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Considering a combined Norte - Lebaniego - Vadiniense - Frances

loekemans

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
May 2025
Hello and nice to meet you fellow travelers,

My name is Loek, a 26 year old male from the Netherlands looking to solo walk his first camino. I do have quite some hiking experience.

I am planning to walk to Santiago de Compostela around May-June 2025. After having done some research I have come up with a plan to start on the Camino del Norte in Irún, and subsequently hike the Lebaniego, then the Vadiniense and finally connect to the Frances around Léon to walk all the way to Santiago.
I realize that this is quite a physically demanding route, but that is what I am looking for. Moreover, it seems like a good way to combine the beautiful nature and scenery of Picos de Europa (I love being in the mountains) with the companionship that can be found on the Camino Frances. My motivation is of a spiritual kind, I would love to experience a challenging trek on my own for the first time - connecting with nature and especially connecting with other travellers along the way.

I was wondering whether any of you have experience with this route (or parts of it). Would this route be a good combination of nature and companionship, or would it be very lonely? Moreover, if you have any general tips or recommendations they would be more than welcome. For instance, would the period of May-June be suitable for this trek? Would there be enough food and shelter available?

Thank you for any help in advance.

All the best,

Loek
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I was wondering whether any of you have experience with this route (or parts of it)


Hi, Loek, Welcome to the forum!

I have done just what you are proposing, except that when I got to León, I went on the Salvador/Primitivo — which can’t be beat if you like mountains!

The days between Cades and the Puerto de Pandetrave on the Lebañiego/Vadiniense are beautiful mountain scenery, but from the puerto and beyond there is/was a lot of road walking and much less inspiring scenery. Lodging was always available, sometimes a bit pricey but you had to plan it pretty well. If you are a fan of ancient architecture, the Visigothic San Miguel de la Escalada is amazing — you will go right by it on your last day into Mansilla de las Mulas.

I never met or saw any other peregrino from San Vicente de la Barquera to Mansilla de las Mulas, so you should prepare for total solitude. I love it, but you might not!

Happy to help with any specific questions, and there is a group of forum members who have walked these routes, so I’m expecting they will chime in, too.
 
Hi, Loek, Welcome to the forum!

I have done just what you are proposing, except that when I got to León, I went on the Salvador/Primitivo — which can’t be beat if you like mountains!

The days between Cades and the Puerto de Pandetrave on the Lebañiego/Vadiniense are beautiful mountain scenery, but from the puerto and beyond there is/was a lot of road walking and much less inspiring scenery. Lodging was always available, sometimes a bit pricey but you had to plan it pretty well. If you are a fan of ancient architecture, the Visigothic San Miguel de la Escalada is amazing — you will go right by it on your last day into Mansilla de las Mulas.

I never met or saw any other peregrino from San Vicente de la Barquera to Mansilla de las Mulas, so you should prepare for total solitude. I love it, but you might not!

Happy to help with any specific questions, and there is a group of forum members who have walked these routes, so I’m expecting they will chime in, too.

Thank you for the recommendations, very helpful!

Now I am very much in doubt, the Salvador/Primitivo looks very beautiful indeed. Perhaps I should take that route from Léon onwards... However then I would not walk any part of the Frances, which would be a pity as it seems to me to be culturally very impressive. Maybe then I would prefer starting on the Frances and skipping the Norte, Lebaniego and Vadiniense. Tough choices!!! But luckily plenty of time to figure out what would be the best choice for me :D
 
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Since you’re going to be considering a lot of options, another one would be to walk the Olvidado from Bilbao and then merge onto the Francés around Ponferrada. The Olvidado probably has the best overall mountain experience, at least in my opinion. Seven or eight days that I would count as true mountain days

It’s also an interesting idea to consider walking the Frances part earlier on your camino. I think many of us prefer the earlier parts of the Frances, because the last 100 km can be extremely crowded.

You’ve got a lot of great choices.
 
I can't speak to the Olvidado, but walking the Frances to Leon and then the Salvador and Primitivo would be a really nice Camino. You'd get many of the highlights of the Frances and avoid some of the bits people complain about. You'd miss some very nice bits, too (Astorga, Cruz de Ferro, Molinaseca, Ponferrada, Villafranca del Bierzo, and O Cebreiro come to mind). But the Salvador and Primitivo offer a heck of a lot to make up for what you'd be missing.
 
walking the Frances to Leon and then the Salvador and Primitivo would be a really nice Camino.
Totally agree, because you would get the less crowded (and very beautiful) bits of the Francés. And by taking the Salvador/Primitivo, the fact that you have less mountain glory is compensated by the fact that you will not have solitude. Just depends on what you’re looking for, but there is no shortage of choices!
 
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walking the Frances to Leon and then the Salvador and Primitivo would be a really nice Camino.
@loekemans I also agree that would be a lovely combination. Not to overwhelm with ideas but, as you like a physical challenge and beautiful nature and scenery, you could also look at starting from Bayonne - walking the Camino Baztan which joins the Frances a few kms before Pamplona. It would mean not walking from SJPP or Roncesvalles to Pamplona - which may or may not concern you - but it is a wonderful and quiet path.

When we walked the Baztan we stayed the night before at the Refuge Saint Jaques near the cathedral. A small albergue/gite with good facilities, and a warm welcome from the volunteers. You can also get a credencial and shell there. It was an excellent beginning to the Baztan.

 
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Thank you so much @peregrina2000 @Pelerina @David Tallan! I agree that the combination of Frances - Salvador - Primitivo would be perfect for my liking. Although all the routes sound amazing so I might just have to return more often ;). And the Baztan is a good shout as well, I will look into it as an alternative starting point.

I'll be sure to reach out when the time comes that I will depart and all the best on your travels in the meantime!

Loek
 

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