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Camino Norte to Primitivo + General Questions

tenerifehikes

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Primitivo (planned)
Hi everyone!

I’m looking to do my first Camino in a few weeks and would love to get some advice from some experienced pilgrims!

1. I was hoping to start somewhere along the Camino Norte for 2-3 days before arriving to Oviedo to see a bit of the coast. What are some of the best recommendations for starting points along the Northern route to connect to the Primitivo? If it’s not advisable to connect them, between the Norte and Primitivo, what is recommended for a first-time pilgrim?

2. I’ve read that the Primitivo can be a bit challenging at times. I’m an inexperienced hiker but enjoy walking and am in fairly good shape. What might I expect my average daily kilometer goal to be along the Primitivo? Would you recommend training in advance and if so, what training is recommended?

3. Any weather-related or booking-related tips for the Primitivo? Any warnings/suggestions for a young, solo female pilgrim?

Thank you all in advance!
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I’m looking to do my first Camino in a few weeks and would love to get some advice from some experienced pilgrims!


There is a direct connection between the Norte and the Primitivo. Slightly after Villaviciosa, there’s a well-marked split. To the left, and you are headed to Oviedo (usually in two days). Stay straight and you will stay on the Norte and head to Gijón. Two to three days before that would most likely be around Llanes. You should look at gronze.com for good schematic maps and all the distance and accommodation information you would need.

Gronze also has the “average stages” walked for the Primitivo, generally in the 14-15 day range.

The better your overall fitness and muscle strength, the less danger of injuries you will have. Lots of people walk with very little training, so it’s really just a question of how much time you want to devote to training and how fit you are.

I’ve walked this route several times, always starting out alone. There are a lot of people on this route, so you will find company if you want it. If you enjoy walking alone, as many of us do, I would just say take the normal precautions and be alert.

Good luck and buen camino.
 

Sineadmk

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
May 2013
Re training, I found that for the previous 6 weeks I would do 1 long hike every Saturday of 6-8 hours hiking, at least 18km with accumulate ascent of 700-800 metres. And 1 quick mid week hike of 1-2 hours briskly @ 8km long. That prepared me for Camino Frances & Tour du Mont Blanc.
For Camino Portuguese I hadn't walked/hiked in 3 years. I would not advise, the first 5 days were full of distraction about picking up an injury...I was very lucky not too
Happy walking
 

John Holland

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016
Yes, the Primitivo is more challenging than the Norte. But avoid the section up and over the top (the Hospitales route) and take the lower route and it is much easier.
 

Robi Diaz De Vivar

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2016), Norte (2017), Portuges (2018), Mozarabe (2019), Primitivo (2019), Via de La Plata (2
Hi everyone!

I’m looking to do my first Camino in a few weeks and would love to get some advice from some experienced pilgrims!

1. I was hoping to start somewhere along the Camino Norte for 2-3 days before arriving to Oviedo to see a bit of the coast. What are some of the best recommendations for starting points along the Northern route to connect to the Primitivo? If it’s not advisable to connect them, between the Norte and Primitivo, what is recommended for a first-time pilgrim?

2. I’ve read that the Primitivo can be a bit challenging at times. I’m an inexperienced hiker but enjoy walking and am in fairly good shape. What might I expect my average daily kilometer goal to be along the Primitivo? Would you recommend training in advance and if so, what training is recommended?

3. Any weather-related or booking-related tips for the Primitivo? Any warnings/suggestions for a young, solo female pilgrim?

Thank you all in advance!
2. The Primitivo IS demanding and very beautiful. It is generally about 25 - 30 kms a day. I would ALWAYS train ahead of time. You have to respect the Camino and it will look after you. For the 2 months before a Camino I start with 12 - 15 km every second or third day and then in the last month step it up to 15 - 18 km. Walk carrying your pack weighted as you expect to carry and wearing the shoes that you intend to walk in.

3. It is going to be warm - I don't know where you are from so this might be an issue. Carry lightweight waterproofs just in case. When I walked the Primitivo I walked half the stage to Salas with a Dutch girl who was doing her first Camino. She said that she had not felt uncomfortable or at risk at any time. Hope this helps.

Buen Camino.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Yes, the Primitivo is more challenging than the Norte. But avoid the section up and over the top (the Hospitales route) and take the lower route and it is much easier.
I’m sorry to disagree, but by most measures, the Hospitales route is easier than the route through Pola de Allande. For starters, the two alternatives meet up at Puerto de Palo (high point of the route), and both have the same difficult stony descent to Montefurado, so they both share a lot of the same terrain.

The difference comes in terms of total elevation gain and steepness of ascent. The ascent from Pola has 200 more meters of elevation gain than the Hospitales route (620 m as opposed to 430, which is not a trivial difference), and that’s because you will have descended an additional 200 meters to get to Pola than if you had just started ascending the Hospitales route after Borres. And if you compare the elevation profiles, you will see that the ascent from Pola de Allande is steeper, especially at the end. I’ve attached screen shots for you to compare the schematic maps.

