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Avoiding starting at Santander?

Lauraec

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte / Primitivo (April 2019)
Kia ora,

I'm planning on walking part of the Norte / Primitivo this April.
Due to time constraints I have to start around Santander but the consensus seems be that the walk out isn't great.
My question is whether it would be best to avoid Santander all together and, instead, take a train from Madrid to Torrelavega and then bus or walk to Santillana del Mar?
Is this reasonable and would I be missing much by not going to Santander.
I expect I'll be a bit jet lagged for the first few days and so want to start reasonably easy but without wasting time.

I'll take whatever advice people have,

Thanks
 

Jan_D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones (2011)
Frances (2012)
Norte (2013, 2014)
Hospitalera (2014)
Portugues (2017)
Hi Lauraec! Santander has its charms, but if you're pressed for time I think the Torrelavega option would work better for you. Torrelavega itself is quite industrial, so not a great walk - and although it's only 8km to Santillana del Mar, you're going to have to get there via an "autovía" (i.e. semi-highway) and I'm not sure about pedestrian access. You could try check out possible routes on Google maps. However I'd recommend getting a bus to Santillana del Mar - here's a timetable. I think Alsa also does the trip once a day.

Just so you know: Santillana del Mar is a beautiful perfectly preserved medieval town, which attracts a LOT of Spanish tourists. There are only 16 beds in the albergue, so pilgrims can be disappointed. If you know in advance that you're going to need a good night's sleep, I would highly recommend booking private accommodation, or an albergue that accepts reservations (some options at the bottom of this page!)
 

Phil71

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2014,2016),Primitivo (2015), San Salvador (2017), Norte (2018), Ingles (2018)
I was in a similar situation with time constraint. I started in Santander but to avoid the walk out got the first train of the day to mogro then walked to santillana del mar from there. Worked well and I must second the previous review of santillana - lovely old town. I stayed in El convent and got my own room for about 10 euro. If you have time there is a coastal route out of Santander that I'm told is a wonderful walk but this will add a day to your walk. Buen camino.
 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
You could take the train a few stations farther than Mogro for instance to La punte Miguel and walk from there to Santillana. An advantage would be that you could visit the Altamira Caves on your way into Santillana. I did not do this, last year I walked from Boo the Pielagos, that was not a very nice walk. This year I will start also from Santander and will choose the option to start hiking in La Puente Miguel. I have chosen this route by studying the map, (and streetview)it is not a marked route, but it seems very easily to find your wayLast year I took the coastal route from Santander which was very beautiful, but that would indeed take you an extra day.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Kia ora,

I'm planning on walking part of the Norte / Primitivo this April.
Due to time constraints I have to start around Santander but the consensus seems be that the walk out isn't great.
My question is whether it would be best to avoid Santander all together and, instead, take a train from Madrid to Torrelavega and then bus or walk to Santillana del Mar?
Is this reasonable and would I be missing much by not going to Santander.
I expect I'll be a bit jet lagged for the first few days and so want to start reasonably easy but without wasting time.

I'll take whatever advice people have,

Thanks

This probably won’t work for you since you have time constraints, but the longer coastal option out of Santander is gorgeous. It is either one long day to Boo de Pielagos, or you can stop at. a casa rural for a night in between. https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/following-the-coast-from-santander-to-boo.42660/

I will also throw out the opinion that I would just go ahead and start in Santillana. Torrelavega to Santillana is all asphalt and is pleasant but not superb (as are the kms after Santillana almost all the way to Comillas).
 

Jan_D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones (2011)
Frances (2012)
Norte (2013, 2014)
Hospitalera (2014)
Portugues (2017)
An advantage would be that you could visit the Altamira Caves on your way into Santillana.

Hi Antonius, you probably know this, but you can't go into the actual Altamira Caves, you can only see a reproduction. Apparently the visitor centre has done a good job imitating the cave paintings, but for me seeing a copy kinda defeats the purpose. If you want to see original palaeolithic art, they're still letting visitors into "El Castillo" cave at Puente Viesgo. Amongst the oldest cave paintings in Europe (40,000-60,000 years, in fact there's now a debate over whether the artists might have been Neanderthal). It's a 30-minute Alsa bus ride from Santander, you could probably find a way to walk if you wanted.

Sorry if this is a bit off topic! But thought I'd add it in case Lauraec was a cave art fan and kicked him/herself afterwards to find out they were so close to one of the oldest sites of palaeolithic art in the northern hemisphere.
 

Jan_D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones (2011)
Frances (2012)
Norte (2013, 2014)
Hospitalera (2014)
Portugues (2017)
p.s. some great advice here, but I don't want the OP to get confused. The main Renfe line from Madrid goes through Torrelevega on the way to Santander. Whereas the train stops referred to in some of these comments (Boo de Pielagos, Mogro, Puente San Miguel, etc) refer to the the narrow gauge "Feve" line which runs all the way along the coast from Bilbao to Gijon/ Oviedo - and beyond!

