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Camino del Norte in 28 days. Start in Bilbao or start in Irun and skip some stages?

purplewatercup

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Hi all,

I will be walking the camino del norte in august 2021 (fingers crossed) in 28 days. I was planning on starting on Bilbao and doing the entire thing from there, however I have read that the first stages from Irun are very beautiful. Would it be better to start from Irun and skip a few stages ex. walking out of gijon, walking out of bilbao etc ?
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
I haven't walked the Norte. However, I'd suggest that you simplify the logistics of your journey by picking a starting point within reach of your destination, and just walk. There will be no shortage of very beautiful scenery and wonderful experiences with a start in Bilbao. I vote for continuing your plan to start there.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I also havent walked the Norte, but I would also suggest walking from a starting point without skipping. Not only will that be easier, but also 'walking continuously' is one of the aspects of a Camino that makes it a Camino.
Its a tricky concept to explain, but the whole, 'sleep, walk, eat', routine is best unbroken. Once you are in the Camino mindset, you will want to stay there.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Don't worry, there are plenty of spectacular views from Bilbao and beyond.

And I totally agree with this
Not only will that be easier, but also 'walking continuously' is one of the aspects of a Camino that makes it a Camino.
Its a tricky concept to explain, but the whole, 'sleep, walk, eat', routine is best unbroken. Once you are in the Camino mindset, you will want to stay there.
 
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jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Madrid/San Salvador/Primitivo-2021
I have walked the Norte. You can walk the route in 28 days. The last section is the easiest part and you can walk longer days. Once you get off the coast @Ribadeo it is not as scenic. I would not skip anything but the ugliest day was Gijon to Aviles, very industrial.
 

dick bird

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
C clearly and anamiri, thank you for your responses! I think you're right and missing out on some of the nicer views doesn't outweigh the benefits of having one continuous camino experience. I will be starting from Bilbao as originally planned.
Just in case you waver in your resolve, let me just add that I have walked the Norte (all of it) and I 100% endorse what C Clearly and Anamiri are telling you. Starting from Bilbao and walking the whole way is an excellent idea. And if you have time, wherever there is an alternative route, take the longer one.
 

amancio

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
I think you can squeeze it in in 28 days, that is exactly how long I took, It would be unforgivable to skip the whole Basque Country, you can have longer stages if needed and, if as you advance along the camino, if needed, you can skip Santander-Barreda, or Gijón-Avilés.
 

dick bird

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
One more point re logistics, Bilbao has an international airport with an easy airport to city bus.. There will surely be flights from the UK, if not the States. That would make life a lot easier for you. And Bilbao is worth spending time in for its own sake.
 

Flog

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
And just to throw a spanner in the works:

The first week or so from Irun to Bilbao is certainly the most arduous and literally breathtaking, but really beautiful. If I only had one week to walk on the Norte again, it would be that section, I wouldn't miss it!!
 
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I agree with Flog Although the first week from Irun is the hardest, for me it is the most scenic and beautiful. Especially the Alpinista route.
 
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Past OR future Camino
2012 Lemovicensis + Francés;
2016 Podiensis + CdN + Fisterra;
2018 VdlP + Sanabrés + Muxia/Fisterra
Just skip the two most anoying stages (Bilbao-Portugalete and Gijon-Aviles). Then you‘ve left 26 only. And I think then it is pretty doable. Yes, the first stages are the most beautyfull, at least in my opinion, but physically quite challenging.
 

dick bird

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
May I ever so humbly point out that the scenery is not necessarily one's main reason to walk to Santiago. After all, imagine what people would say if you recommended a particular stretch of the camino on the basis of the quality of the wine and tapas. Mind you, pintxos and wine in the Basque country - don't get me started.
 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
I started the Camino in Bilbao with my wife. It was her first long distance walk since 25 years, so we did not want to start with the hardest part from Irun. When we arrived in Boo de Pielagos we decided to travel back to Irun and walk the stretch to Bilbao. It was a very good decision : it was the hardest but also the most beautifull stretch. Gyon to Aviles is the best stretch to skip. Also the miles from Santander to Boo de Pielagos seems to be "skippable"; We did not walk it but chose to walk an alternative route that kept following the coastline ( that would add about 25 km though)
 

Flog

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
May I ever so humbly point out that the scenery is not necessarily one's main reason to walk to Santiago. After all, imagine what people would say if you recommended a particular stretch of the camino on the basis of the quality of the wine and tapas. Mind you, pintxos and wine in the Basque country - don't get me started.
Sure, you can humbly point that out....
But my understanding of the OP's reason for asking was because they expressed some doubts about missing out on what they read was a beautiful section, and so an opinion was offered on that basis.

