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First time pilgrim on camino del norte?

megi

New Member
Hi everybody,

I'm quite new here, and I have tried to browse through the current posts for more information, but my question still stands. I hope it isn't too redundant.

I am leaving for my first camino in June. After doing some research I decided that I would like to try the camino del norte, partially because I feel a strong connection with the water so the chance to walk partially on the coast was appealing, and also because I have heard that the camino frances is quite overcrowded in the summer time. My decision to make this pilgrimage was partially based on needing some contemplative time, and I worried that the camino frances would be too crowded and that the battle for space in the albergues would be too much for me.

After reading some of the posts on this forum, I am a bit concerned on two points, and I am hoping that people who have done both routes could give me some advice. I am concerned about the amount of road walking on this camino. It seems there are some conflicting accounts of exactly how much there is, but there seems to be a general agreement that it is significantly more than on the frances. How big of a problem is this? Secondly, I will be a woman travelling alone. I generally do not worry about these things at all, and I have heard that most women feel very safe, even alone, but given that the albergues are farther apart, should I be concerned about this? Do I need to bring a tent?

I suppose finally, I would like some insight into the merits and/or disadvantages of choosing the camino del norte for my first pilgrimage. I'm pretty open to the wisdom of people who have come before me, and I am obviously making my decision purely based on the information of others and my own intuition. Are there aspects of the frances that outweigh the overcrowdedness or is the overcrowding perhaps exaggerated? Are there some compelling reasons to choose it over the del norte for my first pilgrimage? I should mention that although I'd like to finish in a month and a half or so, I do not have a strict time limit. I don't know if it makes a difference, but I am 24 years old.

I appreciate your help in advance, and again, feel free to point me to some other posts if my questions are overly repetitive.

Megan
 

Chris Adams

New Member
Hi Megan
Have a look at this link - Confraternity of St James, London, information about the Camino del Norte. It mentions that the amount of road walking is about the same as the Frances,

http://www.csj.org.uk/route-coastal-route.htm

You may find other helpful general information, starting on their home page
http://www.csj.org.uk/

I'm departing Irun June 10th and hope to walk the del Norte to Santiago. Like you, I've no time constraints and I plan to take a couple of days off every so often as the whim takes me.

Last year I walked a short section, from Santiago to Finisterre, just as a "taster" to see if I would enjoy it. I did! Hence the longer walk this year.

Buen Camino!
Chris
 

Dave

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 2002; most recent: Norte/Primitivo 2019
Hi Megan-

I'll also be heading out on the Norte/Primitivo in June. It's a gorgeous route.

I found the road-walking to be worst between Bilbao and Santander. Before and after that, there's a good balance of road and off-road, and the Primitivo is primarily off-road until Lugo. But yeah, that one section is a bit of a bummer. At the same time, though, it also has some of the best beaches / water views, with plenty of opportunities to take a break from pavement when you need it. In addition, while you're walking on the road, auto traffic is limited because a new super-highway has pulled away most of the cars.

No need to worry about walking as a single female. No need for a tent, either. While there are fewer albergues on the Norte than there are on the Frances, you rarely have to go great distances between reasonably priced lodging.

Given the reasons you cited for choosing the Norte, it seems like the right choice for you. I love the Frances. It was my first Camino and I walked it four times from St Jean before trying the Norte last September. I worry that all of the attention on crowds might unnecessarily discourage people from experiencing the magic of that route. In my experience, and it has been a few years since I was there, the crowds only start to become really noticeable in Leon, and aren't really problematic until Sarria. And really, the people help to make the experience what it is. It was easy to feel like a pilgrim on the Frances; I wonder if I didn't have that background if the Norte would still feel like a pilgrimage or just a hike.

But, if you want more solitude, water views, and feel an attraction to the route, go for it. While there are many fewer people on the Norte, I did notice a stronger bond among the pilgrims there. The walk from Irun to San Sebastian is one of the most spectacular sections of any Camino. And, there are many great, great spots to stay along the way. I can't wait to arrive in Irun on June 10.

Check through this board for more info - I and many others have posted a bunch of info over the last few months. I'll be happy to answer (or at least try to answer) any questions you have.