If you're starting in Santander, the Feve is indeed a good option. But I think Laurie and I recommended going straight to Santillana (by bus from Torrelevega) as this is an easier option coming from Madrid (and wanting to save a day).
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi Antonius, you probably know this, but you can't go into the actual Altamira Caves, you can only see a reproduction. Apparently the visitor centre has done a good job imitating the cave paintings, but for me seeing a copy kinda defeats the purpose. If you want to see original palaeolithic art, they're still letting visitors into "El Castillo" cave at Puente Viesgo. Amongst the oldest cave paintings in Europe (40,000-60,000 years, in fact there's now a debate over whether the artists might have been Neanderthal). It's a 30-minute Alsa bus ride from Santander, you could probably find a way to walk if you wanted.

Sorry if this is a bit off topic! But thought I'd add it in case Lauraec was a cave art fan and kicked him/herself afterwards to find out they were so close to one of the oldest sites of palaeolithic art in the northern hemisphere.

And the Tito Bustillo cave is in Ribadesella, further along on the Norte. I know some forum members have visited, but I arrived too late unfortunately.

 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
I know it is a reproduction, I visited the caves later year, but I want to show the caves to my wife. I liked the caves. I see your point but at the same time I know that the original paintings in a prehistoric cave will deteriorate when too many people visit them. So it is better to see a good copy than no painting at all. There is also a museum where more information is given about the background.
 

Jan_D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones (2011)
Frances (2012)
Norte (2013, 2014)
Hospitalera (2014)
Portugues (2017)
I know it is a reproduction, I visited the caves later year, but I want to show the caves to my wife. I liked the caves. I see your point but at the same time I know that the original paintings in a prehistoric cave will deteriorate when too many people visit them. So it is better to see a good copy than no painting at all. There is also a museum where more information is given about the background.

Ok, I just wasn't sure you knew they were a reproduction. The El Castillo cave is staffed by very informative academics and researchers, and they keep a constant check on CO2 levels. They are very clear that they will close the cave the minute they detect any risks. It really is quite an experience: over 200 figures including aurochs, mammoths, human forms; strange geometric patterns, and hundreds of handprints. Just thought you might be interested in knowing you could experience the "real deal" a few kilometres down the road from Altamira.
 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
Ok, I just wasn't sure you knew they were a reproduction. The El Castillo cave is staffed by very informative academics and researchers, and they keep a constant check on CO2 levels. They are very clear that they will close the cave the minute they detect any risks. It really is quite an experience: over 200 figures including aurochs, mammoths, human forms; strange geometric patterns, and hundreds of handprints. Just thought you might be interested in knowing you could experience the "real deal" a few kilometres down the road from Altamira.
That,s good information. We will start our Camino from Santander , but don,t know if we will be walking the first day. Perhaps we could start with a visit to the caves on our first day. Later on we will be in Ribadesella and could visit the Tito Bustillosite. Thanks for te information
 

Lauraec

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte / Primitivo (April 2019)
Thanks so much for all this advice! It's really helped. It's lovely that so many people are willing to help on this forum.
 

mike g

New Member
take the train to mogro there is one every half hour then walk to Santillana. I didn't take my own advice and walked to Santander to Santillana. just about killed me. Mogro will half that distance. To tell the truth having done the Frances I realize that the Del Norte would make a fabulous bicycle trip. It does not have Frances vibe. And if one would bike it you would have much more time for sightseeing. And did I mention it's mainly asphalt My ankle lasted until Baamonde then I trained it to Santiago.
Kia ora,

I'm planning on walking part of the Norte / Primitivo this April.
Due to time constraints I have to start around Santander but the consensus seems be that the walk out isn't great.
My question is whether it would be best to avoid Santander all together and, instead, take a train from Madrid to Torrelavega and then bus or walk to Santillana del Mar?
Is this reasonable and would I be missing much by not going to Santander.
I expect I'll be a bit jet lagged for the first few days and so want to start reasonably easy but without wasting time.

I'll take whatever advice people have,

Thanks
Take a bicycle. If you have done the Frances you will find Its nothing like it. Way too much asphalt. Much more modern and built up. Much urban sprawl, pretty in parts but would be nice to have the time to stop along the way to enjoy the scenery; be ready for very hilly countryside.
 

Delphinoula

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C. PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C.Franconia 2019 C.Algeciras Sevillia 2019
Swabian C. (2020)
Wish I had know about the El Castillo. Will make sure to go there next time.
A note to the caves of Altamira If you show up spontaneous you will only see the well made Museum in Altamira. But every morning per request 5 lucky visitors may see the original caves. Maybe you are the lucky one
see more
.
I have seen pilgrims debarking from Santander being realy an inexpensive air fair.
From Santander the is right outside the airport a frequent bus stop to down town. And there at the bus and train station many possibilities to leave. Across from the Main I trance Train Hall a good and inexpensive breakfast is served. We took a train out and hiked in the mountains there . In case you are not used to it we saw like in the Alpes fast weather changes. Coming in spring from ultra dry Madrid it was as to be expected very green and moist.
Buen Camino
 

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