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Best One Day Walk on Any Camino?

ramble-on

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2010; LePuy 2011; VdlP 2013/14; CdN (to Oviedo) & Primitivo 2016
As preface, I had booked myself to walk (with a pilgrim I'd traveled with on a previous trek) on the Camino d’Arles, leaving March 24, 2020. For obvious reasons that did not happen, so I have been re-living my memories of previous caminos. I’ve been very fortunate to have walked the Camino Frances from SJPdP to Santiago, the LePuy Route to SJPdP, the VdlP (over two years; Sevilla to Salamanca and Salamanca to Santiago via Astorga), the Camino del Norte (from Hendaye to Oviedo) and the Primitivo (from Oviedo to Santiago). All of these, without exception, have been beautiful pilgrimages and memorable experiences.

My question is this. What are pilgrims’ most memorable one day walks on any camino?

For me, perhaps because of repetition, my love of mountains or because it was the first day of my first camino, my #1 favorite is the Route Napoleon from SJPdP to Roncevalles. I have been fortunate to walk it three times, all in perfect, sunny weather! That in itself makes it amazing! The first time was Day 1 of the Camino Frances and so I was full of the excitement of the unknown, uncertainty whether I was up to the physical challenge with a 20 pound backpack (it got lighter everyday as I left things in the “free stuff” boxes in albergues), the pleasure of meeting other walkers from all over the world starting their pilgrimages and the magnificent scenery. Perhaps that’s why it’s left an indelible memory with me. The next two times were also during perfect weather, but were at the end of my walk from LePuy. I had a couple of extra days after arriving in SJPdP, so I walked over the next day to Roncevalles and returned the day after. Glorious walking – and it was unusual to be going west to east on the second day. Lots of “buen caminos” to pilgrims just starting their caminos as I was finishing mine.

My runner up has to be the Hospitales Route on the Primitivo from Campiello to Berducedo. It couldn’t have been more different! I had a cafe con leche in Borres, then headed off in the mist, fog and light rain for the Hospitales Route. Up and up, not too steep except in a few places; it was a “mist-ical” journey. At the top, where the old hospital ruins were, my head (and the rest of me) was in the clouds. I remember their being cows grazing, many with cowbells (“ringing in the rain”), and horses appearing out of the fog. Just before noon, after I had walked the highest points, the sun appeared. I enjoyed a cold beer at the truck shop at the Puerto de Palo, where the Hospitales meets the route from Pola de Allande, and finished this beautiful day in Berducedo.

I hope other pilgrims have similar stories of amazing one day treks and will share them with us all. I think it will give us all a bit of hope that we will again be making memories on a camino. For me, I hope, it's in 2021.

Buen Camino!
 

Isca-camigo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Various ones.
I haven't walked enough caminos to say that this one or that one is outstanding in comparison to all the others, but the special days for me regardless of the surroundings are the ones where you can't really explain it but you feel a special connection to that day or etapa or place, in those situations anything can feel magical or luminous in your mind. I have a place on the Norte which keeps presenting itself to me in ways I am not expecting to remind me of a special day. On the CF it not the Cruz de feirro but the entry and descent into the El Bierzo , 3 times I have done it and something special happens every time. From a purely walking view point, its probably on the Chemin Arles between Lunas and Saint Gervais Sur Mare, almost all forest or natural tracks on top of the hills, with the occasional view point of the surrounding forests with a little hamlet in the middle of it and a little thin line of smoke coming from a chimney, my only companion on that day was the wind as it played through the tree tops above me.
Buen Camino
IMG_20140527_082529395_HDR.jpgIMG_20140527_111643877_HDR.jpgIMG_20140527_141323297_HDR.jpg
 
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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
As preface, I had booked myself to walk (with a pilgrim I'd traveled with on a previous trek) on the Camino d’Arles, leaving March 24, 2020. For obvious reasons that did not happen, so I have been re-living my memories of previous caminos. I’ve been very fortunate to have walked the Camino Frances from SJPdP to Santiago, the LePuy Route to SJPdP, the VdlP (over two years; Sevilla to Salamanca and Salamanca to Santiago via Astorga), the Camino del Norte (from Hendaye to Oviedo) and the Primitivo (from Oviedo to Santiago). All of these, without exception, have been beautiful pilgrimages and memorable experiences.

