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Camino del Norte as my first Camino in June - have I made a mistake?

MinaKamina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
Hello and welcome here!

As far as I can see you have not made any mistake yet, and why would you?
The Camino del Norte is a beautiful hike.
Take it easy, like @norelle writes, and take a rest day if and when you need one. Or a taxi. Or change routes.
But get started first. The first step and the next. You know what they say :cool:

Buen Camino!
 

Craig Towers

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago
I am a proficient walker but havent trained for the Camino del Norte and am slightly nervous about the difficulty of the route - should I be?
You will love it. One practical tip you might consider. The first days walk out of Irun is a great one but up a decent hill. The day we did it we hit pouring rain so we delayed a day in order to enjoy it. We had already booked our accommodation in San Sebastián so we took the coastal train from San Sebastián to Irun in the morning. About a 15 minute journey. First train is early. Advantage being we left our main packs in San Sebastián just walked with day packs. San Sebastián is a great town for Tapas 👍👍👍. Tip Take the mountain route not the inland route so you get to see the sea most of the way. Pack a sandwich and stop and enjoy the view. If at any time on other days you feel too tired the coastal train is a good transport option let’s you rest your legs. Very cheap and pretty frequent. Like 3 €. Enjoy your walk. You might see signs for I think it’s GR 10. Sometimes this goes closer to the coast than official camino. Nice walk too. They are never far apart. The wisley app is a handy app to use. In App Store. Has a handy GPS map function.
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
Only you will be able to answer you question post Camino. My feeling is 'Mistake" depends on which day it is, At least that is how I felt on my first Camino. My post Camino I started planning my next walk.
 

H Richards

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May/June 2017 Francés
Oct 2017 Le Puy / Francés (parts)
June/July 2018 Norte
Oct/Nov 2018 Francés
You haven't made a mistake, you've just made a choice. That necessarily means some things you have sacrificed and some other things you will have instead. IMHO Norte has... better food but less social life, more beautiful scenery but more hills and mountains, more variety and adventure but less frequent accommodation stops, more interesting cities but less visible Camino history, less overcrowding but more unreliable weather, etc.

If you're worried about the physical difficulty of the hike, I'd give you the following advice... Remember you can try and do shorter stages if you're tiring. Remember you'll train quickly once there and soon find your fitness improving. Remember if you really think you've made a mistake there are several cross routes that will reconnect you with the Frances in a few days. Remember to get yourself good waterproof boots as it's a lot muddier than the Frances!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte Sept 2013
Camino del Norte Sept 2014
Camino del Norte 2015,16,17,18
Don't walk all the way Irun to San Sebastian. Break your journey for the night at Pasajes San Juan. Try and get there in time to get into the Hostal as there are only 14 beds. Not a mistake. Take your time Buen Camino
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
Amigo @briggsbunny your mistake is not choosing the Norte but choosing Camino. From now on, for ever, there will only be Camino.

Oh well, never mind, at least it will be fun 😉

And I know nothing of the Norte that would make it any worse or better, harder or easier than any other route. Walk, eat, sleep, repeat: and one day you will be in Santiago
 

briggsbunny

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte; 2019
Thank you so much everyone, you don't know how reassuring your advice and support is! I am starting to get excited rather than nervous now, any other words of support and advice greatly appreciated!
 

HeidiL

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2004-), Portugués, Madrid, 4/5 Plata, 1/8 Levante, 1/8 Lana, Augusta, hospitalera Grado.
Please remember that if the Norte gets too hard for you (mountains!) you can switch to another Camino.

I have friends who did that some years ago - one of them had a very painful knee and didn't want to climb any more hills, so they phoned me at home to ask me to help them find an easier route. I found out which bus they needed to take and got them onto the Frances, where they walked happily from Astorga and got to Santiago.

(They dared to ask me because they know that I have knee problems and will never attempt the Norte - a nd wouldn't tease them for their change in plans.)
 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
I would say just start in Irun. If you manage to get up the Jazkibelmountain by the high route without big difficulties you will have the hardest climb behind you. It is very beautiful up there.
 

briggsbunny

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte; 2019
You will love it. One practical tip you might consider. The first days walk out of Irun is a great one but up a decent hill. The day we did it we hit pouring rain so we delayed a day in order to enjoy it. We had already booked our accommodation in San Sebastián so we took the coastal train from San Sebastián to Irun in the morning. About a 15 minute journey. First train is early. Advantage being we left our main packs in San Sebastián just walked with day packs. San Sebastián is a great town for Tapas 👍👍👍. Tip Take the mountain route not the inland route so you get to see the sea most of the way. Pack a sandwich and stop and enjoy the view. If at any time on other days you feel too tired the coastal train is a good transport option let’s you rest your legs. Very cheap and pretty frequent. Like 3 €. Enjoy your walk. You might see signs for I think it’s GR 10. Sometimes this goes closer to the coast than official camino. Nice walk too. They are never far apart. The wisley app is a handy app to use. In App Store. Has a handy GPS map function.
Thanks for your kind words Craig, I have taken your advice and will spend a couple of nights in San Sebastian before heading to Irun on the coastal train to start my walk in Irun
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF June 5, 2013
CF June 5, 2015
CF June 3, 2017
I am a proficient walker but havent trained for the Camino del Norte and am slightly nervous about the difficulty of the route - should I be?
I will start in Irun on May 30 and have the same concerns, but life goes on as does the Camino. This is my fourth camino but my first time on Norte. Looking forward to the challenge and my secret weapon --- STRETCHING --
 

Bob from L.A. !