Folk have a myriad of reasons for walking and indeed, are constantly making recommendations on the basis of wine and tapas and churches and accommodation and everything else.....
 
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efdoucette

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2011 Camino Frances
Since 2011 - too many to list
Some thoughts about skipping stages:
- your Camino evolves into walking with familiar faces, your "Camino family". Skipping ahead means you probably lose touch with this group. So picture walking ~10 days, making friends, maybe sharing a meal together, lodgings, chatter etc only to leave them. A lot of "hello's and goodbye's" happen on the Camino but this is something to consider.

- say for example you want to skip the day from Gijon to Aviles. This means one of two things. You walk into Gijon and take a bus to Aviles missing an evening in Gijon, or stay in Gijon and take an early bus to Aviles to walk the day from Aviles, missing a visit to Aviles. So, something has to give when skipping stages.

- I remember 3 years ago I allowed 12 days to walk 13 stages on the Camino Primitivo thinking I would just bus ahead a day to make it work. Once I started walking I just couldn't see myself not walking the whole route. I ended up walking 3 stages over 2 days to stay on schedule.

Anyway, I'm not looking to influence your decision, just wanted to share some of my thoughts. Any decision you make will work out for the best, it normally does.
 

Mjl4237

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Del Norte
I also havent walked the Norte, but I would also suggest walking from a starting point without skipping. Not only will that be easier, but also 'walking continuously' is one of the aspects of a Camino that makes it a Camino.
Its a tricky concept to explain, but the whole, 'sleep, walk, eat', routine is best unbroken. Once you are in the Camino mindset, you will want to stay there.
I agree 100%. It's like a rhythm for your mind. Buen Camino
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
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I started in San Sabastian and loved that city. I would walk as far as you can and then bus into Santiago. I didn't think anything magical happened by physically walking in.
 

purplewatercup

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Thank you all for your input. Part of the consideration was assuming that there wouldn't really be much of a camino family on the norte? On other threads I've read that there's very few people on the norte to begin with.
 
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purplewatercup

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
How far do you want to walk each day?
This will be my first camino so I'm not sure what my capabilities are. Right now I'm following the stages set by various guides that put the whole thing at about 33 days but if I can walk more some days I wouldn't be opposed to it.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I started in San Sabastian and loved that city. I would walk as far as you can and then bus into Santiago. I didn't think anything magical happened by physically walking in.
The magic happens by walking in with your fellow pilgrims that you have spent several weeks with.
I can imagine that it can be different for those who walk with a partner or friends, because you always have each other to share the experience with, but as a solo walker I really value my time and the relationships that I form with the Pilgrims that I meet along the wway. Skipping a few stages would cause me to lose touch with them and make the whole walk feel disjointed.
While it's possible to walk from Irun to Santiago in 28 days it leaves no room for any contingencies such as illness or injury and can create a rushed feeling, which may cause you to have to skip sections.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Thank you all for your input. Part of the consideration was assuming that there wouldn't really be much of a camino family on the norte? On other threads I've read that there's very few people on the norte to begin with.
Not true in my experience. Actually, the fact that there are fewer pilgrims on the Norte can cause those who walk it to form tighter bonds.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
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@Tecile, I walked in to Santiago once with one son, another time with both sons and daughter in law, and once by bus. I only walked with Camino friends a few days early on before separating. My excitement was after I arrived in Santiago when I would run into those I had chatted with along the way. I never had an official Camino family, but totally get what you say.
 