2EF52BC6-0BB9-4D94-9922-BEEC52A5C68C.png 2793C4A8-1690-4F6D-832A-F06C6538AB29.png

It is true that the Hospitales route has a longer distance without services (24 km), whereas from Pola de Allande the biggest stretch with no services is less. But that feature is easy to deal with by just bringing a bit more water and food.

I have walked both routes and have a hard time choosing which one is prettier, but not which one is harder for me!
 

Bob Howard

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2016 2018 2022
Since this is your first Camino, note that everyone who has responded did the Camino Francés first. There are many reasons for that.
 

Bob Howard

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2016 2018 2022
By the way, regular Forum members, I’m in Navarette right now and staying in a quite appealing 14th Century building that now houses a very charming hotel. Previous Caminos, I walked from Logono to Najera. Navarette is much more than the glimpses I got of it in 2016 and 2018. I can’t remember when or who was singing it’s praises in the last couple years,, but thanks for the recommendation.
 

tenerifehikes

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Primitivo (planned)
Since this is your first Camino, note that everyone who has responded did the Camino Francés first. There are many reasons for that.
I have noticed that many people have done the Francés first but I was hoping to do a less crowded Camino, especially given that I’m walking in July/August. With that in mind, and given that I am going alone, would you say the Primitivo should not be done as a first Camino/recommend doing the Francés instead?
 
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calmeg

Member
Hello. We (in our mid 50s) did our first camino on the norte starting in Irun, and at Villaviciosa took the route to Oviedo and the primitivo. From Oviedo to Santiago took us 12 comfortable days- so do not worry about it being your first camino. There are lots of ups and downs, just like other aspects of life. We were well prepared for the primitivo due to the time on the norte, so any training will help you suffer less as you get into your camino shape and routines!
 

patiras

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2010
Camino Primitivo 2022
Yes, the Primitivo is more challenging than the Norte. But avoid the section up and over the top (the Hospitales route) and take the lower route and it is much easier.
The hospitales route was gorgeous and not as hard as people like to say it is. I would avoid it if the weather is bad but not because it is hard.
 

Daddyfrog

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte (2018)
Doing the Frances as your first Camino is not essential nor a "rule". Like you, my wife and I wanted a quieter Camino, and chose to walk the Norte first. We'll never regret it! You're doing the right thing doing your research, so make up your own mind about where you want to walk and then go for it! I highly recommend the Norte!
 

Bob Howard

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2016 2018 2022
As to crowds, July and August on the Frances are relatively quite quiet compared to May and September—except after Sarria. The statistics show that, and I am observing it now.
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
Yes, the Primitivo is more challenging than the Norte. But avoid the section up and over the top (the Hospitales route) and take the lower route and it is much easier.
Weather permitting I would never recommend skipping the Hospitales route. I've done it twice and although a challenge (more the downhill IMHO) it was a highlight of the Primitivo!

I have a Camino friend who has done the Hospitales route and a few weeks ago did the alternative route and she said she found it more difficult.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have noticed that many people have done the Francés first but I was hoping to do a less crowded Camino, especially given that I’m walking in July/August. With that in mind, and given that I am going alone, would you say the Primitivo should not be done as a first Camino/recommend doing the Francés instead?

This spring I had two friends who walked their first caminos. One chose the Francés, and one chose the Norte. Both had read a lot about the camino. The one who went on the Francés understood that there would be a lot of people (and there were!) but she wanted to experience that so many raved about, the “camino feeling”, “camino magic,” etc. The other was put off at the prospect of all the crowds and chose the Norte. Both had wonderful experiences.

I have walked the Primitivo several times, and have always met “first timers.” They have different reasons for not choosing the Francés (some want to walk a “full” camino and don’t have a month; others like the idea of more rugged terrain; others hope to find smaller crowds).

The Primitivo will surely have fewer total people on it in July/August, but accommodations and albergues may actually be more crunched than on the Francés. In July and August, the part of the Francés that is really crowded is from Sarria to Santiago, but most of the rest of the route is not at peak capacity. Again, it’s all relative, because it takes a lot fewer people to fill up the Primitivo.

You’re the only one who can make the decision that’s right for you, but just know that there is no “should” involved in choosing a camino!
 

John Holland

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016
An amendment to my earlier comment re the Hospitales route, I should have added that my comments regarding the Hospitales route being tougher apply very much if the weather is bad. In such cases I would strongly advise avoiding the Hospitales route. It is very exposed and with a hard cold wind plus freezing rain (in other words, a full scale gale) it is very tough. While the route is quite spectacular in good weather, when walking in a gale you will see nothing.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Time 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
Hi everyone!

