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Camino de Madrid or Via de la Plata April/May 2022?

amy374

New Member
Past OR future Camino
April 2022
Apologies if this has already been covered elsewhere. I am researching my first camino, would begin the week after Easter (around April 20th or thereabouts), and time is not limited (I'm loosely thinking I would walk for about 30 days). I am following @AJGuillaume and @peregrina2000 and others on the virtual plans for both Madrid and VdlP and trying to choose between and get down to more detailed planning. Some considerations:

- It is not important to me that I cover a certain distance or finish at a particular destination, but I do love the idea of completing a long camino if it turns out I am up for it. I'm also happy to take a taxi or train at various points if my stamina is not up to a particularly long day. I consider myself a relatively fit late 40's but hiking/long distance walking is new to me. Both routes seem possible to mostly walk shorter stages if I want to.

- I want to be off of asphalt / roads and in nature as much as possible, love the idea of spring wildflowers. History, churches, etc not a particular draw so much as nature, village life, delicious food, and occasional city comforts and conversation.

- I do not want the crowds of the CF, but I would prefer to encounter a handful of pilgrims on the journey.

- I understand that its impossible to predict weather and need to be prepared but I would like to try to avoid snow or flooding, or too much heat (85 degrees plus...).

- I would strongly prefer not to book most of my accommodations in advance. I will have funds available if needed to pay for a hotel, but prefer to stick to albuergues.

- I will have very basic Spanish but not fluent, I like the idea of needing to use Spanish. (why I'm not considering Le Puy, which also looks magical).

I welcome folks' advice, and thank you for all the kindness I've encountered already from present and future peregrinxs on this site.
 
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Stripey Socks

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2023
I walked the VdlP back in 2014 and it is my favorite camino so far because of the wide open spaces. I found it quite remote with few pilgrims, but I understand it has become more popular as people try to avoid the crowds. @Magwood also has some great information about a few remoter camino paths. https://magwood.me/my-caminos/
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Past OR future Camino
2018
I've walked the Frances a couple of times in the Spring and in the Fall and managed to dodge the crowds. If they show up on the trail, you let them pass and wait a minute and then you have the path to yourself. I spent plenty of time walking alone on the Camino Frances, so I hope you won't rule it out completely just based on that. It is a wonderful walk and I highly recommend it. I also walked the Portugues from Porto which was also a beautiful walk, not too challenging, and didn't see many people; just the same few again and again along the way, which I enjoyed. Enjoy your planning!
 

jenny@zen

Camino Walker
Past OR future Camino
2022 Via De la Plata
Hi @amy374 how exciting for you to be planning your first Camino. As you’re taken by the Madrid or VdelP, it’s a good start to be following those virtual planning threads.

I walked the Madrid Way in September 2018 and loved it. It typically takes people between 11-14 days to reach Sahagun where it meets the Frances. Perhaps you have another idea for the remainder of your 30 days? One idea would be to get from Sahagun to Oviedo to walk the Primitivo, again 12-14 days is typical. Thé Invierno from Ponferrada is another option. Either would mean you could walk in to Santiago de Compostela.

I have not walked the Via de la Plata yet - we are planning to begin from Seville on 1 April. We will only have 30 days at our disposal this time, so we could get to either Astorga (where it joins the Frances). or some days along the Camino de Sanabria, likely finishing in Pueblo de Sanabria (albeit with a bus ride or two). Thé virtual thread has been very helpful.

Others who have walked both Madrid and Via de la Plata will likely chime in. 🙏
 

Plataman

Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances: (2009), (2013), Via de la Plata; (2016)
I have walked both the Frances and the VLDP twice....they are quite different experiences. Both are wonderful walks, though I think the Frances may have a slight edge on variety, in its fullest sense. The VLDP is a longer walk and much of it is in areas of few people, both walkers and locals. It takes you through some wonderful cities, each worth a day or two stop to explore... so more time is required, you cannot rush the VLDP ( or the Frances), if you wish to get the most out of experience. It also takes you through great tracts of empty, in places rather desolate country.....where it seems you are the only person on earth, walking alone. The Frances is busier, for sure, but the flip side of that is there is more opportunity to interact with a wide variety of fellow pilgrims, and always bear in mind that no matter how many people may be walking at any particular time on the way, they are spread out over hundreds and hundreds of kms.....
I've walked in both fall ( Sept to Oct) and spring ( April 1 to mid May) and both times were good for walking, kind of the shoulder season....so not as many walkers, certainly true for the Frances.
I know the above does not address your question directly, but I do second the comment that one should not dismiss the Frances as being too busy....it is an amazing walk, its the "big one" in historical terms, and is well worth experiencing.
 