MaryOswald

New Member
Past OR future Camino
planning a fall 2019 trip
Hi all,

I will be walking the camino del norte in august 2021 (fingers crossed) in 28 days. I was planning on starting on Bilbao and doing the entire thing from there, however I have read that the first stages from Irun are very beautiful. Would it be better to start from Irun and skip a few stages ex. walking out of gijon, walking out of bilbao etc ?
Boy I disagree with the people who think its better to do one continuous camino. We walked the Norte in 2019 and it truly is so beautiful but those first few days starting in Irun are some of the MOST beautiful.
For what it's worth, we did the whole thing in 31 days, not far from your 28 day schedule. If I were to miss a day it is from Santander to ... whatever the beautiful medieval town is about 25 miles later. That was a memorably ugly day. As was the walk OUT of Bilbao and basically the walk from Guernica to Bilbao. There! 3 days gone and you have your whole Camino
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)

Marc S.

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Since 2012: CF, CdN, CP, Salvador, Aragones, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakobsweg NRW, Jakibspaad.
Personally I prefer to walk continously, including the good, the bad and the ugly. And of course it all depends whether one regards the industrial and suburban parts as ugly, or just different - I do not know how you will experience this.

Moreover, whatever stage you skip, you always miss out on something. Skipping Gyon-Aviles means you will miss the prehistoric dolmen of San Pablo. Skipping Bilbao - Portulagete means you will miss out the memorable crossing on Vizcaya bridge, which is a wonderful piece of industrial heritage.

My advice (yet another advice, I know). Just start in Irun, start walking, find out how fast you walk, and make a decision somewehere along the way. As the best decisions in life are usually made while walking.

Just my two cents of thought.....
 
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Stewart K.

New Member
Past OR future Camino
APril 2016
If you haven't visited San Sebastian before, it is a 'must go' city. The food is wonderful, beyond description. It would be a shame to not spend a night there, even if you start the walk in Bilbao. I second the posts about the walk from Irun to San Seb being a great experience. As it happened, I ran most of that stage, because of some logistics. Great day for me.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Thank you all for your input. Part of the consideration was assuming that there wouldn't really be much of a camino family on the norte? On other threads I've read that there's very few people on the norte to begin with.
I think this is a mischaracterization of what you are likely to find on the Norte. The Norte is one of the most popular Caminos in Spain. There are places where the albergues fill up, particularly in high season like you will be traveling. That may not be a negative, because it means that if you skip a few days and lose your first “family”, you are likely to find another congenial group where you start up again.

The real issue in August, IMO, is that it is high tourist season on the northern coast, and that means that pilgrims become a distant second to the primo money-spending tourists. Prices for private accommodation are much higher, and things are often booked up, leaving you with fewer choices of accommodation. Walking the Norte in off-season it’s quite the reverse — you will be able to get great deals on very nice private accommodation, because there are no tourists.

I once broke up a Norte with a five day trip to New York. Not my choice, but I had no choice. Walked to Oviedo, flew to Madrid and NYC, and then did the return trip two days later. Walking out of Oviedo to rejoin the Norte I met a Brit, and a day later a Chinese guy, both of whom I’ve walked with multiple times since then. So that elusive “family” is possible even if you start and stop in different places.

Fingers crossed you can walk in August! Buen camino, Laurie
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Madrid/San Salvador/Primitivo-2021
This will be my first camino so I'm not sure what my capabilities are. Right now I'm following the stages set by various guides that put the whole thing at about 33 days but if I can walk more some days I wouldn't be opposed to it.
There are some days you will have less choice on distance you will walk.

The Norte is my favorite Camino. It is also, imo, the most difficult of those I have walked day after day. By difficult, I mean more frequent 500m climbs. There are no climbs like out of SJPdP.

This route is challenging the first 7-10 days but gets gradually better as you walk on. Some of that is due to conditioning as your body adapts to walking. The last third is the gentlest part of the route which, imo, is an opportunity to walk longer days. It is also the least interesting, imo. Miraz is a nice community Albergue. The monastery is an interesting place but do shower before 4, after they turn on the hot water.

If you like scenic ocean views, variety of small villages, medium sized resort towns, larger cosmopolitan cities and fish dinners, this is the route for you.

This Camino also offers several variant routes and interacts with the E-9. Some fuss about too much hardpan walking but most of that is on rural type roads.

I think I might have just talked myself into walking the Norte again.