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
Mistake? - This can be a subjective conclusion. Only you will be able to fully answer that question.
When I decided to walk the Norte I trained for it, knowing the hill gain and loss per day could be taxing on your body.
Going in to it I just went slow and steady, allowing for 3-5 short breaks per day, lots of pack adjustments and lots of hydration.
Prior to starting out I was told by a very seasoned Peregrina (10+ Caminos under her belt) that "The Norte is hauntingly beautiful". She was accurate down to the last syllable.
Go, pace yourself and when you complete it let us know if you made a "Mistake".
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
Greetings from Boo de Piélagos (Cantabria) on the Norte!

Lots of good advice from previous posts but I just want to interject how surprised I am about how many first time Camino walkers I've met thus far on the Norte, so many have gone before you. And to whet your appetite here are a few pictures from after Bilbao:

Early morning start after Castro Urdiales:

DSC_3486.JPG

Walking to Laredo:

DSC_3502.JPG

Ferry from Laredo to Santoña:

DSC_3517.JPG

Beach walking on the way to Noja:

DSC_3522.JPG

Ultreia!
 

Paintboy2

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CP-Coastal Route(2016), CdN (2017) CP-Senda Litoral (2018), Way of St. Francis (2019)
I've done three Caminos, none of them the Frances. I'm positive I've not made a mistake. In one month We will do the Way of Saint Francis, 330 miles from Florence to Rome and I still dont feel like I need to do the Frances. BTW, the CdN was my second Camino. Your going to love it.
 

Jesso

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - SJPDP to Muxia - (2016)
de Madrid (2018)
Norte + Primitivo (start 24 June 2019)
Amigo @briggsbunny your mistake is not choosing the Norte but choosing Camino. From now on, for ever, there will only be Camino.

Oh well, never mind, at least it will be fun 😉

And I know nothing of the Norte that would make it any worse or better, harder or easier than any other route. Walk, eat, sleep, repeat: and one day you will be in Santiago
Love this, and it is oh so true! Once you walk a Camino, it keeps drawing you back. Starting the Norte late June, my third Camino. Can not wait!
 

wynrich

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2013, CF 2014, CP 2016, CN 1st half 2018, CN 3rd qtr+R. Cantabrico 2019, Via Francigena 2017
The Norte is beautiful. Sometimes you have alternate routes along the Norte and it's hard to decide which to take. I'd advise to always take the seaside route if that is a choice. Especially the day you walk (and then ferry) into Santander. Spectacular. Also I remember taking a beautiful alternate route along the ocean on the day outside Castro Urdiales. Another just past Ribadesella. (PS. My forum photo was taken on climb up El Brusco just past Santoña. Incredibly steep and rugged, but so beautiful. Something I'll never forget.)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Del Norte from Irun to Santander, Primitivo from Oviedo to Frances to Santiago September 2016
I am a proficient walker but havent trained for the Camino del Norte and am slightly nervous about the difficulty of the route - should I be?
My daughter and I did it in september 2016. We got a late start from Irun and got off on the GR for a while. Ended up walking 32 km and getting to our stop in San Sebatian at 9 pm. Advise: start early and watch the route carefully. its a beautiful walk.
 

cbacino

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
I am a proficient walker but havent trained for the Camino del Norte and am slightly nervous about the difficulty of the route - should I be?
I walked Norte-Primitivo in 2018. No big deal in terms of effort but nice country. Just go at your pace. There are plenty of accommodations along the way. A nervous beginning is normal even for seasoned hikers. Every hike is a new hike. The unknown is always a little unsettling, but after a few days, one becomes a pro. 🦄
 
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Dinah Shaw

Volcano Climber
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Norte and Frances Sept 6 - Oct 11, 2016
I've done three Caminos, none of them the Frances. I'm positive I've not made a mistake. In one month We will do the Way of Saint Francis, 330 miles from Florence to Rome and I still dont feel like I need to do the Frances. BTW, the CdN was my second Camino. Your going to love it.
I did part of the Frances didn’t like it much. The way of Saint Francis sounds interesting especially since I speak Italian. I’ll have to check it out. I look forward to hearing about your experience
 

briggsbunny

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte; 2019
Thanks for your kind words Craig, I have taken your advice and will spend a couple of nights in San Sebastian before heading to Irun on the coastal train to start my walk in Irun
How long did it take to walk from Irun to San Sebastián and did you stay in an albergue?
 

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