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I cycled the VDP last March and it was wonderful . . . remote, beautiful with fresh springtime flowers, lots of animals, no people (there will be more in normal times, that was the height of the pandemic, but never very many). The villages are real, and Merida and Caceres are pure magic. And of course Salamanca. It haunts me still and I'll do it again either in Spring or in Autumn this year.
 

cbacino

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
Apologies if this has already been covered elsewhere. I am researching my first camino, would begin the week after Easter (around April 20th or thereabouts), and time is not limited (I'm loosely thinking I would walk for about 30 days). I am following @AJGuillaume and @peregrina2000 and others on the virtual plans for both Madrid and VdlP and trying to choose between and get down to more detailed planning. Some considerations:

- It is not important to me that I cover a certain distance or finish at a particular destination, but I do love the idea of completing a long camino if it turns out I am up for it. I'm also happy to take a taxi or train at various points if my stamina is not up to a particularly long day. I consider myself a relatively fit late 40's but hiking/long distance walking is new to me. Both routes seem possible to mostly walk shorter stages if I want to.

- I want to be off of asphalt / roads and in nature as much as possible, love the idea of spring wildflowers. History, churches, etc not a particular draw so much as nature, village life, delicious food, and occasional city comforts and conversation.

- I do not want the crowds of the CF, but I would prefer to encounter a handful of pilgrims on the journey.

- I understand that its impossible to predict weather and need to be prepared but I would like to try to avoid snow or flooding, or too much heat (85 degrees plus...).

- I would strongly prefer not to book most of my accommodations in advance. I will have funds available if needed to pay for a hotel, but prefer to stick to albuergues.

- I will have very basic Spanish but not fluent, I like the idea of needing to use Spanish. (why I'm not considering Le Puy, which also looks magical).

I welcome folks' advice, and thank you for all the kindness I've encountered already from present and future peregrinxs on this site.
Always good to hear of new long-distance hikers. After a week or two, you’ll be a pro.
I’ve only walked the Norte-Primitivo (2018) but plan to start the VdlP in mid-April.
Some albergues don’t take reservations, but for those that do, I might call by 1:00 to check on availability. My Spanish is low-level but good enough to get the point across. Pre-pay phone and data service comes in handy and ends up costing abt 10 euro per week.
To gauge weather for specific locations try https://weatherspark.com/. It has served me well for the Via Francigena and the Norte-Primitivo. Occasional bad weather is to be expected, but I prefer not to walk in it for weeks on end.
Be mindful of blisters and joints. The muscles will take care of themselves. Trainers are adequate, boots are overkill (and heavy). Caminos are walks, not rock scrambles. I’m walking in Keens sandals now.
If time is not limited, you’ll be in Santiago before you know it.
 
Last edited:

geraldkelly

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés, Vía de la Plata / Camino Sanabrés, Camino del Baztán, Camino Aragonés, Chemin du Puy
Hi @amy374

It's good to see you're giving this careful consideration. It's an important decision.

I've walked both the Via and the Camino de Madrid. I don't recommend the Via for a first timer. You can read my options in my Via FAQ: http://www.viadelaplataguide.net/pa...uestions-about-walking-the-via-de-la-plata#11

I also don't recommend the Camino de Madrid. The time I walked it I only met 2 other pilgrims and neither of them spoke English. Some of the distances are long and in some places it may be difficult to find food and accommodation. For a first-timer it would be a real challenge.

I second what one other poster said that you should not take the negative messages you read online about the Camino Frances too seriously. It's a great Camino, the original and the best, I walked it again last summer, I highly recommend it, especially if it's your first time. I booked a day ahead some days, other days I didn't bother. I posted a long description on here, you can read it here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...he-camino-francés-starting-in-pamplona.71598/

Good luck and Buen Camino!
Gerald
 

Hans-Georg Goebel

New Member
Past OR future Camino
all big ones
Apologies if this has already been covered elsewhere. I am researching my first camino, would begin the week after Easter (around April 20th or thereabouts), and time is not limited (I'm loosely thinking I would walk for about 30 days). I am following @AJGuillaume and @peregrina2000 and others on the virtual plans for both Madrid and VdlP and trying to choose between and get down to more detailed planning. Some considerations:

- It is not important to me that I cover a certain distance or finish at a particular destination, but I do love the idea of completing a long camino if it turns out I am up for it. I'm also happy to take a taxi or train at various points if my stamina is not up to a particularly long day. I consider myself a relatively fit late 40's but hiking/long distance walking is new to me. Both routes seem possible to mostly walk shorter stages if I want to.

