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Coastal alternative Between Castro Urdiales and Laredo

peregrina2000

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I have started to study the many ideas I´ve gotten on this thread, https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/list-of-coastal-alternatives.43627/ to find off-pavement alternatives where possible. I got a great list from a Spanish peregrino, Jomar, and am hoping to walk some of his many suggestions.

But I´m wondering about his proposal for the route the route between Castro and Laredo. He describes it here, and at the bottom of the post, there is a 3 minute video. The first couple minutes are fine, but then it gets kind of hairy looking to me. Has anyone walked this alternative? The pictures are beautiful, but I'm not so sure I can handle the ascent to the high point.

http://miscaminos.net/2015/05/17/camino-del-norte-y-variantes-09/
 

SYates

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OMG! Yes, please forget about it! Or at least label it 'for experienced mountain goats only'. SY
 

nalod

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I have hiked all of the French GR 10 which is the Pyrenees Coast to coast, sections of the Alps, Gorge du Verdon etc. I have also completed a number of Mountain Skills courses. I would not advise it as a Camino route, even for experienced people you would not be advised to do it alone.
 

Kanga

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I'd be avoiding anything that says "must be done only with favourable weather, no fog, no clouds, no excessive wind" ! If I did this variant it was only in my nightmares.
 

mla1

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I also prefer that my caminos not involve hand holds! especially when they are higher than my head.
 

Submikey

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Norte (2016)
From Hazas (Liendo) there is a marked camino route which is not the "official" route, turn right at the white shrine/church, which takes you up onto a perfectly safe cliff top path before coming down to Laredo, this is a sound alternative to that shown in the aforementioned video which gives a flavour of the video route.
 

Stormrund

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Just walked it yesterday. We had absolutely ZERO idea what we were getting ourselves into until our only option was to keep on climbing.

If you are feeling adventurous and spry, do not let yourself get talked out of this alternative. It is the most gorgeous, breathtaking hike (not a walk, it’s a hike). The path is very narrow and sometimes rocky, with lots of thornbushes. There is certainly a degree of danger to this route since the cliff you walk along is such a steep drop off, but that’s what makes this hike so exhilarating. Every step improves the view to the point where you can’t believe what you’re seeing.

I’m 22 and I did it with my mom who is 60 and needs a double knee cap replacement. She had her trekking poles, took it slow, and was just fine. If she can do it, anyone can.

Disclaimer: check your weather. Under no circumstance should this be tried if there is even the faintest chance of rain.
 

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peregrina2000

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Staff member
Oh, those are great pics! Can you tell me where you started this route? I know I picked it up after Liendo, but I think that you must have gone near Oriñon, which is what Luka told us about in a different thread. Any info you have would be helpful, because I think that more and more people are realizing that walking along the side of the N 634 on the camino is a shame when these trails are right nearby!
 

trecile

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Six of us attempted to follow Luka's directions yesterday. At one point the directions state that when you reach the sign that says "Laredo 9 km" to take the trail to the left that goes up the mountain. Well, we turned on that trail, which started out downhill, then flattened out for about one km until it reached a (nudist) beach. At this point, we couldn't see any trail going up, and no way to continue past the beach. Since it didn't match the description in the directions I thought that we must have taken the wrong path, and another woman in the group and I went back to the road. The rest of the group continued on.

We asked a passing motorist if he knew how to get to Laredo from there, and he said that we had been on the right path, but that it was muy peligroso! As this sign had warned us
20180713_112137-1008x756.jpg
And in fact that his friend had fallen there last year. He drove us back to the highway, where we walked to Liendo, then took the Camino from there. I certainly can't complain about the views that we saw from this very rocky trail.

20180713_152500-1008x756.jpg
The rest of our group did find the path, but also lost it for a while and had to walk through some sort of thorny brush, because they all had scratched up legs.
 

TMcA

Active Member
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I have hiked all of the French GR 10 which is the Pyrenees Coast to coast, sections of the Alps, Gorge du Verdon etc. I have also completed a number of Mountain Skills courses. I would not advise it as a Camino route, even for experienced people you would not be advised to do it alone.
@dermot - I really liked your video. For me, the slow pace of the slide changes and the calming, wonderful music helped me to feel the Norte unfold. Very well done.

Tom
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Six of us attempted to follow Luka's directions yesterday. At one point the directions state that when you reach the sign that says "Laredo 9 km" to take the trail to the left that goes up the mountain. Well, we turned on that trail, which started out downhill, then flattened out for about one km until it reached a (nudist) beach. At this point, we couldn't see any trail going up, and no way to continue past the beach. Since it didn't match the description in the directions I thought that we must have taken the wrong path, and another woman in the group and I went back to the road. The rest of the group continued on.