I have my COVID shots, when are you going? ;-)
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
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Norte/Primitivo 2016;
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The Norte is my favorite Camino. It is also, imo, the most difficult of those I have walked day after day. By difficult, I mean more frequent 500m climbs.
Joe, you have walked a variety of Caminos so it says alot, saying the Norte is your favorite. I have walked it as far as Oviedo (turned onto the Primitivo) and any hardship was soon forgotten by the sheer joy of its beauty. I had planned to finish it up next time I go, but you and others do not seem to like the last half as much. Although there was no water much on the Frances, I still loved it and I hope for a similar experience on the Norte's last half.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Madrid/San Salvador/Primitivo-2021
Joe, you have walked a variety of Caminos so it says alot, saying the Norte is your favorite. I have walked it as far as Oviedo (turned onto the Primitivo) and any hardship was soon forgotten by the sheer joy of its beauty. I had planned to finish it up next time I go, but you and others do not seem to like the last half as much. Although there was no water much on the Frances, I still loved it and I hope for a similar experience on the Norte's last half.
I did not say I did not like it. The Norte after Ribadeo turns inland and after weeks of Coastal walking the route became a different type of scenic and less rigorous.

Very diverse cities and towns on the Norte and, I believe, the best food of any Camino. That said, I do prefer fish over pork.

The Primitivo, imo, is topography wise similar to the Norte. Scenic wise, in the early Spring, you have snow capped mountains to the south and beautiful hills and valleys daily. Very similar to the San Salvador which offers beautiful scenery when not navigating 3-4 snow meter drifts.

All the Camino's, I have walked, have their own charm but the Norte is the best so far.

Another reason I want to try that Camino de Faso(?) on the NW coast of Galacia.
 
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purplewatercup

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
There are some days you will have less choice on distance you will walk.

The Norte is my favorite Camino. It is also, imo, the most difficult of those I have walked day after day. By difficult, I mean more frequent 500m climbs. There are no climbs like out of SJPdP.

This route is challenging the first 7-10 but gets gradually better as you walk on. Some of that is due to conditioning as your body adapts to walking. The last third is the gentlest part of the route which, imo, is an opportunity to walk longer days. It is also the least interesting, imo. Miraz is a nice community Albergue. The monastery is an interesting place but do shower before 4, after they turn on the hot water.

If you like scenic ocean views, variety of small villages, medium sized resort towns, larger cosmopolitan cities and fish dinners, this is the route for you.

This Camino also offers several variant routes and interact with the E-9. Some fuss about too much hardpan walking but most of that is on rural type roads.

I think I might have just talked myself into walking the Norte again.

I have my COVID shots, when are you going? ;-)
I will be starting from Bilbao on the first week of august!
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Madrid/San Salvador/Primitivo-2021
I will be starting from Bilbao on the first week of august!
Oh, that would be high season on the Norte. Probably the busiest time. If we get through this COVID everyone will be there. Plus the Norte has a few resort towns so accommodations might be tough in some places.

If I walk, it will be in the next month or mid-September/October.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Oh, that would be high season on the Norte. Probably the busiest time. If we get through this COVID everyone will be there. Plus the Norte has a few resort towns so accommodations might be tough in some places.

If I walk, it will be in the next month or mid-September/October.
You're right. I did the Norte in July, and there was more of a bed race than on the Francés, plus competition with tourists for private accommodations. It got much easier after the route when inland. I would imagine that August might be even busier.
 
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purplewatercup

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
You're right. I did the Norte in July, and there was more of a bed race than on the Francés, plus competition with tourists for private accommodations. It got much easier after the route when inland. I would imagine that August might be even busier.
Is this a real big problem? I'm okay with maybe losing the bed race to albergues but is it possible to be stuck without a bed at all? I imagine that there are usually other options (price hostels, hotels etc) available albeit more expensive
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Is this a real big problem? I'm okay with maybe losing the bed race to albergues but is it possible to be stuck without a bed at all? I imagine that there are usually other options (price hostels, hotels etc) available albeit more expensive
You probably won't be stuck without a bed at all, but you may want to book a day or more ahead, and/or be prepared to pay more. There just aren't as many albergues on the Norte, and some of them are quite small - 14 - 20 beds or so.
 

