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Camino del Norte - September - October 2009

meenas

New Member
Howdy everyone - my first post!
I'm planning on walking the Camino del Norte in this coming September and October. I walked the Camino Frances around the same time of year in 2001, and after reading a bit about the masses on this route, I'm keen to try a quieter way (although, when I walked in 2001, it wasn't at all busy). I wanted to hear people's ideas/experiences about walking the Camino del Norte at this time of year - what sort of weather I could expect and whether the refuges would be open this late in the year, how it compares to the Camino Frances (eg. the same level of difficulty?).
Any advice would be HUGELY appreciated!
Cheers, Meena :D
 
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Dave

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 2002; most recent: Norte/Primitivo 2019
I walked the Norte/Primitivo during that same time period last fall. I think the poncho only came out once. For the most part, I had brilliant weather, sunny and warm but never uncomfortably hot. I typically had 5-10 other pilgrims around me, though there were a few nights when I was the only pilgrim in the albergue.

Of course, in the first hour back on the Camino Frances, I saw more pilgrims than I had over my whole trip up to that point...

Most albergues are still open, though keep in mind that I was on the Primitivo by the time October hit, and those albergues seem to be open longer than many on the Norte. There are a few albergues only open July/August (Bilbao and San Sebastian, for example), but often there are reasonably priced alternatives in place (in the case of those two cities, there are youth hostels and tons of hostales).

Incidentally, I recommend the Norte/Primitivo combo. By the time I reached the turn-off for the Primitivo, I'd had enough of the built-up coastline and the frequent road-walking it required. Don't get me wrong - I really enjoyed it for a while, but I think I'd be bored if I stayed on it to the end. The lightly populated hills of the Primitivo made for a nice contrast, and it felt more like the Camino Frances, sans hordes.
 

RodneyK

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Northern Way (2012)
Primitivo (2015)
Hi Meena,
Thanks for posting your question. I'm walking in September from Hondarribia to Santander and have been wondering about the weather too. I posted a question on the new pilgrims board a few weeks ago and got two great replies, one with a link to notes about the whole walk. Check that out. Mine's headed up Walking in September 2009 and for some reason has a small red star beside it. No idea what that means.

Dave, your comments about the weather are helpful. I've been really unsure about whether I'll need a rain jacket or a poncho. There seem varying opinions about the benefits of each. Also, I wasn't really sure how many other pilgrims there would be so it's good to hear there will be a few, but not hordes.

I'm planning to walk the rest of the way in a couple of years time, so your comments about the Primitivo are worth remembering.

Meena, I've read in a few places that the Camino Frances is a bit easier, not as hilly. So you can walk further each day. One thing I read suggested if you could walk 5-6 km/hr on the Frances you would walk about 1 km/hr less on the Northern route because of the hillier terrain. I think it's still quite reasonable though. I'm certainly doing lots of training.

Good luck,
Rodney
 

jl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances('05, '07), Aragonese ('05), del Norte / Primitivo ('09), Via Tolosana (Toulouse '05), Via Podiensis (Le Puy '07), Via Lemovicensis (Troyes '09), VF ('12), Winter Camino ('13/'14) Cammino d'Assisi ('14) Jakobseweg (Leipzig - Paris '15) San Salvador/Norte ('15) Ignaciano ('16) Invierno ('16)
Hi Meena, Rodney and Dave, I too will be on the del Norte at that time. I am aiming to get to Irun (from Vezelay) around the 25th August. I know of at least 3 other Australians who will also be travelling through (on the del Norte) just before or after that time. Who knows some of us may catch up!.

By the way - the red star means that you have made a contirubtion to that thread.

Cheers, Janet
 

meenas

New Member
Many thanks Dave, Rodney K and Janet - this forum is fantastic! Dave, your tips were great, especially about breaking off to the Camino Primitivo. And thanks for the info about the hilliness of of the del Norte route, Rodney - will step up my training. I found the Camino Frances very manageable, so need to make sure I don't get lulled into a false sense of security.

As for the poncho v raincoat issue - I first walked with a raincoat, and envied everyone with a poncho, so I'm going the poncho option this time! It just seems a lot easier, and a lot more 'contained'.
 
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Arn

Veteran Member
Meena...welcome to the Forum!

As you've already experienced...the Forum is chock full of fellow pilgrims that have, or will soon be walking the Way with you.

Take some time to check out the Class of 2009 topic and the calendar at the bottom of this page to list your walking dates and to see who may be on the Camino del Norte at the same time.

Enjoy yourself and let us know how things are going.

Buen Camino,

Arn
 

Dave

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 2002; most recent: Norte/Primitivo 2019
In terms of terrain: I thought the first 5-6 day stretch of the Norte (Irun to Bilbao) was more strenuous than the Camino Frances. The St Jean-Roncesvalles crossing was harder, of course, but the Irun-San Sebastian walk should not be underestimated, as there are lots of ups and downs, including a particularly intense short stretch. The main difference from there, though, is that while the Camino Frances trends downward, as you move through the Pyrenean foothills, you continue to have gain/loss throughout this stretch on the Norte. The walk from Deba to Markina is a real workout.