- I want to be off of asphalt / roads and in nature as much as possible, love the idea of spring wildflowers. History, churches, etc not a particular draw so much as nature, village life, delicious food, and occasional city comforts and conversation.

- I do not want the crowds of the CF, but I would prefer to encounter a handful of pilgrims on the journey.

- I understand that its impossible to predict weather and need to be prepared but I would like to try to avoid snow or flooding, or too much heat (85 degrees plus...).

- I would strongly prefer not to book most of my accommodations in advance. I will have funds available if needed to pay for a hotel, but prefer to stick to albuergues.

- I will have very basic Spanish but not fluent, I like the idea of needing to use Spanish. (why I'm not considering Le Puy, which also looks magical).

I welcome folks' advice, and thank you for all the kindness I've encountered already from present and future peregrinxs on this site.
I've gone both ways. If you prefer paths with less asphalt, I can strongly recommend the Camino de Madrid. I did this to Sahagun in 2019, beautiful trail, only a few pilgrims, enough albergues. Only one stage is very difficult (up to 1800m above sea level, 28km) but there is a good train connection to Segovia
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
I have walked the VDLP from Seville to Astorga, but I haven't yet walked the Madrid.

All I can say is that I would be happy to walk the VDLP every year. It really suited me and had just the right variety of landscapes, Spanish life, Camino tradition, and pilgrim "feeling" that you could want for a first Camino.

I don't entirely agree with the common recommendation against the VDLP for a first Camino. It wasn't my first, but I met several first timers there, for whom it was excellent. I think I would have been fine on it, as a first timer. I DO recommend that people consider the pros and cons - the VDLP is suitable for more independent-minded people.
 
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Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2008, 2009), Camino Frances (2011)
Porto to SDC (7/2017) Primitivo (9/2019)
@amy374, the only way to adjust to long distance walking is to just do it. Walk at home with a full pack for a few miles each day then just start slow, you will build up each day and before you know it you can walk 40km a day if need be. I did the Primitivo from Oviedo in 2019 at 68 and did well.

I am also looking to walk the VDLP from Seville into Santiago in late February or early March. My concerns are my lack of Spanish and accommodations due to Corvid. Just now starting a hard look at planning.
I will carry a iPhone with the translation app loaded so I am hoping it will not be offensive to people and it will help me overcome that hurdle. From what I read the accommodations should work out as well.
 

Grousedoctor

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I cycled the VDP last March and it was wonderful . . . remote, beautiful with fresh springtime flowers, lots of animals, no people (there will be more in normal times, that was the height of the pandemic, but never very many). The villages are real, and Merida and Caceres are pure magic. And of course Salamanca. It haunts me still and I'll do it again either in Spring or in Autumn this year.
Couldn’t agree with Gerard more! I, too, cycled the VDLP and loved all the things he mentioned. Great countryside and amazing cities! I look forward to walking it in the future because if there is a downside to cycling, one goes too quickly (I typically rode three walking stages a day). Not being in a hurry should make this a wonderful camino for you. I rode around Easter three years ago and found few few others on The Way. Unplanned accommodations in albergues were never a problem.
 

Sirage

Member
Past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Santiago (2005), Porto to Santiago (2007), Vezelay for 200 kms (2009), From Seville, May (2015), Le Puy to Sangüesa (2016), Norte-Primitivo (Sep-Oct 2016)
I like the idea of needing to use Spanish. (why I'm not considering Le Puy, which also looks magical).
It is magical. Spanish or Magic ?

Have a glass of wine in your garden, imagine your garden is in France, and reflect on this.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I don't entirely agree with the common recommendation against the VDLP for a first Camino. It wasn't my first, but I met several first timers there, for whom it was excellent. I think I would have been fine on it, as a first timer. I DO recommend that people consider the pros and cons - the VDLP is suitable for more independent-minded people.