My question is this. What are pilgrims’ most memorable one day walks on any camino?

For me, perhaps because of repetition, my love of mountains or because it was the first day of my first camino, my #1 favorite is the Route Napoleon from SJPdP to Roncevalles. I have been fortunate to walk it three times, all in perfect, sunny weather! That in itself makes it amazing! The first time was Day 1 of the Camino Frances and so I was full of the excitement of the unknown, uncertainty whether I was up to the physical challenge with a 20 pound backpack (it got lighter everyday as I left things in the “free stuff” boxes in albergues), the pleasure of meeting other walkers from all over the world starting their pilgrimages and the magnificent scenery. Perhaps that’s why it’s left an indelible memory with me. The next two times were also during perfect weather, but were at the end of my walk from LePuy. I had a couple of extra days after arriving in SJPdP, so I walked over the next day to Roncevalles and returned the day after. Glorious walking – and it was unusual to be going west to east on the second day. Lots of “buen caminos” to pilgrims just starting their caminos as I was finishing mine.

My runner up has to be the Hospitales Route on the Primitivo from Campiello to Berducedo. It couldn’t have been more different! I had a cafe con leche in Borres, then headed off in the mist, fog and light rain for the Hospitales Route. Up and up, not too steep except in a few places; it was a “mist-ical” journey. At the top, where the old hospital ruins were, my head (and the rest of me) was in the clouds. I remember their being cows grazing, many with cowbells (“ringing in the rain”), and horses appearing out of the fog. Just before noon, after I had walked the highest points, the sun appeared. I enjoyed a cold beer at the truck shop at the Puerto de Palo, where the Hospitales meets the route from Pola de Allande, and finished this beautiful day in Berducedo.

I hope other pilgrims have similar stories of amazing one day treks and will share them with us all. I think it will give us all a bit of hope that we will again be making memories on a camino. For me, I hope, it's in 2021.

Buen Camino!
I have walked the majority of the routes you have walked with the exception of the Vdlp. I cannot choose one favorite day as I have so many, each unique and special in their own way.
I do agree with you about going up and over the Hospitales route to the Primitivo on a perfect day...a vivid and delightful memory!
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
My favourite day was the mountain pass on the Camino de Madrid. Here’s what I wrote about it in my live thread:

Day 4: Cercedilla to Segovia (~30km) - but only 26km according to the Health app for iPhone.

Today was so fabulous, one of my all-time favourite days on any camino.

We started shortly before sunrise when it was -3 degrees Celsius, slightly warmer than forecast and thankfully without yesterday’s wind. The ascent is not steep (600m altitude gain in 7-8km of walking) but it’s just strenuous enough to warm you up a bit! We stopped for a snack at the top and this was the coldest part of the day.

Shortly after the pass we came across a small patch of snow on the trail, and that was the only snow we saw on or near the path. But snow is forecast for at least the next three days, so we were very lucky and conditions may be significantly different for those coming soon behind us.

BA4AADD9-A471-4A60-9AAA-CD974928152B.jpeg

At the top the weather was alternating between sunny patches and rolling fog, but as we started walking down, the fog lifted and it became a glorious day, albeit still with sub-zero temperatures. The trees up there are really amazing, we had the whole place to ourselves, and the ruins of the 16th century royal way station Casa Eraso - not mentioned in the CSJ guide - are beautifully situated in the woodlands just off the camino and were a great highlight.

3218A6CB-DF75-4E3C-A9EC-AB7C42A22241.jpeg

The walk down from the pass is in a beautiful forest for about 7-8km before becoming a more open plain with Segovia in sight (and another ruin, a 17th century albergue of sorts for travellers and shepherds that I also liked).