From Bilbao to Santander, it's mostly flat, with a lot of road walking. I strongly encourage people training for the Norte to test their shoes on both offroad and pavement conditions. The upside is that you have a lot of coastal views through here. Check with local tourist offices for advice; they might be able to point out some off-road options. (Also, get some local advice on walking from Bilbao to Portugalete. The route advised in the El Pais guide, for example, strikes me as a bad idea. Follow the river north out of Bilbao and you'll eventually reach Portugalete, saving yourself a lot of kms. Along the same line, after Santander you can trim maybe 7km off the trip by taking the train-bridge between Boo de Pielagos and Mogro. Sounds dangerous, but it's actually quite easy if you take the bare minimum of care; all of the locals do it.)

From Santander to the turn-off for the Primitivo, and even continuing on to Oviedo, it's still pretty flat, rarely going above 100 meters, but you get off the pavement a bit more. The scenery is awesome through here, with the Picos de Europa to the south, the coast to the north, and the great architecture of Asturias in between.

The Primitivo from Oviedo to Lugo is a workout. None of the peaks are terribly high, but you go almost all the way back down right afterwards, so the elevation gain/loss is significant each day. I think I had five or six straight days that started low, rose to wind turbine-topped hills, and then plummeted right back down. The hardest days on the Camino Frances are harder than anything here. But, whereas those hardest days are generally followed by an easy couple of days on the Frances, on the Primitivo it's hills, hills, and more hills.

Still, I think it's totally manageable. In particular, if you walk from Irun, you have plenty of time to build up your strength and endurance before reaching the Primitivo. And if the start seems intimidating, it's easy to set up shorter days early on. If you're on a deadline, it's easy to make up ground on all of the flat pavement further down the road.
 

LongPete

New Member
hi fellow pilgrims..

Am planning to start at Irun att end of august. Don´t know the exact date yet, plans change all the time. But the big decicion has been made...i am going. Was doing The Camino Frances in 2007 at the same time and it was quite crowded. This route probably will be much more less... I got 6 weeks time, so no hurry, hope to see some of u on the road...

T. Pete from Finland
 

jl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances('05, '07), Aragonese ('05), del Norte / Primitivo ('09), Via Tolosana (Toulouse '05), Via Podiensis (Le Puy '07), Via Lemovicensis (Troyes '09), VF ('12), Winter Camino ('13/'14) Cammino d'Assisi ('14) Jakobseweg (Leipzig - Paris '15) San Salvador/Norte ('15) Ignaciano ('16) Invierno ('16)
Hi Pete, I am planning to be in Irun around the 24th - 25th of August - who knows our paths might cross. Cheers, Janet
 

jackie_oh

New Member
Hi there,
I am looking at doing the Camino del Norte Sept - Oct 2009.
Thank you all for these valuable posts...this will be my first time walking the route and I have absolutely no idea what I'm in for. Does anyone know approximately how much it will cost per day?


Jackie Oh!
 
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mdefrayne

Member
Howdy,

The general rule of thumb was 1 Euro per kilometer on Camino Frances. I assume that's not too far off on Caminoe Norte.

Buen Camino,
Mark
 

Alan Pearce

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Aragones 2008, del Norte 2009, VdlP 2011, Ingles 2014, Camino de Madri 2015, Frances 2017
Hi Jackie_oh.
I read in a post somewhere on this forum that the Frances will cost you about 25 euro per day [which is about what it cost me last year] and the del Norte about 35 euro per day. The difference is because there are fewer albergues and so the accommodation costs are higher. At least I can be happy as an Australian that the exchange rate has moved in our favour over the last few weeks.
My friend and I will start walking from Bayonne on August 28th, which will place us in Irun on the night of the 30th. We are planning on about 5 weeks for the journey but are flexible with our schedule and won't book a flight from Compostela until we see how we are going. Then off to Ireland until Oct 18th before flying back to Sydney. One of the joys of the camino is hearing the tales of the other pilgrims so I look forward to catching up with as many as I can.
Buen camino
Alan

Be brave. Life is joyous.
 

TerryB

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Norte/Primitivo (April/May) 2009: Norte/Primitivo (parts) (April/May) 2010: Inglés (May) 2011: Primitivo (April/May) 2012: Norte / Camino de La Reina (April/May) 2013: Camino del Mar / Inglés (May/June) 2015
Hello Jackie_oh.
Costs as given are about right. I would put the "holiday" areas of the Norte (Santander to Villaviciosa) a little higher, say up to €40 and then lower again if you take the Primitivo at about €30. Again it depends on what you want to eat! I only weigh in at 65k max so needed to eat well to keep up muscle strength. Menu de Perigrinos is O.K. but is often short on the right kind of calories!
I would encourage anyone to give the Primitivo a go. i arrived in Santiago on 28th May and mentally I am still out there.