We asked a passing motorist if he knew how to get to Laredo from there, and he said that we had been on the right path, but that it was muy peligroso! As this sign had warned us
View attachment 44530
And in fact that his friend had fallen there last year. He drove us back to the highway, where we walked to Liendo, then took the Camino from there. I certainly can't complain about the views that we saw from this very rocky trail.

View attachment 44531
The rest of our group did find the path, but also lost it for a while and had to walk through some sort of thorny brush, because they all had scratched up legs.
Thanks, trecile. Sounds like an adventure!

So, maybe the best advice for this stage for people who want to avoid the national highway but who don’t want to take Luka’s alternative is to do what I did. Take the off-camino loop down through La Magdalena, and then in Hazas/Liendo head up to the coast, past the ermita, and along the ocean till descending into Laredo. It’s all pretty clear on Gronze’s map.

https://www.gronze.com/etapa/castro-urdiales/laredo

@trecile, can you figure out where the turn-off you originally took was? I’m guessing it was on that map, somewhere after Islares but before El Pontarrón.

Though I am not a high tech person by any means, having a GPS for these coastal alternatives was occasionally a godsend.
 

Camino Chris

One step forward...
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I recall hearing of the death of a German man in November 2016 on the del Norte. He fell off a cliff somewhere in the area of Castro Urdiales. I don't know if this is the area being discussed here since yesterday, but I googled the article. It was originally posted as a link by Ivar. I am including a screenshot as unfortunately I do not know how to attach links on this forum.
Screenshot_2018-07-14-09-55-45.jpg
 

trecile

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Thanks, trecile. Sounds like an adventure!

So, maybe the best advice for this stage for people who want to avoid the national highway but who don’t want to take Luka’s alternative is to do what I did. Take the off-camino loop down through La Magdalena, and then in Hazas/Liendo head up to the coast, past the ermita, and along the ocean till descending into Laredo. It’s all pretty clear on Gronze’s map.

https://www.gronze.com/etapa/castro-urdiales/laredo

@trecile, can you figure out where the turn-off you originally took was? I’m guessing it was on that map, somewhere after Islares but before El Pontarrón.

Though I am not a high tech person by any means, having a GPS for these coastal alternatives was occasionally a godsend.
We were following Luka's directions and took the path after the bar and roundabout after El Pontarrón. That's when we saw the warning sign. We walked for about 45 minutes or more on a nice forest path then Oriñon and on the green painted pedestrian walkway before we came to the Laredo 9 km/3.15 H sign.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I recall hearing of the death of a German man in November 2016 on the del Norte. He fell off a cliff somewhere in the area of Castro Urdiales. I don't know if this is the area being discussed here since yesterday, but I googled the article. It was originally posted as a link by Ivar. I am including a screenshot as unfortunately I do not know how to attach links on this forum.
View attachment 44540
Thanks for posting this, Chris. I remember reading about that tragedy on the forum. I am pretty sure the trail trecile describes is further to the west. The place where the German fell, near the Punta de Saltacaballo, is very close to Castro Urdiales. This path is beyond Oriñon and closer to Laredo. But it is a caution for all of us nonetheless, since the terrain is very similar. When I originally started this thread before my camino, I had decided to forego that trail — the video I linked to made me very nervous just to watch it! So I waited till I got through Liendo to ascend, which I think is probably good advice for most of us, except for the real mountain goats among us. Until this thread got re-visited yesterday, I hadn’t connected that Luka’s option was the same as the one I had decided against because of the video.
 

Luka

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O my, I start to feel guilty now. The path in the video looks like the path I took, but on the video it looks more scary than I recall it.

@trecile I remember the path splits rather soon afer the sign 'Laredo 9k' and we took the wrong path (leading to the beach) first as well.
 

trecile

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O my, I start to feel guilty now. The path in the video looks like the path I took, but on the video it looks more scary than I recall it.

@trecile I remember the path splits rather soon afer the sign 'Laredo 9k' and we took the wrong path (leading to the beach) first as well.
Luka, we didn't see any other possible path.
 

Camino Chris

One step forward...
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Thanks for posting this, Chris. I remember reading about that tragedy on the forum. I am pretty sure the trail trecile describes is further to the west. The place where the German fell, near the Punta de Saltacaballo, is very close to Castro Urdiales. This path is beyond Oriñon and closer to Laredo. But it is a caution for all of us nonetheless, since the terrain is very similar. When I originally started this thread before my camino, I had decided to forego that trail — the video I linked to made me very nervous just to watch it! So I waited till I got through Liendo to ascend, which I think is probably good advice for most of us, except for the real mountain goats among us. Until this thread got re-visited yesterday, I hadn’t connected that Luka’s option was the same as the one I had decided against because of the video.
Yes, reminders to be cautious on the high cliffs of the coastal areas along certain stretches of the Del Norte are always a good thing. I have a couple of my own memories of "hairy" moments experienced on these stretches!
 

