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Coastal alternatives to the Norte's asphalt

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Hi, pilgr, those aren't really camino alternatives. Number 9 talks about a way to avoid the stretch between Gijón and Avilés, by "dipping down" to Oviedo. This is a totally marked alternative, but most people staying on the Norte just plod on ahead to Gijón and from there to Avilés. Nothing wrong with that, but if you add an extra day, you can avoid a bad stretch and get to see Oviedo at the same time. I think my document describes it, and no need for tracks because the whole thing is perfectly well marked.

And number 10 is just my suggestion to go visit the town of Cudillero, which is about two km down from the Camino at El Pito. The document gives several suggestions on how to do that.

I hope you enjoy some of these alternatives. But I wouldn't try most of them without the tracks, not so much for finding your way along the coast, but more for finding your way to and from the coast. The E9 markers will help you on 7 and 12, and the GR121 markers will help earlier near San Sebastián and from Zumaia, but most of the routes are local trails. And well worth the trouble to find! Buen camino, Laurie
Hi Laurie, I'll be doing the Norte in the middle of next month April. Do you think that after 7 years since you did it that one can find their way to and from the coast OR a GPS is a must? Thank you!
 
To explain -- I walked the Norte in 2007 and suffered mightily with all the pavement. In fact, I found my foot in a walking cast for about 4 months afterwards due to the pounding. Tarsal tunnel is what they called it.

I went back to the Norte this year and got a lot of forum help in finding coastal alternatives. For me one of the biggest Norte frustrations was that it is a Camino that is frequently within a few kms of beautiful coastlines but the arrows keep you pounding the pavement on the side of the national highway.

I'm attaching a document that contains descriptions of my "Camino detours" and a few other stretches where the standard route has an alternative. Most are coastal, but a couple are not and have been added just for the heck of it. Here is a list of what the document describes:

1. Ruta Alpinista (Irún to Pasajes)
2. Pasajes to San Sebastián
3. Zumaia to Deba
4. Castro Urdiales to Laredo
5. Santander to Boo via the coast
6. La Franca to Llanes
7. Llanes to Playa del Poo (and beyond)

8. After La Nueva to Ribadesella
9. Dipping down to Oviedo from Villaviciosa
10. A Detour to Cudillero
11. Soto to Cadavedo
12. La Caridad to Ribadeo
13. Mondoñedo to Gontán
14. Baamonde to Sobrado
15. Sobrado to Pedrouzo/Arca


And at the suggestion of another forum member, I am going to add posts with a few pictures to illustrate most of these alternatives -- I think that once people see what they are missing, these coastal options will become more popular!

Buen camino, Laurie
Thank you, Laurie! Hoping these plans still work in 2024!
 
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Hi Laurie, I'll be doing the Norte in the middle of next month April. Do you think that after 7 years since you did it that one can find their way to and from the coast OR a GPS is a must? Thank you!
Hi, Rafael, I am sorry not to have seen this earlier. Since I haven’t been there, I really can’t give you an answer, but I don’t think there has been any effort made to take people off the official camino to the coast, so I would definitely have GPS. There are also parts of some of the alternatives (like the high route after Soto de Luiña or the Flysch route into Deba) where the route is not intuitive.

Maybe you should start a new thread and ask that question, because there have been forum members over theese last years who have taken some of these routes.

Buen camino, Laurie
 
Maybe you should start a new thread and ask that question, because there have been forum members over theese last years who have taken some of these routes.
Yes, Rafael, please do so! The question pops up again and again. And I would like to know whether any parts of these alternatives go along sheer cliff drops(?) and if so where they are, as I cannot handle those.
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
I'm preparing to start my own Camino Norte in just over 4 weeks and will be hoping to include all of these alternatives. Its really valuable to have these all in one place for reference. Many thanks to Laurie and Kosmos for putting these together along with everyones updates and comments. I'll hope to update with my own comments and experiences in the not to distant future :)

