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Family walking a late winter Camino.

Paul_L

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés Feb-April (2015)
Camino Francés March-April (2020)
Hi all,
Excited to be back planning now after our 2020 Camino ended abruptly after walking for only 1 week.

We‘re looking at walking the Francés from mid January next year, going slowly. Our walking party this time round will be my wife and 5 of our 6 children. The youngest will be 4, so we will take our hiking stroller, at least for rests, making a warm cocoon for our little’un and in between when he can walk we’ll put our packs in it.

We are a little concerned about how far we’ll have to travel between albergues in January- February. Does anyone have a rough winter albergue guide that we could use to sharpen our thinking? I know it won’t be 100% accurate this early, but I’m not really confident about anything that may have changed over the last couple of years, so we have to start somewhere.

Thanks!
 
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roving_rufus

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
It's really hard to give a list from one year to the next as things change, and this year it may change even further with higher energy costs. From past winter experience (pre-covid)- albergues probably were available every 20-25km on the Frances, in some spots more frequently, but occasionally with short closures for holidays or maintenance that wasn't the case, but generally there was a pension or something available- (though watch out for 6th January Epiphany holidays when lots of businesses do close)
But given you are a family it's also worth considering private accommodation eg hostales, apartments, Airbnb etc which may be more cost effective, and won't really detract from the winter pilgrim experience which is alot quieter, and as a family you will become quite "famous" along the way.
 

Grousedoctor

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
Hi Paul, at the risk of ruffling some feathers, have you ever embarked on this kind of physical trek before with five children in the dead of winter? I live in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains in NY. For those of us you hike and do outdoor winter activities here, the safety considerations are very different as seasons change toward colder, harsher conditions. As familiar as I am with Camino walking, undertaking a winter Camino just for myself is something that I would have to think very seriously about before venturing out across Spain. That said, the welfare of taking a child, let alone five, makes me very hesitate to even encourage or support that this is a good idea. The possibility of various kinds of problems seem to increase many fold when your party is as large as it will be and consists of five children. I offer these these thoughts with the very best intentions. But, please rethink whether a winter Camino is really a very good idea for you and your family.
 

Paul_L

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés Feb-April (2015)
Camino Francés March-April (2020)
Hi Paul, at the risk of ruffling some feathers, have you ever embarked on this kind of physical trek before with five children in the dead of winter? I live in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains in NY. For those of us you hike and do outdoor winter activities here, the safety considerations are very different as seasons change toward colder, harsher conditions. As familiar as I am with Camino walking, undertaking a winter Camino just for myself is something that I would have to think very seriously about before venturing out across Spain. That said, the welfare of taking a child, let alone five, makes me very hesitate to even encourage or support that this is a good idea. The possibility of various kinds of problems seem to increase many fold when your party is as large as it will be and consists of five children. I offer these these thoughts with the very best intentions. But, please rethink whether a winter Camino is really a very good idea for you and your family.
Thanks for your concern, and I appreciate your intentions. No feathers are ruffled.

When we walked our first Camino in 2015 our kids were roughly 2, 8, 10, 14, 16. We were given similar advice to not walk with kids, , to consider the impact on them and to rethink the imposition of our will as the parents on our children who were not choosing the venture. We knew (and know) our family, and went anyway. It was one of the best experiences of our lives together and yes, there are difficult moments as a family, but there are difficult moments in any family's life. I learnt quickly that the daily difficult moments are still there just more public (like when Mr2 had a tantrum in the snow next to a highway!).

Miss 16 will not be joining, but all others will and our party will not be just young kids (well be 4, 10, 16, 18, 21 plus us two oldies). All of us are excited about the Camino, and we have experience walking as a family (although mainly in hot conditions in Australia).

We have good winter walking equipment, and are allowing plenty of time so we can choose to not head out when needed, have rest days and walk shorter days whenever we want to.
 
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Grousedoctor

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
Hey Paul, thank you for the additional information. Wow, your kids have already walked the CF! What an accomplishment for the entire family. With your experiences, You will undoubtedly have another great Camino!
 

Paul_L

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés Feb-April (2015)
Camino Francés March-April (2020)
Hey Paul, thank you for the additional information. Wow, your kids have already walked the CF! What an accomplishment for the entire family. With your experiences, You will undoubtedly have another great Camino!
Thanks! We all walked SJPP to Santiago in 2015, and in 2020 we started in Pamplona but only made it to Logroño when the state of emergency was called and we had to return home.

So excited to head off again. We all can't wait. Mr3 was sad this morning as he thought we were heading off today when he woke up. He hasn't got his head around time yet!
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
@Paul_L I can confirm that after two years of not being let out of the country - when I did get there in April/May this year, the Camino was still gloriously the same. And now I'm back home again I keep remembering how good it was.