dick bird

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Thank you all for your input. Part of the consideration was assuming that there wouldn't really be much of a camino family on the norte? On other threads I've read that there's very few people on the norte to begin with.
I think those threads may be out of date. We spent two weeks in 2019 as hospis in Portugalete in August and we were full most nights. August is European holiday time and I am sad to report that a lot of young Europeans have cottoned onto the fact that there is cheap (or 'free' if it is donativo) accommodation along a coastline that has spectacular beaches. In 2015 we walked that section of the Norte (Irun to the branch off to the Primitivo), even then it was getting overcrowded with pilgrims. The Primitivo is also very popular.
 

pietvv

New Member
Past OR future Camino
camino Frances 2015
camino del Norte 2018-2019
camino Portugese 2020
Hoi allemaal

Ik loop de camino del norte in augustus 2021 (vingers gekruist) in 28 dagen. Ik was van plan om op Bilbao te beginnen en daar het hele ding te doen, maar ik heb gelezen dat de eerste etappes van Irun erg mooi zijn. Zou het beter zijn om te beginnen bij Irun en een paar etappes over te slaan ex. uit gijon lopen, bilbao uit lopen etc? Ik heb het niet.
 
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Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
We started in Bilbao and enjoyed it very much.
Enjoyed the art museum there as well!
If you start in Irun you can enjoy Bilbao and the Guggenheim ( and the " belles artes museum") too😄😄 In the Guggenheim I especially liked the very big iron "walls?" by Richard Serra. Be sure to walk inside them, it is a very special feeling, because you physically feel a strong effect.
 

calmeg

Member
Our favourite stretch is Irun to Bilbao, and would not skip this. Also gets you in shape for any later difficult stages. If you do not want to spend time in Bilbao you could take an early train from Guernika to Bilbao, the metro to Portugalete, and then walk to Onton or Castro Urdiales to save a couple of days. We found the few stages after Santander to be a little boring.... always places to skip and make up time.
 

Dilbin

Member
Past OR future Camino
Irun to Santander del Norte
I have walked the Norte. You can walk the route in 28 days. The last section is the easiest part and you can walk longer days. Once you get off the coast @Ribadeo it is not as scenic. I would not skip anything but the ugliest day was Gijon to Aviles, very industrial.
Hi. If you ever do the Norte again I would recommend following the historic route to Vegadao instead of going through Ribadeo. It was 3 stages of pure bliss, magnificent scenery and alberques all to ourselves.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Hi. If you ever do the Norte again I would recommend following the historic route to Vegadao instead of going through Ribadeo. It was 3 stages of pure bliss, magnificent scenery and alberques all to ourselves.
I have the last half of the Norte to walk and will remember this tip. I'm adding it to my guidebook notes now.
 

Redvespablur

Member
Past OR future Camino
Norte/Primitivo April/May 2016
Voie Littorale May 2020
I plan to redo Irun to Bilbao - we loved the countryside, the people, everything. Plus it will make you stronger for the rest of the route.
We had a small Camino family that we met often despite rest days side trips etc.
Hope you have fun.
 
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nickymd1

Member
Past OR future Camino
CdN + Fisterra 2017
Jakobsweg (Imperii + Regia) | BER-Leipzig-Naumburg 2018
Burgos-SdC 2019
Please start in Irun. I walked the Norte in 31 days in 2017. The Basque country (Irun-Bilbao) was my favourite section, even though yes, there are lovely 2-3 stage sections in the rest of the walk. It's the only part I would absolutely not skip if I did the CdN again.
If you're willing to walk a few longer days (particularly after moving in-land) and spend a little more for a few nights in Privados, it is absolutely doable to walk Irun to SdC in 28 days, and really enjoy the sights. That was my initial plan, and the 3 extra days I needed were down to a short day to account for food poisoning, a detour day that split 2 stages into 3, and not walking into Santiago on what would have been my last day so I could walk in the following morning with my Camino family. The 33 days is excessive unless you want to go to Finisterre/Muxia afterwards.
And yes, the Camino Family is totally real on the Norte, particularly June-September. There are more than enough people (30-45 pd looking for Albergue beds) and yet still a small enough group that you get to know everyone. I actually found the bond much more profound because the stages are longer, there are fewer people so the constellation doesn't flex as much and the harder route means people open up differently.
 