We briefly considered the alternative route via San Ildefonso. However, there are discrepancies about distances. Gronze lists it as 11.7km to Segovia from the fork in the road, while a sign at the fork gave it as just 6km, less than the 6.7km the same sign said it was to San Ildefonso. Google Maps had it as 9km / 1hr 45 mins from the fork to Segovia, so we decided to trust that and continue on. We eventually made it to Segovia at about 5pm.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020? Looks like.... nowhere! 😁
Difficult to answer that one! Maybe on the Aragonés, after the Somport, walking from Canfranc-Estación to Jaca...
But maybe it is because it‘s the last Camino I walked so fresher in my mind 🙂1C61B371-9980-4D7E-A65C-EA062DD9B838.jpeg
 

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ramble-on

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2010; LePuy 2011; VdlP 2013/14; CdN (to Oviedo) & Primitivo 2016
Difficult to answer that one! Maybe on the Aragonés, after the Somport, walking from Canfranc-Estación to Jaca...
But maybe it is because it‘s the last Camino I walked so fresher in my mind 🙂View attachment 79122
That particular stretch after the Somport Pass was one I had been looking forward to on the Arles/Aragones route! I hope to walk it in 2021. Thanks for your memories!
 

ramble-on

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2010; LePuy 2011; VdlP 2013/14; CdN (to Oviedo) & Primitivo 2016
My favourite day was the mountain pass on the Camino de Madrid. Here’s what I wrote about it in my live thread:

Day 4: Cercedilla to Segovia (~30km) - but only 26km according to the Health app for iPhone.

Today was so fabulous, one of my all-time favourite days on any camino.

We started shortly before sunrise when it was -3 degrees Celsius, slightly warmer than forecast and thankfully without yesterday’s wind. The ascent is not steep (600m altitude gain in 7-8km of walking) but it’s just strenuous enough to warm you up a bit! We stopped for a snack at the top and this was the coldest part of the day.

Shortly after the pass we came across a small patch of snow on the trail, and that was the only snow we saw on or near the path. But snow is forecast for at least the next three days, so we were very lucky and conditions may be significantly different for those coming soon behind us.

View attachment 79110

At the top the weather was alternating between sunny patches and rolling fog, but as we started walking down, the fog lifted and it became a glorious day, albeit still with sub-zero temperatures. The trees up there are really amazing, we had the whole place to ourselves, and the ruins of the 16th century royal way station Casa Eraso - not mentioned in the CSJ guide - are beautifully situated in the woodlands just off the camino and were a great highlight.

View attachment 79109

The walk down from the pass is in a beautiful forest for about 7-8km before becoming a more open plain with Segovia in sight (and another ruin, a 17th century albergue of sorts for travellers and shepherds that I also liked).

We briefly considered the alternative route via San Ildefonso. However, there are discrepancies about distances. Gronze lists it as 11.7km to Segovia from the fork in the road, while a sign at the fork gave it as just 6km, less than the 6.7km the same sign said it was to San Ildefonso. Google Maps had it as 9km / 1hr 45 mins from the fork to Segovia, so we decided to trust that and continue on. We eventually made it to Segovia at about 5pm.
That looks like another glorious walk for my bucket list! Thanks.
 

Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Camino(s) past & future
"Portuguese Camino - In Search of the Infinite Moment" Amazon/Kindle books authored
"Slow Camino"
They were the days I wasn't walking.
Has to be a tie between the day off on the French route see the Pulchra Leonina in Leon (The great Cathedral) and the day I took off to check out the Templar Castle in Tomar on the Portuguese Route.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
Calzadilla de los Hermanillos to Mansilla de las Mulas. My first camino. Half-way. Pack as light as a feather; legs happy and strong; boots like carpet slippers. Striding the Calzada Romana in a bath of bird-song and flower scent and with a horizon so wide I could see the earth curve away from me. I knew it was all but a gentle stroll down hill from there - the mountains to come would be no more than speed-bumps to my peregrino machine...
 

