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First day on Camino Norte

Intrepid Jenny

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2017, 2018 (Camino Norte 2019)
Hi Everyone, I am walking the Camino Norte from Irun this month. I have walked the Camino Francis from SJPDP. Is the Norte harder? Will I get lost? The first day looks quite daunting (I am 64 and a slow walker), so would I be able to do the steep walk along the top of the ridge if it is not raining? Is there a track the whole way and no climbing over rocks? There was mention of a section on the cliffs just after the fortress where it is necessary to slide down the rocks to find the path so I am feeling a bit nervous now - I want to walk on paths, not climb rocks and get lost!
What is it really like?
Thanks, Intrepid Jenny
 

nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
Hi Jenny

I dont think the first day on the Norte will be harder than the first day on the Frances. I walked the Norte in May by the way.

The first day does have a convenient stop fairly early on, with the first albergue de peregrinos being something like 12km from Irun's albergue. Only 14 beds though, so its probably wise to arrive in good time. It's in a lovely town called Pasajeres (or similar name) and I'd say and early start and a lunch in that town is a nice bet.

I took the more scenic, and harder route over the mountain, but it wasnt amazingly beautiful as the weather wasnt good ... but thats OK, the Norte has plenty of jaw-dropping scenery (some of which is shown in my ebook listed below - shameless plug!)

Overall, I thought the Norte was excellent. The waymarking is very good and can be relied upon. There were some very nice places to see, and stop at and I met a fantastic mix of people.

Screenshot_20190702-160017_Lithium.jpg

Here's a page from my ebook: Hiking with Haiku
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
We took the mountain route on a good day and it was fabulous. We did stop and stay overnight at Pasajes San Juan, which I loved. It makes a nice short walk for the first day. Pasajes sits on a steep slope down to the water, which looks rather like a fjord. You turn left right at the beginning of the town, before the path descends, to get to the albergue.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
If you want to stop in Pasajes de San Juan, but are worried about getting one of the 14 beds try Casa Txurdin - a guest house in Pasajes that you can reserve. You can call/message her on WhatsApp. The number is +34685475733 .
 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
The climb up the jaizkibel via the high route was beautifull, there was a very steep stretch of a few hundred meters long. The rest was doable. At the top we followed the road a few hundred meters to avoid the rocky stretch. No sliding or the necessity o using your hands.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
Hi Everyone, I am walking the Camino Norte from Irun this month. I have walked the Camino Francis from SJPDP. Is the Norte harder? Will I get lost? The first day looks quite daunting (I am 64 and a slow walker), so would I be able to do the steep walk along the top of the ridge if it is not raining? Is there a track the whole way and no climbing over rocks? There was mention of a section on the cliffs just after the fortress where it is necessary to slide down the rocks to find the path so I am feeling a bit nervous now - I want to walk on paths, not climb rocks and get lost!
What is it really like?
Thanks, Intrepid Jenny
I walked the Norte last year at 64. Do NOT be afraid. I did find the first day out of Irun tougher than the walk from SJPP. Maybe that is because the first time I did it I was 7 years younger and the second time I had already walked from Le Puy and by the time I got to the CF I was flying. Be prepared for lots of hills. Most of the towns are small and lovely port towns so at the end of many days you will walk down to the town and the next morning expect hills going up out of the towns. But the scenery is spectacular to say the least.
The first day I walked all the way to San Sebastian. When I got to Pasajes I decided to go all the way. Lots of steps down to the dock to take the 30 second boat ride to the other side. I stopped at a cafe to have a snack and a cafe con leche. Walked a few hundred meters and then saw a boatload of steps going back up. As I yelled WHAT THE F#$K??? I said I am going back to Pasajes to the albergue and then remembered the steps back up so I charged on. When you get to San Sebastian treat yourself to Gelateria Boulevard for about the best ice cream on earth. The uphills may be tiring but the downhills are what can injure you, especially at our age. Zig zag down the hills. Don't walk straight down. Make sure you bring walking sticks. They will help alot!
You can do it!
 

Intrepid Jenny

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2017, 2018 (Camino Norte 2019)
Did you do the difficult ridge walk from Irun or the lower true camino? Someone wrote about climbing over rocks at the top and losing the path. And it has been raining, I am waiting for a clear day to start.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
I don't know which ridge you mean. The only stretch that seems to qualify as a ridge, comes straight after the summit and can easily be avoided by following the road for a few 100 meters. By the way there is no such thing as a "true camino". From Irun there are 2 different routes : the lower one and the higher one, which very confusingly is called the "ruta alpinista".
 

Intrepid Jenny

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2017, 2018 (Camino Norte 2019)
I don't know which ridge you mean. The only stretch that seems to qualify as a ridge, comes straight after the summit and can easily be avoided by following the road for a few 100 meters. By the way there is no such thing as a "true camino". From Irun there are 2 different routes : the lower one and the higher one, which very confusingly is called the "ruta alpinista".
I meant the higher one and I thought this top route was called the Purgatorio!
Is it easier to follow the road all the way, especially if damp? It might be easier going down? Does the road have the same views as the high route? Thanks for your help.
 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
As far as I know the path to the summit of the Jazkibel splits after the Santuario de Guadeloupe. The high route is marked as the ruta alpinista. I presume in some guides it is referred to as the purgatorio. I did not walk the lower route, which follows the road I presume. The views on the higher route will of course be better. I remember one very steep stretch uphill of a few hundred meters ( nothing tricky, just hard) the rest of the climb was not so hard.
 

Thomas V

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016 & 2017 FRANCES, 2018 Portuguese, 2019 Norte Irún to Santiago
Hi Everyone, I am walking the Camino Norte from Irun this month. I have walked the Camino Francis from SJPDP. Is the Norte harder? Will I get lost? The first day looks quite daunting (I am 64 and a slow walker), so would I be able to do the steep walk along the top of the ridge if it is not raining? Is there a track the whole way and no climbing over rocks? There was mention of a section on the cliffs just after the fortress where it is necessary to slide down the rocks to find the path so I am feeling a bit nervous now - I want to walk on paths, not climb rocks and get lost!
What is it really like?
Thanks, Intrepid Jenny
Good post Jenny, we start from Irun on the 23rd and all your questions are exactly what have been on my mind.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Burgos-SdC (May-June 2016); CF, SJPDP-SdC (April-June 2018); Norte (June-July 2019)
Hi Jenny,
So happy for you, walking another camino! My husband and I walked the Norte in June and July. We had also walked the Frances, and although we felt the Norte was a bit more strenuous (elevations not so high, but more numerous), we enjoyed it very much. We had nice weather the first day, so we found the mountain “Alpinista” route to be no problem, a very nice walk. I do remember thinking it would be no fun in the rain/mud.
About your reference to the “top of the ridge,” A word of caution : After we had come down off the heights of Jazikibel, where the Camino meets the road, we were encouraged to go ACROSS the road to take a GR route (don’t know the number, but it was marked with the red and white stripes). We ended up high on a rocky ridge top that we found very dangerous - sheer drop on the left, rocks on the right, a narrow path over the rocks, a cable to hold onto, and no ocean views at all. We came out high above the little lighthouse with Pasaia far below us. I’ve never been pushed so far beyond exhaustion.
This is probably not the ridge you had in mind, but just in case...
Have a wonderful camino!
 


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