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Dilbin

Member
Past OR future Camino
Irun to Santander del Norte
I have the last half of the Norte to walk and will remember this tip. I'm adding it to my guidebook notes now.
I have the last half of the Norte to walk and will remember this tip. I'm adding it to my guidebook notes now.
Oh excellent. Enjoy. Two wonderful alberques, one in Vegadao run by a wonderful lady. She can recommend the next nights accommodation as it doesn't appear to be on Gronze. It's actually her partner who runs it and he had a fantastic alberques right on the road.
 

Pete Dunn

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte (Sept/Oct 2016) + Finisterre leg
Primitivo (Sept/Oct 2017)
Good points on both sides. The opening stages from Irun offer some of the most beautiful walking on the Norte IMHO, whereas I remember choking on the toxic fumes from the heavy industry between Gijón-Avilés and would willingly avoid that section.

It took me 30 days from Irun walking at a steady pace, with plenty of time to stop and stare. Maybe start from Bilbao and book a week the following year to do the initial section from Irun? If you get to Santiago a little early, you can always continue to Finisterre, which is an exceptional walk too.

Thank you all for your input. Part of the consideration was assuming that there wouldn't really be much of a camino family on the norte? On other threads I've read that there's very few people on the norte to begin with.

You will have every opportunity to develop your camino family! As someone commented, the fact that there are less people (although not few) on the Norte means you make close friendships, but assuming Spain is open in August, all routes are likely to be relatively busy this year.
 
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017
I also havent walked the Norte, but I would also suggest walking from a starting point without skipping. Not only will that be easier, but also 'walking continuously' is one of the aspects of a Camino that makes it a Camino.
Its a tricky concept to explain, but the whole, 'sleep, walk, eat', routine is best unbroken. Once you are in the Camino mindset, you will want to stay there.
That is so true, Anamiri. When I did the CF in 2017 I took one rest day in Leon. I was so anxious to get back on the trail I thought there must be something wrong with me. The Camino is a muse that infects you with a rhythm of simple ritual that does not give easily to interruption. How I long to be be back under her spell.
 

Jacqueline17

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte (2016/2017)
Camino Ingles (2017)
Santiago to Muxia (2018)
Just skip the two most anoying stages (Bilbao-Portugalete and Gijon-Aviles). Then you‘ve left 26 only. And I think then it is pretty doable. Yes, the first stages are the most beautyfull, at least in my opinion, but physically quite challenging.
We loved Bilbao to Portugalete! All those cranes ... beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
 
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PlutseligPilegrim

Rota Vicentina, fisherman’s trail, is sweet...
Past OR future Camino
St Olav’s way Novgorod - Åbo
- Stiklestad - Nidaros (2019)
Via del a plata from Cadiz (2019)
Hi all,

I will be walking the camino del norte in august 2021 (fingers crossed) in 28 days. I was planning on starting on Bilbao and doing the entire thing from there, however I have read that the first stages from Irun are very beautiful. Would it be better to start from Irun and skip a few stages ex. walking out of gijon, walking out of bilbao etc ?
Definately from Irùn....no question....my choice..?.....no planned skips and let fortuna unfold your journey.....if to do it over I would fly into Paris and take the train down

((There is also a special train route parallel with the coast ....I was on foot all the way so have no experience myself but have seen beautiful pictures...will try to find link))

 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
The Camino is a muse that infects you with a rhythm of simple ritual that does not give easily to interruption. How I long to be be back under her spell.
I love these words! They are unique and a perfect description!🙂
 

suzanne perron

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Past: Frances, Norte, Primitivo, Aragones, 1/2 Via Plata. Future: Italian part of Via Francigena
Hi all,