Dave
http://roadscholarswa.com/camnorte.html
 

mdefrayne

Member
Hi Megan,

We are starting in mid-June from Santander due to time constraints. It sounds like the road walking is about the same as the Frances. But, just because there is a road, it doesn't always mean there isn't some sort of shoulder to walk on. I hate pavement so I'll walk on along side the road any time I can. While there may not be as many pilgrims as on the Frances, I have a feeling that those on the Norte may have a stronger bond. Less people is fine with me and I think finding a refuge will not be a problem. Also, being alone does not always mean being alone on the camino. You may walk alone or with others, but usually a pilgrim is not far away.

Buen Camino,
Mark
 

mlriibak

New Member
Hi,

I did the Camino del Norte last September - It's a very great road. There were really just few people and very often we didn't see any other on the road at day time, but in the evening at albergues. I was a lazy walker, sarting very often at noon time, therefore few times I didn't get a place to sleep in albergue, so I had to use my own mattress. I used this http://www.mundicamino.com/ link for planning my trip. Sometimes I think the road was longer than it was written on this plan, but... I survived. Many albergues cost only 3-4 euros, so it is cheaper than the main road. If you are interested in seeing how the road looks like, I could send some links with my pictures. I'm about starting my third camino in France in the last half of May.

Buen Camino

ML
 

megi

New Member
Thank you everybody for your excellent advice, inclduing people who sent me PMs. I have decided to do the Camino del Norte as planned. I think the challenges and the joys will be very different from the Camino Frances, but I have a strong intuitive pull to the northern route, and I think it is better suited to my personal goals for the pilgrimage.

I'm so excited now though!!! I bought my boots and backpack yesterday, and I'm excited to break my boots in! I'm lucky to live in a place with lots of areas to hike within easy distance.

Thanks again for the great advice, and to those of you leaving in June, maybe we will see each other on the road. Depending on my boss, I will either be starting the very beginning of June or around the 8th or 10th like a few of you mentioned. Buying the boots and my new pack (my old one was in tatters) made this feel SO much more real.
 

MermaidLilli

Active Member
I will be starting the Camino del Norte around the 6th of May and cannot wait. Few weeks to go.
I wish there were ways to go through trails instead of roads and I wonder if locals might know ways to circumvent those long stretches of road walking. I will ask.
Lillian
 

mdefrayne

Member
Hi Megi,

Great! Glad to hear it! We will keep an eye out for you this summer. Don't forget about footwear at the end of the day. After a long day in the boots, they are the last thing you will want to put back on in the evening. I am currently looking at using Crocs. They are super light weight and very comfortable. I have never heard a bad word about Crocs. Sandals are the norm, but these might be a better choice. I'll be trying some on over the weekend to get a better feel so to speak. :)

Also, while I didn't worry about it much on the Camino Frances, good rain gear may pay off on the Camino Norte. It is cooler and more wet, however, June/July looks to be the best time for the Norte Route.

Suerte,
Mark
 

Dave

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 2002; most recent: Norte/Primitivo 2019
Lillian,

There are some. For example, if you stay at the albergue in Guemes, the hospitalero will provide you with route advice for getting off the road. There's also one stage where, if you follow the GR's red/white markings, you'll have a more scenic and enjoyable time.

Try asking at local turismos along the way. On occasion, they have really useful advice.

Dave
 

megi

New Member
Thanks for the advice on crocs, but I don't personally care for them. I have a pair of Chaco hiking sandals that I'll be taking. I already know they feel good on my feet, so I don't have to worry about new shoes. But I have heard great things about crocs for other people.

ALSO! I had my first real test yesterday. I hiked 30Km with a friend, including about 700 M straight up a mountain(really, STRAIGHT up a ski slope with no bends, so very steep). The route was quite rugged with a lot of rises and falls,and seemed like it would resemble some places on the northern route and the primitivo, so I was really nervous to see how I would do. In the end, we had to walk half the way in a foot and a half of wet snow (in tanks tops in the snow, that's the Czech Republic in spring for you!), up hill! A great test for my boots which kept my feet warm and dry, and for my body, because I feel great even though the hike was quite challenging with all the snow. Next weekend I'll be doing my first full distance hike with my pack on, but a lot of my nervousness was really eased by yesterdays hike, and especially by the fact that I woke up this morning a little sore, but feeling ready to go back out.