Vagabond Vieiras

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés and Norte many times all the way and in parts
My favorite day by far is Villafranca del Bierzo or Trabadelo up to O’Cebriero. The Camino passes alongside the Valcarce river, thru amazing mountain scenery and nice little towns. Crossing from Castile y Leon into Galicia as you near the days end you find yourself overlooking the Galician valleys from the ancient town of O’Cebreiro!...
 

Aidan21

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to SDC 2013/14
SJPP to SDC 2016
Porto to SDC 2017
VdlP Sevilla/Salamanca 2018
It is almost impossible to pick a favourite. I remember my very first Camino day from SJPP to Roncesvalles via the Napoleon route and was completely taken with the scenery and the views. And the weather was perfect for walking. I will never forget that day when the Camino made me feel that I was exactly where I needed to be and doing what I needed to do.

Alternatively I remember walking across the Meseta as the barley or wheat stalks blew in the wind and it appeared as if the green waves stretched to the horizon or perhaps to infinity. I have since heard the song Greenwaves by the group Secret Garden and this beautiful song reminds me of those waves to infinity on the Meseta.

I also remember walking for most of a day north of Porto along the Atlantic coast with a blue sky and a deep blue ocean for company. I can still hear that day with the waves and the water.

So how do you pick?

Answer, go back and experience it again and try and pick then.
 

robou

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2018: Camino Primitivo (Oviedo)
2019: Camino Portugues (Lisbon)
2020: Camino Frances (SJPDP)
Its a difficult choice for any of us, particular as the routes vary so much depending on what day you walk it. I walked the Portuguese route via the coastal path last year, and whilst some of it was beautiful, I was caked in a thick sea fog for a decent portion of it. Beautiful in its own way perhaps...

IMG_2872.jpeg

So far, from my experience, it is difficult to beat the Hospitales route on the Primitivo. I know some people get up there into the clouds and don't get much of a view - much like my experience on the coastal path. However, the day I walked it, it was stunning... astouding really. You get up there on a good day, and you can see for miles and miles. We had everything below us covered in cloud, and it felt totally ethereal. Plus some semi-wild horses following us up the path for good measure...

camino_54.jpg

camino_57.jpg


That said, last year, taking the Variente Espiritual on the Portuguese route was quite special. The day out of Pontevedra, you pass no less than two amazing monastaries, walk through Combarro, which must be just about the most charming coastal town in Spain, and then climb up towards Armentiera, for a great view back over the Ria de Pontevedra. I really enjoyed that!

img_3444.jpg
img_3447.jpg

I'm walking the Francés for the first time soon, and am excited for the first day, in particular, and the rest of it. The reality is, they're all special days in their own way.
 

RENSHAW

Official Camino Vino taster
Camino(s) past & future
2003 CF Roncesvalles to Santiago
2/4 weeks on the CF frequently.
Hospitalero San Anton June 2016.
OKAY!! here we go , Camino Frances - I would have to say San Bol to ltego de la Vega. Those typical Meseta towns , the rolling hills , WOW!! My eyes were so wide open with amazement.
Second would be Los arcos to Viana - same reasons - Viana, town of Princess Leonor , What a lovely place to stay?
 

arch

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Del Norte from Irun to Santander, Primitivo from Oviedo to Frances to Santiago September 2016
As preface, I had booked myself to walk (with a pilgrim I'd traveled with on a previous trek) on the Camino d’Arles, leaving March 24, 2020. For obvious reasons that did not happen, so I have been re-living my memories of previous caminos. I’ve been very fortunate to have walked the Camino Frances from SJPdP to Santiago, the LePuy Route to SJPdP, the VdlP (over two years; Sevilla to Salamanca and Salamanca to Santiago via Astorga), the Camino del Norte (from Hendaye to Oviedo) and the Primitivo (from Oviedo to Santiago). All of these, without exception, have been beautiful pilgrimages and memorable experiences.

