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First Camino 2020

Stuartwe

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2020
I have taken the plunge and booked 6 weeks off work to start and hopefully finish my first Camino Frances September/October 2020.

I have decided that rather than plan too much,I would rather be adaptable and flexible in my approach regarding where to stay,how far to walk etc.

However mindful of some of the comments regarding potential high numbers walking at that time of year,I would welcome any advice on whether it would be prudent to book any accommodation,at least perhaps at the start of my journey and if so when should I be thinking of doing so?


Thank you in anticipation
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2022)
I have not walked in those months, but late April/May.
I think the numbers can be similar. Others will confirm.

If so, the first few days can be a challenge regarding beds.
Two major 'choke points' are Roncesvalles and Zubiri.
Things settle down once you reach Pamplona.
 

gheggie

CF Sept 2018
Camino(s) past & future
Sept 2018
I walked full CF in Sept/Oct 2018 and experienced choke points in the places mentioned above, ie SJPP, Roncesvalles and Zubiri. I would suggest that you consider booking those places but you should be fine after that provided you don’t arrive at your intended overnight stop late in the afternoon. Worth considering booking a day ahead from Sarria to SDC that being the busiest stretch of the CF.

I believe last year that the first few days were busier because of train strikes which resulted in a glut of pilgrims starting early September when the strikes were over (I might be corrected on this point).

Aside from the above, travel light and don’t overplan. 😁
Buen Camino
 

Stuartwe

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2020
Thank you both for your advice.
Sounds sensible thinking to me as can’t be very encouraging if your initial thoughts are dominated by whether you can get a bed or not.

I will begin to consider suitable places to stop for the initial stages and my intention is to always try and stay in the less popular locations if at all possible.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2018)
I walked Sept/October 2018. I experienced the choke points mentioned above. I booked Roncesvalles (you can do so online), but I actually arrived early enough that I would have gotten a bed without the reservation. I did not book after that (initially) and then got in a pinch when the Albergue in Larrasoana was closed. Things did calm down after Pamplona. By the time I got to Sarria I was 'seasoned' at the routine and did not find it as concerning. I agree with other's opinions to book your first few days. After that, you will be in a rhythm and the crowds will spread out. Since our timelines overlap - if you are curious - my packing list is located here (worked well for that time of year, and I specifically call out which items I did not end up needing). I am also converting my journals to a blog one year out, which is located here. I understand if you don't want spoilers, which is why I linked the blog separately (you can view the pack list without viewing the blog). If you have any other questions your think a previous sept/oct walker can answer, let me know! =) Buen Camino!
 

Stuartwe

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2020
I walked Sept/October 2018. I experienced the choke points mentioned above. I booked Roncesvalles (you can do so online), but I actually arrived early enough that I would have gotten a bed without the reservation. I did not book after that (initially) and then got in a pinch when the Albergue in Larrasoana was closed. Things did calm down after Pamplona. By the time I got to Sarria I was 'seasoned' at the routine and did not find it as concerning. I agree with other's opinions to book your first few days. After that, you will be in a rhythm and the crowds will spread out. Since our timelines overlap - if you are curious - my packing list is located here (worked well for that time of year, and I specifically call out which items I did not end up needing). I am also converting my journals to a blog one year out, which is located here. I understand if you don't want spoilers, which is why I linked the blog separately (you can view the pack list without viewing the blog). If you have any other questions your think a previous sept/oct walker can answer, let me know! =) Buen Camino!
 

Stuartwe

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2020
Excellent post Spreadsheet and I couldn’t resist a review of your extremely detailed packing list.
Great advice and much food for thought.

Thanks again
 
Camino(s) past & future
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
I have not walked this but the Camino Baztan goes from Bayonne to Pamplona. This may be a good way to avoid the crowds on the first few days of the Frances.
 

SenorJacques

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (May-June 2020)
I too am planning to walk my first Camino next fall (mid-September to late October 2020), so this post is valuable information for me.
 

Stuartwe

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2020
I have not walked this but the Camino Baztan goes from Bayonne to Pamplona. This may be a good way to avoid the crowds on the first few days of the Frances.
Rick,

Camino del Baztan?…………now there’s a good thought.