Buen Camino
Mark
 
I'm preparing to start my own Camino Norte in just over 4 weeks and will be hoping to include all of these alternatives. Its really valuable to have these all in one place for reference. Many thanks to Laurie and Kosmos for putting these together along with everyones updates and comments. I'll hope to update with my own comments and experiences in the not to distant future :)

Buen Camino
Mark
Mark we may see you there. My wife and I are leaving Bordeaux on 27th March to walk down coast of France then to Irun so likely start about 3 April on the Norte.
I'm preparing to start my own Camino Norte in just over 4 weeks and will be hoping to include all of these alternatives. Its really valuable to have these all in one place for reference. Many thanks to Laurie and Kosmos for putting these together along with everyones updates and comments. I'll hope to update with my own comments and experiences in the not to distant future :)

Buen Camino
Mark
 
Mark we may see you there. My wife and I are leaving Bordeaux on 27th March to walk down coast of France then to Irun so likely start about 3 April on the Norte.
Im starting on 23 April so you will be a few weeks ahead of me. Please keep us updated on your progress.
 
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I'll hope to update with my own comments and experiences in the not to distant future :)
Mark, it would be really great if you started a “companion thread” with updates and comments on the alternatives you actually take. We could link them, so people can consult both, but having a fresh report of the routes would be great! Wishing you a wonderful camino, Laurie
 
4. Castro Urdiales to Laredo

Two options as described in the document attached to the first post.

4A. "Official" camino via La Magdalena to Liendo, and coastal option from Liendo.
https://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=16292260 (ignore the first part, where the author describes getting lost after La Magdalena. It is totally well-marked now; use these tracks to get from albergue in Liendo, to Ermita San Julián and then along the coast)


4B. Highway to Oriñón and then coastal route past Ermita San Julian. https://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=16354415

Option 4B - please do not attempt this unless you are an experienced mountain hiker. Shame on me for getting in over my head and being unprepared; however, I do not want another naive peregrino to make my mistake. For the average peregrino this is a potentially dangerous route and should not be attempted. If you’re an experienced mountain hiker, my advice is to avoid this route during poor weather as the high wind and recent rain made the very long and almost vertical ascent and descent extremely precarious. Also, I do not recommend doing it alone as it is quite remote. Fantastic views, but I didn’t think I would make it down the mountain to tell the tale.
 
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Option 4B - please do not attempt this unless you are an experienced mountain hiker. Shame on me for getting in over my head and being unprepared; however, I do not want another naive peregrino to make my mistake. For the average peregrino this is a potentially dangerous route and should not be attempted. If you’re an experienced mountain hiker, my advice is to avoid this route during poor weather as the high wind and recent rain made the very long and almost vertical ascent and descent extremely precarious. Also, I do not recommend doing it alone as it is quite remote. Fantastic views, but I didn’t think I would make it down the mountain to tell the tale.
Thanks for the heads up! Sometimes a variant alternative route that may be more scenic and beautiful is not necessarily a wise alternative for an average hiker especially if the weather condition is not decent. I’m in Deba now and heading on out tomorrow. Thanks again!
 
One of the comments after RayyRosa's post in wikilocs for that section says that there is a better alternative route on all trails. I did not look it up, but it might be worth checking. (The comment is from Sept 2023.)
 