My question is this. What are pilgrims’ most memorable one day walks on any camino?

For me, perhaps because of repetition, my love of mountains or because it was the first day of my first camino, my #1 favorite is the Route Napoleon from SJPdP to Roncevalles. I have been fortunate to walk it three times, all in perfect, sunny weather! That in itself makes it amazing! The first time was Day 1 of the Camino Frances and so I was full of the excitement of the unknown, uncertainty whether I was up to the physical challenge with a 20 pound backpack (it got lighter everyday as I left things in the “free stuff” boxes in albergues), the pleasure of meeting other walkers from all over the world starting their pilgrimages and the magnificent scenery. Perhaps that’s why it’s left an indelible memory with me. The next two times were also during perfect weather, but were at the end of my walk from LePuy. I had a couple of extra days after arriving in SJPdP, so I walked over the next day to Roncevalles and returned the day after. Glorious walking – and it was unusual to be going west to east on the second day. Lots of “buen caminos” to pilgrims just starting their caminos as I was finishing mine.

My runner up has to be the Hospitales Route on the Primitivo from Campiello to Berducedo. It couldn’t have been more different! I had a cafe con leche in Borres, then headed off in the mist, fog and light rain for the Hospitales Route. Up and up, not too steep except in a few places; it was a “mist-ical” journey. At the top, where the old hospital ruins were, my head (and the rest of me) was in the clouds. I remember their being cows grazing, many with cowbells (“ringing in the rain”), and horses appearing out of the fog. Just before noon, after I had walked the highest points, the sun appeared. I enjoyed a cold beer at the truck shop at the Puerto de Palo, where the Hospitales meets the route from Pola de Allande, and finished this beautiful day in Berducedo.

I hope other pilgrims have similar stories of amazing one day treks and will share them with us all. I think it will give us all a bit of hope that we will again be making memories on a camino. For me, I hope, it's in 2021.

Buen Camino!
Irun to San Sebastián on the Norte
 

Luciano Sanguini

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
French (2019)
I have made Just one Camino, It was the French in last october, só I Just can say about my First day from SJ to Roncesvalles.
The weather was god, clean sky and sunny day, but the windbwas terrível. In the highest point was difficult to stay there more than a few minutes.
Day before, the route was closed because the more than 50km/h wind.
There até vídeo here that show some of this.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis (2012), Camino Norte (Fall 2015)
Monteroni d
I have made Just one Camino, It was the French in last october, só I Just can say about my First day from SJ to Roncesvalles.
The weather was god, clean sky and sunny day, but the windbwas terrível. In the highest point was difficult to stay there more than a few minutes.
Day before, the route was closed because the more than 50km/h wind.
There até vídeo here that show some of this.
Monteroni d’Arbia in Tuscany on the via Francigena. Almost any day in Tuscany was beautiful but this day was my favorite. Also, first day out of SJPDP is a fond memory.
 

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alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
Not easy - I recently tried to make a mental list of my top 10 days on the camino, but gave up when I reached 20 days which all absolutely had to be in the top 10. A top 1 is therefore effectively impossible, but it should (for me) include hills or mountains, long views, ancient architecture, good food, solitude, little tarmac, low heat and a clear sky.

One day that included all of those was on the Ruta de la Lana in October 2018, between Atienza and Retortillo de Soria. At dawn I left the town albergue for breakfast in a friendly bar, with a perfect weather forecast on RTE, filling my bottle at a 2nd century AD Roman fuente. The camino went across open countryside on agricultural tracks, partly through woods turning into their autumn glory. Three hours later, after excellent views back at Atienza's castle - which El Cid had avoided on one of his excursions as "una peña muy fuort" - I was in Romanillos de Atienza, with its romanesque church. Then a couple of hours to Miedes, where the tiny bar was opening for lunch. It was one of those increasingly rare places where there's no nonsense about a menú, you just eat what's put in front of you and like it. I did, very much - a fish soup, some delicious costillas de cerdo with garlic and roast peppers, finishing with a cheesecake, shared with three tables of locals who clearly eat there every day, and were curious to chat with the relatively rare stranger passing through. Possibly more food than needed with 7km still to walk, but wotthehell archy. Lunch soon wore off with 200m of ascent in 2km, taking the camino to the border between New and Old Castile, and between Guadalajara and Soria provinces, with breahtaking views to every side. Then down into Retortillo and its excellent new private albergue. And after dark a full moon rose over Spain's most sparsely populated province in skies with no light pollution - as Machado put it "Soria fría, Soria pura ... tan bella! bajo la luna".

