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5 Reasons why you SHOULD walk the Camino del Norte....

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Matt Wright

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015), Finisterre-Muxia (2015), Portuguese (2016)
There was a very thought-provoking post a while back about 'Why you should not walk the Camino del Norte (or at least not until you have read this post'.

To be fair, we were already committed to walking CDN by this point, and the post did make a number of valid points, namely:

* Hills - yup, plenty of those!
* Limited cafe & bar stops - yup, especially in the earlier stages
* Albergues - yup, not as numerous or cheap as on the CF (there again, where is?)

So, we figured that having already walked the Camino Frances and the Camino Portugues, we could handle the lack of infrastructure and occasional hardship for the reward of spectacular walking.....and so it proved, many times over...many many times over.

Reasons why you SHOULD walk the Camino del Norte

1. The views are awe-inspiring - have a decent-sized memory card on your phone, because almost every day there are jaw-dropping vistas (OK, the industrial walking on the day out of Santander might not have been the best, but hey, it makes you appreciate the other days!)
2. You get to take really cool foot ferries - waiting on the boardwalk in Laredo with the other pilgrims for the ferry over to Santona and the subsequent ride across must be one of the best ways to start a day's walking...ever!
3. You love walking - yes, there are tough long days without many of the 'comfort' stops on the CF, so if you've just bought your first pair of walking shoes/boots, then this probably isn't for you. However, if you love nature, forests, seascapes, and don't mind a variety of elements (the weather can change quickly!), then this is the walk for you.
4. You love seafood - bit obvious really, but the menus del dia by the coast (and inland too) were fantastic; the usual 3 courses with wine, but with fresh langoustines, mussels, anchovies, sardines, seafood paella....etc. Yes, it's more expensive than CF (around €10-14 usually, depending upon the size of the town) but you're not eating 'Menu Pellegrino' (chicken & chips...etc), you're eating what the locals eat...and they eat very well indeed!
5. You're not on a highly restrictive budget - if you want to walk a Camino as cheaply as possible, go for the CF - it's highly populated, hence has the volume and is set up as such. There was a notable lack of the young college/uni students (<25 yrs old) on the CDN, no doubt in part due to this fact. And yes, there aren't always albergues conveniently located....but if you hook up/travel as a pair, and go out of season (high season is generally 1 July - 15 Sep), then a decent pension will often cost not much different (+€5-10 or so) compared to 2 dorm beds in an albergue.

Context: we walked from San Sebastian to Gijon (460km) in 18 days between 23 May - 9 June 2017.

Blog: we kept a blog of our daily walks complete with pictures - please feel free to check it out and comment:
http://www.jackiemattadventures.com/walks/camino-del-norte/

Restaurants & Accommodation:
are referred to in the blog, but I'm working on a separate page to collate where we ate & stayed and roughly how much it cost....I'll add this shortly (in the next couple of days), so if interested in that, please bear with....or ask me directly and if I can help, I will.

Enjoy....but don't tell everybody about the CDN - some things are best kept a secret!!!
 

MKalcolm M

Solvitur ambulando - It is solved by walking
Camino(s) past & future
north route spring 2013
As a Norte aficionado, I have always been surprised at how often it is put down. I walked it and loved it. Here are 5 more reasons.

1) The coastline is superb, and allows you to walk along beaches which are several kilometers long, clifftops with incredible views out to sea, harbours teeming with activity to sit and enjoy a drink at, and fantastic pic-nick spots.

2) The camaraderie with other pilgrims is more intense, as there are fewer pilgrims, but you are more likely to meet up in the alberges or en-route. I made some great friendships on the Norte, and have both visited and hosted several people from other countries whom I met on this walk. I really enjoyed the interaction with my fellow pilgrims.

3) The variation each day, between sea, mountains, valleys, ridge tops, clifftops, beaches, small villages and big cities means no two days are the same. Often when reaching a viewpoint over a panorama of scenery we would play a game, trying to guess the route of the camino, we were rarely correct.

4) The peace and tranquility, within the forests and hills on days when I wanted solitude. There were ample opportunities for being alone and reflection, Sometimes I could walk for hours without seeing other pilgrims.

5) Much more opportunities to meet and interact with locals, as pilgrims are fewer, and there are less tourists when away from the seaside towns. I had a great time at a festival in Deba, learning how to dance like a Basque and in return attempting to teach some Scottish dances to the locals.

The Norte is a fantastic camino, and its differences with the Frances can be seen positively, just be open to what comes along, walking this route was one of the best experiences of my life!
 