I will be walking the camino del norte in august 2021 (fingers crossed) in 28 days. I was planning on starting on Bilbao and doing the entire thing from there, however I have read that the first stages from Irun are very beautiful. Would it be better to start from Irun and skip a few stages ex. walking out of gijon, walking out of bilbao etc ?
I have walked the Norte and Primitivo. I would start in Irun or San Sebastian if you prefer ... I would just walk and not worry about timing as it can cramp your style. You will walk way more km the last week or two than at the beginning as you will be in great shape by then. Easier to over do it a little at the end! If you skip early on, you might regret it especially if you arrive in Santiago with a couple of extra days left! Lots of folks take the local bus out of Bilbao to get out of the city. It is only about 10 or so km but there is a half day right there. Leaving San Sebastian is quite nice and lots of beaches to swim for the next 2-3 days (after checking into the albergue. Deba, Markina I think). Tip if you go to San Sebastian. The city is on a lovely big bay with a boardwalk all around the bay. If you go down below the boardwalk there is a place to get a towel, lockers and a shower ... great beach, worth it.
Be sure to check out Gernica. There is a spot where they put up a copy of Picasso's famous mural depicting the Nazi bombing of Gernica. And one thing. if you stop in Laredo ... be sure to go walk the tunnel to the ocean. Very fun. Good luck!
My trick after many caminos: buy a 1 way ticket. I am far from rich and yes it costs more but what a great feeling to be free from constrains!
 

Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
My suggestion - Don't short change yourself. This is a beautiful route and worth every step, even if it does get tough. You won't regret walking this route...
 
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dick bird

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
I think this is a mischaracterization of what you are likely to find on the Norte. The Norte is one of the most popular Caminos in Spain. There are places where the albergues fill up, particularly in high season like you will be traveling. That may not be a negative, because it means that if you skip a few days and lose your first “family”, you are likely to find another congenial group where you start up again.

The real issue in August, IMO, is that it is high tourist season on the northern coast, and that means that pilgrims become a distant second to the primo money-spending tourists. Prices for private accommodation are much higher, and things are often booked up, leaving you with fewer choices of accommodation. Walking the Norte in off-season it’s quite the reverse — you will be able to get great deals on very nice private accommodation, because there are no tourists.

I once broke up a Norte with a five day trip to New York. Not my choice, but I had no choice. Walked to Oviedo, flew to Madrid and NYC, and then did the return trip two days later. Walking out of Oviedo to rejoin the Norte I met a Brit, and a day later a Chinese guy, both of whom I’ve walked with multiple times since then. So that elusive “family” is possible even if you start and stop in different places.

Fingers crossed you can walk in August! Buen camino, Laurie
I think I said this somewhere else, but just to back up what you are saying about the Norte - we worked as hospis in Portugalete in August 2019, and walked sections before and after, and a fair proportion of the people we met staying in albergues were not on their way to Santiago. I'll say no more about it, but the consequence is that accommodation is hard to find around that time. That includes albergue accommodation I am sorry to say. No shortage of company though.
 

Vaughan

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francais April/May 2019
Camino Notre April/May 2020
Hi. If you ever do the Norte again I would recommend following the historic route to Vegadao instead of going through Ribadeo. It was 3 stages of pure bliss, magnificent scenery and alberques all to ourselves.
Hi, I couldn't find Vegadeo on my guidebook map and Google doesn't recognise it. Can you provide any more detail on this route please?
 

Marc S.

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Since 2012: CF, CdN, CP, Salvador, Aragones, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakobsweg NRW, Jakibspaad.
Hi, I couldn't find Vegadeo on my guidebook map and Google doesn't recognise it. Can you provide any more detail on this route please?

The route to Vegadeo is the historical route before the bridge to Ribadeo was built. The route and the albergues on this route are also mentioned on gronze.com (Camino Historica por Vegadeo)

Anyway, the route has also been discussed on this thread:


I have not walked it myself, but I will, the next time I walk the Norte.
 
Last edited:

dick bird

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
We were told about the Ruta Historica by Aurelio who runs a fantastic private albergue in Noria (or did, Covid may have put an end to his enterprise). It branches off at or near A Caridá (La Caridad) and loops south around the end of the ria. Traditionally it was used by pilgrims who could not afford the ferry to cross to Ribadeo. It is a new alternative and was in use before they built the terrifying bridge to access Ribadeo and recently revived. It is very well way-marked with very good albergues. Stay, if you can, with José in A Trapa. It meets up again with the Norte at Mondoñedo. The hospis are all lovely and the scenery really is magnificent, and you will probably have it all to yourself.
 