walk well and safely
Tio Tel
 

megster_29

New Member
Hi everyone! I walked the Camino del Norte from San Sebastian in September-October of 2007. As far as weather, of course it varies from year to year but I experienced weather of all 4 seasons. Thankfully it was usually spring or autumn type weather, GREAT for walking. But there were a few extremely HOT afternoons especially if you are road-walking, that black top really attracts the sun, and most of the road walking is at towards the beginning of the trip when the weather is hottest, so keep it in mind as I found water rather hard to find along the way, which I hear is a major difference from the Camino Frances. Then, especially toward the end of the trip there were a few frigid mornings, where a fleece and even gloves were a necessity for an hour or two, they wouldn't have been if I could've afforded to begin at 11 am or so but because of the length/difficulty of some of the days I had to start as soon as it was light enough to see the arrows.

As far as albergues, there were only a few closed and at the ones that are open, there is good information as to the status of the next few albergues so that you can plan accordingly. There was only one day when I had to change , plans to walk over 40km to reach the next town because of a closed albergue.

I didn't see many other people, until I reached Santander I had met only 5 other pilgrims and this was at night, not during the day when we were walking. Once the Camino Frances is joined for the last three days or so, I never had the pleasure of walking alone again, so enjoy it while you can!

Anyway, overall it was, for me , the perfect time of year weather-wise to walk. However, several Spaniards and other pilgrims told me I had uncharacteristically good luck with rain, as it only rained 4 or 5 days of my entire camino. It is a beautiful, terrible, and life-altering journey. Good luck and happy travels!
 

Javier Martin

Veteran Member
Sometimes when the summer has finished you can find some albergues closed, because it are only opened on summer.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain
 
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Bridget and Peter

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Home to Reims 2007
Reims to Limoges 2008
Camino Ingles 2009
Limoges to Gernica 2009
Gernica to San Vicente de la Barquera 2010
San Vicente to La Isla 2012
La Isla to Santiago Sept/Oct 2014
We will be cycling from Irun to Santander at the very end of Sept, beginning of October. As this draws nearer I am doing more detailed planning - and I'm looking for advice at present on the following areas:

1. if there is any information available as to which albergues will be open or closed

2. there do seem to be a lot of route variations - and this gets complicated when you are riding touring bikes and often follow roads - so any specific guidance about cycle routes welcome

3. and also about maps - in France we find the IGN 1:50000 maps invaluable because we can identify our own routes with an idea of hills and which roads are likely to be quieter, and even which unpaved tracks are likely to be ride-able, and where interesting churches are, and what size villages are so we can hope for a bar/village shop or not etc.

4. and any places we should try to include in terms of history/culture - we were thinking of including Gernika, and the art museum in Bilbao, for instance.

5 any other information anybody wants to impart

6 anyone else we might expect to meet en route!

thanks and love
 

vicstar

New Member
Hi

My name is Vicky and i'm also walking the Camino del Norte this September-October too.

I'm aware that its really hilly, does anyone recommend how much weight to carry in the backpack. I walked from Caen-Biarritz and followed the Chemin de St Jacque de Compostella 'voie de Littoral' route during May-August 2009 and carried about 14kgs as we were camping too.

May see you en route!

Thanks
Vicky
 

Javier Martin

Veteran Member
vicstar said:
...I'm aware that its really hilly, does anyone recommend how much weight to carry in the backpack. I walked from Caen-Biarritz and followed the Chemin de St Jacque de Compostella 'voie de Littoral' route during May-August 2009 and carried about 14kgs as we were camping too....

Hi Vicky,

As usual, as less as possible.

But you shouldn't need to camp. But, if you prefer this choice ... is up to you.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
 

Vicki

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
camino de norte (2014)
Hi Meena, Rodney and Dave, I too will be on the del Norte at that time. I am aiming to get to Irun (from Vezelay) around the 25th August. I know of at least 3 other Australians who will also be travelling through (on the del Norte) just before or after that time. Who knows some of us may catch up!.

By the way - the red star means that you have made a contirubtion to that thread.

Cheers, Janet
Hi Janet, Meena, Rodney and Dave

This is a great forum for folk like me. It will be my first camino , am going end of August and I have also chosen the Del Norte, of course weather is one of my main concerns, they other is that I've been reading that there are not as many alburques on this walk and I was wondering what the options are if they are full. Are there usually hostels, hotels available, or maybe just camping?

Vicki
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
Hola Vicki and welcome.
You will find much to help you here on the forum. It is good to have the CSJ guide (recently updated/revised) as it not only gives directions but also the albergues and suggested alternative accomodation along the route, plus cafe stops etc. Los Caminos del Norte, A; Ruta de la Costa. Books 1 and 2
These cost £5 each plus p&p and cover 1. Irun to Villaviciosa and 2. Villaviciosa to Arzua, where you join the Francés for the final stages into Santiago.
The booklet (£3) gives a brief resume of the Camino but not detailed information.
Buen Camino
 
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