Matt Wright

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015), Finisterre-Muxia (2015), Portuguese (2016)
As a Norte aficionado, I have always been surprised at how often it is put down. I walked it and loved it. Here are 5 more reasons.

1) The coastline is superb, and allows you to walk along beaches which are several kilometers long, clifftops with incredible views out to sea, harbours teeming with activity to sit and enjoy a drink at, and fantastic pic-nick spots.

2) The camaraderie with other pilgrims is more intense, as there are fewer pilgrims, but you are more likely to meet up in the alberges or en-route. I made some great friendships on the Norte, and have both visited and hosted several people from other countries whom I met on this walk. I really enjoyed the interaction with my fellow pilgrims.

3) The variation each day, between sea, mountains, valleys, ridge tops, clifftops, beaches, small villages and big cities means no two days are the same. Often when reaching a viewpoint over a panorama of scenery we would play a game, trying to guess the route of the camino, we were rarely correct.

4) The peace and tranquility, within the forests and hills on days when I wanted solitude. There were ample opportunities for being alone and reflection, Sometimes I could walk for hours without seeing other pilgrims.

5) Much more opportunities to meet and interact with locals, as pilgrims are fewer, and there are less tourists when away from the seaside towns. I had a great time at a festival in Deba, learning how to dance like a Basque and in return attempting to teach some Scottish dances to the locals.

The Norte is a fantastic camino, and its differences with the Frances can be seen positively, just be open to what comes along, walking this route was one of the best experiences of my life!
 

Matt Wright

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015), Finisterre-Muxia (2015), Portuguese (2016)
Absolutely Malcolm....couldn't agree more!

I'm sure we could go on about many more reasons why this is, in many ways, a more authentic pilgrimage experience, given the opportunities for reflection, solitude, and the occasional dose of hardship, but fortified by nature at its very finest.....

....but then, if everybody did it, maybe it just wouldn't be the same, would it? So, I revel in and applaud its differences.
 

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, Le Puy, Rota Vicentina, Soulac, Norte, Madrid, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés
Hi, great post.
There aren’t as many albergues as on the CF, but there are enough.
The places I stayed:
Irun Albergue Capitan Tximista (E19)
Pasajes de San Juan Albergue de Peregrinos (E10) (donativo)
San Sebastian A Room In The City (E18)
Zarautz Albergue Gran Camping (E5)
Deba Albergue de Peregrinos (E5)
Markina Albergue Pitis (E12)
Gernika Youth Hostel (E18)
Zamudio Hotel Artea-Errota (E21)
Portugalete Albergue Bide Ona (E12)
Castro Urdiales Pension La Mar (E35)
Laredo Albergue Casa Trinidad (E10)
Guemes La Cabana del Abuelo Peuto (E20) (donativo)
Santa Cruz Albergue Nimon (E15)
Santillana del Mar Hospidaje Santillana (a buddy had double-booked hotel rooms so we helped her out by taking the second booking)
Cobreces Posada Las Mananitas (E24)
Comillas Abba Golf Apt (a 3-bedroom apartment for 14 euros each)
San Vicente Apt Rincon del Puerto (a 2-bedroom apartment for 22 euros each)
Unquera Hotel Canal (a triple room for 16.50 euros each)
Llanes Youth Hostel (E10)
Villahormes Albergue Punta Pestana (E10)
San Esteban Albergue de Peregrinos (E6)
Colunga Hotel Las Vegas (a triple room for 17 euros each)
Villaviciosa Albergue Congreso (E12)
Cabuenes Albergue Camping Deva (E6)
Aviles Albergue de Peregrinos (E6)
Muros Apartment La Flor (a 2-bedroom apartment for 22 euros each)
Soto de Luina Albergue de Peregrinos (E5)
Cadavedo Albergue Covi y Peter (E10)
Luarca Albergue Villa de Luarca (E11)
Navia Pension Cantabrico (a triple room for 15 euros each)
Tol Albergue de Peregrinos (E5)
Ribadeo Albergue de Peregrinos (E5)
San Xusto Albergue de Peregrinos (E5)
Mondonedo Hostal Padornelo (E24)
Gontan Albergue de Peregrinos (E6)
Vilalba Albergue de Peregrinos (E6)
Baamonde Albergue de Peregrinos (E6)
Miraz Albergue O'Abrigo (E10)
Sobrado Albergue de Peregrinos (E6)
Boimorto Albergue de Peregrinos (E6)
Pedrouzo Albergue Cruceiro (E10)
Santiago PR 25 de Julio (E22.50)

Jill
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés
De la plata
There was a very thought-provoking post a while back about 'Why you should not walk the Camino del Norte (or at least not until you have read this post'.

