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Caminos Lebanejo/ Vadiniense / Viejo / Salvador: Too much asphalt?

Camino(s) past & future
Valdiniense
Salvador
Primitivo
#1
Hello,

I am looking for combining the Camino experience with nice views and came with a plan that surely has some beatiful views. The trip to Bilbao is next friday, the plan was
Lebaniego/Vadiniense (7 days): From San Vicente de la Barquera to Cistierna
Viejo (2 days): Cistierna-La Robla
Salvador (4 days): La Robla-Oviedo

However, yesterday I looked into google maps street view when reviewing the details of the day to day walks and I am surprised by the amount of asphalt in the journey. It seems the journey surely has beatiful views, but I do not want to walk on asphalt roads. I should have seen this before reserving the tickets, but I did not expect to walk on roads.

San Vicente de Barquera to Cistierna route seems to be 80% walking on paved roads ( CA856, 184, 185, etc). Cistierna to La Robla (I expected this would be unknown rural area) is 100% road (CL-626, LE4046). Salvador is a bit less, but quite a bit is on N-630.

I reserved tickets to and from Bilbao but I'm considering changing the plan last minute. I'm considering
- Camino Primitivo, which seems to have less stunning views but seems to pass through rural areas and less of the walk seems to be on asphalt. The problem with that would be Santiago -> Bilbao is 11h by train/bus, so we would lose 1 day of walking/sightseeing...
- Walking some circuilar route between Camino del Norte, Baztan, Vasco, Aragones, the Pyrenees section of the Frances, etc.

For those who have walked the Vadiniense/Viejo/Salvador: do you know wheher there are alternatives to avoid the asphalt on these routes? It would be fine to change the route so that we would not pass the camino route, for instance if there was a route crossing the Picos de Europa... etc.

Your suggestions are appreciated! For instance I am also interested in possibilities in the Pyrinees, etc. Please let me know your suggestions accessible from/to Bilbao and with as little asphalt as possible.

Thanks!
 
Camino(s) past & future
.
#2
That first day out on San Vicente is a lot of road. I took the longer river variant but if I ever did it again I'd choose the older shorter road route, peeling off at Hortigal and finishing the day at La Fuente. That's the worst of it done and dusted. From La Fuente to Potes via Cabanes there's some excellent walking in the hills (Canal de Franco) and little enough road that you won't remember it. Just be sure to pick the right path options.
Potes to Fuente De has lots of off-road variants, so you can choose these - just walk a lot further.
Now it gets a bit roady, for 2/3rds of the stage to Portilla, but just winding down a quiet mountain road. Then a lot of road (mainly quiet) round the reservoir until you drop down at the dam to the river below, then lovely bits of ancient Roman road and river paths to Cistierna.
I don't recall thinking that the Salvador was roady at all, bar the first day, and some of the second, which you'll miss by joining at La Robla. Thereafter the overwhelming impression was of a lovely path. OK there's a lot of tarmac between La Pola and Mieres del Camino, but much of this is on the riverside walk/cycleway.
That said, I wouldn't recommend this as a first camino - a route as obscure as this doesn't impart much of the camino 'magic' as more well travelled routes, where pilgrims, locals, history and culture combine to give something unique - and highly valued by those of us who have benefited from it.
In many ways the option you have chosen is neither one thing nor the other - neither good hill/mountain walking nor a typical camino experience. You are arriving in Bilbao - and this is a camino forum - so I would say, make the most of experiencing the camino. Take a bus to Irun and walk the Norte to Santander (or just past it). And that first week will test your legs a little in those Basque hills. And if you are bitten by the camino bug, you can come back later and pick up from where you finished and aim for Santiago.
But if you really want a hill/mountain walking holiday, look elsewhere, perhaps the GR10 or GR11 paths that go along the French and Spanish sides of the Pyrenees. I can't think of any set of routes that can be joined into a viable circular path for the time/location you have (but others may!)
Cheers, tom
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
#3
There may be an issue of perception here. Many of the camino routes in the more rural, and mountainous areas follow the roads for the simple reason that the roads follow the only sensible, navigable routes. That said my memory of the Vadiniense is of a fair bit of off-road walking. I've no experience of the Viejo but the Salvador, certainly from Buiza to Pola de Lena is about as spectacular as it gets and with some significant off-road stretches. Remember Street View will only take you to where Googles camera car could go.

There is spectacular walking in the Picos de Europa but you will need full rig hiking gear, bivouac etc. Some good maps and experience in navigating in adverse conditions. There will still be plenty of snow on the heights. You may be able to pick up guides in English in Bilbao. Maps are generally available in Potes and the tourist information office can advise on weather conditions.

A loop from Fuente De through Posada de Valdeon, the Valdeon valley to Bulnes, Sotres and Tresviso to get you back to Potes should give you a truly spectacular hike but no Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Valdiniense
Salvador
Primitivo
#5
Thank you so much, Tom, Tinkatinker, Rebekah, for your good suggestions and for sharing your experiences and opinions.

-- Tom and Tinkatinker:
Your comments wrt Vadiviano and Salvador give me the impression it is possible to walk this route with reasonable amount of offroad. It seems there are multiple routes to choose. How do you know and find these alternative offroad routes? My reference is www.gronze.com.

