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A good starting point after Zamora for the last part of the VdlP

tindora

New Member
My husband and I (and two kids) have two weeks in which to do some of the VdlP and are looking for advice.

Originally we had thought of just counting back 12 or 13 days from Santiago (to allow for rest days and/or changes in itinerary), but on closer inspection this would mean that we start right in the middle of the massif central. I remember from our last camino how loooonng that first day of 18km felt (with no elevation gain), and how welcome a short 12km day the next day was. I think that it takes a few days to get into things and that the most gruelling part of the trip is probably not the best starting point.

I am a more camino by the book kind of person, so I would prefer to walk from at least from Ourense. My husband feels that since we have already done one Camino he does not feel the need for another Compostela and is more inclined to be interested primarily in the most beautiful walking days. In fact, if not for me he would probably choose to spend this time in Andalusia or Extremadura :)

As a compromise, we are going to start somewhere around Zamora, and use a mix of walking/other transportation to get to Ourense after around a week. That could entail a few days walking, a little jump on the bus and a few days more walking, or 7 straight days of walking followed by a bus.

Can anyone recommend areas that they found particularly beautiful between Zamora and Ourense? Or areas that they would gladly give the miss? (For example, if the trail is following the highway for most of the day, or if there are stairs or overly narrow or rocky trails, or if the AVE work is still going on). *Actually, as I type, my husband is coming by to say "not just from Zamora, ANYWHERE is fine, if it is beautiful!"*

From what we have read so far, Mombuay looks like a nice place to start, but we don't have a clear idea of how to get there. And, actually, everything looks so beautiful it is difficult to know what to cut out! We would like to do the Massif Central because it looks gorgeous, but just not perhaps as a starting point. I hope I have made my ideas clear, and any advice is welcome.
 
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tindora

New Member
Perhaps I should change the subject heading, but...

After hearing so much about the construction between Zamora and Granja, I am having second thoughts about doing this part of the route. 100km on the caretera with detours is ok in a camino of 1000km, but less so if you only have time for 200km. Especially since our three-year-old will also want to walk at times and I am not comfortable with her doing that on a highway.

I am considering doing the part from Zafra to Caceres, then a bus to Oursense to finish the last leg to Santiago. If anyone who has experience walking the VdlP recently (ie during the construction) could let me know their opinion, it would be much appreciated.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
I don't think I'd recommend the bit between Zafra and Mérida. Zafra is a gorgeous town, but once you've got to Los Santos de Maimona it's a very flat route almost all the way to Mérida - you're on the Roman road, and going through olive groves and vineyards, but it is straight and flat and hard to find proper shade for about 60km, and I got a mild attack of the cafard there. Added to which Almendralejo, which is a detour off the camino but difficult not to use to sleep in, is, almost uniquely for Extemadura, a singularly charmless town. Once past Mérida it's wonderful again, back in the dehesa in undulating countryside with happy ibérico pigs, oak shade, the Roman reservoir of Prosepina, the visigothic church of Santa Lucía del Tampal and of course the glories of Mérida and Cácares.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Well, if anywhere is fine if it's beautiful, to quote your hubby, and if you have twelve or thirteen days, I would definitely consider the Camino Primitivo. From Oviedo, depending on your pace of walking, you can walk to Santiago in 11 or 12 days. Don't know what the kids' rate of walking is, but kiwifamily just walked the Primitivo with kids, and you should check their blog for info if you are interested. There are lots of posts on the primitivo, I detailed my walking in 11 days here, http://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/my-stages-on-the-camino-primitivo.4841/ and 12 days here, http://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/back-from-the-primitivo-june-2012.14728/

But if you're sticking with the vdlp, I would not worry too much about AVE construction, and just start 12 or 13 days back from Santiago. There is one long chunk on the highway after Puebla de Sanabria, but most of the Camino at that point was already on the highway on the way up to the tunnel, and what's a few more kms of asphalt once you're on the slog, anyway. Unless things have changed dramatically since I walked in 2013, there is no construction at all after Ourense (going into Ourense was unpleasant), and the construction after A Gudina did not terribly interfere with the camino despite dire warnings to the contrary. It is ugly going into Campobecerros, but that last part of the Vdlp is really quite beautiful -- Lubian and Aciberos, for instance, are two lovely villages nestled in the forest and you have to walk through those forests to get to them.

Fun decision to have to make! Buen camino, Laurie
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I don't think I'd recommend the bit between Zafra and Mérida. Zafra is a gorgeous town, but once you've got to Los Santos de Maimona it's a very flat route almost all the way to Mérida - you're on the Roman road, and going through olive groves and vineyards, but it is straight and flat and hard to find proper shade for about 60km, and I got a mild attack of the cafard there. Added to which Almendralejo, which is a detour off the camino but difficult not to use to sleep in, is, almost uniquely for Extemadura, a singularly charmless town. Once past Mérida it's wonderful again, back in the dehesa in undulating countryside with happy ibérico pigs, oak shade, the Roman reservoir of Prosepina, the visigothic church of Santa Lucía del Tampal and of course the glories of Mérida and Cácares.

Let's hear it for Santa Lucía de Trampal. One of the loveliest side trips on the Vdlp. It´s a very nice 2 or 3 km walk from in front of the ayuntamiento in Alcuéscar, and the church itself is small and intimate and has a feeling of sacredness. Alan, you and I think alike! Buen camino, Laurie

Alcuescar.jpg alcuescar2.jpg
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Year of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
Or consider the Camino Invierno! Easy transport links, beautiful scenery, great food and wine, and not too many mountains... and not too many other pilgrims, either. After Lalin you're on the last leg of the Via de la Plata, a rather un-inspiring haul into Santiago, so if the compostela is not a major goal, you are good to go.
 

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