I echo the opinion that “newbies” should not dismiss the Vdlp as a first time Camino. This camino has no remote sections, and a lengthy forum thread should put to rest concerns about long stages. It may need a little more advance planning than the Francés, but not much. I think the main difference is whether you want your first camino to be a very social one, with a “Camino family” and with plentiful infrastructure that means you will never have to leave town in the morning without a bar open for coffee and can always count on a place to stop for a snack. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but I think the Vdlp offers surely as much infrastructure as the Francés did twenty years ago (when I walked it quite successfully as a 50 year old woman).

It’s totally a matter of preferences, but I think that in terms of physical challenges, this is not one of the harder caminos. And here is a recent Vdlp report from a Forum member newbie.
 

jenny@zen

Camino Walker
Past OR future Camino
2022 Via De la Plata
It’s totally a matter of preferences,
Exactly! And @amy374 seems to have given a lot of consideration to what is important / not important to her and the possibility of 'a Camino less travelled' as an alternative.
@amy374 - if the interest on the forum (which represents just a subset of the pilgrim population) is any indication there are likely to be a few others on both the Madrid and the VdelP next Spring - including us, starting from Seville on 1 April - so I'm sure you will find some community along the Way.
 
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I walked the VdelP in 2019 starting in Seville on the 28 March and finished in SdeC after 40 days of walking following the Camino Sanabres from Granja de Moreruela. I think there would be no problems walking this as a first camino, with a little bit of planning before and as you go. The website Godesalco.com allows you to input stages and gives good information on distances and places to stay as you start planning.
My average over the 40 days was 25.2 km, the longest day was 37.6km and the shortest was 14.7km. The longer distances were towards the second half of the camino when you start to get fitter.
At that time there was a great group of pilgrims walking so always people to share and chat with.
Day 30 I got to Puebla de Sanabria. Enjoy!
 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
I walked the VdelP in 2019 starting in Seville on the 28 March and finished in SdeC after 40 days of walking following the Camino Sanabres from Granja de Moreruela. I think there would be no problems walking this as a first camino, with a little bit of planning before and as you go. The website Godesalco.com allows you to input stages and gives good information on distances and places to stay as you start planning.
My average over the 40 days was 25.2 km, the longest day was 37.6km and the shortest was 14.7km. The longer distances were towards the second half of the camino when you start to get fitter.
At that time there was a great group of pilgrims walking so always people to share and chat with.
Day 30 I got to Puebla de Sanabria. Enjoy!
I walked the Vdlp as my first Camino and that was no problem at all. As for the social aspect I cannot compare to the CF, but it was my only Camino where a "Camino family" was formed. I still meet my Camigo's for a long weekend every year.
 

mla1

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF (2000); St. Giles (2013); Le Puy-SJPP (2015); VDLP (2016); Mozárabe, Almeria to Granada (2018)
I walked the VDLP in 2016, late March, right after Easter. Wildflowers were fantastic. And there was - for me - the perfect mix of social and alone times. A good range of landscapes and weather over the route. Watching the spring open up as we got further north was magical! 🙂 Interesting and beautiful cities. If there were not so many other places I want to walk, I’d happily do it again!
 

amy374

New Member
Past OR future Camino
April 2022
THANK YOU so much to everyone for all these wonderful details and ideas. It seems that the VdlP offers better food (jamon!) and albuerges, but the Madrid less challenging walks and also more time off the road. How much of the VdlP is on asphalt or alongside a busy highway? Besides this detail I think I'm leaning toward VdlP (and it seems I will be in the company of a number of others next April :) I'm grateful for all the info and resources folks shared!
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances x5, Portuguese VdlP12, Sanabres, Aragones, Norte,Salvador,Primitivo, VdlP 17,Madrid18Norte
I don't remember much asphalt or busy roads on the VDLP. On day 3 you can share a taxi to miss out the 16kms of road walking. After the Pico de Duena there's a long path beside a quiet road to San Pedro.
 
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Plataman

Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances: (2009), (2013), Via de la Plata; (2016)
THANK YOU so much to everyone for all these wonderful details and ideas. It seems that the VdlP offers better food (jamon!) and albuerges, but the Madrid less challenging walks and also more time off the road. How much of the VdlP is on asphalt or alongside a busy highway? Besides this detail I think I'm leaning toward VdlP (and it seems I will be in the company of a number of others next April :) I'm grateful for all the info and resources folks shared!
I also do not recall a lot of pavement on the VLDP, although there are some days where you are walking on secondary country roads which are the part of the VLDP. One long stretch of paved secondary roads I particularly recall is the stretch from A Guidina to Laza, about 35kms all on paved, but
very quiet country roads.
 

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