About rain gear, I have a waterproof Columbia jacket, but I am wondering how absolutely essential rain pants are? I'm willing to invest in gear that I think is REALLY important (like my shoes and my pack) but I am trying to really keep costs and weight down, and I've been vascillating about rain pants. My brother took a 3 month long walk up the east coast of the US last summer, and I think all he had was a poncho, but I have heard a lot of people who seem to think that the pants are a big deal...What do you think?
 

Bridget and Peter

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Home to Reims 2007
Reims to Limoges 2008
Camino Ingles 2009
Limoges to Gernica 2009
Gernica to San Vicente de la Barquera 2010
San Vicente to La Isla 2012
La Isla to Santiago Sept/Oct 2014
megi said:
I am wondering how absolutely essential rain pants are?

I was brought up with the understanding that you take your trousers off for rain, because legs dry so much quicker than trousers, and when you're walking you'll be warm enough. When you stop and find shelter, if you get cold then you have dry trousers to put on! For a June camino, I would think this makes sense.

In March, walking on the Camino Ingles, in alternate sunshine and rain or hail, my daughter wore the waterproof trousers over her ordinary trousers practically all the time, whether it was raining or not!

Either way, the weight is not in the back pack.

We usually cycle, and have taken the waterproof trews on at least three trips. Until the last day of the last one, last October, we had never needed to put them on. It was only when we reached Paris on our way home that we needed them, to cross the city in a downpour.
 

mdefrayne

Member
Hi Megi,

It sounds like you have it all together. :wink: I have used my raincoat during rain and also during very cold windy days, but I must admit, the pants have been rarely used. I've probably used the pants most often as part of my pillow. It's probably not a big deal being middle of summer.

You are so lucky to have such great hiking in your area. That's excellent! We have been getting out for each evening for 7-8 km, but there's nothing like you speak of in our area. You'll be in excellent shape for the pilgrimage.

Buen Camino,
Mark
 

megi

New Member
Haha! Thanks Mark. I definitely don't think I have it all together though! I was just surprised that I wasn't a puddle of goo after my first full length rugged prep-hike. I am lucky to have places to hike, but you are lucky to have the time to hike some every day! I work from early till late, and so I mostly get to prep on weekends.

I do think I'm going to leave the waterproof pants...it just seems like more trouble than it's worth to me, and like I said I am trying to be weight and budget conscious. I have a tendency to overspend and overpack.

May I also add, the people on this forum are so friendly and helpful! Thanks guys!

Megan
 

Besalu

New Member
How is the weather on the Camino del Norte?

I am starting my Camino del Norte on July 1st. I would like to know whether it rains on the camino. I am not sure if I should take rain gear with me or not? It is extra weight that I can leave at home. Thank you for your reply.
Julio
 

Bridget and Peter

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Home to Reims 2007
Reims to Limoges 2008
Camino Ingles 2009
Limoges to Gernica 2009
Gernica to San Vicente de la Barquera 2010
San Vicente to La Isla 2012
La Isla to Santiago Sept/Oct 2014
You will be walking along the coast of the Atlantic/Bay of Biscay. it may well rain. A lot, sometimes. I would take an Altus which covers me and my pack. It opens downthe front so you can flap it around to let air in, slip it off your arms and hang it over your pack if the rain lets up a bit, but cover yourself up again quickly if the rain worsens.


If it doesn't rain at all, well, the Altus does not weigh a lot, rolls up small and can stay at the bottom of your pack.

We took waterproof trousers on three cycling caminos and only got them out of our panniers on one occasion, returning home through Paris. I bet if we hadn't had them with us it would have rained every day.

best wishes for a lovely camino - I wish I was going with you.
 