To be fair, we were already committed to walking CDN by this point, and the post did make a number of valid points, namely:

* Hills - yup, plenty of those!
* Limited cafe & bar stops - yup, especially in the earlier stages
* Albergues - yup, not as numerous or cheap as on the CF (there again, where is?)

So, we figured that having already walked the Camino Frances and the Camino Portugues, we could handle the lack of infrastructure and occasional hardship for the reward of spectacular walking.....and so it proved, many times over...many many times over.

Reasons why you SHOULD walk the Camino del Norte

1. The views are awe-inspiring - have a decent-sized memory card on your phone, because almost every day there are jaw-dropping vistas (OK, the industrial walking on the day out of Santander might not have been the best, but hey, it makes you appreciate the other days!)
2. You get to take really cool foot ferries - waiting on the boardwalk in Laredo with the other pilgrims for the ferry over to Santona and the subsequent ride across must be one of the best ways to start a day's walking...ever!
3. You love walking - yes, there are tough long days without many of the 'comfort' stops on the CF, so if you've just bought your first pair of walking shoes/boots, then this probably isn't for you. However, if you love nature, forests, seascapes, and don't mind a variety of elements (the weather can change quickly!), then this is the walk for you.
4. You love seafood - bit obvious really, but the menus del dia by the coast (and inland too) were fantastic; the usual 3 courses with wine, but with fresh langoustines, mussels, anchovies, sardines, seafood paella....etc. Yes, it's more expensive than CF (around €10-14 usually, depending upon the size of the town) but you're not eating 'Menu Pellegrino' (chicken & chips...etc), you're eating what the locals eat...and they eat very well indeed!
5. You're not on a highly restrictive budget - if you want to walk a Camino as cheaply as possible, go for the CF - it's highly populated, hence has the volume and is set up as such. There was a notable lack of the young college/uni students (<25 yrs old) on the CDN, no doubt in part due to this fact. And yes, there aren't always albergues conveniently located....but if you hook up/travel as a pair, and go out of season (high season is generally 1 July - 15 Sep), then a decent pension will often cost not much different (+€5-10 or so) compared to 2 dorm beds in an albergue.

Context: we walked from San Sebastian to Gijon (460km) in 18 days between 23 May - 9 June 2017.

Blog: we kept a blog of our daily walks complete with pictures - please feel free to check it out and comment:
http://www.jackiemattadventures.com/walks/camino-del-norte/

Restaurants & Accommodation:
are referred to in the blog, but I'm working on a separate page to collate where we ate & stayed and roughly how much it cost....I'll add this shortly (in the next couple of days), so if interested in that, please bear with....or ask me directly and if I can help, I will.

Enjoy....but don't tell everybody about the CDN - some things are best kept a secret!!!
So useful, thanks. Have been to many of those places visiting people so wondered if it there would be no need to walk it, but now I have read your post it's on my list!
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking.
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
There was a very thought-provoking post a while back about 'Why you should not walk the Camino del Norte (or at least not until you have read this post'.

To be fair, we were already committed to walking CDN by this point, and the post did make a number of valid points, namely:

* Hills - yup, plenty of those!
* Limited cafe & bar stops - yup, especially in the earlier stages
* Albergues - yup, not as numerous or cheap as on the CF (there again, where is?)

So, we figured that having already walked the Camino Frances and the Camino Portugues, we could handle the lack of infrastructure and occasional hardship for the reward of spectacular walking.....and so it proved, many times over...many many times over.

Reasons why you SHOULD walk the Camino del Norte

1. The views are awe-inspiring - have a decent-sized memory card on your phone, because almost every day there are jaw-dropping vistas (OK, the industrial walking on the day out of Santander might not have been the best, but hey, it makes you appreciate the other days!)
2. You get to take really cool foot ferries - waiting on the boardwalk in Laredo with the other pilgrims for the ferry over to Santona and the subsequent ride across must be one of the best ways to start a day's walking...ever!
3. You love walking - yes, there are tough long days without many of the 'comfort' stops on the CF, so if you've just bought your first pair of walking shoes/boots, then this probably isn't for you. However, if you love nature, forests, seascapes, and don't mind a variety of elements (the weather can change quickly!), then this is the walk for you.
4. You love seafood - bit obvious really, but the menus del dia by the coast (and inland too) were fantastic; the usual 3 courses with wine, but with fresh langoustines, mussels, anchovies, sardines, seafood paella....etc. Yes, it's more expensive than CF (around €10-14 usually, depending upon the size of the town) but you're not eating 'Menu Pellegrino' (chicken & chips...etc), you're eating what the locals eat...and they eat very well indeed!
5. You're not on a highly restrictive budget - if you want to walk a Camino as cheaply as possible, go for the CF - it's highly populated, hence has the volume and is set up as such. There was a notable lack of the young college/uni students (<25 yrs old) on the CDN, no doubt in part due to this fact. And yes, there aren't always albergues conveniently located....but if you hook up/travel as a pair, and go out of season (high season is generally 1 July - 15 Sep), then a decent pension will often cost not much different (+€5-10 or so) compared to 2 dorm beds in an albergue.

