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Camino Book A better guidebook?

Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk around 2022
#1
I’m just curious what people’s recommendations are for the most accurate guidebook on the Camino Frances. I’ve read lots of comments/critiques of the Brierley guide and while I really enjoy the degree of detail and context he provides, I’m also concerned about the comments that his distances and elevations are off. By a LOT.

So where should I look for a more accurate guidebook? One that maintains a realistic distance in each stage, but also has correct distances etc? I’m just curious what others on the forum would choose.

Many thanks,
Mich
 

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Seven Compostelas in Three years and counting......
#3
I’m just curious what people’s recommendations are for the most accurate guidebook on the Camino Frances. I’ve read lots of comments/critiques of the Brierley guide and while I really enjoy the degree of detail and context he provides, I’m also concerned about the comments that his distances and elevations are off. By a LOT.

So where should I look for a more accurate guidebook? One that maintains a realistic distance in each stage, but also has correct distances etc? I’m just curious what others on the forum would choose.

Many thanks,
Mich
I use Brierley (map only version) for the Frances and don't find the distances too far out. (Wisepilgrim guides are great too)! I find ALL guides and signposts on the ground differ, but not by much (in Spain anyway). And remember, the camino routes actually move slightly year by year too.

And as said above, the pre-defined stages are just recommendations, not gospel. Walk as far or as little as you want! It amazes me that people think they HAVE to walk these set stages or they feel they have failed somehow!

I wouldn't worry about it, use whatever guide suits you best. In fact you don't even need one really on the Frances.

Davey
 
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk around 2022
#4
My best advice (without recommending my own series of guidebooks explicitly) is that no matter which book you buy you should immediately put out of mind any noting of pre-defined stages.
Thanks, wisepilgrim - I wasn't really thinking in terms of pre-defined stages, but was more wanting to ensure that the guidebook we use is accurate. Judging from the comments I've read on the forums, Brierley is sometimes off by as much as 4 km - if what I'm reading can be believed.... Just want to make sure that if we are making decisions about whether to halt or walk on, we have an accurate sense of how far to the next destination. :)
 
D

Deleted member 39850

Guest
#5
I am happy to recommend the Wise Pilgrim guides. I love that there is a live map that shows how far I am from any point at any point in my journey. All I need is a cell connection, and I cannot be lost. I like the bits of information about each town, and the details about the albergues and other accomodations. The photos are a nice and accurate reflection of what one may encounter, and I like the absence of “spiritualism” from the guide. One is left to find one’s own spiritual connection (or not) without feeling chastised by the author.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
#7
Unfortunately, there is no perfect guidebook. When I walked in 2016, my son carried the Brierly (for much of the Camino, until it got left behind somewhere). I had the maps as an ebook, as well as the Village to Village Guide. I also had a number of apps (including Wise Pilgrim above) and used a number of websites as guides (like Gronze). It was handy to be able to cross check them against each other to see what the consensus was and read a variety of reviews of the albergues. Even with all that, there were still a few occasions where we went astray.
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
#8
You don't need a guidebook to walk. I use apps, but you would probably be fine if you only used the one sheet of information which lists albergues, distances, elevations, what services are available, etc in each village, that you can get from the Pilgrim's office in SJPDP.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
#9
I have looked at all the popular pilgrim guidebooks, including the Brierley and find them all to be good. If they were off in distances and elevation I did not notice (I have traditional land navigation training when in the military). Even if they were it made no difference anyway ( I wasn't taking note). Who is going to notice if the published distance was 12.7 kilometres instead of 11.8? Or the elevation is 382.3 metres instead of 380.7? It is not calling in artillery or mortars. You walk, you know about where the next village/town/city is and then you see it. That's it.
Any of the guidebooks will work well, and so will no guidebook at all. All I carry now are cut out map sections from the various Brierley books, stapled together and placed in a ziplock bag.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2005 2007 Frances
2016 Leon to Santiago
#10
4km error is only a bit more than an hour on foot. And I have no idea what the 'gold standard' for accurate distances should be. My first Camino in 2005, I used Brierley constantly; i loved the extra information and his insights to the practical and spiritual paths: the breakdown of trail types; I used the margins for a diary. And that was even after discovering that a guide book was not needed for wayfinding--just follow the Yellow Arrows. In subsequent years, I used the Amis handout sheet from SJPdP and the RED brochure to find rough distances private albergues. When I got tired, I knew where I needed to go for a bed which is my main informational need. In 2016, a short Camino from Leon to SdC with adult daughter was so crowded we needed to make reservations a day ahead--Gronze was the goto--it had phones for reservations. Last fall on my solo Portuguese, , my goto was the WisePilgrim app on my iPhone: sufficient for both lodging and wayfinding. I do like to read/browse guidebooks (and watch YouTube and read blogs) before I go; but find a book unnecessary weight in this internet age.
So best depends on your informational needs.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
#11
I’m just curious what people’s recommendations are for the most accurate guidebook on the Camino Frances. I’ve read lots of comments/critiques of the Brierley guide and while I really enjoy the degree of detail and context he provides, I’m also concerned about the comments that his distances and elevations are off. By a LOT.
A LOT. In addition, much of his reflections are IMHO an attempt to put YOU into HIS mindset. My Camino is MY Camino.