M

mikevasey

Guest
Hi Julio,

The Norte is notorious for rain. I walked from the 28th June last year, if i had gone 2 weeks earlier everything had been completely washed out and people were being advised to go on to the Frances route for safety. However i was lucky, in 30 days i had 3 hours of 'soft rain'. If i was to walk it again i would take a lightweight poncho with a built in space for my backpack(The altus atmospheric), i would like to think it would not rain again but i know that the weather on the Norte is very unpredicatble.

Mike
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
It might rain on you, or it might not, whichever Camino you are on.

Last year (2010)the weather was abnormal in May and June at least. It was so bad on the Primitivo that we turned back to the Norte where we had good walking weather. Then came the floods of June, but they were widespread, not just on the Norte. In 2009 Terry had only 3 days with rain. This year in Galicia, which is supposed to be wet, we wore our ponchos for about 10 minutes and never wore our rain pants.

We use Rohan shelter capes, but they are very expensive now. (Weight 340gms, poncho which doubles as a bivvy tent.) Others favour the Altus. Something like this, which comes well down over your trousers, is IMHO essential. Rain pants you maybe can manage without.
Buen Camino - whatever the weather
Tia Valeria
 

angulero

Active Member
¡Hola!.

Lo primero de todo, os pido perdón por no escribir en inglés ya que apenas lo hablo. Si alguien ve interesante el mensaje y lo quiere traducir, le estaría muy agradecido.

Escribo porque veo que muchos tenéis miedo a encontrar bastante asfalto en este camino. Sí que hay muchos tramos de asfalto, pero a veces los peregrinos hacen kilómetros por carretera cuando hay alternativas para ir por caminos de tierra que en su mayoría están marcados. Por ejemplo, en la etapa de Avilés a Soto de Luiña, muchos peregrinos llegan a Soto del Barco por la carretera N-632. Esto es porque en Santiago del Monte se confunden y en vez de subir por la carretera de Ranón para llegar a la localidad de El Castillo por una senda dentro de un bosque, toman la opción de subir el Alto del Praviano.

Aquí se ve parte de esta etapa.

http://caminandopasoapaso.blogspot.com/ ... chive.html

Por cierto, en esta etapa hay la opción de quedarse en el albergue juvenil de San Esteban de Pravia y así dividir la etapa en dos etapas.

Otra etapa que se puede hacer sin pisar casi asfalto es la que parte de San Martín de Luiña, sobre todo en verano, por lo que si estáis por la zona preguntad al hospitalero, ya que si el camino está bien, merece la pena porque iréis por las montañas que están pegadas a la costa, con unas vistas muy bonitas. Os dejo un enlace de alguien que la hizo.

http://caminandopasoapaso.blogspot.com/ ... ancas.html

Otra etapa que se puede hacer casi sin pisar asfalto es la que va hasta Luarca.

http://caminandopasoapaso.blogspot.com/ ... uarca.html

En ese blog podéis encontrar más información, creo que también hay algo sobre el Camino Primitivo.

Con esto solo os quiero hacer ver que se puede evitar las carreteras y hacer el camino más bonito.
Preguntad a los hospitaleros y a las gentes del lugar donde os encontréis y ellos os informarán si saben de como está esos caminos. En verano no tendríais que tener problemas para transitar por ellos.

Por cierto, por mi pueblo ya están pasando peregrinos desde hace un par de meses, así que no tengáis miedo a hacerlo solo, ya que solos no estaréis.

Buen camino
 

Valdis Pauzers

New Member
You will NEED to take resources to accept it may (& probably will) rain. After all this is the North Spain coast. Be consoled that in summer it is warm rain, perhaps less so in the mountains and early mornings.
There may also be times you WISH for rain. You will certainly get days of a lot of sun radiation, but beware because of your long exposure (duration of your daily walk) and the sea cooling breezes you may not feel it is excessive sun until it is too late.
Rain, yes, you must cater for. Layers of clothes, and carry thin clothes to which you may add to. If you keep moving you will dry out. And make sure you dry clothes (washed preferably?) for the next day. If it pours, your have all your next days clothes in a plastic bag which is inside your back back. In fact you also have ALL your items within a bin liner which sits in your back pack. Plastic bags weigh very little but are highly effective for lots of things.
Expect rain, expect sun, expect new situations, the weather in summer is kind, warm rain and a good wind to dry you as you finish your walk. Do not overcarry clothes (or anything else).
Expect an experience you will never forget, be humble and you will receive the respect you deserve to make your physical and pyschological journey even better.
Regards,
Valdis.
 