I’m looking to do my first Camino in a few weeks and would love to get some advice from some experienced pilgrims!

1. I was hoping to start somewhere along the Camino Norte for 2-3 days before arriving to Oviedo to see a bit of the coast. What are some of the best recommendations for starting points along the Northern route to connect to the Primitivo? If it’s not advisable to connect them, between the Norte and Primitivo, what is recommended for a first-time pilgrim?

2. I’ve read that the Primitivo can be a bit challenging at times. I’m an inexperienced hiker but enjoy walking and am in fairly good shape. What might I expect my average daily kilometer goal to be along the Primitivo? Would you recommend training in advance and if so, what training is recommended?

3. Any weather-related or booking-related tips for the Primitivo? Any warnings/suggestions for a young, solo female pilgrim?

Thank you all in advance!
Some thoughts which vary a little from some of the other replies:-
Depending on how you travel/where you arrive in N Spain - the walk from Llanes toward Ribadasella would enable you to see some of the coast. You can use the FEVE then to get to Oviedo and start on the Primitivo, thus saving some time if you are time restricted.
My average day would be about 15-20 kms so we made short stages and in 2 places did use transport on over-long sections before Lugo. Longest day was Castroverde to Lugo -24kms - and that was partly due to reaching accommodation in Lugo and taking a wrong turn. We took 50% more days than most people but it worked for us.
We took the Pola de Allande route not Hospitales - again length of day and stayed in Pola. Next day we actually walked the road and then took the Camino track where it crossed the road to go up to Puerto de Palo. This was actually wet weather driven but does take out some of the elevation as the Camino goes down before it goes up between Pola and the road crossing.
We booked one day ahead to ensure beds as far as possible - worked for us but @TerryB did not book when he walked first on his own. Matter of choice and age :) Most days we stopped for our mid-day meal where we planned to sleep and then pottered round after siesta.
We walked with our packs before the Camino and made sure we had worn our boots too so that we knew they were good to go. Took lightweight poncho style waterproofs (May) rather than jackets and clothes, as few as possible. Think wash one wear one and 3 sets of socks/underwear.
If you want to see our stages then you can check out the 2012 blog in my signature - and its link to Terry's Norte/Primitivo Camino in 2009.
Note - the Inglés was my first Camino and the Primitivo my next and it was the easier of the two in many ways. We have never walked the Francés - apart from the section where it joins the Primitivo :)
Buen Camino
 

Sunbun

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Zip
By the way, regular Forum members, I’m in Navarette right now and staying in a quite appealing 14th Century building that now houses a very charming hotel. Previous Caminos, I walked from Logono to Najera. Navarette is much more than the glimpses I got of it in 2016 and 2018. I can’t remember when or who was singing it’s praises in the last couple years,, but thanks for the recommendation.
Do you remember the name of that building/hotel? Thanks!
 
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dbier

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Last 114km Camino Frances, Jul 21
2023 - Camino P
Wherever you go, In My Humble Opinion, train in/break in your boots/shoes/sandals and your pants/shorts/skirt/kilt with multiple km in one stretch before you go. You *really* want to know how your body deals with those items before you set off. And you *really, Really* want to find problems before you transit whatever waters you'll be transiting....
 

Jyrki Wahlstedt

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2018
I have noticed that many people have done the Francés first but I was hoping to do a less crowded Camino, especially given that I’m walking in July/August. With that in mind, and given that I am going alone, would you say the Primitivo should not be done as a first Camino/recommend doing the Francés instead?
Hi,
I did Primitivo first, as I am a simpleminded technical person (Primitivo is the first pilgrimage route 🙂). I walked it in 12 days, with barefoot shoes, so it is doable. But it would be good to do some exercise before starting, as others have suggested.
I'll attach here a list of my stages (there are some Finnish words there, you can ignore them).
 

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tenerifehikes

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Primitivo (planned)
Hi everyone! Thank you so much for answering all of my questions and providing so many useful tips. I'm excited/slightly nervous to employ them in the coming days as I begin the Camino!

As always, I have a few more questions prior to taking off...

1. Are there any interruptions on the Primitivo with the forest fires? It seems the route is unaffected but I would love it if someone could confirm!

2. With the heat wave passing through the Iberian peninsula...
a) How frequent are water refill stations on the Primitivo? How much water should I be carrying with me at all times?
b) Will I be fine to travel without a long sleeve in my pack if I have a rain coat?

3. Given that it's peak summer season, should I be worried about finding accommodation? Is it advisable to reserve a bed the day before or morning of arrival to a new albergue? Will I need to wake up extremely early to leave and find a bed?

Thank you, this community has really been an infinite resource pool before embarking on the Camino itself! I'm so thankful for the time you all put into this!

All the best!
 

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