My best advice (without recommending my own series of guidebooks explicitly) is that no matter which book you buy you should immediately put out of mind any noting of pre-defined stages.
Indeed. The Brierley guide has some outright idiotic long stretches. Completely unneccesary.

I have used the guidebooks from https://www.csj.org.uk/ for many years. They are cheap and very good for my use. Now, I have ordered the wisepilgrim's book on CF and intend to use it later this year. But I will have my CSJ guide as a backup;)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#12
I’m also concerned about the comments that his distances and elevations are off. By a LOT.
Walking the camino, and providing information on it, are not precision activities. A detour due to road construction can pop up anytime. All of the popular guides including Brierley are accurate enough for your decision-making.
 

LGLG

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP - Finisterre (2005) ; LePuy - Muxia (2007) ; Porto - SC. (2009) planning Lourdes- SC (2018)
#13
I’ve only walked with the SJPP one page sheet in the past - it’s great and light ! Didn’t come in that way this time so didn’t get one. Using brierley and find it sufficiently accurate for my needs - including reserving ahead and yes.. I love the alternative routes he suggests also - some real gems there.
 

Dutchwalk53

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2015 with son #1, CF 2016 alone, CF 2017 with son #2 and husband , CF Sept 2018 with daughter
#14
I love the "village to village : guide book. Find it fun to go back over and over again while home to decide on stages I will walk and have found it very helpful. Actually ordered my 2nd one there my 1st one was worn after 3 camino's. ps I think you don;t need a guide book for directions....the yellow arrows will mostly do. For me it's just fun to read and reference back and forth to it.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Sept 16/ 2016. Leon to Santiago . SJPDP to Santiago. (Sept/ Oct 2019 ).
#15
I’m just curious what people’s recommendations are for the most accurate guidebook on the Camino Frances. I’ve read lots of comments/critiques of the Brierley guide and while I really enjoy the degree of detail and context he provides, I’m also concerned about the comments that his distances and elevations are off. By a LOT.

So where should I look for a more accurate guidebook? One that maintains a realistic distance in each stage, but also has correct distances etc? I’m just curious what others on the forum would choose.

Many thanks,
Mich
You can read all the replies and I would like to add that I find most guides are not accurate re distance. There is more to guides than just the distance, My vote in overall all inclusive content in guides is Brierley, with Wise Pilgrim a close second. Ian
 

andywild

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
april '2018'
#16
I'd say get a wise pilgrim guide.. there will be plenty of people with a Brierly that you can sneak a glance at if you feel the urge.
 

Meggins

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - One complete St.J.P.P to Santiago plus twice more for 500km each time.
#17
I use the English version of Rother Walking Guide - liked it v. much. When I went back again for a 500km stretch also on C.Francis, I enjoyed referring to my previous notes in (on?) the book. Like where I had a really good coffee etc. and of course email & tel #s for contacts w/friends I made. Also used 3rd time when I went & did a further 500km. For me Brierley TMI. You will enjoy no matter what guide you use I am sure!
 

lt56ny

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013-Frances SJP-Finisterre, 2015 Camino Le Puy-Santiago, 2017 Portugues Lisbon-Santiago 2018 Norte
#18
My best advice (without recommending my own series of guidebooks explicitly) is that no matter which book you buy you should immediately put out of mind any noting of pre-defined stages.
Could not agree more. No wonder you are the WisePilgrim!
 

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Seven Compostelas in Three years and counting......
#19
I use the English version of Rother Walking Guide - liked it v. much. When I went back again for a 500km stretch also on C.Francis, I enjoyed referring to my previous notes in (on?) the book. Like where I had a really good coffee etc. and of course email & tel #s for contacts w/friends I made. Also used 3rd time when I went & did a further 500km. For me Brierley TMI. You will enjoy no matter what guide you use I am sure!

Re Brierley TMI. That's why I use the Brierley map only version. It's simple and my go-to on the Frances.

I don't need a guidebook, but I use it as a sort of Diary. I write on the maps my observations, good and bad every time I walk (including especially freecamping options). Then when that guide dies copy them to a new one. Many pilgrims in Cafes copy out my notes! (So in my guide it says of San Anton - 'rubbish do not go there', to make sure I get a bed)!

Davey
 

H Richards

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
June 2017 Francés
Oct 2017 Incomplete Le Puy / Francés
June/July 2018 Norte
Oct/Nov 2108 Francés
#20
Get the Guthook guide app for an iphone and you can tap any spot on the path and see the exact GPS measured distance along the Camino path from wherever you are. That will take care of all your distance-related needs. However it's only half the picture, cause if you're not taking elevation and terrain into account, you can still be way off in estimating how far you can go each day.