Context: we walked from San Sebastian to Gijon (460km) in 18 days between 23 May - 9 June 2017.

Blog: we kept a blog of our daily walks complete with pictures - please feel free to check it out and comment:
http://www.jackiemattadventures.com/walks/camino-del-norte/

Restaurants & Accommodation:
are referred to in the blog, but I'm working on a separate page to collate where we ate & stayed and roughly how much it cost....I'll add this shortly (in the next couple of days), so if interested in that, please bear with....or ask me directly and if I can help, I will.

Enjoy....but don't tell everybody about the CDN - some things are best kept a secret!!!
I walked the Norte/Primitivo combo April/May 2016 and loved it. Thank you for taking the time to "sing its praises". I totally agree. I just returned recently from walking the Frances route a second time and feel I am done with it. I found I was missing the Norte.
 

Peter Brandon

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Del Norte (2014)
Primitivo (2014)
Finisterre (2014)
French (2015)
English (2015)
Francaise (2016)
Great comments. My wife and I did the del Norte in 2014 as far as Oveido then we branched off and walked the Primitivo eventually joining the Francaise into CDS. I loved the sections of the del Norte which we completed however the amount of road walking was off putting.
 

Bodei

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 28 April 2017
I just finished 2 days ago and loved it! I actually switched from the Frances to the Norte (Bilbao) in early May after having walked from St. Jean to Logroño. It was just crazy busy there and the race for a new was too stressful for me. It was my first Camino and my first time tracking and I was fine.
I have not found the Norte to be expensive at all. I didn't feel like the Albergues were more expensive and because there are fewer facilities along the way I mostly just bought lunch at a supermercado. Saves a lot of money ;)
 

Colette Z

Happy Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
CF- Finisterre-Muxia 03/17; Camino SK 10/17; Norte 03/18; Ingles 11/18; Augusta 03/19
There was a very thought-provoking post a while back about 'Why you should not walk the Camino del Norte (or at least not until you have read this post'.

To be fair, we were already committed to walking CDN by this point, and the post did make a number of valid points, namely:

* Hills - yup, plenty of those!
* Limited cafe & bar stops - yup, especially in the earlier stages
* Albergues - yup, not as numerous or cheap as on the CF (there again, where is?)

So, we figured that having already walked the Camino Frances and the Camino Portugues, we could handle the lack of infrastructure and occasional hardship for the reward of spectacular walking.....and so it proved, many times over...many many times over.

Reasons why you SHOULD walk the Camino del Norte

1. The views are awe-inspiring - have a decent-sized memory card on your phone, because almost every day there are jaw-dropping vistas (OK, the industrial walking on the day out of Santander might not have been the best, but hey, it makes you appreciate the other days!)
2. You get to take really cool foot ferries - waiting on the boardwalk in Laredo with the other pilgrims for the ferry over to Santona and the subsequent ride across must be one of the best ways to start a day's walking...ever!
3. You love walking - yes, there are tough long days without many of the 'comfort' stops on the CF, so if you've just bought your first pair of walking shoes/boots, then this probably isn't for you. However, if you love nature, forests, seascapes, and don't mind a variety of elements (the weather can change quickly!), then this is the walk for you.
4. You love seafood - bit obvious really, but the menus del dia by the coast (and inland too) were fantastic; the usual 3 courses with wine, but with fresh langoustines, mussels, anchovies, sardines, seafood paella....etc. Yes, it's more expensive than CF (around €10-14 usually, depending upon the size of the town) but you're not eating 'Menu Pellegrino' (chicken & chips...etc), you're eating what the locals eat...and they eat very well indeed!
5. You're not on a highly restrictive budget - if you want to walk a Camino as cheaply as possible, go for the CF - it's highly populated, hence has the volume and is set up as such. There was a notable lack of the young college/uni students (<25 yrs old) on the CDN, no doubt in part due to this fact. And yes, there aren't always albergues conveniently located....but if you hook up/travel as a pair, and go out of season (high season is generally 1 July - 15 Sep), then a decent pension will often cost not much different (+€5-10 or so) compared to 2 dorm beds in an albergue.

