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Does it get better?

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Long Hiker

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Del Norte
My wife and I just completed 2 days of hiking on the Norte. We are now in Zarutz. What I find the most challenging is all the steep rocky hills. Is it steep and rocky throughout or does it start getting easier?

I know the Norte is the hardest Camino. I can take steep but steep and rocky is hard and can be dangerous.

If someone can answer this, I would appreciate it.

My other concern is how remote some of these areas are. If I or my wife fell and got hurt, there aren’t that many other people walking by and it could be a hike to go find help. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen anyone talking about that.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. Next: Gd St Bernard to Rome
My wife and I just completed 2 days of hiking on the Norte. We are now in Zarutz. What I find the most challenging is all the steep rocky hills. Is it steep and rocky throughout or does it start getting easier?

I know the Norte is the hardest Camino. I can take steep but steep and rocky is hard and can be dangerous.

If someone can answer this, I would appreciate it.

My other concern is how remote some of these areas are. If I or my wife fell and got hurt, there aren’t that many other people walking by and it could be a hike to go find help. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen anyone talking about that.
Hi! I haven’t walked the Norte but I just asked my husband (who has) and he says it does get easier....Sorry I cannot help further, I am sure others will.
As for your other concern: you can call 112 anywhere in Europe and get assistance, even if there is no signal.

"112" is the European emergency number people in distress can call 24h/24 and 7d/7 in all 28 member states of the European Union to get immediate assistance from the fire brigade, a medical team or the police. You can call the number 112 with a fixed or mobile phone. The European emergency number is free everywhere.

Hope this puts your mind at rest. Ultreia! 🙂

PS: Do you have a whistle? Maybe your backpack has one, on the chest strap.
 
Last edited:

Texas Walker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte (2017 summer)
Portugues (2015)
Frances (2014)
Does the Norte get easier after Zarautz? Yes, but not right away. (We needed 2 years to walk this one, DH fell at the entry into Deba and was injured in 2017. We went back last year, restarted at S. Sebastian. Didn't sleep in Zarautz this time, we liked that little walk along the water into Getaria a lot so we slept there instead.
I think we can all agree that the first week of the Norte is the toughest part. Some of this may be the need to condition our bodies. Some is the rugged paths. Bring picnic lunch on the walk from Deba into Markina, there is almost nothing between them. One farm had a table of drinks and a dish for payment. The bar that is sometimes closed was open for us (it was Saturday) and we were grateful for the bocadillo. We were dragging when we got into Markina. And we weren't the last people to walk into town.

After Bilbao it's less stressful. There are many threads discussing things like scenic paths instead of ordinary paths. We took older routes instead of newer ones at various places, largely because the older ones have more facilities. (And there is an ongoing lack of resting places with this route.) This decision worked out well for us after we made it mid-journey.

Some notes, not complete, but some photos and comments on my blog: www.texassunshine24.blogspot.com from time to time I add more comments and pictures about the walk.
HTH
Buen camino
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
I am not sure I would agree that the Norte is the most difficult of the routes. My wife who is really not an fan of most routes considers the Norte the easiest and she has walked the Camino Frances several times and the Via de la Plata and the Sanabres route.
Sometimes it seems whichever route you are on at the time is the hardest when things aren't going your way.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. Next: Gd St Bernard to Rome
You can always switch to the Frances. That might be a good idea if the Norte is causing anxiety. Don't let the stories about crowds deter you - I expect they can be managed.
Very sound advice. I have walked the francés 4 times, my Camino mate 7 or 8 times (I lose track!) - always in Summer and it is still a joy! The crowds only start from Sarria. Really. (But don’t tell anyone else! 😉)
 

amancio

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
The worst rocky bits are between Irun and Orio, after that, it is still steep, and can be very muddy, but as far as I remember you would not find rocky terrain again until you make it to Laredo and Santoña, only a few km, the rest is steep, but doable.

again, if you ring 112, they should be able to offer you some emergency help, you can feel confident about that.
Buen camino!
 

