaurant. Beyond this point, the route continues alongside a group of country houses, some of which still preserves alive part of the rural memory of Barakaldo, previous to the industrialization in the twentieth century.
A short ascent brings us now to the reservoir (N. 4) of El Regato, built for its exclusive use by Altos Hornos de Vizcaya (AHV) and today serves as a place of recreation offering, wedged between mountains, a romantic image of calm.
A half-an-hour walk takes us to the main area of El Regato (No. 5) that meets the end of the dam. Here in in its entrance we find a spacious parking, a square, and the church of San Roque, patron of this neighbourhood, and scattered all along the road that passes through it, numerous bars and restaurants in which you can enjoy a meal and make a well-deserved rest.
Historical and Environmental Interpretation Centre – Luis Choya Almaraz
Nearby, we can visit the Historical and Environmental Interpretation Centre – Luis Choya Almaraz (N.6), a building opened to the general public, in which, through audio-visual media, panels, models, videos, etc., a series of contents are presented to visitors allowing them learning about the most relevant physical, natural and historical aspects, as well as the ways of life and customs of the inhabitants.
But if El Regato was well-known for something until a few years ago, that was the large number and quality of cherries produced in the many trees that took the hillsides of this beautiful valley. `de Agirre’, `de onza’, `negritas’, `francesas’, `menudillas’ were the names of some of the varieties of this fruit that achieved fame and notoriety for decades, until farming was ceased and pollution finished with the large-scale production.
However, the possibilities for walking around this unique place do not stop here. We can still visit some of the remains of the old mining installations that were exploited in these mountains, or, already on the way to our starting point, walking along the opposite edge of the swamp to go around its entire perimeter.