Context: we walked from San Sebastian to Gijon (460km) in 18 days between 23 May - 9 June 2017.

Blog: we kept a blog of our daily walks complete with pictures - please feel free to check it out and comment:
http://www.jackiemattadventures.com/walks/camino-del-norte/

Restaurants & Accommodation:
are referred to in the blog, but I'm working on a separate page to collate where we ate & stayed and roughly how much it cost....I'll add this shortly (in the next couple of days), so if interested in that, please bear with....or ask me directly and if I can help, I will.

Enjoy....but don't tell everybody about the CDN - some things are best kept a secret!!!
Thank you so much for this post and blog. I completed my first CF + Fisterra + Muxia end of April 2017. I will walk again Mid March 2018 either CDN vs CP, leaning towards CDN for the hills And coastline. I think better to do it when I'm still physically capable of climbing and longer day's. Im aware of weather challenges. Thanks again.
 

bkrey

New Member
A great thread...so many wonderful things about this route it would not be possible to list them all. In addition to the items listed by the originator and other posters, i recall the kindness of local people in small towns experienced over and over in tiny grocery stores, pharmacies, bars and restaurants, and the riot of colour in the Spanish gardens.
 

Peter Brandon

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Del Norte (2014)
Primitivo (2014)
Finisterre (2014)
French (2015)
English (2015)
Francaise (2016)
I just finished 2 days ago and loved it! I actually switched from the Frances to the Norte (Bilbao) in early May after having walked from St. Jean to Logroño. It was just crazy busy there and the race for a new was too stressful for me. It was my first Camino and my first time tracking and I was fine.
I have not found the Norte to be expensive at all. I didn't feel like the Albergues were more expensive and because there are fewer facilities along the way I mostly just bought lunch at a supermercado. Saves a lot of money ;)
Well done Bodet. We did the same thing. Bought our food for snacks and lunch at supermercados and drank water during the day and enjoyed cervassas and vino tinto at night! May there be many more Caminos!
 

bunnymac

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012 SJPP-Logrono, 2013 Logrono-Burgos, 2014 Burgos-Leon
CF August/September 2016 SJPP- Santiago
There was a very thought-provoking post a while back about 'Why you should not walk the Camino del Norte (or at least not until you have read this post'.

To be fair, we were already committed to walking CDN by this point, and the post did make a number of valid points, namely:

* Hills - yup, plenty of those!
* Limited cafe & bar stops - yup, especially in the earlier stages
* Albergues - yup, not as numerous or cheap as on the CF (there again, where is?)

So, we figured that having already walked the Camino Frances and the Camino Portugues, we could handle the lack of infrastructure and occasional hardship for the reward of spectacular walking.....and so it proved, many times over...many many times over.

Reasons why you SHOULD walk the Camino del Norte

1. The views are awe-inspiring - have a decent-sized memory card on your phone, because almost every day there are jaw-dropping vistas (OK, the industrial walking on the day out of Santander might not have been the best, but hey, it makes you appreciate the other days!)
2. You get to take really cool foot ferries - waiting on the boardwalk in Laredo with the other pilgrims for the ferry over to Santona and the subsequent ride across must be one of the best ways to start a day's walking...ever!
3. You love walking - yes, there are tough long days without many of the 'comfort' stops on the CF, so if you've just bought your first pair of walking shoes/boots, then this probably isn't for you. However, if you love nature, forests, seascapes, and don't mind a variety of elements (the weather can change quickly!), then this is the walk for you.
4. You love seafood - bit obvious really, but the menus del dia by the coast (and inland too) were fantastic; the usual 3 courses with wine, but with fresh langoustines, mussels, anchovies, sardines, seafood paella....etc. Yes, it's more expensive than CF (around €10-14 usually, depending upon the size of the town) but you're not eating 'Menu Pellegrino' (chicken & chips...etc), you're eating what the locals eat...and they eat very well indeed!
5. You're not on a highly restrictive budget - if you want to walk a Camino as cheaply as possible, go for the CF - it's highly populated, hence has the volume and is set up as such. There was a notable lack of the young college/uni students (<25 yrs old) on the CDN, no doubt in part due to this fact. And yes, there aren't always albergues conveniently located....but if you hook up/travel as a pair, and go out of season (high season is generally 1 July - 15 Sep), then a decent pension will often cost not much different (+€5-10 or so) compared to 2 dorm beds in an albergue.