The pic is looking back towards Atienza's castle:

atienza.JPG
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
A top 1 is therefore effectively impossible, but it should (for me) include hills or mountains, long views, ancient architecture, good food, solitude, little tarmac, low heat and a clear sky.
I haven't been answering this thread because I, too, found it hard to pick just one day's walk. But this gives me an idea. Perhaps I can just list the characteristics of the best one day walk on any camino:

It should be at the beginning of the camino, filled with the excitement of setting out, and it should be in the middle of the camino, when you have settled in and things are just rolling along and you are eating up the kilometers, and it should be by the end of the camino, filled with the settled satisfaction of accomplishment. It should be in the dramatic mountains with their stunning views, and the rolling hilly landscape which isn't so difficult but has the variety that is the spice of life, and it should be on the endless plains that just roll out forever under huge spectacular skies, and perhaps by the seashore or along a river because water views are lovely. It should have lots of great companions that are, for many of us, what the Camino is really about, and it should have lots of solitude, as well, of course, where we can find ourselves and connect to what really matters. It should have ancient architecture and romanesque architecture and gothic architecture, and I also like things like the episcopal palace in Astorga, so throw some good modern architecture in there as well, but I also like the stretches when you are just along the path walking through nature and no architecture is visible at all. Food: It should have truly authentic Spanish food that is unique to its region as well as communal meals prepared together with fellow pilgrims, and no camino is really a camino without bocadillos and tortilla. And cafe con leche, and wine, and sangria. And fresh fruit and local cheese. And so on. The weather should be perfect. A clear sky and enough cloud cover to keep you from overheating and add drama to the skyscape, and those low-flying clouds/that foggy mist that are so atmospheric in Galicia.

That's not too much to ask from a day's walk, is it?
 

Lexicos

Jim
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
2017
Camino Portuguese 2019
And to those of you who have walked multiple routes ....... you make me ...........!!
Especially today, when I can't even walk to the next suburb..
 

Donna Sch

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdLP-Sanabres-Fisterra (Summer 2015); Levante-Invierno (Feb/Mar 2019);
England Camino routes ?2024
Sanabres: Santa Marta de Tera to Rio Negro del Puente. Lovely summer day, great company. Starting from a lovely albergue and finishing in an old pilgrim hospital. Lunch and a quick swim in the Embalse, chatting to lovely old people along the way (well, my camino buddy was and then I would get the translated version LOL). seeing deer in the wild. And finishing with a great meal at Me Gusta Comer.

My very long day on the Sanabres between A Gudina and Verin also rates up there although at the time it was frustrating as hell as I got lost 3 times, walked over 50 km. But in hindsight it is one of my favourite days and certainly was one of the prettiest.
11745263_10153064736633546_988791817_o.jpg
Invierno: The stretch between Puente de Domingo Florez and Sobradelo with views of the Rio Sil on the left and the lovely slate with lots of butterflies. I had woken up to the news of the NZ terrorist shootings which had me all discombobulated as I am a Kiwi and I used to live in Christchurch. We just had a lovely walk to Sobradelo, stopped off at Bar Mar for lunch which was a great caldo and after that we were so full, we weren't going anywhere! Perfect day to get me out of the space my head was in.

