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Earliest walkable departures from San Gran Bernadino or alternative start point?

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Jpmbooks

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked portuguese coastal Camino (2016)
Planning for francigena in 2020
Hi everyone. I am newbie here, though have walked the Portuguese Coastal Camino a couple of years back. I am planning an occasionally solo walk on the via Francigena in 2020. I am not a fan of walking in the heat, prefer 10-20c ideally, and have an April-May window (preferred) or June-July. I am concerned that June-July is just going to be too hot, but have also read here that the Pass is closed in April if I were to set out then. If it is closed, at what point south do you think it would be reasonable to start in April? Also interested in experience from other solo female walks on the via Francigena please.
Any and all advice gratefully received. Thanks so much.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
The GSB pass is not normally open for walkers much before the beginning of June. Before then it is possible to get to Etroubles or Saint Rhemy by bus. I think it would be a pity to miss out on the descent through the Alps to Aosta as it is spectacular country.
 

Stripey Socks

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances- 2013,Via de la Plata-2014, Portuguese - 2016, Via Francigena - Italy 2018
Hi there. I walked from GSBP starting in August last year. I know a very different time frame than what you are planning, but there was still pockets of snow about even in early August. I walked solo to Rome - only meeting a handful of pilgrims along the way. Some days I did not speak to a soul until arriving at the ostello in the afternoon - especially in the remoter mountain areas. I felt perfectly safe though. I did a daily blog and happy to answer any specific questions. Happy planning. Mel https://lifeonebigadventure.com/category/two-feet-walking/via-francigena-2018/
 

gerardcarey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF x2, CPL
I just completed Lausanne to Aosta. Great walk accompanied at the finish by a great feeling of accomplishment.
I initially intended to commence mid September. I'm an autumn walker.
The advice I received informed me that September snow storms were a distinct possibility so I finally decided on a mid August start - that gap between the heat of summer and early snowfalls.
The temps were in the low 20C, the first 4 or 5 days reasonably flat, and only the last two days up to Gran St Bernard taxing. The last day to the top being 12ks and taking eight hours. (I was told it would take 5 hours)
Steep downhill then for two days to Aosta thru wonderful, interesting country and, tho taxing on the thighs, quite doable.
I walked down with two first-timer Italian ladies I thought needed some supervision. After Aosta city they carried on down the Aosta Valley to Ivrea, about 4 days by the look of it, and from what I could see from the train windows it was certainly worth doing. Lovely countryside.
I realise this is not your time frame but if I can be of help I would be only too happy to do so.
Regards and good travelling,
Gerard
 
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annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
I know the area well, having lived in Aosta a long time ago. The pass will certainly be closed in April. In fact before mid_June you cannot be sure that it is open. My son’s Godfather who is a beekeeper and lives on the way up to the St. Bernard, moves his bees up to just below the protected road tunnel, for their 3 month ‘Alpine production’, once he is sure to be able to regularly get up there and attend to them and that is never before mid_June. The walk down to Aosta is beautiful, this Roman town is worth a full 24 hour stop over and the walk down to Ivrea is full of interesting places along the way. As mentioned, you could start in Etroubles or St. Remus, which is easy to reach by local and also the international bus between Aosta and Martigny in both directions. The bus goes through the tunnel).
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012)
CP(2015)
St Olavs Way Norway(2016)
88 Temples Japan(2017)
PWC & VF(2019)
Israel (2020)
Hi everyone. I am newbie here, though have walked the Portuguese Coastal Camino a couple of years back. I am planning an occasionally solo walk on the via Francigena in 2020. I am not a fan of walking in the heat, prefer 10-20c ideally, and have an April-May window (preferred) or June-July. I am concerned that June-July is just going to be too hot, but have also read here that the Pass is closed in April if I were to set out then. If it is closed, at what point south do you think it would be reasonable to start in April? Also interested in experience from other solo female walks on the via Francigena please.
Any and all advice gratefully received. Thanks so much.
Hi JPM,
I walked London to Rome combining the Pilgrims Way to Canterbury & VF as a solo female earlier this year. I left London March 21st & arrived at the Vatican on June 20th.
There was no chance of crossing Great St Bernard Pass when I was in the area the first week of May.
Alternative start points may include Bourg St Pierre & tunnel it under the Pass or the first few villages on the Italian side. I agree with @Bradypus ...the Aosta Valley is a stunning must see/walk.
Exercising the standard precautions, I had no personal safety issues as solo female walker throughout the entire journey. I'm in my 50's & the total distance walked was over 2100kms.
If you do a Forum search on me, you'll find a collection of posts I wrote from the trail.
Otherwise, I'm happy to answer any queries you may have.
Enjoy planning!
👣 🌏
 
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caminka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
see signature
Hi everyone. I am newbie here, though have walked the Portuguese Coastal Camino a couple of years back. I am planning an occasionally solo walk on the via Francigena in 2020. I am not a fan of walking in the heat, prefer 10-20c ideally, and have an April-May window (preferred) or June-July. I am concerned that June-July is just going to be too hot, but have also read here that the Pass is closed in April if I were to set out then. If it is closed, at what point south do you think it would be reasonable to start in April? Also interested in experience from other solo female walks on the via Francigena please.
Any and all advice gratefully received. Thanks so much.
I started on June 15th this year from Orsieres and took the usual two days up to the GSB pass. the second day I did the last part (from l'Hopital) on the road because the path was covered in snow. but I met australians and americans who climbed to the pass on the snow. as it was a spectacular sunny sunday, the snow was soft and the climb quite easy, I was told. the descent the next morning was not so easy. I saw one american very carefully sliding down the snowy slopes. I used the road till Cantina Fonteinte then took the path from there. there was still a bit precarious snowpatch to cross but all went well.

I walked all the way to Rome solo and felt perfectly safe. if the morning woods were still too dark and I suspected some animals were prodding around (I did see a small wild pig once) I kept a monologue going or sang.

perhaps you can do the GSB portion in june-july. it is a beautiful climb and a beautiful descent. the aosta valley was also very nice, though there was a fait bit of road and flat walking. my favourite parts were paths between villages and amidst vineyards.
for the april-may window you may want to choose a Tuscany section - perhaps san miniato alto to siena. but keep in mind that many italians do this over the holidays so the ostellos have been reported full at that dates.
 

Marcus-UK

Old Git
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Ingles (2016) Camino Portuguese (2017) Considering Invierno 2019
If you are prepared to think out of the box then there is a potential solution. La Rossierre in France is connected to La Thuile in the Aosta valley by the San Bernadino Ski Area. It would be possible to take the ski lift in La Rossiere and connect to the Ski lift in La Thuile where you can take the Gondola down La Thuile and either pick up the valley bottom walking trails or a local Bus to your next stage of the walk. La Rossiere ski lifts are operational until the 24th of April.
I have done the return journey way while skiing in the Aosta valley some years ago. there are winter walking paths from the San Bernadino ski area that also allow you to walk down to La Thuile.
 

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