Option 4B - please do not attempt this unless you are an experienced mountain hiker. Shame on me for getting in over my head and being unprepared; however, I do not want another naive peregrino to make my mistake. For the average peregrino this is a potentially dangerous route and should not be attempted. If you’re an experienced mountain hiker, my advice is to avoid this route during poor weather as the high wind and recent rain made the very long and almost vertical ascent and descent extremely precarious. Also, I do not recommend doing it alone as it is quite remote. Fantastic views, but I didn’t think I would make it down the mountain to tell the tale.
To clarify - if you look at the wikiloc
Option 4B - please do not attempt this unless you are an experienced mountain hiker. Shame on me for getting in over my head and being unprepared; however, I do not want another naive peregrino to make my mistake. For the average peregrino this is a potentially dangerous route and should not be attempted. If you’re an experienced mountain hiker, my advice is to avoid this route during poor weather as the high wind and recent rain made the very long and almost vertical ascent and descent extremely precarious. Also, I do not recommend doing it alone as it is quite remote. Fantastic views, but I didn’t think I would make it down the mountain to tell the tale.
To clarify my comments, my warning is for the beautiful but dangerous mountain path up and over the rocky cliffs west of Sonabia until roughly 2k before rejoining the Camino near the Ermita. That stretch really should avoided by all but the most capable mountaineers. The rest of the posted wikiloc - the track going from El Pontarròn to Sonabia was pleasant forest walking - a relief after the highway. Likewise, the path from Ermita de San Julian into Laredo - the official Camino - was gorgeous.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Thanks for the heads up! Sometimes a variant alternative route that may be more scenic and beautiful is not necessarily a wise alternative for an average hiker especially if the weather condition is not decent. I’m in Deba now and heading on out tomorrow. Thanks again!
Enjoy your journey, Rafael. I hope to start my 2nd Camino in late spring of '25.
 
Hi
Option 4B - please do not attempt this unless you are an experienced mountain hiker. Shame on me for getting in over my head and being unprepared; however, I do not want another naive peregrino to make my mistake. For the average peregrino this is a potentially dangerous route and should not be attempted. If you’re an experienced mountain hiker, my advice is to avoid this route during poor weather as the high wind and recent rain made the very long and almost vertical ascent and descent extremely precarious. Also, I do not recommend doing it alone as it is quite remote. Fantastic views, but I didn’t think I would make it down the mountain to tell the tale.
Thanks for this recent update. We have had a lot of discussion on the forum about the trail from Oriñón, and I will go back and edit my original post to incorporate that. See this discussion for example. As I recall there was a video of that segment in the thread, which easily dissuaded all of us from attempting it. I did 4A and should make that clear,
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
12. La Caridad to Ribadeo

GPS tracks for the coastal alternative from Tapia de Casariego to Ribadeo. Note that these tracks will take you to more beaches and more coastline than the official "Camino Coastal Alternative."

https://es.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=10682399
I haven't checked if it was mentioned already, but there are also quite few alternatives to the Camino's asphalt between La Caridad and Tapia de Casariego. Look at these tracks on wikiloc:


It would double the distance between La Caridad and Tapia, but you would avoid a lot of asphalt and enjoy the coast a lot more. Yesterday I did parts of the detours mentioned here and I would recommend them.

Because it is definitely an incredible lot of asphalt there. I would say 80-90%.
 
To explain -- I walked the Norte in 2007 and suffered mightily with all the pavement. In fact, I found my foot in a walking cast for about 4 months afterwards due to the pounding. Tarsal tunnel is what they called it.

I went back to the Norte this year and got a lot of forum help in finding coastal alternatives. For me one of the biggest Norte frustrations was that it is a Camino that is frequently within a few kms of beautiful coastlines but the arrows keep you pounding the pavement on the side of the national highway.

I'm attaching a document that contains descriptions of my "Camino detours" and a few other stretches where the standard route has an alternative. Most are coastal, but a couple are not and have been added just for the heck of it. Here is a list of what the document describes:

1. Ruta Alpinista (Irún to Pasajes)
2. Pasajes to San Sebastián
3. Zumaia to Deba
4. Castro Urdiales to Laredo
5. Santander to Boo via the coast
6. La Franca to Llanes
7. Llanes to Playa del Poo (and beyond)

8. After La Nueva to Ribadesella
9. Dipping down to Oviedo from Villaviciosa
10. A Detour to Cudillero
11. Soto to Cadavedo
12. La Caridad to Ribadeo
13. Mondoñedo to Gontán
14. Baamonde to Sobrado
15. Sobrado to Pedrouzo/Arca


And at the suggestion of another forum member, I am going to add posts with a few pictures to illustrate most of these alternatives -- I think that once people see what they are missing, these coastal options will become more popular!

Buen camino, Laurie


Thank you so much for these. I'll try some on my upcoming Del Norte. Very much appreciated.
 

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