Vaughan

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francais April/May 2019
Camino Notre April/May 2020
The route to Vegadeo is the historical route before the bridge to Ribadeo was built. The route and the albergues on this route are also mentioned on gronze.com (Camino Historica por Vegadeo)

Anyway, the route has also been discussed on this thread:


I have not walked it myself, but I will, the next time I walk the Norte.
We were told about the Ruta Historica by Aurelio who runs a fantastic private albergue in Noria (or did, Covid may have put an end to his enterprise). It branches off at or near A Caridá (La Caridad) and loops south around the end of the ria. Traditionally it was used by pilgrims who could not afford the ferry to cross to Ribadeo. It is a new alternative and was in use before they built the terrifying bridge to access Ribadeo and recently revived. It is very well way-marked with very good albergues. Stay, if you can, with José in A Trapa. It meets up again with the Norte at Mondoñedo. The hospis are all lovely and the scenery really is magnificent, and you will probably have it all to yourself.
Thank you chaps. I will look into this. I had been planning top walk the Norte this year but am increasingly drawn to 2022 given the circumstances surrounding the pandemic.
 
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nickymd1

Member
Past OR future Camino
CdN + Fisterra 2017
Jakobsweg (Imperii + Regia) | BER-Leipzig-Naumburg 2018
Burgos-SdC 2019
I wanted to quickly follow up my earlier post with this video which was filmed around the same time I walked my CdN and Aurimas/Patriot's Day 1 starts exactly where mine did. It is the best video I've seen yet in terms of capturing the feeling of walking the CdN (but in Autumn/Fall rather than summer, and with some cowboy camping).
The changing weather, the vistas, those hills, remembering people even if you primarily walk alone during the day, the random animal encounters... Most other videos spend a lot of time talking about accommodation, food, etc which is very much the same on all Caminos. This video is a little different.

Edit: He did a second video of the same trip with just photos which shows the more common side of the Camino, and very much demonstrates the Camino Family on the Norte.
 
Last edited:

Vaughan

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francais April/May 2019
Camino Notre April/May 2020
I wanted to quickly follow up my earlier post with this video which was filmed around the same time I walked my CdN and Aurimas/Patriot's Day 1 starts exactly where mine did. It is the best video I've seen yet in terms of capturing the feeling of walking the CdN (but in Autumn/Fall rather than summer, and with some cowboy camping).
The changing weather, the vistas, those hills, remembering people even if you primarily walk alone during the day, the random animal encounters... Most other videos spend a lot of time talking about accommodation, food, etc which is very much the same on all Caminos. This video is a little different.

Edit: He did a second video of the same trip with just photos which shows the more common side of the Camino, and very much demonstrates the Camino Family on the Norte.
Thanks for posting. I really enjoyed both videos, Can' wait to go!
 

Alan Pearce

Veteran Member
I am sure what you have decided is best for you, but just to let you know my Irish friend Victor and I walked the del Norte from Irun to SdC in 33 days, which included 2 rest days. We walked in September 2009 and had a dream run with the weather, having experienced only 2 wet days. The first 6 days from Irun to Bilbao were very tough, and while the scenery may have been beautiful, we were mostly too exhausted to look at it!

I was 61 at the time, and Victor a few years older.

Alan

Be brave. Life is joyous.
 

Canche

Volcano Climber
Past OR future Camino
2016
I did the first half of the Norte and did not find the part from San Sebastian to Bilbao that difficult. I was 71 at the time and have a knee replacement and back problems. However because of infected blisters had to go down to the Frances which I didn't like as much. I can't wait to return and finish the Norte and take the Ruta Do Mar to the Ingles.
 
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NicolineDahl

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
Thank you all for your input. Part of the consideration was assuming that there wouldn't really be much of a camino family on the norte? On other threads I've read that there's very few people on the norte to begin with.
Hi! I'm also considering starting in bilbao in August 😊are you still doing it? I'd like del norte exactly because it's less crowded. Did Porto-fisterra a couple years ago and there were so many people
 

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