valevenga

Member
Camino(s) past & future
I am currently walking the Camino del Norte summer 2018
I did this route on my own in June....my son refused to accompany me after we were forewarned by a local....I just could not resist...about 45 minutes into the climb——and it was a climb——-I met a German woman who was on her way down and told me she had lost the trail about 30 minutes ahead and could not get through so decided to just come back down..... I asked her a few questions and my stubbornness took over.....I lost the trail too a few times climbing up but was always able to find it again...honestly, there were moments when I did feverishly pray and the black arrows miraculously appeared......the plateau was amazing and the hike down was definitely easier.....HOWEVER since I started in mid afternoon, by the time I got down the other side I was exhausted and sunburned... I texted my son and asked him to send me a taxi.... I had NOTHING left to get me to Laredo.... think it was only a couple of kilometers......I would do it again but first thing in the morning
 

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AJGuillaume

Pélerin du monde
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Via Gebennensis (2018)
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Following discussions with @Luka we have planned to take this route. We have booked accommodation in Oriñon.
Through references on this forum, I found a GPX track (attached), which we intend to follow.
The alternative is also on Wise Pilgrim Norte guide.
Hopefully with the GPX info we won't get lost...
If @Luka did it, I don't see why we can't do it.
Maybe we are foolish (and I'm happy to take that criticism), but in the first few stages of our walk we had some pretty steep narrow paths, and part of our training in Australia included walking some of the harder trails around Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, which were pretty steep.
P.S.: I hope what I'm considering is what @trecile tried to do. Otherwise, ignore my ramblings...
 

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peregrina2000

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Staff member
Following discussions with @Luka we have planned to take this route. We have booked accommodation in Oriñon.
Through references on this forum, I found a GPX track (attached), which we intend to follow.
The alternative is also on Wise Pilgrim Norte guide.
Hopefully with the GPX info we won't get lost...
If @Luka did it, I don't see why we can't do it.
Maybe we are foolish (and I'm happy to take that criticism), but in the first few stages of our walk we had some pretty steep narrow paths, and part of our training in Australia included walking some of the harder trails around Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, which were pretty steep.
P.S.: I hope what I'm considering is what @trecile tried to do. Otherwise, ignore my ramblings...
AJ, I am waiting for you to totally rewrite the coastal alternatives thread with much better info and tracks. Can’t wait till you get to the Norte, but I am enjoying following your walk in France as well!
 

VNwalking

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Javier just posted about a rescue on the Norte near Liendo. I’m wondering if this segment is the one that @trecile described above. I only walked the coast after Liendo, so I don’t know this section, but it sounds like we now have a few data points to suggest it might not be the best idea.
https://www.20minutos.es/noticia/34...iado-acantilado-gracias-mensajes-con-guardia/
It looks gorgeous, and it's good to know your limits. Anyplace named 'el Ojo del Diablo' is likely named that for a reason. I've been in places (not on the Camino) where we were lucky to arrive safely at the end of the day, having walked into situations where the only option was to keep going forward - as it got gnarlier and gnarlier.
 

AJGuillaume

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AJ, I am waiting for you to totally rewrite the coastal alternatives thread with much better info and tracks. Can’t wait till you get to the Norte, but I am enjoying following your walk in France as well!
Laurie, "totally rewrite": that's a big task!!! :eek::)
I have been walking with a French couple who walked from Irun to Santillana. Their advice was to seek GR paths, and stay away from the Camino markings.
We'll see!
 

Csutak

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In July I met a middle-aged Canadian woman who had walked this route with two other pilgrims and was happy to be still alive. She also showed me some photos. As for me, I don't think I would ever want to climb these rocks. :rolleyes:o_O;)
 

peregrina2000

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Staff member
Laurie, "totally rewrite": that's a big task!!! :eek::)
I have been walking with a French couple who walked from Irun to Santillana. Their advice was to seek GR paths, and stay away from the Camino markings.
We'll see!
Some of those coastal alternatives are not GR routes, but many are.

But for anyone who is in doubt about this particular route into Laredo, I would highly recommend going back to the link I posted in the first post in this thread. Scroll way down to the bottom. There is a map, and below that, a link to a 3 minute video. I think it looks pretty scary.

But the alternative of going as far as Liendo before taking to the coast also has beautiful views and lots of cliff-side paths. You will join the coastal route right before, if memory serves, the ermita. And there is nothing as hairy as that three minute video!

Stay safe, peregrinos. Enjoy the coast. Buen camino, Laurie
 

trecile

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I would only attempt that path in absolutely perfect weather. As I said, the local man who took us to the highway was very concerned about peregrinos who go this way, as he had a friend fall from there last year.
 

camino07

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Aagh! I just watched that video and felt sick at the thought. looks so dangerous!
 

