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Astorga to Rabanal - how hard is it??


New Member
Am beginning my walk in Astorga and will be only moderately fit (ie will just about have walked 17km on occasional days, but not day after day) - plus it will be in the scorching heat of July. Am thinking of spending my first walking day covering the 21km or so to Rabanal - is this mad, given the terrain, the heat, and my first day of walking? Had thought of breaking the journey but thought the refugios sounded a bit grim...

Any advice and encouragement appreciated!

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Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2006)

Astorga to Rabanal isn't a difficult stretch. You should finish your walk by 11 AM. Although you gain elevation, the slope isn't like the Pyrenees or going up O Cebreiro. Be prepared for a steep downhill trail the following day though. It can be a challenge; most pilgrims prefer going up than down.

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2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
Cathyke should pace herself, feeling free to stop for cafe con leche, and enjoy the spectacular countryside. 21km should take 5-7 hours, as one should be sensible on the first day. Be hydrated. Wherever you stay in Rabanal (I've stayed at both the refugio de Guacelmo run by the Confraternity, which featured in 2002 the most wonderful hospitaleros I have seen, encouraging and soothing and caring for pilgrims; and in 2005 at the hotel El Refugio), make a point of attending vespers with the Benedictines. It will be a memorable first day and will stay with you forever.

I should note that, in 2005, I was about to step out from the bar in the Hotel Gaudi across from the Cathedral into the dark when the Vicar-General, dropping in for a coffee after the 6.00 am Mass, insisted that I take a stirrup cup of brandy in my cafe con leche. I am not accustomed to drinking at breakfast, but found that it fueled me wonderfully, propelling me up the Camino for the next few hours. I accepted only because one should not discourage the clergy from buying drinks for pilgrims.


cafe con leche

My daily breakfast consists of a cafe con leche, and a couple of other things. Yet, for some reason, I have a hard time digesting it in the a.m., while on the Caminos, where/when, I usually have a glass of H20, a banana, and some yogurt. That's it. Once I revert to my "real world," though, can't wait to continue with my early "cafecito con leche." Creature of a strange habit ... :?


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Time of past OR future Camino
(2006) Roncesvalles to Leon (2007) Leon to Compostela
Hi marktqm

Astorga to Rabanal isn't a difficult stretch. You should finish your walk by 11 AM.

Just wondering what time you started in the morning, you're not one of those 5am bag rustlers are you? My Brierly guide gives the distance as 21.4kms or 23.4kms if adjusted for climbs. It doesn't seem a hard stretch by any means, but it would take me a good 5 hours or more of walking, plus time for breaks, coffees, tortilla, etc on the way. Why rush, a pilgrimage is not a race.

Cathyke, don't know what country you'll be arriving from, but if you're likely to be jetlagged why not spend a couple of days in Astorga (or even Leon) before you begin walking. I think you'll find the first day of walking easier than you expect. The anticipation and excitement keeps you going, and your body is still fresh. Just take it easy, rest frequently, drink plenty of water, enjoy the scenery, and you'll be fine.

Buen Camino


Active Member
It really isn't a difficult stretch. Not exactly hilly, more sweeping and undulating, I'd say. Walked this stretch with a fellow pilgrim last year, one who I am sad to say, I didn't meet in Santiago. Anyway, I digress. It's not a bad day's walking to get you into it. There are places to stop, if and where necessary, including a nice little café and a picnic area. It's also off the road which is nice, so don't worry about it. Once I'd got to Rabanal late in the morning, I decided to carry on for a further 5k to Foncebadon, but I do have it on good authority that the CSJ refuge in Rabanal is one of the nicest ones, so that's another thing to look forward to.

Buen Camino :)


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Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2006)

I am not a member of the early dawn plastic bag brigade, and I walked out into the dark only once and on purpose (as I wanted to see what it was like) and got lost of course.

I started out around 630-7am from Astorga (sun already out), took my time along the route, took lots of pictures, had a nice breakfast and a chat with the people at the Cowboy Bar, and ended up at the doorstep of the CSJ refugio at sometime past 11 AM, with enough time for the Sunday Mass at 12NN with the Benedictines. Having started from SJPP, my fitness was very well established. I am a fast walker too, even in ordinary life.



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Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, Roncesvalles to Santiago, May/June (2006)
Camino VdlP, Seville to Caceres, May (2009)
In Rabanal I stayed at El Pilar,passing thru an archway into a Spanish
courtyard with an outside bar as the dominate feature and only a few paces to do your washing and the the same for the bunk-house and showers,could also get a large platter of ensalada mixta con atun or
spag/bol. for 5 euros. It was next to another albergue I can not recall the
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2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Jul-Aug 05, Frances, Jul-Aug 06, Portugues, Oct 2010
That's one of my favourite stretches of Camino! It's not difficult and there are plenty of interesting things to stop and see, including the Ecce Homo hermitage outside Astorga, the Meson Cowboy and the church just past it, and of course the mile or so of wooden crosses woven by pilgrims through the wire fence in the forest.

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