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Camino del norte in August

#1
Hi all

I am an Australian and did the Camino Frances a few years ago. I want to do the walk again but have been discouraged by reports of overcrowding on that route. I am now thinking of the Camino del norte but I have a few questions.

They are:
-what's a good guidebook for this route? So far my researches indicate the CSJ ones

-how hard is it? I'm getting very mixed reports on this.

-is August a good time to start? I understand this route shouldn't be as hot as the camino de frances, but I'm concerned that constant rain would make a hilly route very difficult.

-are there really so few people I love solitude. But am I going to be in the middle of nowhere with no one around me often (esp. during August).

-are dogs a problem? We all have our weaknesses. Mine unfortunately is a fear of dogs.

-I've read there's a shortage of cheap accommodation on this route. Is it going to cost me a lot more and be harder to find than on the camino frances?

-are there still many areas of this route that are not well maintained?

Any guidance would be much appreciated. All the very best to you all on your camino.
John
 

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#2
Hi John,

i cant answer all your questions but i may have some good advice.

1. try websites http://www.mundicamino.com and http://www.caminonorte.org
i think the guidbooks from france, the amis st jacques are possibly the best guidebooks ive seen for any trail books in europe. I dont know if they have a guide for this route though, yet.

2. difficulty. this depends on you. are you physically fit? can you handle elevation gain and decrease of some 2000 ft? More hills on the Norte. More hills at the start than at the end so many people will report more difficulty because they are just getting started etc. Mundicamino has a good profile map. all different people walk and so all different people have various reports. your experience will help alot!

3. Dont worry about rain. It only makes a voyage better, the dry days sweeter. Ive hiked over bald mts when 70 mph winds were in the valley. Walked through rain for 25% of my long trail e2e. You have to be more careful but its nice to have a shower while walking. From what i see the gain is stretched out over the course of many km and so shouldnt pose a high threat.

4. The amount of people that finished the Norte last year was around 4500 or so. dont have the exact figure but it similar to the USA appalachian trail. (about 3-4k people a year do this hike) Dont worry, if you go with your heart you will find a friend if you need one and no one if you dont.

5. In my experience as an animal handler, i train dogs actually, any miscommunication can be avoided. I imagine you are frightened if a dog is snarlin/snapping at you. Many dogs do this out of resource guarding, that is they protect things. Use a firm voice with dogs, they will try to intimidate you further and impose dominance upon you if you let them. As a last resort you can carry a stick to try to block the space between you and the dog. From all the journals ive read though you will probably have a dog wanting a friend. They are social creatures and he may be as lonely as you may be. Barking can be for anything from the "hello, pay attention to me, through a ball for me, thats mine, lets play!" etc. When you greet a dog, pet underneath the neck and stroke his head so his eyes go somewhat parrallel to the floor, give hims chance to smell you and you give him one stroke on the back. His body language will tell you if we wants to be petted or left alone. Worst comes to worst you could always carry a doggy treat or to and bribe your way past him!

also hee is a site of journals. http://www.trailjournals.com some good camino journals, all are in english and oretty sure about the camino frances.

buen camino,
chris
 

Paulus

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (May 2005), Norte (May 2006), Vezelay (2007).
#3
JohnM said:
Hi all

-what's a good guidebook for this route? So far my researches indicate the CSJ ones
You can order a guidebook from Eric Walker on-line (in 2 parts) from the UK-association. It's OK. I I used a German guidebook which is terrible accurate but for me (Dutch) easy to read but not for an Aussie (?)
JohnM said:
-how hard is it? I'm getting very mixed reports on this.
John ...it is much harder than the CF. I walked from Irun to Colunga so I can't say anything about the part after Gijon. One of the things is that almost all the villages are at sea-level: so after a coffee-break you know what's coming......uphill! But...it's a beautiful walk and if you don't rush or doing 30 km it will be OK. My wife and I are just over 50 years and we took an average of 20km a day and enjoyed it.
JohnM said:
-is August a good time to start? I understand this route shouldn't be as hot as the camino de frances, but I'm concerned that constant rain would make a hilly route very difficult..
I'm afraid I would not suggest to walk in August. Not because of the weather while that is OK: we walked in May 2006 and we had more sun and heat than last year on the CF.
Reason not to walk in August: 70% of the refugios/youth hostals and hostals along the coast are very crowded with tourists. We encountered no problems in May but as we heard from the locals it is very crowded with a lot of tourists which looks like the Costa Brava in South-Spain. Otherwise all hostals,hotels and youth-hotels are completely full!
JohnM said:
-are there really so few people I love solitude. But am I going to be in the middle of nowhere with no one around me often (esp. during August)...
In May it was very quiet: we did meet some 20 pelgrims on our 3,5 weeks walk....I think that you can't find the pelgrims in August between all the tourists.
JohnM said:
-are dogs a problem? We all have our weaknesses. Mine unfortunately is a fear of dogs. )...
No...the same as on the CF

JohnM said:
-I've read there's a shortage of cheap accommodation on this route. Is it going to cost me a lot more and be harder to find than on the camino frances?
Not a lot but the costs are higher: there's not verywhere enough rooms to get and as said before also the cheap hotels are full. I spended about E 40-45 per night for a sleeping-place, breakfast included for 2 persons.
JohnM said:
-are there still many areas of this route that are not well maintained??
No , the whole route is well maintained....at some places too well. in the different Provinces the associations of pelgrims do their best to make some nice routes but they forget that 38km on a day is a little too much. Eric Walker gives good tips in his books about this.

Take also a look at http://s59.photobucket.com/albums/g284/ ... te%202006/
for some pictures about the route to get an impression!

Good luck with your choice.....
 
#4
Thank you both for your very helpful replies.

I think I have decided to leave a little later - Sept - Oct. as the whole point is not to compete with huge no.s of people and August sounds like it would be too difficult. At that point, I might even do the Camino Frances again if the flows of people are not so high at that time of year.

If anyone else has any further suggestions, they would be much appreciated.

Thanks again
John
 

Peter Robins

Veteran Member
Donating Member
#5
Guides: afaik, the CSJ one is the only one in English; besides the German one Paulus mentions, there are also Spanish and French guides.

Solitude: you seem to be assuming that pilgrims are the only people in Spain :) There are _far_ fewer pilgrims on the coastal route than on the Camino Frances, but there are 40 million Spaniards, and large numbers of those who live in the hot and dusty bits in the middle head for the northern coasts in the summer months for some fresher air. They soon fill up the hotel accommodation.
If you want solitude, head for the inland regions - they are sparsely inhabited, and if you keep off any waymarked routes you're unlikely to see any pilgrims.

Rain: there is no 'constant rain'. Granted, the northern coasts are wetter than the meseta, but then so are most places; rainfall's generally less than Santiago. Tends to arrive in spells, as depressions/frontal systems move across from west to east.
 

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Alyssa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2014)
Norte, Finisterre, Salvador, Primitivo (2015)
#6
Hmm, thanks for all the great information about the Norte. I am planning to do my second Camino mid-June and July 2015 (I'm a teacher so locked into those dates. Are there albergues on the Norte that only cater to pilgrims or do the pilgrims usually compete for beds with other types of tourists and visitors? Thank you.
 

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