Kurt5280

Crazy Enough To Try It Again!
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: SJPDP to Finisterre & Muxia 9/15 (MTB) - Norte: Bayonne to Muxia & Finisterre 9/18 (MTB)
I completed the Camino del Norte last September...Irun to Bilboa is rough...it gets a little better from Bilboa to Santander...I am from Colorado and my opinion is that from Irun to Santander is some world class hiking trail.
 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
Does the Norte get easier after Zarautz? Yes, but not right away. (We needed 2 years to walk this one, DH fell at the entry into Deba and was injured in 2017. We went back last year, restarted at S. Sebastian. Didn't sleep in Zarautz this time, we liked that little walk along the water into Getaria a lot so we slept there instead.
I think we can all agree that the first week of the Norte is the toughest part. Some of this may be the need to condition our bodies. Some is the rugged paths. Bring picnic lunch on the walk from Deba into Markina, there is almost nothing between them. One farm had a table of drinks and a dish for payment. The bar that is sometimes closed was open for us (it was Saturday) and we were grateful for the bocadillo. We were dragging when we got into Markina. And we weren't the last people to walk into town.

After Bilbao it's less stressful. There are many threads discussing things like scenic paths instead of ordinary paths. We took older routes instead of newer ones at various places, largely because the older ones have more facilities. (And there is an ongoing lack of resting places with this route.) This decision worked out well for us after we made it mid-journey.

Some notes, not complete, but some photos and comments on my blog: www.texassunshine24.blogspot.com from time to time I add more comments and pictures about the walk.
HTH
Buen camino
I will add a warming concerning the entry in to De ba, I fell there too, the concrete is very slippery. (There are warning signs)Walk on the red painted side of the road. The steps on the stairs are also slippery. 5 kilometers after Deba you can stay in tbe albergue Izarbide (perhaps the farm that is mentioned in this post)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago planned for end April 2020
Just to be clear. Calling 112 does require a signal. This doesn't have to be from your provider, but there does need to be a signal. If there is no signal from any provider you will not be able to call 112.
 

Lunchmeat337

Submariner
Camino(s) past & future
2015, Camino Frances, May
2017, Camino Frances, May
2018, Camino Portuguese, May
Does it get easier? Well, not really. My wife and I are just three days from Santiago and although the land has flattened out somewhat after we turned inland, our bodies are tired so small hills are still tough. We started May 5 and will arrive Santiago on June 18. Two rest days helped during the first two weeks. We tried to keep distances to about 20 to 25 km per day, although this doesn't always work out. Wine helps, carry on accordingly. Burn Camino!
 

Telboyo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
I intend to leave the UK the day Before Brexit and walkMarch -April 2019 Camino Frances
Hi! I haven’t walked the Norte but I just asked my husband (who has) and he says it does get easier....Sorry I cannot help further, I am sure others will.
As for your other concern: you can call 112 anywhere in Europe and get assistance, even if there is no signal.

"112" is the European emergency number people in distress can call 24h/24 and 7d/7 in all 28 member states of the European Union to get immediate assistance from the fire brigade, a medical team or the police. You can call the number 112 with a fixed or mobile phone. The European emergency number is free everywhere.

Hope this puts your mind at rest. Ultreia! 🙂

PS: Do you have a whistle? Maybe your backpack has one, on the chest strap.
Even if your phone has no signal try calling 112 because if any network has a connection in that area they will connect the call. I think it is possible to call from a lock screen
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
The Norte is not the toughest as far as elevation inclines/declines are concerned, in my opinion the Primitivo gets that prize (and maybe the Salvador but I have as yet to do it). I've walked the Norte from Irun once and in June Bilbao-Gijon which I definately found fine. My trick is not to look at elevation information beforehand. I figure that I have to do it anyway so why worry beforehand ;)
 

tominrm

Hiking to Celebrate the End of Working Life.
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2014,2019)
del Norte ( 2015)
Portuguese ( 2016)
Primitivo ( 2017)
VdlP (2018)
I agree with LTfit. Primitivo seems to be the hardest, but it is only about half the length of del Norte. Del Norte is hard in the beginning, gets a little easier in Cantabria then gets hard again in Asturias.
112 calls using a cell phone, as someone pointed out here, has to get a signal to lock on in order to make an emergency call, but the cell phone carrier does not care if the phone is registered (or authorized) in the network. It will process the emergency calls.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France, Camino del Norte, Camino de Madrid
Camino Porto, Camino Primitivo
My wife and I just completed 2 days of hiking on the Norte. We are now in Zarutz. What I find the most challenging is all the steep rocky hills. Is it steep and rocky throughout or does it start getting easier?