Perfect day: good company, lots of laughing, good food, a variety of views (those stretches where you look at the same thing for at least 5 km drive me nuts), lots of wildlife, locals you can chat to, slight cloud cover
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
What @alansykes said. Choice is impossible.
Each camino has its peak day, or days.
Not easy - I recently tried to make a mental list of my top 10 days on the camino, but gave up when I reached 20 days which all absolutely had to be in the top 10. A top 1 is therefore effectively impossible, but it should (for me) include hills or mountains, long views, ancient architecture, good food, solitude, little tarmac, low heat and a clear sky.
So please, Alan, may we have that entire list in installments? You know, like Dickens...

A day that sticks in my mind as special was from Santo Domingo de Silos to Mambrillas de Lara, mostly on a path of my own accidental devising. It was meant to have been on the Lana to Covarrubias and then the San Olav to MdL, but because of a technological failure I was without a map. So I never got to Covarrubias, and only walked on the official San Olaf for a fraction of the way before following a sign that took off in another 'wrong' direction. The day was a good deal longer than intended, but it was also jaw-droppingly beautiful.

It began with a several-kilometer ascent of the hill the north of Santo Domingo de Silos on the GR that I mistakedly followed out of town. Once at the top of the hill, not sure where I was, I took a dirt track that ended abruptly at an amazing viewpoint to the north. The view from up there of the snow-capped Sierra de la Demanda and the valley below was unforgettable.

Still without proper bearings, I backtracked to the last waypoint and followed the gravel road as it led down towards Contreras (though at the time I had no idea that's what it was). Near the bottom of the valley, there on the right was the set of the Sad Hill Cemetery of spaghetti western fame, in the process of being restored — which only made the day feel that much more surreal and it was barely mid-morning.

Once in the little town, they set me right, and the way meandered towards Covarrubias along the Valle de las Solaranas, eventually getting to the Rio Arlanza and following it on the road towards Contreras. Before getting there I elected to head towards Mambrillas via the incredibly ugly modern Capilla San Olav. A small path climbed through a narrowing little valley with scree underfoot but shaded by oaks, emerging at the top of the hill right near an official way marker for the Camino San Olav as it climbed out of Covarrubias. Following that for a while, I went wrong for the second time of the day heeding a sign pointing in the wrong direction.

Instead of following the ridgetop and dropping down to Mambrillas from above, the path skirted a nearby hill and went steeply down another rocky defile to meet the road, which then I had to follow for some kilometers before arriving at my intended destination, miraculously on time to meet the host of the place I was staying that night. I was tired and hungry but jubilant — or maybe just delerious from not having eaten all day. But it had been an amazing day, my first tentative exploration of a way less traveled. I was hooked, in spite of the multiple misadventures, or maybe because of them. This was definitely not the Frances!

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Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2017), Primitivo (2019)
Calzadilla de los Hermanillos to Mansilla de las Mulas. My first camino. Half-way. Pack as light as a feather; legs happy and strong; boots like carpet slippers. Striding the Calzada Romana in a bath of bird-song and flower scent and with a horizon so wide I could see the earth curve away from me. I knew it was all but a gentle stroll down hill from there - the mountains to come would be no more than speed-bumps to my peregrino machine...
I did particularly like that stretch of road... lots of wide open spaces, sunny days, few people and time for thought. Heavy pack and high top Moabs though...a few changed to make for next time
 

simply B

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
somewhere between "not enough" and "way too many"
Since this first posted, I have had to cogitate on the topic. (Yes, I am a bit slow on such things...)

Perhaps my favorite days come from the second Camino which came about because of a friend of 40+ years decided that this pilgrimage had to be on his life list. His early onset dementia, however, demanded that he required a "guide/minder/nurse". And so off I went with him...and found a totally reciprocal relationship in which he (without even trying) brought to my attention how much I had missed my first time.

I do not believe that my late Camigo would mind my sharing his blog post emblematic of this. (BTW, he was holder of a Ph.D. in both Philosophy and Liturgy, so if his language seems stilted in this post please regard that as part of the background along with the occasional mis-firing neuron.)