M

mikevasey

Guest
Thanks Angulero,

This is a very good source of information. The part which really attracted my attention is the part that deals with the section between Soto de Luina and Cavadeo. The route most pilgrims are advised and sent sown is the road route N632, 25km of Asphalt(around 3% of the Del Nortes length). There is another route which is shorter but you have to climb up to around 700 Metres on old cattle hearding tracks, you are advised against it because it is in a state of disrepair, the entrance to it is less than 100 metres from the albergue in Soto de Luina, but there is tape across saying no entrance. The day i walked, 3 young pilgrims from Majorca went up it by mistake, they said it was hard, hot, but very beautiful, they told us all this at the hostel in Cadavedo while a lot of us were having blisters syringed and bentadine applied after walking the road route.

this is the page which shows you the routehttp://www.caminandopasoapaso.blogspot.com/2011/03/ruta-soto-de-luina-las-palancas.html. If i am ever this way again, and the weather is Ok and i have a walking partner(s) this is the route i will take. One word of caution the Majorcan guys showed us photos, and where they had to beat vegetation away with their staffs there was a lot of big spiders(and small spiders).

Mike
 

angulero

Active Member
Si alguna vez vuelves por la zona, pregunta si está más o menos transitable. La etapa es más dura por el desnivel que has de salvar, pero las vistas desde los montes por los que caminarás compensan con creces el esfuerzo.

Las vistas son parecidas a estas que pongo hechas desde la ermita de Santana de Montarés, cerca de Cudillero, donde cada 26 de julio se celebra una fiesta.

Esta es de tramo de costa que va desde Cudillero hasta Cabo Peñas.



Y estas de La Concha de Artedo y las montañas que que rodean la zona de San Martín de Luiña.









A ver si un días de estos me acerco a comprobar si ese tramo está limpio, ya que no está muy lejos de mi casa.
 

mommabear5

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte (May 2013)
megan,
I will be a first time pilgrim on the camino del norte too. I have never traveled alone and am feeling quite nervous, but feel compelled. As you have traveled alone before, do you have any travel tips for me?

I decided this would be the best route for me as well for very similar reasons as you. I am quite a bit older than you and life has been tough. This will be a great way to create space in my life. I was originally thinking I would leave early May, but perhaps the weather is much more rainy then. I am however; used to rain as I live in a rainy climate and hike rain or shine. I have not set my dates for certain.

This forum has been wonderful and very helpful. Thank you everyone for your posts. Maybe I'll see you on the camino.
April
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
mommabear5 said:
megan,
I will be a first time pilgrim on the camino del norte too. I have never traveled alone and am feeling quite nervous, but feel compelled. As you have traveled alone before, do you have any travel tips for me?
....Snip...
April

I am not sure that the Camino del Norte is a good choice for a first time pilgrim on her own.
It is much less traveled and is hard gong in many places. The infrastructure is not as well developed as the Camino Frances and others.
Maybe others will advise you differently....but I would like you to give some thought to this.
Buen Camino
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
Three years ago Terry, as a first time pilgrim, had only two days rain on a combination of the Norte (from Santander) and the Primitivo. He walked alone, late April through May, and found a good infrastructure. No problems with accomodation apart from May Day when places were very busy, but he still found a bed OK. If you use a mix of albergues with some hostales or hotels then the distances do not have to be too great.
The further end of the Norte has less infrastructure and longer distances, but the CSJ albergue at Miraz has helped with this.
If you want crowds around you then the Francés provides that. If you want some fellow pilgrims, but more space and peace then the Norte would seem to be just right. (IMHO) Parts of any route are demanding and the Norte between Irun and Santander may be more so than Santander westward.
However most important is to walk the Camino which is calling to you. :) We are looking forward to returning to the Norte (from Santander).
Buen Camino
 