I know the Norte is the hardest Camino. I can take steep but steep and rocky is hard and can be dangerous.

If someone can answer this, I would appreciate it.

My other concern is how remote some of these areas are. If I or my wife fell and got hurt, there aren’t that many other people walking by and it could be a hike to go find help. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen anyone talking about that.
I finished the Norte and I think it is a very challenging route. If I may, my advice would be take it easy. There is no deadline or requirement. Just do it to the point you find it challenging but enjoyable. You are not out there to prove anything to anyone but to enjoy the walking. Buen Camino.
 

marylynn

Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
2011-12-14-15-16-17-18-(19) CF
2013 Arles/Aragones
2015 & 2017 HærvejenDK
again, if you ring 112, they should be able to offer you some emergency help, you can feel confident about that.
Buen camino!
And I learned that the 112 call will go through even if you do not have a SIM card for the country you are in—any phone will work.
 

Holly Mitchem

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016
We are in Pasiajes de San Juan as I write and we did the Purgatorial aka Alpiniste route today, started from the bus station in Hendaye. A big day. We got socked in at the top but fortunately encountered Josos, a resident of Pasiajes out for his afternoon 20k constitutional. He walked with us all the way into town and since we have a modicum of Spanish could understand a lot of what he said about the history and commerce of the post. Although it was still a very tough day his guidance and conversation helped pass the time. Looking forward to a short walk into San Sebastian tomorrow so we are a couple of days behind you. Buen camino!
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
112 uses resources and networks that “do not exist” and are not in normal circumstances accessible. This should not be an issue of concern to anyone who needs to make an emergency call. Dial 112, explain your circumstances to the multilingual resources available and be grateful. Unfortunately, as recent Camino legend has revealed, while you may not require a network connection some charge on your ‘phone is required.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
Hi my first bit of advice to to download the app called Alertcops. I thankfully never had to use it but they do have English speaking operators. Secondly I hope you have hiking poles. They help a lot. I walked the whole Norte last year from Irún and it was very tough for me. It definitely gets better after Bilbao. When you turn southwest from the coast it is a piece of cake. Definitely don’t take the Primitivo when that option presents itself. Just take it slowly up the rocky hills and use your poles . Zigzag down hills and keep a pole in front of you for balance. You can do it!i did it at 64 and saw other pilgrims older than me!
 

Bob from L.A. !

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
Last summer when I walked this route there were 2-3 days at a stretch when I saw no other pilgrims and at times I began to think I lost the trail.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
...
I know the Norte is the hardest Camino. ...
Sorry as I won't be of much help here, but is Norte really the hardest???
How would you know that if this is your first Camino according to your signature.
I might be mistaken though...

Even after 10 different Caminos I can't say which is the hardest. Maybe I can say which was the hardest for me.

Uphills/downhills on Norte/Primitivo vs. flats on Levante/Sanabres/VdlP at 40C can be very different in level of difficulty. What's harder??? Don't really know. How you feel on certain day? Temps? Inclines? Weather?

Yeah, yeah, I know I don't always double think what I wrote in my responses (mods know that by now already) but I really always think three times what exactly I want to know when I'm asking ;)

So, are there stupid questions ... oh, no, let's just don't go there. Let's just pretend there aren't any :D
 

Minnesota Jim

Minnesota Jim
Camino(s) past & future
May to June 2014
Please check out the Spanish government app, AlertCops. It’s free and in my opinion better to use than the 112 telephone number. The 112 number was also excellent advice too.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago planned for end April 2020
Not true. Even if you're of of a signal 112 does work!
Sorry, that is not correct. If there is no signal from any provider then you will not be able to call 112. Mobile phones do not use satellites and rely on a signal to send messages or make calls. Where there is no signal from any provider you cannot call 112. If there is a signal from a provider that is not your registered provider you will be able to call 112, but you will still not be able to receive calls or make non 112 calls..
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Sorry, that is not correct. If there is no signal from any provider then you will not be able to call 112. Mobile phones do not use satellites and rely on a signal to send messages or make calls. Where there is no signal from any provider you cannot call 112. If there is a signal from a provider that is not your registered provider you will be able to call 112, but you will still not be able to receive calls or make non 112 calls..
Thank you. I should've mention that, yes. Regardles of your mobile provider if there is ANY signal you'll be able to make 112 call.
 