"April 18, 2014

Good Friday Services at the Leon Cathedral were so sublime that B and I needed time to process the breathtaking liturgy. On one level it was nothing new, as between us we probably have 100 years of attending the service where the readings and rituals are constant. We aren´t fluent in Spanish, but everything is familiar. What made this Good Friday different?

Worshipping in a gorgeous Gothic cathedral built between 1250 and 1300 (photos coming) shapes what one sees and hears. Leon was a little rural town of 5,000 inhabitants when the cathedral was built, but over the years millions have celebrated the sacraments in this stunning space. To worship amidst so much history and living faith shapes one´s experience. Coming from a country that celebrates individualism, I felt part of something much greater than whatever was running through my brain today.

The choir sang chant, Renaissance polyphony, and 17-20th century sacred music selections that lifted the soul. The acoustics of the Gothic vaults resonated throughout the great space.

Gothic architecture frees up space for windows, and the Leon cathedral exploits it. 16,000 square feet of stained glass tell the story of salvation and church history. Stone and glass provide a unique infrastructure. Everything is "colored" by the glass.

Surely, the Camino experience is stripping away how I see the world, breaking down to the essentials. At one point in the service worshippers venerate the cross, and this year, very unexpectedly, I choked back tears as I kissed the feet of the crucified Christ. B and I both remarked how easily we might have skipped this service, been none the wiser, yet ultimately poorer had we not been part of it. I don´t know where this Camino thing is going, but I suspect I haven´t maxed out yet."


Final note...I remember the experience as being so intense that we had to walk, almost aimlessly, for about 30 minutes before one of us noted that we had not eaten for hours. We found a small Italian place just off the square. Between ordering and animalistic grunts of savor once food was delivered, we did not speak again until, by wordless agreement, we were halfway back to our lodgings.

B
 

CaminoDebrita

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances SJPP to SdC Oct/Nov 2015
Frances Burgos toSdC March/April 2016
W. Highland Way August 2016
Camino Somewhere September 2017


I loved my first Camino the best. The Meseta was so liberating to me. I love the great wide open, the feeling of expansiveness, the realization that before me stretched miles and miles, and I would walk them. The feeling that in one day, I'd do something so incomprehensibly unbelievable as just walk, and walk. And...walk. And that I had the time, the precious time, and what do we have but time? And why do we make the choices to pass a day doing things that are so much less wonderful?

I also liked parts of the Camino that others don't always love, even the walks out of cities that I discovered some people skip. I like the walk out of Burgos quite a lot, the slow transition of bustle and noise to seeing the statues, to the grimy grittiness of the switch from city to country, to suddenly feeling quite solitary and plodding onward, onward.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2019)
On the Frances, between Atapuerca and a tiny place called Riopico.

I took the shorter route up and over the hill. That part was hot, large loose rocks, steep with little shade. That part was not that pleasant but after descending the steep part of the off road path I joined a small country lane that meandered down through the fields of wheat.

The wheat was golden yellow and the breeze was behind me. The hills and valleys caused the wind to eddy and it seemed to me that herds of tiny ponies were dancing across the sparkling tops of the wheat, first the herd danced to the left and then they turned as one and galloped off to the right.

It was so beautiful that I had to stop, stand and watch. I am not sure how long I stood there entranced. Eventually the mood broke and I walked on and into Riopico.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
I've walked another camino since I first responded to this thread and I have another candidate!

The second day of the Variante Espiritual on the CP (although, mind you, I loved the first day too), and more specifically, the Stone and Water Route through the enchanting forest and past the old mills. This route is so beautiful that it is often done just as a day hike without any connection to the camino at all.

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OZAJ

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Mozarabe/VdlP/Sanabres (2008) Norte (2009) Vezelay/Frances/Salvador/Primitivo (2010) etc.
A difficult choice, but probably Camino del Salvador: Poladura de Tercia to Compomanes.
 

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