TerryB

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte/Primitivo (April/May) 2009: Norte/Primitivo (parts) (April/May) 2010: Inglés (May) 2011: Primitivo (April/May) 2012: Norte / Camino de La Reina (April/May) 2013: Camino del Mar / Inglés (May/June) 2015
Hi April,
As you will have gathered, there are pluses and minuses with all the Caminos. Maybe a few questions to ask yourself before deciding will help?
* How far do you want to walk?
* Do you want / need to get right through to Santiago, or can you take several "sessions" (years)?
* Do you speak any Spanish? - May be needed on the Norte if there are no other pilgrims around.
* Are you comfortable in a large dorm with lots of people? (Francés)
* Are you comfortable sleeping on your own in a strange place? (Norte) (I spent two nights on my own in albergues in 2009, even though there were other pilgrims around)
* Are you happy / can you afford to spend out on a room in a Pensión / Hostál if there is no albergue? (You may need to on the Norte)
* Do you want to meet with / eat with, other pilgrims on a daily basis? (Francés)
* Do you want 'time out' from other people occasionally? (Norte)

There are lots of alternatives! Always remember that you can get a bus (or the FEVE) to miss out some of the less salubrious stretches of the route - as in leaving Santander!
You still have plenty of time to make a decision. Feel free to ask whatever questions are necessary.
Always remember It is YOUR camino!

Blessings on your planning.
Tio Tel (Tia Valeria's other half!)
 

unadara

Active Member
I walked the Norte in April/May this year in pouring rain, cool days and then some good sunshine, The route is good, there are many people walking it, depends on month. I loved it. I walked the Madrid route this Sep/Oct and there you are isolated. On Norte you are never far from a town, you need to carry food, be able to walk 30km+ and just enjoy.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
Our stages will be more like 20km next year (west of Santander) and food is available most places. The long stretch to Sobrado de Monxes is broken by the albergue at Miraz into an 18 and 22km according to the CSJ guide.
East of Santander average distances are also about 20km according to the CSJ guide. In addition there are places to stay between the 'stages' on many internet based directions.
Buying the CSJ guides Pilgrim Guides to Spain; Los Caminos del Norte is a good investment.
Set A Ruta de La Costa; Bk1 Irun to Villaviciosa and Bk 2 Villaviciosa to Arzua cover the whole route.
Using these it is possible to think through distance for a day, places to stay, eat etc and number of days needed.
http://www.csj.org.uk/bookshop.htm
http://www.csj.org.uk/acatalog/The_CSJ_Bookshop_Pilgrim_Guides_to_Spain_23.html
 

poogeyejr

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte, May 2011
Norte, Sept 2013
Frances, 1wk, Jan 2017
Hi April,

I did the Camino Norte last year May and the first week of June. We had five or six days of rain spaced out in the five weeks I was there. It was a great walk, the beginning was a bit overwhelming as we had not trained off road and there's a lot of walking through the hills and the woods. But the Camino is well marked and I didn't have any problems finding my way to Santiago. Pick up a few Spanish phrases to greet the locals with and you will be fine.

Kathy
 

bimblingalong

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2010 SJPP-Belorado / 2012 SJPP- Finisterre / 2014 Santander- Lugo (Norte/Primitivo), Ponferrada-Chantada- Invierno, SdC-Muxia.....
( August 2015 C Portuguese from Valenca)
thank you so much to Tia Valeria & Tio Tel for your wonderful blog on the Camino Norte, I have just spent a thouroughly enjoyable hour or two reading, note making & dreaming....plan to be there this may/june, muchas gracias. :D
 

bimblingalong

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2010 SJPP-Belorado / 2012 SJPP- Finisterre / 2014 Santander- Lugo (Norte/Primitivo), Ponferrada-Chantada- Invierno, SdC-Muxia.....
( August 2015 C Portuguese from Valenca)
Hi there, looks like, due to a change of circumstances, I will be walking the Norte/Primitivo in Sept/Oct...will the albergues/youth hostels be open & how will the weather be?..happy to duck inland if necessary, but would like to walk the whole coastal path....any advice gratefully recieved, gracias.
 

aniko

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
11th May, 2013 from SJPdP
Hi There,

I need your advice.