Redvespablur

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte/Primitivo April/May 2016
Voie Littorale May 2020
You get stronger and it gets a little easier although you still have a tough day or two ahead.

Slow down if you can and shorten up days.

Good luck
 

Mudcrone

Mudcrone
Camino(s) past & future
2012-2018 Frances, Via de la Plata, Portugues Central and Seaside, Norte
My wife and I just completed 2 days of hiking on the Norte. We are now in Zarutz. What I find the most challenging is all the steep rocky hills. Is it steep and rocky throughout or does it start getting easier?

I know the Norte is the hardest Camino. I can take steep but steep and rocky is hard and can be dangerous.

If someone can answer this, I would appreciate it.

My other concern is how remote some of these areas are. If I or my wife fell and got hurt, there aren’t that many other people walking by and it could be a hike to go find help. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen anyone talking about that.
I've done the Norte. I think what you have experienced is pretty much what the Norte is, there are a coupleof easier stages, but not many. Here is a helpful app for emergencies
There is also an app called AlertCops it is run by the Spanish Ministry. You download it and register with it. Then if you have an emergency of any type in Spain you click it. Someone responds immediately in your language, has located you through gps and asks what is the problem. It works. I did a face plant a week ago on the Spiritual Variente between Pontevedra and Padron. I was bleeding and couldn't move. The person on the other end asked me what was wrong, and then said the ambulance was on the way. Two Guarda guys came on motorcycles and carried me down the hill to the ambulance. Ambulance took me to a clinic to bandage me up. It really is an amazing app to have if you are walking the Camino. It can be used for any kind of emergency.
 

Dinah Shaw

Volcano Climber
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Norte and Frances Sept 6 - Oct 11, 2016
My wife and I just completed 2 days of hiking on the Norte. We are now in Zarutz. What I find the most challenging is all the steep rocky hills. Is it steep and rocky throughout or does it start getting easier?

I know the Norte is the hardest Camino. I can take steep but steep and rocky is hard and can be dangerous.

If someone can answer this, I would appreciate it.

My other concern is how remote some of these areas are. If I or my wife fell and got hurt, there aren’t that many other people walking by and it could be a hike to go find help. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen anyone talking about that.
It is definitely not the hardest Camino. Those would be San Salvador and Primitivo I think For emergencies there is the Spain equivalent of 911 which is 112. They can also guide you via GPS if you get lost. It is not steep and rocky throughout. Your option is to take a train to the Frances (not as nice though). You can also take taxis over the rough parts. Buena suerte y buen camino
 

VeganCamino

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Future Frances from Saint Jean Pied du Port to Burgos, starting in June.
Very sound advice. I have walked the francés 4 times, my Camino mate 7 or 8 times (I lose track!) - always in Summer and it is still a joy! The crowds only start from Sarria. Really. (But don’t tell anyone else! 😉)
May it be so. The "bed race" is putting me off.
 

Walking Lover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CdS from Leon to Santiago, June 16, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
My wife and I just completed 2 days of hiking on the Norte. We are now in Zarutz. What I find the most challenging is all the steep rocky hills. Is it steep and rocky throughout or does it start getting easier?

I know the Norte is the hardest Camino. I can take steep but steep and rocky is hard and can be dangerous.

If someone can answer this, I would appreciate it.

My other concern is how remote some of these areas are. If I or my wife fell and got hurt, there aren’t that many other people walking by and it could be a hike to go find help. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen anyone talking about that.
My husband is about a week from finishing. He has done the Frances and Portuguese. This one is by far the hardest. He said today was uphill all the way and steep.
 