Context: we walked from San Sebastian to Gijon (460km) in 18 days between 23 May - 9 June 2017.

Blog: we kept a blog of our daily walks complete with pictures - please feel free to check it out and comment:
http://www.jackiemattadventures.com/walks/camino-del-norte/

Restaurants & Accommodation:
are referred to in the blog, but I'm working on a separate page to collate where we ate & stayed and roughly how much it cost....I'll add this shortly (in the next couple of days), so if interested in that, please bear with....or ask me directly and if I can help, I will.

Enjoy....but don't tell everybody about the CDN - some things are best kept a secret!!!
I'm taking two weeks there from 5th July. Really looking forward. I walked the CF earlier this year from San Jean to Pamplona. It was the first day that Col de Leopoder was open after winter and it was really busy. By the time we arrived at Zubiri all the hostels were full. I hope the CDN is less populated. Glad to hear your input.
 

joecamino

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017 CF
Great post! I just completed my first Camino-- the Frances-- a couple weeks ago. I'm still in Spain (Madrid now) visiting friends and deciding on what's next. One thought that's intriguing is to walk the stretch between San Sebastian and Bilbao (or Santander, or...)

After reading about the Norte, the question I'm wondering-- is it possible to break this into shorter than traditional stages, and find accommodations and food? Does anyone have suggestions on how they'd split this up?

I'd love to see these views, and am pretty confident I can handle the climbing. I just know I'm a slow walker, and will enjoy walk more knowing I have a room at day's end. Thanks!
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pelgrimspad I, Via Monastica, Via Podiensis, Via de la Plata, Camino Francés, Camino del Norte...
I'm taking two weeks there from 5th July. Really looking forward. I walked the CF earlier this year from San Jean to Pamplona. It was the first day that Col de Leopoder was open after winter and it was really busy. By the time we arrived at Zubiri all the hostels were full. I hope the CDN is less populated. Glad to hear your input.
Are you starting from Irun? I am, on the 5th of July!
 

poogeyejr

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte, May 2011
Norte, Sept 2013
Started the Frances, 2017
After reading about the Norte, the question I'm wondering-- is it possible to break this into shorter than traditional stages, and find accommodations and food? Does anyone have suggestions on how they'd split this up?
I walked in 2011 and did less that 20km per day. We stayed in hostels mostly. We had a few very short days, but we loved walking around the villages and seeing the sights.
 

bunnymac

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012 SJPP-Logrono, 2013 Logrono-Burgos, 2014 Burgos-Leon
CF August/September 2016 SJPP- Santiago
Are you starting from Irun? I am, on the 5th of July!
Yes Luka I am starting on the 5th July from Irun. I'm staying at Pension Gema near the station on 4th of July and leaving for San Sebastian on the 5th. Maybe our paths will cross.
 

bunnymac

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012 SJPP-Logrono, 2013 Logrono-Burgos, 2014 Burgos-Leon
CF August/September 2016 SJPP- Santiago
Great post! I just completed my first Camino-- the Frances-- a couple weeks ago. I'm still in Spain (Madrid now) visiting friends and deciding on what's next. One thought that's intriguing is to walk the stretch between San Sebastian and Bilbao (or Santander, or...)

After reading about the Norte, the question I'm wondering-- is it possible to break this into shorter than traditional stages, and find accommodations and food? Does anyone have suggestions on how they'd split this up?

I'd love to see these views, and am pretty confident I can handle the climbing. I just know I'm a slow walker, and will enjoy walk more knowing I have a room at day's end. Thanks!
Try Gronze.com Camino del Norte. It lists stops, distances and hostelries.
 

RIZALBONIMABINI

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (SJPDP), Sept-Oct 2016, CDN (Irun); Sept-Oct 2017; CI & CP (Porto), Aug-Sept 2018
As a Norte aficionado, I have always been surprised at how often it is put down. I walked it and loved it. Here are 5 more reasons.

1) The coastline is superb, and allows you to walk along beaches which are several kilometers long, clifftops with incredible views out to sea, harbours teeming with activity to sit and enjoy a drink at, and fantastic pic-nick spots.

2) The camaraderie with other pilgrims is more intense, as there are fewer pilgrims, but you are more likely to meet up in the alberges or en-route. I made some great friendships on the Norte, and have both visited and hosted several people from other countries whom I met on this walk. I really enjoyed the interaction with my fellow pilgrims.