I read through this forum (and some other ones as well) and though my question is similar to Megi's one, my preferences differ so the answer / advice could also differ and that is why I dare to ask the question again.

I am in a kind of similar situation that Megi was some years ago: I am planning my very first pilgrim walk this May. First I thought that I would try the Camino Frances but after I read a bit about it I was shocked by the crowd that I have to face on this classic variant. That is why I started to consider the Camino del Norte.

So my preferences are: I love hills / mountains and I am not particularly keen on coasts. I really hate walking on pavement / surfaced road. I would need peace and calmness and that is why I am a bit afraid of crowd.
I hike and mountaineering regularly. Though I have never hiked 1 month continuously I think (I hope) that none of the routes will be overly demanding physically for me.

So based on all above which route would you recommend me?
In terms of the beauty of the nature and cultural or architectural sights how do the two routes relate to each other?

Thank you for your kind help in advance.
Aniko

ps: An additional info: I do already have a guide book about the Camino Frances but buying one about the Camino del Norte seems not to be easy here in Hungary.
 

MikeJS

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
The choice is always going to be a very personal one. I walked the Francis in Sept 2011 and the Norte in Sep 2012. With your statement ‘So my preferences are: I love hills / mountains and I am not particularly keen on coasts. I really hate walking on pavement / surfaced road. I would need peace and calmness and that is why I am a bit afraid of crowd.” I would tend to say to avoid the Norte as this has a lot of coastal walking, quite a bit of pavement/roads (through some really ugly areas(!) and some more mountainous areas. The Norte is generally tougher than the Francis owing to the frequent ups and downs and the reduced choices of where to stay. This rather limited choice tend to force longer days to get to each albergue or otherwise a lot more very short ones. The Francis is busier by far, but this tend to be more obvious at the start and end. In fact as most people tend to follow the same stages as most guides have the same information it is quite possible to avoid most of the crowds by choosing to walk a little longer than most. On the Francis my average day hike was about 25 kms, on the Norte it was nearer 40km. The Norte is quieter by far - on many days I saw no one else and when it finally joined the Francis it was like a country lane meeting a main road by the amour of ‘traffic”. You can be by yourself on the Francis as people will happily leave you alone if you want. That said there is a much better sense of community on the Francis. As far as "the beauty of the nature and cultural or architectural sights” I would say the Francis would be the better of the two. The Norte has beautiful coastal sections, especially if like me you love beaches, but there are many ugly parts. Ultimately if you walk 800kms plus through a country there are always going to be some parts you would prefer to miss. Hope that helps.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
Another alternative would be to start in Oviedo and walk the Camino Primitivo to Lugo, then follow the Primitivo still to Melide where you join the Francés. This takes you through the mountains. You can check out the route etc on the Primitivo section of the forum.
Some people start on the Norte and go down through Oviedo to transfer to the Primitivo. You could choose your start point to avoid too much coast/road walking.
There is an airport north of Oviedo the Airport of Asturias, if you can get a flight. If not there are trains and buses from other parts of Spain so Oviedo is fairly easy to get to.

We have walked this in May and it is beautiful. For us too the Francés is too crowded.
 

aniko

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
11th May, 2013 from SJPdP
Hi MikeIan,

Thanks for sharing your experience and advice. Now I tend to turn back to walk the Frances, but I am still concerned about the crowd. I do not afraid of not being let alone if I want so, but afraid of need to "run" to get accommodation or having noise around, etc. Deviating from the stages in guides to avoid the crowd is a good idea, I will consider that.
I will meet today one of my friends who did the Frances in Aug. 1009. I will inquire her inquisitively. :)
I will see. Anyway I have to make decisions in weeks as I have to organise my travel to the starting point as well...

