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Del Norte...1st half vs 2nd half

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Hi all,
A few years ago I walked the first half of the Norte and absolutely loved it, then turned on to the Primitivo.
This spring I have plans in motion to finish the Norte starting in Oviedo and have this nagging thought in the back of my mind that it may disappoint comparably with the first half.
I am curiously looking for the opinions from those who have walked the complete route. I know they will be very subjective, but still I am interested to hear from you. My plans will not be changing so no worries there; I'm sure it will still be amazing in its own way. Thanks to any who choose to reply.
 

Marc S.

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Since 2012: CF, CdN, CP, Salvador, Aragones, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakobsweg NRW, Jakibspaad.
If I remember well, the section from Aviles to Ribadeo very much had the same "vibe" for me as the first half of the Norte - lots of coastal walking (and at the time I was not even aware of the many non-asphalt alternatives that I could have walked). I also remember staying in nice little seaside towns of Luarca and Cudillero, eating seafood (which felt also very similar to the first half of the Norte). After Ribadeo it felt different as the route turned inwards and coastal walking was replaced by the green hills of Galicia, but that was no reason to feel disappointed & mainly good memories prevail (like staying in Sobrado de Monxes). You'll be fine !
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Thank you, Marc...very encouraging!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
You'll have the opportunity to stay at the albergue in Tapia de Casariego which has the most stunning view of any albergue on any Camino.
Screenshot_20200117-084253_Photos.jpg
 

Jan_D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones (2011)
Frances (2012)
Norte (2013, 2014)
Hospitalera (2014)
Portugues (2017)
Marc S has pretty much summed it up. The second half of the Norte might lack the distinctive cities that characterise the first half, but it's a pleasant walk with some nice smaller towns and villages along the way. The coastal landscape is similar to what you'd have experienced during your walk through Asturias - just a bit more rural, and at some point you start seeing more corn than cows.

Only negatives I can think of: Aviles is quite industrial, so the walk into and out of the city isn't the most inspiring, but it all comes with the territory. As Marc says, there's a lot of asphalt on this route so you might want to check for alternatives. You'll also start getting very familiar with the N-632, which coincides with the camino on a number of occasions (although there are hardly any cars, as everyone now uses the A-8 mega-highway, which you can unfortunately often hear rumbling in the background).

But back to the positives: I really like this part of the Norte, because many pilgrims veer off towards the Primitivo, so there's much less of a bed race. In turn, this can lead to more of a sense of pilgrim community as you tend to all meet up with the same pilgrims in the same albergues every night. There are also more consistently spaced - and open! - albergues on this stretch of the Norte, which is definitely a plus!
 

Man in Black

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Finisterre (2017)
Chemin St Jacques (2018)
Rota Vicentina (2019)
Me, too!...nothing much is coming in so far. Thankfully, Jan has given some nice input.
Camino Chrissy: I see that our Camino histories are very similar -- Frances in 2017, Le Puy in 2018 and the Rota Vicentina in 2019 -- I loved each of them for different reasons -- the Frances for the social aspect, the Le Puy for the physicality, and the Rota Vicentina for the outstanding coastal views and solitude. My wife and I are considering the Norte (Irun to Oviedo) this year. How does the Norte compare to the Le Puy and Rota Vicentina with respect to the physical challenges?
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Camino Chrissy: I see that our Camino histories are very similar -- Frances in 2017, Le Puy in 2018 and the Rota Vicentina in 2019 -- I loved each of them for different reasons -- the Frances for the social aspect, the Le Puy for the physicality, and the Rota Vicentina for the outstanding coastal views and solitude. My wife and I are considering the Norte (Irun to Oviedo) this year. How does the Norte compare to the Le Puy and Rota Vicentina with respect to the physical challenges?
Yes, we do have similar histories on the Camino! I don't think the Norte is more difficult than the Le Puy, they are similar in that regard to me, yet different. I loved the architecture and food on the Le Puy and the Cele valley variant. The RV was stunning and had very little climbing. My issue for difficulty was walking through all that sand and even my walking poles didn't seem to help. Thankfully after the first few days, the sandy parts were more "here and there" giving me a break from continuous walking in sand.
 

Jan_D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones (2011)
Frances (2012)
Norte (2013, 2014)
Hospitalera (2014)
Portugues (2017)
Me, too!...nothing much is coming in so far.
Yeah I also thought the Nortegrinos would be out in full force! 😆 Anyway I just had an idea: if you want to get a taste of the path/ sites along the way, you can find some photos on Gronze: https://www.gronze.com/etapa/aviles/muros-nalon/fotos

(p.s. make sure to push "ver mas" at the bottom of the page to load more pics... and there's an arrow at the top of the screen to move onto the next stage!)
 

FSP

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(13)
Portuguese & Finisterre(16)
Norte & Muxia(18)
Olvidado&Salvador&Primitivo(20??)
I found the whole Norte to be stunning, particularly when using the off road options that are now well documented and tracked on this forum. The second half has some jaw dropping scenery and great walking. The Basque, Cantabrian and Austria food on the norte will leave you a bit let down once you get closer to SDC and the traditional pilgrim menu in some places. It is a section I would gladly do again and I'm generally a one and done type hiker. When leaving Mondonedo take the La Ruta Principal route if the weather is good. It's a great hike up and over a small mountain and then down into Gontan, just beautiful. It's a challenging trek compared to the lower route along a road but well worth it. The whole second half of the norte abounds with interesting side trips if you have time. At some point I told my wife (a non trekker) that I would take her back to the whole stretch norte areas as a regular type vacation.
 


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