Thomas1962

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2010: Porto - SdC - Finisterra 2011: E4 on Crete 2012: Le Puy - SJPdP 2013: Camino Madrid -> Del Salvador -> Primitivo 2014: European Peace Walk. 2015: Amsterdam - SdC & Barcelona -Burgos. 2016:Norte & hospitalero
I found out that difficult or not does not depend on the camino but on my head, the thoughts and assumptions I have. When a camino is hard for you, wether it is hilly or not, you can slow down and do smaller distances. No one else tells what distance to walk every day, suffering is a choice.
Having said that. After two days walking a body starts to get tired, it can be the hardest period in a camino. Slow down a little and it can recover. After it you will see walking gets more easy.
Buen camino!
 

Dominick

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via De La Plata 2018, Finisterre 2018,
Does it get easier? Well, not really. My wife and I are just three days from Santiago and although the land has flattened out somewhat after we turned inland, our bodies are tired so small hills are still tough. We started May 5 and will arrive Santiago on June 18. Two rest days helped during the first two weeks. We tried to keep distances to about 20 to 25 km per day, although this doesn't always work out. Wine helps, carry on accordingly. Burn Camino!
zGood walk👍
 
Camino(s) past & future
August 2015
I found it very difficult in the the beginning, too, particularly with the slippery descents. Take it slow and easy. It does get easier but there are places here and there that were quite scary for me. Maybe just for a few minutes, but nonetheless really tough. Also lots of very pleasurable walking. Very glad I stuck with it. If you do get injured someone is sure to come along to help. Best wishes for a successful Camino. I know what you’re going through.
 

Terry W

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
August 2017
April 2018
April 2019
Very sound advice. I have walked the francés 4 times, my Camino mate 7 or 8 times (I lose track!) - always in Summer and it is still a joy! The crowds only start from Sarria. Really. (But don’t tell anyone else! 😉)
Yes very good domigee I have walked the Francis once Aug start twice April start Bugger the April starts I got caught in the storm Category yellow on the masseta six day course of antibiotics got me right. Sort of. That Sarria crush Oh what fun.
 

CaminoMatt73

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances & Portuguese 2016. Via de la Plata & to Porto Mar-June 2017, Norte Way in Sept.
My wife and I just completed 2 days of hiking on the Norte. We are now in Zarutz. What I find the most challenging is all the steep rocky hills. Is it steep and rocky throughout or does it start getting easier?

I know the Norte is the hardest Camino. I can take steep but steep and rocky is hard and can be dangerous.

If someone can answer this, I would appreciate it.

My other concern is how remote some of these areas are. If I or my wife fell and got hurt, there aren’t that many other people walking by and it could be a hike to go find help. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen anyone talking about that.
The Norte way broke me. When I finished, I was very satisfied with my goal of finishing. I suggest to take it slow. The first week is tough and because of the first week, the rest is tough. I’m a better man today just because of that Camino. If your wife and yourself finish, you should have stories to tell. Hope all is good.
 

Long Hiker

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Del Norte
I found out that difficult or not does not depend on the camino but on my head, the thoughts and assumptions I have. When a camino is hard for you, wether it is hilly or not, you can slow down and do smaller distances. No one else tells what distance to walk every day, suffering is a choice.
Having said that. After two days walking a body starts to get tired, it can be the hardest period in a camino. Slow down a little and it can recover. After it you will see walking gets more easy.
Buen camino!
Thank you for your response. My wife and I have slowed down and are enjoying the Camino more. Hope to eventually speed up a little.
 

Stellaluna

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Coast to Coast (2015)
Frances (July 2016)
Very sound advice. I have walked the francés 4 times, my Camino mate 7 or 8 times (I lose track!) - always in Summer and it is still a joy! The crowds only start from Sarria. Really. (But don’t tell anyone else! 😉)
Truth!!!!
 

Stellaluna

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Coast to Coast (2015)
Frances (July 2016)
Yes very good domigee I have walked the Francis once Aug start twice April start Bugger the April starts I got caught in the storm Category yellow on the masseta six day course of antibiotics got me right. Sort of. That Sarria crush Oh what fun.
???? Edit???
 

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