More research required I think before decision time
 

Stuartwe

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2020
Rick,
More excellent advice-thank you very much.

I am liking the idea of the Camino del Balzan more and more as the thought of all those people at the beginning of the Camino Frances I am finding a bit daunting.

My only concern is the possibility of losing my way if these route is not so clearly marked...having said that,I have discovered many things in my life by accident so shouldn’t really be an issue

I’m am looking for a little adventure in my life after all!
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
Voie de Paris / Tours Aulnay to Saintes 2017
Camino del Baztan 2018
Rick,
More excellent advice-thank you very much.

I am liking the idea of the Camino del Balzan more and more as the thought of all those people at the beginning of the Camino Frances I am finding a bit daunting.

My only concern is the possibility of losing my way if these route is not so clearly marked...having said that,I have discovered many things in my life by accident so shouldn’t really be an issue

I’m am looking for a little adventure in my life after all!
As mentioned on other posts, most who've walked the Baztan found it to be well marked. You may not meet many pilgrims. Last September we met 3 Spanish pilgrims at Lanz, they were the only ones we met in 6 days. It's a beautiful route but with some challenging climbs . Unlike the CF the cafes are far and few between. The app would be useful and a guide book well worth studying. Read the Baztan Sub-forum.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2018)
I've read your packing list a couple times, and I'm wondering- what did you sleep in?
Clothing wise? Underwear and sports bra. I just dropped my pants and shirt right before getting into bed, and kept them by my bed for trips to the bathroom. Honestly never felt uncomfortable though, there's a lot of people rocking around in underwear =)
 

Snowflake

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September (2020)
Clothing wise? Underwear and sports bra. I just dropped my pants and shirt right before getting into bed, and kept them by my bed for trips to the bathroom. Honestly never felt uncomfortable though, there's a lot of people rocking around in underwear =)
Thanks for the fast response!
 

Tandem Graham

Every new day an adventure
Camino(s) past & future
Bike: Mont St Michel-SdC. Budapest-Vezelay. Alicante-Burgos
Walk: Le Puy-SJPdP. Dax-(CF)-SdC.
Back to the original question about accommodation at the beginning of the CF and whether to book (ie if you decide to stick to Plan A and not begin on the Camino Baztan):
You might prefer to book in Saint Jean Pied de Port, because it's often busy, and choose one of the hostels (Gite d'etapes in France) a little way up the path from SJPdP - such as Coquille Napoleon or Honto or Orrison. That then gives you scope to walk straight through Roncesvalles the following day, 3 km further to Burguete, where there is a choice of accommodation and usually fewer pilgrims. This then puts you out of sync with most people's stops, so Larasoana rather than Zubiri etc. Even when the camino is busy, there is usually room in the smaller villages between the 'classic' stage ends.
 

Nigel Clark

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF May /June 2017
CF Sept / Oct 2019
I have recently finished the CF Sept/Oct and apart from booking Roncesvalles & Larasoana I never booked and never had a problem finding a bed . Go and enjoy your Camino.
 

Akbunny59

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017 / 2018
I walked from St Jean to Santiago last September and it was busy.
As others have said, I'd book St Jean, or stay at Hunto for a first night, that'll give you a head start in the morning - the meal in Hunto was good... 😉
Zubiri was booked out, some people slept down by the river, with no issues. I was fortunate I had a bed.
The rest of the route was fine, I always managed to get a bed.
Once through the Messetta it started to get cold in the mornings, sometimes down to +5c, the morning I left O Cebriero it was 0c, what I am saying is be prepared..... 😉
The last 150km was pretty much continuous rain. You'd be very lucky not to get wet in mid October. Don't stress about anything, take it as it comes and Buen Camino.....!
 

Stuartwe

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2020
Thank you for your advice,I have discussed with my brother, who is joining me for the first week and we have agreed that the Camino Baztan definitely appeals.
So revised plan is for us to walk the Baztan from Bayonne to Pamplona starting 7th of September ,he will then return back to the UK and I will carry on hopefully avoiding some of the potential larger numbers.
Just means I will not have a lot of time to spare if I am going to reach Santiago by at the latest the 15th of October.
Looking forward to it !
 

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