3) The variation each day, between sea, mountains, valleys, ridge tops, clifftops, beaches, small villages and big cities means no two days are the same. Often when reaching a viewpoint over a panorama of scenery we would play a game, trying to guess the route of the camino, we were rarely correct.

4) The peace and tranquility, within the forests and hills on days when I wanted solitude. There were ample opportunities for being alone and reflection, Sometimes I could walk for hours without seeing other pilgrims.

5) Much more opportunities to meet and interact with locals, as pilgrims are fewer, and there are less tourists when away from the seaside towns. I had a great time at a festival in Deba, learning how to dance like a Basque and in return attempting to teach some Scottish dances to the locals.

The Norte is a fantastic camino, and its differences with the Frances can be seen positively, just be open to what comes along, walking this route was one of the best experiences of my life!

****

I did the Camino del Norte last Sept-Oct 2017 beginning from Irun. I loved it! For me, better than Camino Frances which I also completed, starting from SJPdP, Sept-Oct 2016. As previous postings reported, they are very different. But it boils down to one's reason(s) for doing the Camino. Though from the USA, I do not hope or expect much comfort; in a way I try to be authentic to the moods of the medieval conditions. And hey, it's only for a few weeks! Doing so makes me happily content.
 

Colette Z

Happy Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
CF- Finisterre-Muxia 03/17; Camino SK 10/17; Norte 03/18; Ingles 11/18; Augusta 03/19
I just returned from El Norte Irun to Santiago deviated to Valdedios/Polo de Siero/Oveido before back to Avilés logging 950km (albergue to albergue daily distance with little “touring” but as much coastal routes as permitted by weather conditions and there were very bad days). I’m still processing my emotions about El Norte. For me I walked 38days almost entirely alone, we were maybe 5 the first week Max meeting at Albergues (only Deba week 1). It was a Camino characterized by total solitude and an intense communion with nature. I had no expectations but I know it’s what I needed in the end. I knew I was a strong person who doesn’t give up but I discovered strengths I never knew I had. Despite the multiple days of ankle deep mud, drenching rain from morning till days end, 40-60kph winds, washed out forests paths, landslides......I kept calm, used logic, stayed safe and “walked in FAITH” that El Norte would not abandon me. It is totally not the Frances and had I walked El Norte as my first Camino perhaps I wouldn’t have done a second. Now I’m trying to stay in my zen Camino bubble as long as possible, give my feet a chance to heal (significant stress injuries - it rained at least 28 of the 38days I walked and my Trail runners lost most of the support they had) and thinking about a shorter Camino in 2019 (? Primitivo - I love climbing). PS: thanks to Peregrina2000 and Dave for “alternate coastal route descriptions. Buen camino to all.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking.
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Wow, what a difficult experience you endured, but "you made it"! My preconcieved fears before I walked the Norte were what you actually lived through. I loved my walk as I had a mostly great spring. It goes to show how "weather" can skew how we view our experiences, and from what I've read, 2018 has been unusually brutal for most pilgrims so far!
 

Teresafun

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Del Norte Sept 2018
There was a very thought-provoking post a while back about 'Why you should not walk the Camino del Norte (or at least not until you have read this post'.

To be fair, we were already committed to walking CDN by this point, and the post did make a number of valid points, namely:

* Hills - yup, plenty of those!
* Limited cafe & bar stops - yup, especially in the earlier stages
* Albergues - yup, not as numerous or cheap as on the CF (there again, where is?)

So, we figured that having already walked the Camino Frances and the Camino Portugues, we could handle the lack of infrastructure and occasional hardship for the reward of spectacular walking.....and so it proved, many times over...many many times over.