Tom:
The Norte would be a viable option location-wise, but there seems to be a lot of asphalt walking in the Norte, even more than Vadiniense/Salvador?

Tinkatinker:
The idea of the loop between "Fuente De through Posada de Valdeon, the Valdeon valley to Bulnes, Sotres and Tresviso " is interesting. I'll check further.

Thanks
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
#6
-- Tom and Tinkatinker:
Your comments wrt Vadiviano and Salvador give me the impression it is possible to walk this route with reasonable amount of offroad. It seems there are multiple routes to choose. How do you know and find these alternative offroad routes? My reference is www.gronze.com.
Gronze is great as a resource for the general shape of a route and the available resources. It no use for navigation or route finding. @caminka 's guides in this section and other members notes will be of far more value. The short answer is you find out from good route guides and on the ground.
Robin Walkers "Walks and Climbs in the Picos de Europa" Cicerone Press has always been my main guide to the Picos but I've just noticed that I have the 1997 reprint. That and the Mapas Militar series for the region. Mountains don't change much but resources do
 
Camino(s) past & future
.
#7
It's really just the Lebaniego up to Potes that has some variations as the Cantabrian authorities made some changes a few years back. Most of the old markers are still visible. They're a deep red. There's more about this on other threads. I use Gronze too and I think it's excellent for the Vad and Salvador. I stuck to the waymarked routes for the Vad (after Fuente De) and Salvador.
I think there's less asphalt on the first part of the Norte, than the route you have planned here to Oviedo, but I have to repeat, I don't think you should make asphalt your main concern. The Norte has some asphalt but it's so much more than that.
You're on a camino forum so people like me are going to tell you to forget about measuring asphalt and, for a first camino, do one that has more tangible camino trappings about it. The best thing about the camino (and sometimes the most exasperating) is the people. The sceneray, hills and seascapes are just the backdrop to the drama - and that's the hardest thing for a hill walker who is new to the camino to get their head around, especially when making first plans from a distance. But it is true.
Start on the Norte at Irun and I almost guarantee that once you've fallen into step with others doing the same thing, mucked in together at albergues, walked over the Jaizkibel mountain, experienced San Sebastian and then those fishing (and ancient whaling) villages of Zarautz and Getaria and slogged over the hills to Deba, you will have pretty much forgotten all about asphalt - provided you have Reb's comfy insoles!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Valdiniense
Salvador
Primitivo
#9
Thanks for sharing your experience and your suggestions, Tom and Tinkatinker. And thanks for the nice photos, Tom.

I want to experience the Camino de Santiago, but I also want to do some hiking in the mountains. Initially I thought I could achieve both by choosing a mountainous and less known camino (Vadiniense/Salvador). But based on your comments, I think we will enjoy more by dividing our 2 weeks holidays in half hiking and half Camino (del Norte). And I expect they will be very different experiences.

My new plan is to divide our 16 days holidays in 3 parts:
- day 1-6: GR-10, from Hendaye - St-Jean-Pied-de-Port
- days 7 to 8 or 9, Camino Frances, from St-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Pamplona, then bus from Pamplona to Uris
- days 9 or 10 to 16: Camino del Norte, from Uris to nearby Bilbao.

BTW I do not plan to be a pilgrim in the Frances, I expect to be a tourist who in 2 days will walk over this pilgrimage route and enjoy the nice pass though the Pyrinees.

In the Norte I expect to experience the Camino.

Thanks a lot for your valuable help, your experiences are helping us trace our own path!

Best wishes,
Yellow
 
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances, Norte, Ingles, Primitivo, Aragones, Vasco, SanSalvador, Fisterre, Muxia - more than once
#10
Hola Yellowbluespilgrim,

You shouldn't worry about the San Salvador. You can avoid most of the asphalt if you chose the official Camino routes. However, it is often easíer, cleaner (and shorter) to take the road. It is same with the Primitivo and mostly even with the Norte. It's your choise where you walk.

When are you starting?
Wishing you all the best! :cool:
Csutak
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances, Norte, Ingles, Primitivo, Aragones, Vasco, SanSalvador, Fisterre, Muxia - more than once
#11
I was thinking of starting Camino Vadiniense this year, but having read your posts and having seen the maps I got a bit worried. I will be walking alone and I have coeliac disease. Do you think I can find enough food on this route? It seems to me that sometimes there are hardly any villages for long distances.

Thank you for any help.
Csutak
 
Camino(s) past & future
Valdiniense
Salvador
Primitivo
#12
Hello Csutak, sorry, I just read your message. Sorry, I cannot give the information you need about the Camino Vadiniense.

peregrino_tom, thanks a lot for the recommendation of the Camino del Norte!

We (young couple) walked more or less as I described:
- day 1-6: GR-10, from Hendaye - St-Jean-Pied-de-Port
- day 7, Camino Frances, from St-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Burghette
- days 9 to 16: Camino del Norte, from Hondarribia to nearby Gernika.

We enjoyed a lot the section we walked of Camino del Norte. I recommend it. It's a nice atmosphere, as we read painted in some wall on the way, "You never walk alone".

Best wishes
Yellow
 

notion900

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
>
#13
The Salvador is a pilgrimage from Leon to the relics at Oviedo - I believe the markings are only in one direction.
 

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