Thank again.
Aniko
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
but afraid of need to "run" to get accommodation
Don't worry. Problem solved (since it is the worry that will ruin your camino, not the bed). :D

The easiest solution to the bed race is don't participate. Unfortunately, sometimes that means more expensive private accommodations for those who sleep late, walk late, or want to walk long days. If you want to be assured of a bed, stop by 3 p.m. each day. Others will be there ahead of you even doing that, but you always will find a bed. That means being out the door by about 0630, but the hospitalero will be kicking you out by 0800, so there is not such things as sleeping in at the albergues.

Buen camino!
 

aniko

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
11th May, 2013 from SJPdP
Hi Tia Valeria,

Thanks for the idea, but the route starting from Oviedo seems a bit short for me. I really meant to spend at least a month on the way as I need the time to consider things.

But thanks anyway, any ideas are welcome as they might change my way of thinking.
Aniko
 

aniko

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
11th May, 2013 from SJPdP
Hi Falcon269,

Thanks for the reassuring. :)
Setting off early would not be a problem (at least I hope), but stopping early might be... :)

Aniko
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
stopping early might be
Being driven for no particular purpose other than I have been driven for most of my life and career was something I learned to stop doing while I was on a pilgrimage. Sure, once in a while I would challenge myself physically just for the sake of the challenge, but I did it for "training" purposes, not because I felt I had to get somewhere or achieve Brierley's goals! For example, there are kilometers markers on the route in the meseta, so I timed how quickly I covered one kilometer. Then I tried to do the next one a bit faster. I admit that my fastest would embarrass any European, even the 80-year-olds. :D I did have fun doing it.

By all means, walk as long as you want; but you may want to ponder why you are doing it, and keep in mind the consequence -- you may lose the bed race. The race is not always to the swiftest!!!
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
aniko said:
Hi Tia Valeria,

Thanks for the idea, but the route starting from Oviedo seems a bit short for me. I really meant to spend at least a month on the way as I need the time to consider things.

But thanks anyway, any ideas are welcome as they might change my way of thinking.
Aniko
As you have time you could start along the Francés and then follow the link camino up from Leon onto the Primitivo at Oviedo.
Buen Camino
 

Mpfreebird

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sept 1995 Camino Frances. April 2013 Camino del Norte
Hey Aniko

I am really interested in knowing what someone who did the pilgramige in 1009 has to say! I would love to be part of that conversation!! :D

Buen Camino!

Don't know where you are starting, but consider doing the camino de Baztan from Biarritz. Seems exactly what you want. A good start maybe?
 

aniko

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
11th May, 2013 from SJPdP
Mpfreebird said:
Don't know where you are starting, but consider doing the camino de Baztan from Biarritz. Seems exactly what you want.

Hi Mpfreebird,

Thanks for the advice, will check this out.
Btw: How does this route differ from the first stage of Camino Frances in terms of the landscape? I mean that Frances also goes through the Pyrenees...

Thanks.
Aniko
 

aniko

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
11th May, 2013 from SJPdP
Tia Valeria said:
As you have time you could start along the Francés and then follow the link camino up from Leon onto the Primitivo at Oviedo.
Buen Camino

Thanks again for your advice, but just have seen the photos of my friend and became really curious of Astorga...
Aniko
 

Adele Caspers

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Will be walking the Camino either in April or August 2914. Will be starting in Amsterdam.
megan,
I will be a first time pilgrim on the camino del norte too. I have never traveled alone and am feeling quite nervous, but feel compelled. As you have traveled alone before, do you have any travel tips for me?

I decided this would be the best route for me as well for very similar reasons as you. I am quite a bit older than you and life has been tough. This will be a great way to create space in my life. I was originally thinking I would leave early May, but perhaps the weather is much more rainy then. I am however; used to rain as I live in a rainy climate and hike rain or shine. I have not set my dates for certain.

This forum has been wonderful and very helpful. Thank you everyone for your posts. Maybe I'll see you on the camino.
April
Hi there,
I am just wondering how your Camino went? I too am older and am from the school of hard knocks you might say, and want to take on the camino del Norte too. My biggest question is: did you feel/were you safe? I'm walking some time this year, not sure when, but am in training and busy getting my gear together. I would hate to put myself at risk on such an important time in my life.
Best wishes,
Adele
 

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