Reasons why you SHOULD walk the Camino del Norte

1. The views are awe-inspiring - have a decent-sized memory card on your phone, because almost every day there are jaw-dropping vistas (OK, the industrial walking on the day out of Santander might not have been the best, but hey, it makes you appreciate the other days!)
2. You get to take really cool foot ferries - waiting on the boardwalk in Laredo with the other pilgrims for the ferry over to Santona and the subsequent ride across must be one of the best ways to start a day's walking...ever!
3. You love walking - yes, there are tough long days without many of the 'comfort' stops on the CF, so if you've just bought your first pair of walking shoes/boots, then this probably isn't for you. However, if you love nature, forests, seascapes, and don't mind a variety of elements (the weather can change quickly!), then this is the walk for you.
4. You love seafood - bit obvious really, but the menus del dia by the coast (and inland too) were fantastic; the usual 3 courses with wine, but with fresh langoustines, mussels, anchovies, sardines, seafood paella....etc. Yes, it's more expensive than CF (around €10-14 usually, depending upon the size of the town) but you're not eating 'Menu Pellegrino' (chicken & chips...etc), you're eating what the locals eat...and they eat very well indeed!
5. You're not on a highly restrictive budget - if you want to walk a Camino as cheaply as possible, go for the CF - it's highly populated, hence has the volume and is set up as such. There was a notable lack of the young college/uni students (<25 yrs old) on the CDN, no doubt in part due to this fact. And yes, there aren't always albergues conveniently located....but if you hook up/travel as a pair, and go out of season (high season is generally 1 July - 15 Sep), then a decent pension will often cost not much different (+€5-10 or so) compared to 2 dorm beds in an albergue.

Context: we walked from San Sebastian to Gijon (460km) in 18 days between 23 May - 9 June 2017.

Blog: we kept a blog of our daily walks complete with pictures - please feel free to check it out and comment:
http://www.jackiemattadventures.com/walks/camino-del-norte/

Restaurants & Accommodation: are referred to in the blog, but I'm working on a separate page to collate where we ate & stayed and roughly how much it cost....I'll add this shortly (in the next couple of days), so if interested in that, please bear with....or ask me directly and if I can help, I will.

Enjoy....but don't tell everybody about the CDN - some things are best kept a secret!!!
Just finished the Del Norte, 37 days and you are spot on with everything you said. It’s not for everyone. It is the first Camino for me So I didn’t have anything to compare it to. All I can say is you should be prepared/somewhat fit. I wasn’t as fit as I should of been, the first week I wondered what I got myself into, but in a week I had my Camino legs. If you can make it from Hundarrabia/Irun toSan Sebastián, you can make it to the end
 

Annelienel

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances last 128 km
Camino Portuguese from Porto
Just finished the Del Norte, 37 days and you are spot on with everything you said. It’s not for everyone. It is the first Camino for me So I didn’t have anything to compare it to. All I can say is you should be prepared/somewhat fit. I wasn’t as fit as I should of been, the first week I wondered what I got myself into, but in a week I had my Camino legs. If you can make it from Hundarrabia/Irun toSan Sebastián, you can make it to the end
 

Annelienel

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances last 128 km
Camino Portuguese from Porto
Can you avoid the tar and asphalt parts? We did the Portuguese last and that was tough. I am just worried about the tar and asphalt parts. Is it not possible to cut that out altogether?
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
This not meant to be a contrarian post but I had a very different experience in May 2018. I started in Laredo after going to the Rugby Tournament in Bilbao. I walked for days and days in rain and wind and because I didn't have a "family" group I would have been walking with if I started in Irun, I felt like an outcast, unwelcome by the groups at the place I spent the nights. This the 8th time I have walked across Spain to Santiago and freely admit that I am an iconoclast, so being a loner works for me but no "toast" at dinner is strange to me. I bailed out and went south to walk the Camino Madrid and totally love it.
 

AJGuillaume

Pélerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Can you avoid the tar and asphalt parts? We did the Portuguese last and that was tough. I am just worried about the tar and asphalt parts. Is it not possible to cut that out altogether?
@Annelienel , you can't avoid the tar and asphalt parts altogether, but you can avoid a lot of them by looking for coastal alternatives. There's plenty of posts covering those alternatives, which are just superb.
We have just returned from the Norte (and a bit more), and we used the Buen Camino app, as well as the Wise Pilgrim app to guide us, and as these display maps, we often found parallel paths that took us off tar and asphalt.
My advice: don't blindly follow the Camino markings (unless you are a purist), and look for GR paths.
Buen Camino
Andrew
 

Teresafun

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Del Norte Sept 2018
@Annelienel , you can't avoid the tar and asphalt parts altogether, but you can avoid a lot of them by looking for coastal alternatives. There's plenty of posts covering those alternatives, which are just superb.
We have just returned from the Norte (and a bit more), and we used the Buen Camino app, as well as the Wise Pilgrim app to guide us, and as these display maps, we often found parallel paths that took us off tar and asphalt.
My advice: don't blindly follow the Camino markings (unless you are a purist), and look for GR paths.
Buen Camino
Andrew
If you do plan to hit the pavement bring along good comfy shoes to change into, otherwise you’re going to feel the fatigue of asphalt walking
 

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