Buen Camino!
 

wynrich

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 13, CF 14, CP 16, VF 17, CN 18, CN+RC 19, CF 22
What an adventure walking with your family like this! My husband and I walked this year starting March 1 and were surprised that so many hotels/albergues were closed. Even in late march, even past Sarria, we called many places and were told they would not open until after April 1 and some not till after Easter. It became a real problem for us because we don't walk super long days. Also, at least that time of year, the places we did stay often were not heated. We didn't mind the cold weather when walking but it was hard being so cold inside the hotels and restaurants. (You'll probably bring warmer clothes than we did.)
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
Does anyone have a rough winter albergue guide that we could use to sharpen our thinking?
I have walked in November December my last 3 caminos. In 2019 I walked the CF and in 2021 I walked the VDLP. I intended to go all the way but there were so many closed albergues I decided to walk to Astorga and then take the CF the rest of the way. I have learned from my caminos that no one website or app is more than 65-70% accurate on albergues being open or closed. I learned to just call ahead usually the night before just to see if an albergue was open or closed in the town I was thinking of going to the next day. If during the course of the day I knew I wanted to walk a shorter or longer distance again I would confirm to be on the safe side. I used a combination of 4 different sources just to cover my bases.
Aprinca will not be active until sometime in October I believe. It was accurate when I referred to it but in 2019 especially it was far from complete
Gronze.com, Wise Pilgrim and Buen Camino fall in about the same range of accuracy of open/closed. I do not think it is because they have bad information I think it is because many albergues stay open or closed based on the whims or needs of the owners.
Gronze has maps with distances between towns, elevation profiles, general route descriptions, albergue/pension reviews, open/close dates, what facilities offer in terms of kitchen, washing, etc and phone numbers.
Wise Pilgrim and Buen Camino offer the same things except they also have downloadable gps and offline maps. No one site has a complete list of places to stay so when traveling in winter the more choices the better. A little planning goes a long way. Of course check the weather every day before you go. If it looks really foul ask locals and err on the side of caution and don't walk that day or only a short distance.
 

TrvlDad1

Covidyard Bob
Time of past OR future Camino
2017 Frances from Saria
2018 Finnisterre & Ingles
2019 Portuguese from Valenca
2020 Assisi(cancel.)
Hi all,
Excited to be back planning now after our 2020 Camino ended abruptly after walking for only 1 week.

We‘re looking at walking the Francés from mid January next year, going slowly. Our walking party this time round will be my wife and 5 of our 6 children. The youngest will be 4, so we will take our hiking stroller, at least for rests, making a warm cocoon for our little’un and in between when he can walk we’ll put our packs in it.

We are a little concerned about how far we’ll have to travel between albergues in January- February. Does anyone have a rough winter albergue guide that we could use to sharpen our thinking? I know it won’t be 100% accurate this early, but I’m not really confident about anything that may have changed over the last couple of years, so we have to start somewhere.

Thanks!
For what it's worth, I walked Burgos to Rabanal in late March 2022. In some some villages where I wanted to stop everything was apparently closed, but when I went into a bar, they either had a room or found me one. I had no reservations. I was the only guest in the inn at several. And one day I saw no other pilgrims and one day, I saw only one. It was a great solitary walk. Buen Camino.
 

Chris Gi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2018
Thanks for your concern, and I appreciate your intentions. No feathers are ruffled.

When we walked our first Camino in 2015 our kids were roughly 2, 8, 10, 14, 16. We were given similar advice to not walk with kids, , to consider the impact on them and to rethink the imposition of our will as the parents on our children who were not choosing the venture. We knew (and know) our family, and went anyway. It was one of the best experiences of our lives together and yes, there are difficult moments as a family, but there are difficult moments in any family's life. I learnt quickly that the daily difficult moments are still there just more public (like when Mr2 had a tantrum in the snow next to a highway!).

Miss 16 will not be joining, but all others will and our party will not be just young kids (well be 4, 10, 16, 18, 21 plus us two oldies). All of us are excited about the Camino, and we have experience walking as a family (although mainly in hot conditions in Australia).

We have good winter walking equipment, and are allowing plenty of time so we can choose to not head out when needed, have rest days and walk shorter days whenever we want to.
Sounds wonderful.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021
Fisterra 2021
Also, at least that time of year, the places we did stay often were not heated. We didn't mind the cold weather when walking but it was hard being so cold inside the hotels and restaurants.
We did our camino ending Oct 30 last fall. Cold inside buildings was a real issue. Some had no heat, or no finances to turn on the heat. It was not cool being cold all evening.

I am super impressed by your family's previous exploits. Awesome to raise the kids with such adventure and can-do attitude. Buen Camino!
 

Marbe2

Active member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Have walked the CF in February. You will find very little open in the Winter months between towns…even some of the small bars in the tiny towns have limited hours.

Even with a list of Winter Camino Albergues, do NOT trust that those albergues will be open when you arrive. Call ahead the night before and and confirm that they are open and that you are coming. In addition, if there is a significant amount of snow in lower areas and you decide to walk the buses along the various sections may be canceled for a time. Taxis may be unavailable for hours as well.

The Napoleon route, of course will be closed. When you get to the mountain areas the snow may be too deep to take the paths! If fresh snow falls the night before, check and see when the plows are coming through, and even still the roads could be icy! Check at your albergue regarding conditions.
 
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mspath

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
In earlier happier times I often walked the Camino Frances in winter. Of course the weather is never the same but the basic route has not changed. Difficult CF stretches after storms might be; the Valcarlos route up to Roncesvalles, across the Montes de Oca from Villafranca, Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Monte Irago and, of course, to and from O Cebreiro.

For any winter camino I stress this bit of info re: carrying food supplies.
Wherever you walk in winter
you must be prepared!
 

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