AJGuillaume

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We had initially wanted to go from Oriñon to Laredo by going up the side of Monte Candina, following tracks that are in the Wise Pilgrim's app, and the instructions of @Luka .
As my wife was not comfortable with the idea after an exploratory trial run, and as it had rained the night before, we decided not to climb that way.
As we stayed at Albergue Lia in Oriñon (Manoli is very kind, a great cook, and knows Monte Candina well) the alternative could have been to get back on the carretera nacional N634, and walk up to Mollaneda on asphalt, and then join the Camino in Isequilla.
Instead, we found an alternative that follows designated paths up Monte Candina, but avoids the 'peligroso' bit on the cliffs. It's on a flyer (see photo) describing paths around Liendo, "Liendo a tu pies".
We left Oriñon, went under the Autovia, followed the N634 for a short distance to a car park, where the track starts. We followed the red/orange path until it joined the blue, then followed that until it joined the yellow, and this took us to Ermite San Julian.
The first path is fairly simple to follow: there are no forks in the path, and there is the occasional coloured dot to confirm you're on the right track. The path is sometimes a bit rocky, and as it had rained the night before, in places it was a little slippery. The views of the top of Monte Candina are beautiful.
At a signpost showing the path to the summit, we went down the blue path. For the first 100m or so it is not marked, and we just followed what looked like a path in the grass until we saw a blue dot. From then on, the blue dots are frequent.
A word of warning: wear long pants! The path goes through lots of thorny bushes.
Finally, we get to the yellow path which takes us to the Ermita and we join the Camino again.
We didn't have our backpacks (first time in 94 days!!!) and they were sent forward by Correos. I wouldn't recommend you walk this with a backpack.
We thoroughly enjoyed this, without fear of cliffs, yet beautiful views. And certainly a better alternative to walking along the N634.
Attached is also the GPX data.
 

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peregrina2000

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Staff member
Well, that is very clever! So am I right that you went up to about the 3 on the black route and then back down and then the next day you passed the spot where that black route, which turns black and orange, merges with the yellow route that you were then on? A bit confusing, but with this map, it's pretty easy to see. And it was probably shorter than the N634 into Isequilla would have been, so that is an advantage too. Now you are in Laredo, lots of good food to be had in that town as I remember. And I got a great haircut as well! Buen camino to you two, you are so so lucky! I know I've said that a thousand times, but I can't help myself.
 

AJGuillaume

Pélerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Well, that is very clever! So am I right that you went up to about the 3 on the black route and then back down and then the next day you passed the spot where that black route, which turns black and orange, merges with the yellow route that you were then on? A bit confusing, but with this map, it's pretty easy to see. And it was probably shorter than the N634 into Isequilla would have been, so that is an advantage too. Now you are in Laredo, lots of good food to be had in that town as I remember. And I got a great haircut as well! Buen camino to you two, you are so so lucky! I know I've said that a thousand times, but I can't help myself.
We went up to the 3 on the black, and then came down. The next day we went up the red/orange, then switched to the blue at point 12, and then switched to the yellow at point 15.
Definitely good food in Laredo :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Santiago
So... leaving Liendo should one just stick to the "official route?" I'm all for coastal walking but I am not up for hiking along a cliff face holding onto a guide wire LOL! Also: As much as I hate road walking I hate l-o-n-g days ever more. 25 km is my "wall". If I leave Castro Urdials and then gasp take the "highway variant off of El Pontarron will that keep things under 30 km for that day? Has anyone done that and if so, got any pointers for me?
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
So... leaving Liendo should one just stick to the "official route?" I'm all for coastal walking but I am not up for hiking along a cliff face holding onto a guide wire LOL! Also: As much as I hate road walking I hate l-o-n-g days ever more. 25 km is my "wall". If I leave Castro Urdials and then gasp take the "highway variant off of El Pontarron will that keep things under 30 km for that day? Has anyone done that and if so, got any pointers for me?
From Liendo, some people stay on the road, but the arrows will take you up to the headlands for a non-scary beautiful walk.

Gronze shows the options and the distances well. Taking the coast after Liendo doesn’t add much to the totals, still under 30 it looks like.

https://www.gronze.com/etapa/castro-urdiales/laredo
I walked through La Magdalena, and though the stretch after Magdalena was through a eucalyptus forest on unpaved roads, the way down was all on asphalt. But not as busy a road as the national road.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have merged two threads so that all discussion of the coastal alternatives between Castro Urdiales and Laredo will be in one thread. The options that are discussed in this thread are:
  1. The hairy scary route that detours off at Orinon.
  2. The standard camino route that goes through Liendo and then takes the camino up past the ermita, getting the last part of route #1 but without the scary parts.
  3. AJ's alternative to the alternative, which is described in post #31 above. That involved leaving from Oriñon, but not going straight up on the scary route. He explains it very clearly in that post and there is a map to help you visualize it.
 

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