Other apps I've found inferior to this one as they almost always measure either by third-party routing, or else require you to tot up figures between named villages in your head.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
#21
I find all these recommendations and assertions interesting but comfort myself with the thought that, subject to a sudden and significant tectonic event, the distances between two given points on this poor benighted planet remain the same. The assessed, mapped or GPS'd distances will vary, inevitably, depending on projection, scale, datum and the sobriety or otherwise of the track generator. There is a particularly lovely, published, track on GoogleEarth ( other mega-global corporations are available) where you can appreciate the poor sods "digestive disturbances" as they lurch significantly off-trail on a frequent basis. Satellite view makes it clear that they were heading for the bushes every time. In consequence their 'distance' between two given points and their elapsed time is significantly greater than that that might have been undertaken by anyone without that extra challenge.

Brierleys elevations aren't inaccurate. The scale he has chosen to represent them causes some interesting illusions. Nor are his distances. The Camino varies, it moves like a python, it twists and curves and sometimes even goes around on itself. It changes every day as the Amigos, the Juntas & xuntas, the local bar owners and the Concielos move a Mojone, bulldoze a new bit of auto-pista peregrinos, or just spray a bit of yellow paint on a tree. If you really, and I do mean really, want to know how far it is take a surveyors chain with you. Though, of course, the distance you have measured will only be the distance you have measured: it will not be the distance your fellow pilgrims who shook their heads in wonder as they passed you walked. For the more technically minded - bear in mind that subscriber GPS, never mind free-to-view, is about as accurate as St John's obvious guesswork. You don't get access to military precision.

The comfort for us all is that Santiago d' C isn't going anywhere and it will be there, where it has always been, when we get there.
 

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Seven Compostelas in Three years and counting......
#23
I find all these recommendations and assertions interesting but comfort myself with the thought that, subject to a sudden and significant tectonic event, the distances between two given points on this poor benighted planet remain the same. The assessed, mapped or GPS'd distances will vary, inevitably, depending on projection, scale, datum and the sobriety or otherwise of the track generator. There is a particularly lovely, published, track on GoogleEarth ( other mega-global corporations are available) where you can appreciate the poor sods "digestive disturbances" as they lurch significantly off-trail on a frequent basis. Satellite view makes it clear that they were heading for the bushes every time. In consequence their 'distance' between two given points and their elapsed time is significantly greater than that that might have been undertaken by anyone without that extra challenge.

Brierleys elevations aren't inaccurate. The scale he has chosen to represent them causes some interesting illusions. Nor are his distances. The Camino varies, it moves like a python, it twists and curves and sometimes even goes around on itself. It changes every day as the Amigos, the Juntas & xuntas, the local bar owners and the Concielos move a Mojone, bulldoze a new bit of auto-pista peregrinos, or just spray a bit of yellow paint on a tree. If you really, and I do mean really, want to know how far it is take a surveyors chain with you. Though, of course, the distance you have measured will only be the distance you have measured: it will not be the distance your fellow pilgrims who shook their heads in wonder as they passed you walked. For the more technically minded - bear in mind that subscriber GPS, never mind free-to-view, is about as accurate as St John's obvious guesswork. You don't get access to military precision.

The comfort for us all is that Santiago d' C isn't going anywhere and it will be there, where it has always been, when we get there.
Well said!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
#24
I love the "village to village : guide book. Find it fun to go back over and over again while home to decide on stages I will walk and have found it very helpful. Actually ordered my 2nd one there my 1st one was worn after 3 camino's. ps I think you don;t need a guide book for directions....the yellow arrows will mostly do. For me it's just fun to read and reference back and forth to it.
That's the nice thing about the e-book version. Not only no weight, but you can read it again and again and there is no wear on the pages. :)
 

Walking Lover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CdS from Leon to Santiago, June 16, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
#25
I’m just curious what people’s recommendations are for the most accurate guidebook on the Camino Frances. I’ve read lots of comments/critiques of the Brierley guide and while I really enjoy the degree of detail and context he provides, I’m also concerned about the comments that his distances and elevations are off. By a LOT.

So where should I look for a more accurate guidebook? One that maintains a realistic distance in each stage, but also has correct distances etc? I’m just curious what others on the forum would choose.

Many thanks,
Mich
I have used his books for two CF and one CP. I don't understand the complaints. Once or twice not all bars were listed but we welcomed the surprises.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (SJPdP - Santiago) Spring (2016)
Portuguese (Porto - Santiago - Finisterre) Spring (2018)
#26
You don't need a guidebook to walk. I use apps, but you would probably be fine if you only used the one sheet of information which lists albergues, distances, elevations, what services are available, etc in each village, that you can get from the Pilgrim's office in SJPDP.
I too just used an app. No extra weight and gave me all the info I needed. The one I love is www.caminoguide.net/
 
Camino(s) past & future
2014 Camino Frances: Burgos to Santiago
#27
I found the resources here, including the complete Albuerge list and the stages list to be great for tracking distances. The Brierly guide is more useful for the historical information info about sites (like museums) along the way.
 

Prentiss Riddle

Aprendiz de todo, maestro de nada
Camino(s) past & future
Poco a poco: we're nibbling away at the Francés. (2015, 2016 & 2017)
#28
I really like the Dintaman & Landis “Village to Village” book. Its maps and practical town info are laid out in a way that matches how my mind works.

And yes, the only utility to stages is knowing where not to stop to avoid the crowds.
 

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